- Next trainer development cohort 18th - 22nd March 2024

How to exit conversations without being rude

2nd June, 2023

How to exit conversations without being rude

Imagine you’re at a conference.  


You’ve had a nice chat with someone next to the sandwich triangles and tiny plates.  


But there’s not much more to say and it’s time for you to move on.


How do you do it without offending?


The polite Brit in me find this scenario so awkward. 


I’ve been known to talk to the same person for three hours at a party, as I didn’t know how to get out of the conversation politely (I kid you not).


For years I’ve searched for advice someone like me would actually use.


And eureka! My holy grail came this week in the form of guidance from sales expert Andy Bounds (#2 below) and relationship guru Rachel Greenwald (#1& 3), which I mashed together to create this easy process:


  1. Signal the end of the conversation, well before you end it.  Say something like ‘Before I have to go and find my colleague, I have one last question for you.’ Or as someone once said to me in a spectacularly slick dumping, ‘One more thing before I let you go, as I don’t want to monopolise you…’ 
  2. Move to the past tense ‘I’ve really enjoyed our chat
  3. End on a compliment, as long as it’s genuine e.g. ‘I really love your shoes’. This makes the most of the ‘recency effect’ – we remember the last thing someone said to us the most.  In this case, they’ll remember a positive ending to the conversation.


These 3 steps are also useful for:


  • 1:1 meetings that are going on waaaay too long
  • emails where we want to shut down a conversation kindly e.g. if someone is asking too many favours/requests/questions e.g. ‘It’s been nice getting to know you.’ (past tense) ‘Good luck with your dissertation!’ (recency effect)


What’s your recipe for getting out of conversations politely?

University of Cambridge


- Next trainer development cohort 18th - 22nd March 2024

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