How to End a Conversation Fast (and Still Be Polite)

May 8, 2019 | How To Develop Skills

Have you ever needed to end a conversation fast but you weren’t sure how to do it in English? Maybe the conversation was uncomfortable, boring, or simply a waste of time and you wanted to end it… but you didn’t know how and you didn’t want to be impolite. 

And you didn’t want to use some cliché like, “Excuse, I need to use the restroom.” (Note: “I need to use the restroom” is the polite way to say, “I need to use the toilet” in American English.)

Honestly, bad conversations happen to all of us.

Thankfully, there are some easy strategies and phrases you can use to stop the conversation and move on quickly. 

Stop a bad conversation fast — easily and politely.

Lesson by Annemarie

End a Conversation Fast — 5 Easy Strategies

Strategy 1: Use a good excuse

Everyone knows the classic ‘I am just going to grab a drink’ line, the only problem is – what if they need one too ? They may follow you or ask you to bring them a drink when you come back. The same goes for saying you are going to the bathroom, they may offer to go with you or wait for you to come back!

We need some good reasons to go our separate ways and here are a few of those to make a clean break:

  • I promised myself I would mingle this time, so I guess I had better do that. Catch you later.
  • I told Kate I would check in with her, so please excuse me.
  • I have a couple of things to take care of, so please excuse me.
  • I am terrible at these things, I always stay in one place. This time I want to make an effort. So I will see you later.
  • I see someone I was hoping to catch, sorry, I will have to leave it there.
  • Time is flying, I had better circulate. Thanks so much!
  • I need to do the rounds and catch a few people, so I will see you later.

Strategy 2: Ask for an exit plan

If you can get the person you are talking to involved in your exit plan it is more likely to feel like it was their idea to get you talking to other people.  So, here are a few ways:

  • I would love to meet a few new people, can you introduce me to anyone?
  • I hardly know anyone here, who should I go meet?
  • I would love to chat to as many people as possible to get over my shyness, what do you think is the best approach? … (they give you a suggestion)… Great idea, I will try that now!
  • Who knows about/is into/loves to talk about (fishing, cooking, IT, golf, Game of Thrones)? (Make sure you say something you are 99% certain they, or most people, are not into but that you are!)  

Strategy 3: Introduce them to someone else

If you can find someone else for them to talk to, then you have a great chance of improving the conversation or leaving. So try these in that case:

  • I would love to have you meet Francis, we work together.
  • Have you met Andrea? I think you have a lot in common.
  • I am sure Bill would love to pick your brain about ______, let me introduce you.

Strategy 4: Give them permission to stop helping you

If you can help someone feel they have done something great for you, you can also give them permission to take their kindness out into the room to help others. So you can try:

  • I have taken up enough of your time. I’m sure you’ve got other people to chat with. It was great to talk with you. See you around.
  • Listen to me going on! I had better let you go. Take care.
  • Thanks so much for chatting to me. I appreciate it. Catch you later.
  • Well, I’ll let you off the hook now, thanks for the chat. Bye.

Strategy 5: End it and move on

If like me, you don’t like games and prefer to keep it simple and honest, just end it and leave. If you are at a more formal event, extending your hand for a goodbye handshake will make these even more effective. This is a common way to indicate that you need to end a conversation.

This works equally well when you run into someone in the street or the supermarket and just need to close the conversation and get going:

  • This has been great. I hope to catch up with you later. Bye.
  • Well, it’s been a pleasure meeting you, see you later.
  • So, it’s been great chatting with you. Take care.
  • Thanks so much for the chat. See you later.

❤️Love this lesson? Here are two similar topics:

Uncomfortable Questions and How to Deal with Them in English

What to Say When Someone is Rude in English

Or you can checkout this playlist with all my Confident English lessons on How to Deal with Difficult Situations in English.

Now it’s your turn.

Tell me about a time you were stuck and had to end a conversation quickly.

  • What happened? How did you feel? What did you do? 
  • And, if you got stuck in a conversation today, what strategy would you use to help you.

As always, the best place to share is in the comments section at the end of this lesson. It’s a great way to practice, get feedback, and learn from others in the Confident English Community.

~ Annemarie

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