5 Tips to exit a conversation without being a jerk.

Don't be a jerk

Okay, so you’re in a conversation and it’s time to exit.  The conversation has lived its life, you have work to get back to, there is someone else you’d like to talk to, etc. Regardless of the situation, how can you exit without coming off like a jerk? What do you do? How do you make a graceful exit?


Widen the circle.

This is a progression of five actions.

  1. Invite another person into the conversation whom you believe is interesting or a good connection for the person you are talking to.
  2. Make an introduction.
  3. Catch the new person up on your conversation.
  4. Ask a question to get them talking.
  5. Once they have the conversation going, politely excuse yourself.

Give them an out.

Basically, end the conversation for their benefit. First, identify a benefit. Second, voice it. It might sound like:

               I imagine you have work to do, so I won’t keep you.

              Considering how busy you shared you are, I’ll let you get back to what you were doing.

              I want to respect your time, so I’ll let you go.

              It’s not fair to monopolize your time, so I’ll let you move on to meet others.

Do a 360.

Come back to the beginning of the conversation. This will bring closure to the conversation and give the other person the signal that you are moving on. Restate what they said and thank them. It might sound like one of these:

              Thank you again for sharing your thoughts on [insert]. You’ve given me some things to think about. It’s been nice chatting.

              I appreciate your input on [insert]. Thank you.

              You offered an eye-opening perspective about [insert]. I am going to take it and ponder. Thanks.

              Thank you for your advice on [insert]. I’m going to take it and run.

Schedule later.

Manage your time well by offering a follow-up conversation or extension of the conversation at another time.  There are many options.

              Why don’t we talk more at lunch.

              When are you free to talk more over a cup of coffee?

              Take a look at my calendar and send an appointment request for a 15- minute chat.

              Let’s keep the conversation going. When are you available?

Be honest.

Let them know the reason you need to exit. Here are several reasons:

              I really need to get back to work.

              I have an appointment I need to get to.

              I have a meeting I need to prep for.

              [Insert name] is waiting for me, so I’ve got to get going.

              There is another person I need to talk to before they leave.

              I have to go to the bathroom.

              I was on my way to [insert], I’ve got to get going.

Congratulations! You don’t have to be a jerk any longer! 😉