By: Maralee McKee, Manners Mentor
Today’s etiquette tips offer you skills for gracious goodbyes.
How can you conclude every conversation on a high note?
How can you confirm for the other person that you have great taste?
How do you say goodbye and keep the doors wide open for future conversations?
How to Graciously End Conversations
A few lulls in conversation are natural and shouldn’t make you feel you’re uninteresting or not keeping up your end of the banter. However, when the silences begin to seep into every few sentences, it’s time to be proactive and end the conversation in a way that leaves the other person still finding you as interesting as when the conversation began!
In the example below, I’ve used meeting someone for the first time, a mother at your child’s school. However, the four steps can be utilized in any conversation.
The Four Steps for Graciously Ending All Your Conversations
1. Restate something she said, or summarize the discussion. When possible, thank her for sharing some bit of information or news with you.
Why it’s gracious: It shows you’ve been actively listening and you’re interested in what she said. It also reveals any possible miscommunication so that anything that needs restating can be clarified.
As for thanking her, since we all appreciate knowing our words, information, or advice have been of benefit, you should take a moment to express your thanks verbally to show her she’s been able to impact you in a positive way (even if just in a little matter).
What you could say: The conversation begins by talking about the books your sixth graders will be reading in literature class this year. Then she tells you about a book she’s just finished. Here’s how you might begin to end the conversation:
“Rebecca, thanks for your recommendation! You made the book sound so suspenseful that I’m going to read it. Chicago is one of my favorite cities, so it will be interesting reading how the most cunning murderer of the 19th Century was lurking during the World’s Fair.”
2. Verbally acknowledge that you enjoyed your time with her.
Why it’s gracious: We all wonder about the impression we make on others. When you acknowledge you’ve enjoyed talking with people, they’ll know they made a good impression, they’ll appreciate you acknowledging it, and they’ll know you have great taste!
What you could say: “It’s been a joy meeting you tonight. I’m so happy you came over and introduced yourself.”
3. Mention the next time you hope to be with her.
Why it’s gracious: It’s more positive reinforcement that you enjoyed her company and that you’re open to future interactions. (When chatting with someone you doubt you’ll ever meet again, leave this step out of the conversation.)
What you could say: “I look forward to seeing you at the next parent meeting. We’ll compare book notes!”
4. Smile, use her name, and shake hands as you say goodbye.
Why it’s gracious: Using her name frequently in conversation, and especially when saying goodbye, sends the message that you’ve been paying attention, you want to remember her, and you no longer consider her a stranger.
What you could say: “Goodbye, Rebecca. I hope you have a great rest of your evening!”
One more tip: Time can be your enemy. The best goodbyes are brief. Show the other person you know what “goodbye” means and exit within seconds. As they say in Hollywood, “Leave them wanting more!”