How Do You Break Off a Conversation Without being Rude?

What do you do when you in are in the middle of a conversation and you have to go?  Maybe you have an appointment or someone is coming over or you have other things to do. You don’t want to be rude. What are some respectful ways to end a conversation?

1. Give a time boundary at the beginning of the conversation, in the middle or toward the end.

One of my sisters has a demanding business so she frequently calls me on her way somewhere. She’ll say, “I have about 10, 20 or 30 minutes to talk or however long her drive is.” When she gets close to her destination, she’ll often say, “I just want to let you know I have five minutes left.” That way we can wind down the conversation to closure before she leaves.

2. Affirm the person. Let them know you enjoy talking to them.

The other night I called one of my other sisters. We had not talked for awhile and we enjoyed reconnecting. After about fifteen minutes, when there was a pause in the conversation, she said, “I love talking to you and would love to talk longer and a friend is coming over in about 10 min so when she comes I’ll have to go.”

When you affirm the other person it makes them realize you value them and giving a time frame helps the other person not take it personally when you have to go. In this situation, knowing her time limitations allowed me to be sensitive to how much I shared. When her friend arrived, I understood she had to go. This allowed her to set boundaries and at the same time for me to feel respected and valued.

When you set time boundaries and affirm the person, you can take care of your needs as well as let the other person know you value them.

What works for you in these kind of situations? Are what are your challenges in conversations and listening?

In a previous post, we discussed 7 Tips to Effective Listening and Talking Together. Check it out for more  insights on treating others with respect in conversations.

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving,considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17 (NIV)



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