'I've Been an Etiquette Expert for Almost 20 Years—Here's the #1 Phrase to End a Conversation Without Making It Awkward'

Three people saying goodbye and ending their conversation

You've probably heard about the importance of first impressions. While they can make a significant impact, first impressions aren't everything. In fact, one etiquette expert believes the final impression you make during an interaction with a person is just as important. Consider it a bookend approach.

"People tend to remember the first and last things you say, so your closing words can significantly influence how they perceive the entire interaction—either lift up the impression or bring it down," says Jamila Musayeva, an etiquette coach. "The final moments of a conversation leave an aftertaste, so always be mindful of your final words to make sure they reflect well on you and the discussion."

It can be challenging to find the words to end the conversation, especially in a world where ghosting has seemingly become normalized. Fight the urge.

"It never goes unnoticed and only leaves the other person wondering," Musayeva says.

OK, but you're wondering what to say. Thankfully, Musayeva shares her go-to tip for ending a conversation without making it awkward.

Related: 14 Best Phrases to End a Text, Plus the #1 Way You *Don't* Want to Finish Your Message, According to Psychologists

The Best Phrase To End a Conversation, According to an Etiquette Coach

While the pressure to end a conversation on the right note can leave you at a loss for words, Musayeva has a super-simple go-to phrase. “A great way to end a conversation is by saying, 'Thank you for your time,'" Musayeva says.

From there, Musayeva suggests following up with a genuine compliment about something you appreciated during your interaction, like their listening skills or thought-provoking questions. 

"For example, you might say, 'Thank you so much for being a great listener. I really enjoyed sharing my story with you. I hope to see you again,'" Musayeva says. "Always provide a very brief explanation for your departure, like needing to catch a colleague, go home or take a business call. This shows the person you're leaving not because they're boring but because you have something else to attend to.”

The phrase and wrap-up provide closure like the final words in a powerful speech. 

"A well-chosen closing remark can reinforce the positive aspects of your interaction and ensure that the other person remembers you favorably," Musayeva explains. "It's often more impactful than the opening line because it is the final thought they take away from the conversation."

Yet, Musayeva says this simple phrase also boasts important relationship-building qualities.

“This specific phrase also reflects your character," she says. "By expressing gratitude and giving a genuine compliment, you leave the other person with a sense of respect, which can strengthen your relationship and reputation."

Related: 13 Phrases People With High-Level Thinking Often Say, According to Psychologists

3 Other Great Phrases for Ending a Conversation

1. "I need to catch up with a colleague before the event ends, but I really enjoyed our conversation."

This phrase is short but still offers an explanation. 

"Giving a brief explanation for your departure shows respect and consideration for the other person's time without sounding insincere or nervous," Musayeva says. "If you go into an elaborate explanation or many details, you will come across as insincere. However, explaining lets the person know you're leaving for a reason and not because they are uninteresting, so it's a delicate balance."

2. 'Thank you for sharing your insights on X with me."

Like Musayeva's favorite phrase for ending a conversation, this one serves up gratitude in spades.

"It shows you were listening and cared about what they were saying," she says.

3. "I really enjoyed your perspective on X."

Making a person feel good about their contribution to a conversation can also help you make a solid, lasting impression. 

"Offering a genuine compliment leaves them with a positive feeling about themselves and, in turn, the interaction," Musayeva says.

And, therefore, you.

Related: The #1 Best Way To End a Card, According to Psychologists

It's Not Just What You Say...

The words you use are important, but the body tells a story too.

“One other undervalued aspect of a conversation is body language," Musayeva says. "I believe body language is the first and most important part of a conversation you should trust when talking to someone. What they're saying might be rehearsed, but it's very hard to control body language."

Often, when a person is trying to make a getaway, Musayeva notices people start leaning away from the person they are talking to. She says this body language is particularly common at networking events when people also begin scanning the room with a body turned slightly away from the person they're speaking with.  

"When saying goodbye, stay in their space until you are fully leaving," Musayeva recommends. "Leaning away means you aren’t completely there with them. Instead of being shy to leave and awkward, with your attention somewhere else, remain present physically as well until you complete your goodbye."

Related: 7 Helpful Phrases for Politely Expressing a Different Opinion, According to a Psychologist

The #1 Thing Not To Do When Ending a Conversation

While wrapping up a conversation with a reason for your departure is a good idea, Musayeva cautions against overdoing it.

“Never, ever end a conversation by implying that someone else is more important," Musayeva says. "For example, saying, 'Oh, [insert name of important person] just arrived. I need to catch them.'"

Think about how that phrase would make you feel. Not great, right?

"It can make the person you're speaking with feel undervalued," she says. 

Pivot to this phrase instead. 

"Say something like, 'It was lovely talking to you, and I don't want to take up all your time. I'm going to connect with another colleague,'" Musayeva says. "This approach is respectful and acknowledges their importance without diminishing their value. Explain that you need to speak with someone else without creating the impression that said person is more important."

Next: 11 Best Phrases to End a Phone Call, According to Psychotherapists—Plus, What *Not* To Do

Expert Source