You’re at a networking event and having a meaningful, natural conversation with someone you just met, but you notice the arrival of someone you need to speak with.
You have a limited window to grab the new arrival’s attention, but you don’t want to offend the person you’re already talking to, potentially ruining the connection and awkwardly avoiding the person for the rest of the night.
Jon Levy has spent the past six years building his Influencers network of more than 400 interesting and highly accomplished professionals – including Nobel laureates, Grammy-winning musicians, and Olympic medalists – who gather periodically for events at Levy’s Manhattan apartment, but even he struggled with ending a conversation for a long time.
“I used to be absolutely awful, really awkward, at ending conversations,” Levy told Business Insider, before laughing. “The last moments of a conversation will define how people remember you, so you want to get really good at a solid ending.”
You don’t want people to question the authenticity of the enjoyable conversation they just had with you after you abruptly leave as soon as a friend catches your eye, for example.
The first step to leaving on a high note is waiting for a lull in the conversation, when your topic has run its course.
Give an indication that you need to be excused for something else or are happy with how the conversation went. Tell the person it was a pleasure speaking with him or her and you’ll make sure to follow up on certain points. This works for phone conversations as well.
If you’re talking in person, always take an extra beat to make eye contact with the person with whom you’ve finished speaking so it doesn’t seem as if you’re running away, Levy said.
The conversation will end naturally, and both sides will leave feeling satisfied.