Executing a Polite Conversation Exit Strategy

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Exiting a conversation with individual or group at a conference, seminar or other business networking function is a critical professional skill.

A graceful and polite exit from a conversation is a mixture of authenticity, experience and situational timing.

Here are a few tips for a polite exit strategy:

  1. Be polite.
    Being polite means being genuine. A conversation is when two or more people communicate. The tricky part is for the parties to know when the dialogue has ended. Know when a conversation is winding to a close. Help your conversation partner and be politely direct.
  2. A good break. 
    A bathroom break, a coffee break, or openly recognizing that you see someone that you want to talk to are great ways to interject your exit. Conversely, breaks in dialogue are excellent opportunities to segue your exit.
  3. Let’s stay connected. 
    If it’s someone you just met and want to stay connected, begin the transition by telling them to stay connected and asking for their business card or telling them to connect with you on LinkedIn.
  4. Have you met…
    Introduce your conversation partner to someone else you know at the event. It strengthens your credibility, benefits everyone involved and gives you an opportunity to exit.
  5. Level with them. 
    “Great to meet you!” Let your conversation partner know your intent is to get to know individuals at that event, connect with colleagues, talk with the speakers or presenters, etc. “Please excuse me!” is always an appropriate exit initiator, just make sure you have your next action teed up.
  6. What’s good for the goose. 
    Remember that a polite exit goes both ways, your conversation partner might also be looking for a good break to the conversation so recognize body language or visual cues and don’t overstay the conversation. Give them opportunities to move on.

When you practice politely exiting conversations you’ll find the quality of your conversations and relationships will improve. Similar to the concept of a houseguest that’s overstayed their welcome, know when to politely exit a conversation to keep great professional relationships!