Dr. Thomas Fuller, renowned British physician, preacher and intellectual, once said: “Education begins a gentleman, conversation completes him.” We can see this to be true with prominent gentlemen like Theodore Roosevelt, George Washington and Robert E. Lee, who not only paid attention to how they dressed, groomed and conducted themselves, but also how they initiated, held and ended conservations. These great gentlemen understood that good manners do not make you less of a man, but more of one.
If you want to be a real gentleman, you need to learn how to initiate conversations that are characterized by gentlemanly bearing and good manners. This means you should take into account all the key aspects that make a conversation enlightening and pleasurable, such as listening keenly, speaking in tune, not interrupting and disagreeing amicably. And, when it is time to disengage from a conversation, a gentleman makes sure he leaves in good terms.
Here are some handy tips on etiquette and sociality you can use to end conversations gracefully like a gentleman.
1. Give nonverbal exit cues
A gentleman is considerate. Whether you feel like you aren’t being given a chance to talk in a conversation or you discover your interest isn’t mutual, you still need to be considerate of the other person’s feelings and rights. Give nonverbal exit cues to prepare them for the end of the exchange.
Stand up if you are sitting down, or purposely turn toward the exit door or general direction you were heading. Most people will recognize these cues and wrap up the discussion or poise themselves for you to end the exchange.
2. Give a polite summary statement
A gentleman is also polite. You don’t just walk away abruptly in the middle of a conversation without saying anything. That is rude and impolite. Give a summary statement of what you’ve been talking about and then say you’ve got to go. Giving such a statement is a nice way to transition smoothly from conversation to its conclusion.
Wait for a lull in the conversation, and then sum up with a line on what you’ve been discussing. For example, you could say something like: “Yeah, that book was really good. I’m thrilled you liked it too. I really enjoyed talking to you.”
3. Give a reason why you have to end the conversation
A gentleman is truthful. It may be tempting to fabricate excuses to exit a conversation, but doing so risks you coming off as dishonest and can bring other problems later. So, give an honest explanation why you have to end the discussion. This is one of the best ways to bring things to a clean close. For example, you could say something like: “It was great catching up with you, but I’ve got to go inside now and start preparing dinner for the kids.”
If you don’t have a genuine reason to end the talk, you could try a statement that implies you have crossed something important off your “to-do list” just by talking to the person. For example, you could say something like: “I’m glad we talked. I just wanted to know how your family was doing.”
4. Close with a hearty handshake
A gentleman is always ready to close a discussion with a hearty handshake. A handshake represents a standard, tried and true gesture that signals the end of a conversation. You can even use it as a barometer to measure how well a discussion went. Extend a firm hand accompanied by a warm smile or hug to close the interaction on a high note and with warm feelings.
If the interaction went really well, you could also exchange phone numbers or business cards at the end. Apart from being an act of good etiquette, exchanging contacts can prove vital in future interactions.
5. Just wrap it up concisely and leave
A gentleman is straight forward and direct, especially with people he knows and who know him well. You don’t have to explain why you have to end a discussion every time—it’s okay to wrap up the conversation quickly and concisely without giving an explanation. Most people will understand that you are not being mean; it’s only that you have other things you need to do.
Wait for a quiet moment in the chat and bounce out using words like “Well,” “Anyway” or “Okay.” You may also mention the name of the person you are conversing with to add a personal feeling of warmth in the sign out. For example, say something like: “Totally agree with you, John. Anyway, I gotta run. I’ll talk to you later.” Head off soon afterward.