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How to End a Conversation like a Gentleman

How to End a Conversation like a Gentleman

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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