We talk a lot here about how to start conversations effectively and how to keep them going. But there are times where unfortunately you've got to get going and somebody keeps rambling on or this is just someone that you don't want to talk to and you would rather exit. Learning text etiquette can be difficult even for people who text all the time, thanks to the pandemic! If you want to end a real-time text conversation or leave a group message without being rude or awkward, you have a few options.
So what do you say, or do in order to get out of that situation without being completely rude, without having to lie, let’s talk about that. The first thing to know is that you should politely excuse yourself, make plans to talk later or say that you’re too busy to talk at the moment. This way you can end the conversation without hurting anyone’s feelings. Here’s are some tips you can follow to find your way around.
1. You have to end on your turn
So during a chat, there's a back and forth dynamic to communication. And when you want to end the conversation, you do it when it’s your turn to type. You can't interrupt while the other person is not yet finished texting because that will not come across as polite. That's an interruption. That is a clear signal for the person on the other side that you're trying to end the conversation. You have to end on your turn.
2. Set a time limit
Somewhere in the middle of the chat, you have to indicate how much time you have to talk. You may do it at the very beginning of the conversation and say – “Hey it's good to see you. I've got about 5 minutes to talk. What's up?” Or you can do it somewhere in the middle while chatting. You might say something along the lines of “I have about one more minute before I have to go, but let me finish with this thought.” And that's the way normal people signal to let you know that they have about a certain amount of time and then they end the talk.
3. Straightaway tell them that you gotta go!
The third thing you want to do is tell them that you have to go. So you have to use phrases that they're used to hearing like “I've got a run”, “I've got to get going”. Those are phrases that signal once again that you're going to go. A lot of times people even feel like just saying that feels rude. But I assure you these are just common phrases that are used to wrap up a conversation. They're surely going to understand that you really need to go.
4. State why you aren’t available to talk right now
Sometimes, ending a conversation is as simple as saying “I’m at work right now, I’ll text you later!” Most people will understand as long as you have a real reason for ending the conversation.
- For example, if you’re at home, you can say “Someone’s at the door – we’ll chat more soon!”
- If you’re about to get in the car, you can send a quick message like “TTYL, I’m driving!”
- Avoid lying about what you’re doing or why you can’t talk. More often than not, the person talking to you will know that you’re being dishonest. This might make them upset.
5. Let them know about the activities you’ll be doing next
The next tip you want to do is tell them what you're about to do next. And you don't want to be too specific. Keep it nice and concise. But if you say things like “I have a meeting to go to”, or “I have some projects that I've got to get back on”, or “I'm a little behind on some work”. This way they'll know that - Oh, he's not just abandoning the conversation because he doesn't like me. He's going because he has something else to do. So that's the tip.
6. Tell them you’re going to bed if it’s late at night.
Most people are pretty understanding if you want to stop texting to get to sleep. Once you feel yourself starting to get tired, let your texting friend know that you’ll be heading to sleep soon. Try to avoid falling asleep while talking, as this can seem rude.
7. Respond with an emoji or two when appropriate
When you’re talking to someone you see in person often, responding with an emoji is a great way to pause the conversation until you chat the next time. Remember to make sure that the emoji is an appropriate response to their statement before you press send!
This is a great way to end a conversation before it even starts. Because you aren’t responding with words, the other person will be less likely to feel like they need to reply to your message.
And the last thing you want to do is to apologize and repeat. Now you want to say, if they're stubborn and they're not breaking off, you want to say “I'm really sorry but I do have to get going”, or “I apologize but I've got to go to my meeting now”. A lot of times people need that little extra reinforcement toward the end. And by the way, saying you're sorry quickly or apologizing, you don't want to make too big a deal of it. This is just another nice way once again to signal that you're trying to be respectful to that person.
This is assured to you that if you use any of these texting hacks to end a chat, you will come across as a thoughtful person. A lot of times when we're maintaining a boundary we feel like just maintaining a boundary around our time, energy, and focus.
But the truth is that only you can maintain your boundaries. Other people are not going to do that for you, and if you're routinely getting painted into a corner in a conversation by somebody, they need a reminder of where that boundary is. So, if you do it politely they should respect it and their feelings are not gonna be hurt if you handle it this way.