Smalltalk: How to end a conversation

How do you end a conversation?

With Koreans, I am always so concerned about being polite.  I worry about taking up too much of their time.  I can’t always tell if I am interrupting them from something more important or if I am a burden.  They can’t always tell when I have reached my limit on how much Korean I can absorb.  A good rule of thumb is if it has been an hour and I have been striving to write Korean sentences, then I am probably maxed out.

With an American, I might throw out “Gotta run!”  or “Take it easy.”  This seems rude and far too informal to a Korean.  Occasionally, I get trapped by someone who is feeling chatty when I have things to do, it is bedtime, or maybe just desperately need a bathroom break, but can’t seem to get the point across to the person, perhaps because we have some language barriers.

At family gatherings, saying goodbye is a long, drawn out affair involving many hugs, farewells, goodies wrapped up to take home, kisses, promises of phone calls, last minute topics to discuss, and more hugs.  I figure we are doing good it we say goodbye in under 45 minutes. Graceful bowing out is not my strong suit.  haha

How I end a conversation also depends on my relationship with the person.  Do I know this person well?  What level of formality do we use in our speech?  How often do I speak with them?  Where do I speak with them?  If the person is superior in authority, such as a teacher, I feel especially awkward at being the one to suggest ending our conversation.

Casual good byesgoodnight

If the person is on Mindpasta, the atmosphere is casual there.  It is like a party with close friends.  We cheerily say sweet dreams or good night, and even give hugs.  People are from around the world, so good morning and good nights are a regular occurrence.  The policy is to treat everyone as same age and speak casually.  Mindpasta knows people are of many different levels learning, and Ryan seeks to encourage an environment where you can practice something more than the stiff formal language presented in textbooks.


More formal closings

Here are some of the ways I have ended conversations:

  • It was good talking to you.
  • Thank you for your time.  This was an enjoyable conversation.
  • I appreciate all you taught me.  I promise I will keep studying hard.
  • I don’t want to keep you too long.  I’ll let you get back to work.
  • I’m sorry I can’t talk longer, but I have an appointment to go to.
  • Let’s plan on speaking again tomorrow.  I have to get back to studies now to prepare for class.
  • It is getting late there, you must be tired, I’ll let you go now.
  • Oh, look at the time! I really have to get to bed.
  • Do you realize we’ve been speaking for over an hour?  Gosh, I have taken up enough of your time.  Thank you so much for chatting with me.
  • It’s getting close to your lunch time.  Aren’t you hungry?  We’ll talk again soon.

It occurs to me that I have very few ready phrases for ending conversations.

  • 안녕히 겨세요  goodbye (to someone staying)
  • 고맙습니다 thank you
  • 안녕히 주무세요 good night
  • 좋은 꿈 꿔  sweet dreams (for close friend)
  • 좋은 하루 되세요 have a good day

Add to my “to do” list for small talk to learn how to end conversations in Korean. 🙂


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