Politely ending a phone call with someone is an important skill to have. Communication is key for effective business and personal relationships. You never want the person at the other end of the line to feel like you don’t value them or you don’t make time for them.
It is best to introduce the end of a business call by thanking the other party for their time and asking if any questions remain unanswered. End a private call by first emphasizing how much you enjoyed the conversation, followed by a suggestion for the next meeting or phone call.
With a business phone call, there are some pleasantries exchanged, but the focus is on the business at hand. Both parties have other businesses to attend to, so not dragging it out is vital.
With personal calls, you may have plenty of free time to just talk about anything under the sun with someone. However, you don’t want the call to end abruptly either. Other times, you have to get off the phone to go somewhere or do something else.
Ending Business Calls
A good impression is vital for all business calls, which starts from the moment you begin the call until the call is completed. You don’t want to rush anyone, but you can’t waste time or you won’t get anything done. Finding that balance is essential.
The call should be friendly, with a great introduction and a firm closing. When you do so, the other party will feel appreciated and respected throughout the call.
Be Professional and Concise
End your phone calls in a professional and concise manner. This means thanking your call partner for their time and ending the call promptly, without unnecessary small talk or tangents. This professional behavior not only shows that you respect your conversation partner’s time, but also helps maintain a positive relationship.
However, it is important to find the right balance so as not to come across as abrupt or rude. By communicating politely and clearly, you can ensure that your interviewer retains a positive impression of you and your company.
Remember that the end of a phone call is just as important as the beginning and middle, so be sure to leave a lasting positive impression.
Use a Question to End the Call
Before the phone call ends, both parties need an opportunity to ask questions.
It is a nice gesture to lead into it by allowing them to go first, then you can ask your questions. If they ask you first, feel free to dive in. Always give them the same courtesy to ask their questions before you end the call.
What to Say:
“Do you have any questions for me?”
“Do you mind if I ask a few things before we end our call?”
“When you are ready can you share the information, I need and I can process this for you?”
“Are there any other details you feel I should know?”
Offer a Summary of the Conversation
Summarizing the conversation is an important step in ending a phone call and is common among customer service representatives, for example. After a lengthy conversation, it’s easy to forget some of the key points discussed. A brief summary not only helps you remember what was discussed but also ensures that both parties are on the same page.
A summary of the conversation helps clarify any misunderstandings that may have occurred during the conversation. It also provides an opportunity to ask any final questions or thank the person for the conversation.
By offering a summary of the conversation, you show that you appreciate the other person’s time and input, which can help build a stronger relationship.
What to Say:
“To recap: We’ve talked about X, Y, and Z. Is there anything else you would like to add or clarify?”
“Before we conclude, I want to make sure I’ve got this right and wrap things up: We’ve talked about A, B, and C. Did I miss anything important?”
“In summary, we have talked about P, Q, and R. Do you have any other questions or concerns before we end the call?
Thank Them for Their Time
Always thank someone for their time when you complete a business call.
This is a wonderful way to politely let them know you are ready to end the call. It doesn’t matter what the conversation was about, always go this route. It helps you build a relationship with them while also remaining professional.
What to Say:
“Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today. Have a wonderful day!“
“I am glad we connected today; your input enlightened me on the topic.”
“I understand this project is a challenge, feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns as you proceed with it.”
“It was nice talking to you today and I look forward to meeting you in person at the convention next month.”
“It was a pleasure talking with you today and I am looking forward to our follow-up.”
Follow Up Request If Needed
If the business call doesn’t take care of everything you need, it may be necessary to schedule a follow-up. This is a wonderful way to politely end the phone call too.
Both of you can review your schedules and find a time to connect again. That timeframe depends on what your discussion entails.
What to Say:
“Is it okay to give you a call back in 2 weeks to get an update?”
“There is so much more for us to talk about now that we have connected. When is a good time to schedule another call with you?“
“Enjoy the rest of your day, can we talk again next Friday?”
“I would like some time to research a few things we discussed. When is a good time (for our customer service representatives) to talk to you again?”
“This has been an informative call, and I appreciate your input. Do you mind if we talk again before the end of the month?”
Avoid Telling Them You Have Something Else to Do
Your time is no more valuable than that of the other person on the other end of the phone. While you do have a business to conduct, don’t make them feel short-changed because you are in a rush to end the call. Avoid telling them you have something else to do or a time limit.
Telling them you have a meeting, it is time for lunch, or other activity to get off the phone is going to be a turnoff and can be deemed as rude from a professional point of view.
Ending Private Calls
It is nice to connect with someone by phone, to hear their voice, rather than just sending an email or a text. This includes friends, family, and even parents of those your children hang out with. Perhaps you are calling someone you have a crush on or you would like to go on a date with.
Give the person on the line your undivided attention. Don’t try to multitask while you talk to them. You may have other things to do, but put them on hold a bit and enjoy the conversation.
When it is time to go, there are ways to politely end the phone call. You want them to reflect on it with a smile and look forward to when you can chat again soon!
Emphasize That You Enjoyed the Conversation
Tell them you enjoyed the call. People need to hear that; it encourages them to pick up the phone and call you again.
If they feel like they bother you or you didn’t listen to them, they are going to be disappointed.
What to Say:
“I am so glad you called me!”
“It was fun to catch up, we need to do so more often.”
“I enjoyed chatting with you, do you have time to meet for lunch next week?”
“Thanks for the laughs, it brightened my day to hear from you.”
“Call me any time!”
If You Have a Time Limit
If the call is cut short because you have to do something, make sure they know you are happy to talk with them.
The timing may be off, but that doesn’t mean their call doesn’t mean the world to you.
What to Say:
“I have to go to work, but can you call me again after 5:30 so we can finish our conversation?”
“I have to go feed the baby, but can I call you back when she takes a nap?”
“I have to go but I love hearing from you.”
“I am trying to get dinner on the table right now so I need to go but we will talk more soon.”
“The background noise here is making it hard to hear you. Let’s make the call Sunday morning when my husband will be here to help take care of the kids and reduce the chaos!”
Offer to Call Them on a Specific Day or Time
We often feel the need to answer a call, even if we are too busy to talk. We worry the person on the other end of the call needs something important. It can be a relief that they just want to visit, but the timing can be off.
Offer to call them back on a specific day or time, but make sure you follow through. Don’t leave them waiting for a call that doesn’t come!
What to Say:
“I have too many interruptions to talk during the day but my evenings are always better. Can I call you when I get home tonight after 6?”
“Sorry, I have some pressing things going on right now. I work from home tomorrow; can I call you then?”
“I was just getting ready to run into the store. Can I call you back in a bit?”
“I am trying to help the kids get a few things done. I can call you after I get them settled.”
“Sorry, my schedule is crazy this weekend. Can we talk on Monday?”
“I have company right now and I don’t want to be rude to them by being on the phone too. Can I call you in half an hour?”
Never Say You Have Another Call Coming In
Don’t tell someone you have another call coming in. That is a rude way to end a call. They may perceive this as you feeling the other person calling you is more important to talk to than them.
If you need to go in a hurry to answer a call, simply tell them you need to call them right back, but make sure you do!
If you do say you have another call, explain why it is important. For example, if it is your child or your boss, they will understand you can’t ignore those calls and just visit with them. If it is another friend or family member though, it may be upsetting to them if you hang up so you can answer that person.
What to Say:
“My boss is calling me and I have to take it, call you right back.”
“My son’s school is calling, I will call you back soon.”
“I have to go but will call you in a few minutes.”
“Sorry to end our call but I have to go and I will reach out later.”
“My daughter is on the other line, give me a minute with her, and then I will reach out again.”
It is important to offer best wishes at the end of a private phone call. It leaves a lasting impression and shows that you care about the other person’s well-being.
Whether it’s a polite “Take care” or a more personal “I love you,” it can help end the phone call on a positive note and strengthen the relationship.
What to Say:
“Take care and have a wonderful day. I enjoyed talking with you”
“Thinking of you and hoping for the best.”
“It was great catching up with you. Take care of yourself and be well.”
Set Expectations for Future Communication
End a private telephone conversation on a positive note by summarizing the key points and making plans for future communication. Set a specific time and date for a follow-up call or indicate when the other person can expect to hear back from you.
This will help avoid misunderstandings and maintain healthy relationships.
What to Say:
“Before we end this conversation, let’s set a date for our next meeting. How about we meet next Wednesday at the same time?”
Dealing with Difficult or Chatty Callers
It is important to end a telephone conversation respectfully and professionally, regardless of the nature of the call. If you are dealing with a difficult caller, try to remain calm and collected, and avoid getting into arguments or debates.
Thank the caller for their time and politely tell them that you need to end the call.
If you are dealing with a talkative person who won’t stop talking and you are having a hard time ending the conversation, try to take control of the conversation. Summarize the points discussed, repeat the next steps, and indicate that it is time to end the call.
Remember to remain polite and courteous throughout the conversation and end the conversation on a positive and professional note.
What to Say:
“Thank you for sharing your concerns with me. However, we have discussed all the necessary points and I need to end the conversation now. Is there anything else I can help you with before we end?”
“I understand that you have more to say, but I have other pressing matters to attend to. Let’s make sure we’ve discussed everything you need, and we can continue the conversation at a later time.”
“It’s been great talking with you, but I’m afraid I have to end the conversation now. Can we arrange another time to continue the conversation or tie up any loose ends?”
Is It Rude Not to Say Goodbye on the Phone?
A phone conversation should always end with a goodbye, as this is a kind of agreement for both sides that there are no other topics to discuss. If you leave a conversation without saying goodbye, it can come off as rude and give the impression that they are angry.
On a phone call, you can’t send any courtesy signals other than through speech, so it’s important that what you say is courteous and precise.
A goodbye also gives each side another opportunity to get rid of an urgent question or make an appointment for the following conversation. So saying goodbye acts as an agreement that both sides have the same understanding of the end of the conversation.
Cultural Differences in Phone Etiquette
Cultural differences in telephone etiquette can be challenging, especially when it comes to ending a phone call. In some cultures, it is considered rude to end a call abruptly without first mentioning a number of courtesies, such as thanking the other party for their time and expressing appreciation for the conversation.
In other cultures, however, a more direct approach is preferred, opting for a simple and curt farewell to signal the end of the conversation. Understanding these nuances in phone etiquette is essential to effective communication and building strong relationships, especially in today’s globalized world where we often deal with people from different cultural backgrounds.
By paying attention to these differences, we can ensure that our phone conversations end on a positive note, leave a good impression, and strengthen our relationships with others.
Here are some examples:
- Japan: Answer calls with “moshi moshi,” do not speak loudly on the phone, and do not use your phone in public places.
- India: Exchange pleasantries at the beginning and end of a telephone conversation, and address someone by their official title or honorific, especially if they are elderly or in a position of authority.
- France: Say “allo” when answering the phone, say “au revoir” or “à bientôt” to signal the end of the conversation, and avoid ending the call abruptly.
- United States: Answer the phone with a simple “hello” or “hi,” end the conversation with a phrase like “goodbye” or “talk to you later,” and avoid talking loudly in public places or using your phone during meetings or other professional occasions.
- China: Introduce yourself and your company, avoid interrupting the other person, and speak calmly and politely.
- South Korea: Answer the phone by name, inquire about the other party’s well-being, avoid slang or colloquialisms, and do not end the conversation abruptly.
- Middle East: Exchange pleasantries, avoid bringing up sensitive or controversial topics, and thank them for the conversation.
- Germany: Answer the phone with your last name, avoid casual language or small talk, arrive on time for phone appointments, and follow up with an e-mail or written summary of the conversation.
Katie Holmes is a senior author at everyday-courtesy.com with over 15 years of experience in marketing and psychology. As a freelance consultant, she also supports companies and executives in overcoming communication challenges. Katie is a passionate digital nomad working on her first book on the art of communication.