No One Really Knows When to End a Conversation

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It doesn't matter if you're face to face, on the phone, or typing — there comes a time in every conversation where one or both of you desperately wants it to end, but you're not really sure if it's the right moment. These anxieties can follow you from work to home to catching up with family and friends. It's a constant human problem, but there are ways around it.


One psychology researcher has been after this solution for years, and he's starting to get attention for it. Harvard University's Adam Mastroianni has published a new study which finds that just 2 percent of conversations end on a mutually satisfying note for both parties. Furthermore, 70 percent of us are only ending a conversation when one person decides to do so. It's not even necessarily because we've still got so much to say — about half of study participants wanted to talk less than they wound up doing.

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This is one of those soft skills that can work wonders for your career, since it requires so much of your eminently valuable emotional intelligence. Luckily, because it's a skill and not an inherent quality or personality trait, you can learn how to improve your EQ. As for talking, there's some good news in the data: Mastroianni found that only in about 1 in 10 conversations did both parties want to keep talking after it ended.


"Whatever you think the other person wants, you may well be wrong," he told ​Scientific American​. "So you might as well leave at the first time it seems appropriate, because it's better to be left wanting more than less."