Like it or not, our phones have become fifth limbs. However, we often don’t use them for their original purpose, actually calling people. In this Parade article, Mindpath Health’s Zishan Khan, MD, explains the importance of phone call etiquette and tips to end a call.
Like it or not (mostly not), our phones are like fifth limbs. However, we often don’t use them for their original purpose, which is actually calling people.
“We, as a society, are no longer used to talking on the phone,” says Zishan Khan, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist with Mindpath Health. “For better or for worse, we have grown accustomed to quickly sending messages to one another using text or email. In fact, people prefer to communicate using such methods and will often choose to ignore a phone call and let it proceed to voicemail instead.”
Texts and messaging services certainly have their benefits. For example, Dr. Khan says that telling someone you “picked up milk” doesn’t require a call. However, experts also share that phone calls are much needed in this digital age.
An ending can drive the connection—or the reason for your call—home. However, Dr. Khan explains it’s not as simple as “goodbye.”
For example, he says people might consider whether they insist on getting the last word in or have allowed the other person to say what they need. “Ending a phone conversation can be tricky in various circumstances,” he adds.
The benefit of a phone call
Being able to quickly and concisely communicate via text or messaging apps sure is convenient. However, a critical component of communication gets lost in the sauce: tone.
“It is extremely difficult to truly appreciate the emotion and context of a message via text or email,” Dr. Khan says. “A simple mistake in how one typed a message, the use of capitalization, and even autocorrect can lead to confusion and mistakes when conveying information.”
Even with emoji-filled messages, the lack of emotion and context feels a bit cold and isolating.
“I used to get phone calls from distant family and friends when it was my birthday, but now it’s a simple two-word text, and it can feel a bit crummy when you excitedly message someone about something special to you and all you see in return is a thumbs up emoji,” Dr. Khan says. “It has all led to our communication becoming more and more impersonal, and as a result, we are not able to truly feel connected to others.”
An old-fashioned phone call? That can feel way more personalized and special, but knowing proper ending etiquette is key.
How to end a phone call
Ending a phone call well ensures clarity and respect, explains Dr. Luke Allen, PhD, a licensed psychologist.
“The best way to end a phone call is by summarizing the main points of the conversation, expressing gratitude if necessary, and signaling closure with a warm closing phrase,” Dr. Allen says.
Dr. Khan agrees that a brief recap is clutch.
“This doesn’t need to be a formal summary of what was discussed, but a quick review in the natural flow of the conversation can be helpful to ensure the other person you are speaking to knows you were listening and understood their message,” Dr. Khan explains.
11 best phrases to end a phone call
1. Thank you
Two small words go a long way.
“A quick thank you will show the person you are speaking to that you appreciate them taking the time to talk to you directly over the phone and understand that it is not necessarily always an easy thing to do,” Dr. Khan says.
Dr. Natalie Bernstein, a licensed psychologist, loves the idea of ending a call with gratitude and suggests tacking on some additional context as applicable. For example, “Thanks for helping me work through this situation. I’ll let you know how it turns out,” or Thanks for calling. Glad we had a chance to connect, and we will talk again soon.”
2. It was really nice to speak with you today. I wish I could chat more, but I have to X.
Dr. Bernstein likes this approach because it is direct but not abrupt. The reason for ending the call—showering or getting back to work, for instance—also softens the ending.
3. I do have to go, but perhaps we can speak again soon.
Again, this phrase suggested by Dr. Bernstein gets to the point. However, it offers the potential to chat again soon—maybe to check in or pick up where you left off.
4. Talk to you soon.
Shorter than the one above but still effective, Dr. Allen likes this call-ending phrase because it “implies anticipation for future communication.”
5. Take care.
This simple yet effective phrase suggested by Dr. Allen expresses concern for the recipient’s well-being.
6. Looking forward to catching up.
Dr. Allen says this phrase is a great way to end a call with someone you plan to speak with again soon, perhaps in person.
7. Please let me know if you need anything else and have a good rest of your day.
Dr. Bernstein also recommends this phrase. The offer for help and well wishes combine to make for a warm ending.
8. Until next time.
A good alternative to “talk to you soon,” Dr. Allen loves that “until next time” sets the stage for another chat down the road.
9. Have a great day.
It’s not always necessary to reinvent the wheel. Dr. Allen says this simple, classic way to end a call wraps things up on a positive note.
10. Do you mind if we end here?
Sometimes, it’s a good idea to ask for permission to end a call.
“This is especially important when it comes to phone calls for work or business dealings,” Dr. Khan says. “It not only can be considered rude but also problematic in the event the other person has more to say, and you are simply assuming they are finished.”
11. I have to go, but I will X.
Dr. Khan says addressing the next steps can help as part of a call recap.
“Lastly, when ending a phone call, it is beneficial to ensure there is an understanding of what will come next,” Dr. Khan says. “Is there another conversation that needs to occur? Are you planning on sending an email recap of what was discussed?”
How not to end a call
You’ll definitely want to leave on a positive—or at least a diplomatic—note. “The worst way to end a call is abruptly hanging up without any proper farewell or acknowledgment,” Dr. Allen says. “This can be perceived as rude and leaves the conversation incomplete.”
Not all phone calls are pleasant. If you’re tempted to hang up or yell, try this hack from Dr. Khan.
“One thing I try to do is to smile when speaking to someone, as it helps me convey a more welcoming tone,” Dr. Khan says. “In the end, the main thing you want to avoid is ending a phone conversation with the person hoping they never have to speak to you again.”