Conversations don’t usually stop all of a sudden (it would feel weird if they did!). Instead, a closing pattern facilitates clarity to all parties that the conversation is on its way to ending, offers an opportunity to address any remaining issues, does some relationship work (gratitude, future contact), and creates an opportunity for upsells, feedback requests or other added value moves.
Structurally, the heart of a conversation tends to be a series of topics, followed by a pre-closing, and a final closing.
Pre-closings can either lead to opening a new topic or continue on to a final closing. Within the pre-closing period, there are common social functions like well-wishing or a discussion of future contact. The very end (the “closing”) is a final adjacency pair of farewells like goodbye and bye. Here is an example closing from Moore and Arar (2018, p167):
A: ok SEQUENCE CLOSING
B: Anything else? LAST TOPIC CHECK
A: no DECLINING A NEW TOPIC
B: Have a good day! WELL-WISHING
A: You too WELL-WISHING
B: Goodbye FAREWELL
A: Bye FAREWELL
There is a sequence closer (“ok”), which shuts down the last topic of conversation. Then the pre-closing begins with a last topic check (“Anything else?”). At this point, the user could open a new topic and re-enter the body of the conversation (leaving the pre-closing), or they could decline to open a new topic and continue the pre-closing (disaffirmation). The pre-closing often continues with optional social graces like well-wishing (“Have a good day!”), acknowledgments about the relationship or activity (“It’s been a pleasure chatting with you”), mentions of future activities together (“I’ll see you tomorrow!”), or more. Once the optional pre-closing steps are complete, the participants do the final closing (“bye/bye”, “cheers/see ya”, etc…), at which point the conversation is over.
Most conversations benefit from a closing pattern. Exceptions include transfers to an agent, intolerable input (e.g. offensive language), or aborting (instant conclusion).