How to Get Off a Zoom or Phone Call Without Being an Asshole

I’ve been on FaceTime with my grandma for eight hours, please help me

I love my grandma. I really do. But my God, once she gets you on the phone, you might as well cancel any plans you had for the next few weeks. So, over the past few hours of her talking at me on speaker phone — which, still going strong — I reached out to a couple of experts and asked them to help me close out this phone call (and for future reference, any upcoming, unpleasant video calls) without coming off as a complete asshole, disappointing my poor grandma even more than I already have. Here were their recommendations…

How to Get Off Zoom: Set Some Boundaries From the Get-Go

Admittedly, my opportunity to take this approach has long passed, but hey, it might help you out. “If the other party is someone who you’re familiar with, and you know they’re long-winded, at the beginning of the call, I’d say, ‘Thanks for calling, I just have a few minutes right now, but I’d be happy to speak to you,’” psychologist Michael Edelstein, co-author of Three Minute Therapy, explains. “Alert them to be ready for your relatively abrupt ending.” If, when that time comes, they still refuse to let you go…

End a Phone Call by Just Being Honest

Edelstein says, “One of the ways I do it, which seems polite and effective to me, is saying something — assuming the following has a grain of truth in it — like, ‘I love speaking with you. I’d like to speak more. Unfortunately, I don’t have any more time right now.’”

Now, if the topic at hand is sensitive and this approach feels a little too crass, you can change up the wording a little bit. “Suppose you’re talking to someone who’s in pain and pouring their heart out in a long-winded fashion,” Edelstein says. “Again, assuming the following has a grain of truth in it, say, ‘I’d love to speak with you about this further, but now’s not a good time. Let’s find a mutually convenient time.’ This, of course, is assuming you do want to speak with them more, and lend them your shoulder or ear.” To make the most of this strategy…

Or Pick the Right Moment to Say Goodbye

“When I feel like the call is getting dragged out, I start listening very, very, very, very, carefully,” says Bobby Dolan, a customer service representative. “If I hear anything where I can make a connection, I jump in and cut them off, then politely say something like, ‘Thanks again for calling, [name]. Unfortunately, I’m getting called into a meeting, but yeah, if you need anything from me in the future, you have my number. Call me any time.’”

“So,” Dolan continues, “if they’re off-topic and say something like, ‘I spend most of my summers in Orlando,’ boom: I’ll jump in and be like, ‘Oh, nice. I’ve been to Disney World like nine times. Hey Mike, my bad, but I’m getting called into a meeting right now and have to go. If you ever need anything, give me a call. Nice talking with you today.’ Outside of work, I might say, ‘Mom’s on the other line.’ The key is to put the blame on someone else, because then it’s like, ‘Hey man, I’m digging this convo. Other people are pulling me away from it.’ It’s a veteran move.” And if all else fails…

End a Zoom Chat by Experiencing Some ‘Technical Difficulties’

World Health Organization adviser Bruce Aylward seemed to have tried using fake technical difficulties to dodge some touchy questions during a recent interview with Radio Television Hong Kong. But as you can see below, it looks like he made it a little too obvious that he was simply uninterested in answering those queries.

But seeing as the internet completely blows right now, if you were to suddenly “disconnect” from a Zoom call or experience some major lag, that would be a totally believable way to make an exit. “Most laptops have a hotkey that disables the WiFi radio,” says IT expert Zack Gaudet — if you have a Mac, you can simply press “Turn Wi-Fi Off” in the top right-hand corner. “So, you could kinda sneakily press that and all of a sudden just get lagged out. Or you could have your roommate or whatever start streaming Netflix in 4k HDR.” And if all else fails…

Or Hang the Fuck Up

This is the nuclear option obviously, but sometimes it needs to be done. “If it’s outside of work, I’ll just hang up,” Dolan says. “Then, I text them something like, ‘Shit man, bad service.’ But if they call back, we have problems — then you just have to ride it out. One of my best friends is like that, so I’ve had a lot of practice.”

Welp, sorry, grandma.