This week we discuss one of the most difficult issues that can arise during conversation; someone interrupting you while you are speaking. While it is becoming more commonplace in our culture, it certainly isn’t becoming more tolerable. But, why do we do it and what can we do about it?
If you have ever founds yourself saying, “please let me finish”, you have definitely been interrupted. As has been recently reported and studied, interrupting others is a way that we assert dominance in conversation. And unfortunately, men are starting to get a bad rap for being more prone to interrupt others than women, especially in the workplace. Nevertheless, we say, let’s establish a context that overall limits the need for anyone to compulsively interrupt someone. And, if you are a person who seems to be interrupting others quite regularly, there is no substitute for getting a handle on that behavior. It is typically a habit that can be changed with some intentionality. And the biggest way that we have found to shift the habit of interrupting, both for the interrupter and the one being interrupted is to take a breath, change your posture and ask for a pause in the conversation. Without making each other wrong for interrupting or for judging the one interrupting us as “bad”, we can bring attention to the issue in a way that slows the conversation, avoids making it personal, and allows all voices to be heard. And, if you just happen to work with someone who has this habit, there is no substitute for giving direct feedback in a respectful way about the habit. Sometimes, people may not even know that they are interrupting others on a regular basis.
So, how have you handled interruptions at work? What has worked well for you? Let us hear about it. We promise not to interrupt.