How you respond to conversational interruptions is a powerful indicator of your character, patience and approachability.
Consider these five practices for approaching people who always interrupt you:
1. Press the “resume button”. When someone hijacks the conversation from you, make sure to return to where you left off. Depending on your relationship WITH and the personality OF the interrupter, your “resume button” could be:
*Polite: “May I continue with my story?
*Sarcastic: “As I was saying five minutes ago…”
*Playful: “Canifinish? Canifinish canifinish?” (from SNL, Dana Carvey)
2. Educate them. Maybe you’re concerned that someone is going to interrupt what you’re about to say. Or that you’ve got an important story that can’t be punctuated by other people’s clever little jokes. So, here’s the solution:
Educate them early. Explain WHY you can’t be interrupted. Preface your story or comment with, “Carol, this is a really important story, so hang onto your comments until I’m done – cool?”
3. Interrupt the interrupter. Sometimes you have to give ‘em a taste of their own medicine. To fight fire with fire. So, interrupt them right back. See how they like it. Don’t worry; if they’ve already interrupted you first, you have permission to return the gesture.
4. Use silence strategically. Sometimes the best strategy is to simply stop talking when interrupted. Punctuated by a patient, semi-serious gaze, this practice allows the interrupter to hear the amplified sound of her conversational narcissism in your silence.
And, when timed correctly, you can usually get an apology out of the person, this granting you permission to continue speaking. Keep in mind this strategy doesn’t work with ALL interrupter personalities, but can be effective when used correctly.
5. Express your emotions. If someone is completely unaware of his interrupting patterns, say the following: “Steve, when you interrupt me like that, it makes me feel (x) because (y).” Then pause. Then wait for his apology. Then continue.
If he doesn’t apologize say, “Steve, I choose not to have conversations when I feel constantly interrupted.” Then walk away or hang up.
The key word here is “choose.” Ultimately, this strategy will work because it’s focused on the behavior, not the person, and reinforces your commitment to your values and boundaries.
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How do you handle interrupters?
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
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