Speak-us Interrupt-us

Ever try to talk to someone who wants to finish your sentences for you? I’m not talking about someone who knows you so well that the two of you quickly get on the same thought-path.

Woman holding up hand to indicate stop.

Speaking over another says we believe we are more important than the person who was already speaking. We can hold on to our ideas until it is our turn to talk.

I’m talking about the person who constantly interrupts and won’t let you finish a sentence. We all deserve more respect.

When someone repeatedly interrupts you, you have several options. Hopefully, you want to do more than just finish your sentence. You also want to establish a relationship built on mutual respect. If you settle for regaining control of the conversation, you will forever be fighting the battle of finishing your sentences. If you take approach that others must respect you, you may lose out on a few conversations in the short-term, but ultimately, you will get your real message across. 

When you find yourself being repeatedly interrupted, there are several ways to handle the situation.

You can outright ask for what you need and remain silent until you get it. Like this:

 Option 1:

“I was thinking about how to increase…”

            “Profit for the quarter?”

“…participation at our webinars…”

“Great idea. We need presenters who have more energy.”

“Please stop interrupting me.”

Option 2:

Ignore what the other person is saying until you’ve completed your sentence. In which case, the conversation might go like this:

“I was thinking about how to increase…”

“sales for the quarter?”

“…participation at our webinars…”

“Great idea. We need presenters who have more energy.”

“… by adding an interactive discussion.”

Option 3:

Play the interrupter’s game by turning the tables and adding almost-plausible endings to the interrupter’s sentence until the interrupter begins to actually listen to what you’re saying. Like this:

“I was thinking about how to increase…”

            “sales for the quarter?”

“…sales aren’t important. What is …”

            “You’re right, we need to focus on profits.”

“… profits is secondary to participation. That’s the most important metric.”

            “You’re right, participation is key. Wait! What do you mean profits and sales aren’t important? Are you kidding?

Option 4:

Another effective technique for gaining the respect you want is to simply fall silent as soon as you are interrupted and let the other person have the conversation. Set aside your desire to lead the conversation. To be effective in this technique, you have to do more than let the other person talk. Put the other person in charge of the conversation by asking questions related to your original topic. Listen and express interest. Most interrupters quickly grow uncomfortable trying to lead a conversation when they have no idea where it was supposed to go. When he’s done, you can begin your conversation again. Over time, the chronic interrupter learns to show respect by letting you finish your sentence.

“I was thinking about how to increase…”

“sales for the quarter?”

“Is that what you’ve been thinking about?

“Um, well, more sales are better, right?”

“Of course! How would you increase sales for the quarter?”

“Well, I …I’m not sure I really have an idea right now. I thought that’s what you wanted to talk about.”

“What if we made our webinars better by adding an interactive discussion that got people really thinking and talking about buying our product? What do you think about that?”

The truth is, you can’t pour more water into a glass that is already full. There’s no sense talking when the other person has no interest in listening. It does nothing to change your relationship. When you’re being interrupted, what you want more than to finish your sentence is to be shown respect.

To be shown respect, we must show that we respect others. When we show we are willing to relinquish control of the conversation and to listen to others’ ideas, we show them respect and teach them to have patience to wait their turn, assured that they will be given opportunity to speak and that we will listen.

Life Is Honest, Open and True: Interrupting others is a sign of disrespect. To gain the respect you want, model the behavior you want by acquiescing control of the conversation for the moment. By showing respect, and through patience and genuine interest in others, you’ll teach them how you expect to be treated, including that you want to finish your sentences.

Related Posts:  Verbal Interruptions

Listening is the Secret to Your Success

Don’t Be a Know-It-All

Use Your Words

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