Join Tatiana Kolovou for an in-depth discussion in this video Dealing with interrupters, part of Communication Tips Weekly.
- You're at a staff meeting expressing an important idea when bam! The interrupter strikes cutting you off mid-sentence. The discussion has been hi-jacked and you sit there feeling a bit embarrassed, exasperated, or both. You can deal with the interrupter in three steps progressively more overt. Step one, make direct eye contact with that interrupter and keep talking. Don't give the floor away.
The direct eye contact is a silent signal from you to the interrupter that a breach of conversational etiquette has occurred. Most of the time, that's all it takes. The interrupter backs down, you continue your thought fluidly, and most people don't even realize what has happened. But occasionally, the interrupter doesn't take this subtle signal and continues to talk over you. All right, step two, as in step one you continue your thought, make eye contact, and this time add a hand gesture.
Motion with one finger or the palm of your hand that you will be finished shortly. And once again, don't you give up that floor. While gesturing is a more obvious signal, and one that others in the room are going to notice, don't feel rude, you are not the one interrupting. Now, even if this direct but non-verbal signal doesn't stop your interrupter, it's time for step three. Stop what you were saying and politely say to the interrupter, "Please let me finish." Notice the intentional grammar of this expression.
"Please, let me finish." It's a command. It's a politely worded command, but nonetheless, a command, not a question. A question, "Will you let me finish?" has a sound of desperation to it that we don't want. Simply speak these words, "Please, let me finish." It is a very rare individual who will continue speaking after being called out verbally on interrupting. So remember, step one, keep talking, make eye contact.
Step two, add the hand gesture. Step three, "Please, let me finish." If it makes you nervous thinking about trying these steps at work, especially if your interrupter is also your boss, practice at home first. You can ask a friend to intentionally interrupt you a few times while you're out for dinner, so that you can practice your new three step game plan for stopping the interrupter. You can do this and it's time to stop the interrupter.
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