Five, Four, Three, Two, One…Happy New Year!
December 28, 2022
The Language Of Flowers…
February 9, 2023

Are You A Conversation Interrupter?

We’ve all been there. You’re telling a story and just getting to the crux, when someone interrupts. By the time they’re done talking you may have lost your enthusiasm to continue, or perhaps lost your train of thought. Or maybe someone else has jumped in, the topic has changed and now it feels awkward to go back.

When people interrupt it can sometimes feel like they’re being rude, thoughtless, impatient or selfish. Other times it feels as if they can’t contain their excitement about the topic and want to accelerate it as quickly as possible.

Being a good (and polite) conversationalist at its core involves being a skilled (and active) listener, sharing, thinking, and taking turns.

However on those occasions when interruptions happen, be mindful and thoughtful with how to pause, reflect, answer and advance the conversation accordingly.

What are some ways to respectfully do that?

  • Recognize that you’re interrupting and preface with an apology.
    • “I’m sorry for interrupting; what do you think if…”
    • “I’d like to add…”
    • “Here’s a thought…”
  • Ask for permission to chime in.
    • “May I interrupt?”
    • “May I expand upon that?”
    • “May I also say?”
    • (And wait for permission to be granted).
  • Contribute with a relevant talking point.
    • “While we’re on that subject…”
    • “I think that’s a solid idea; may I build upon that…”
  • Establish parameters at the onset of a business meeting or presentation.
    • “Please let me know your questions and input throughout the course of this session.”
    • “Please feel free to jot down your ideas throughout the demonstration, as I’ve set aside time after this session for Q&A and will welcome your input then.”
  • Deflect the interruption by politely holding up your hand in a ‘please wait’ gesture.
    • “Hold your thought, please let me continue for a moment.”
  • Bring the topic back to the speaker.
    • “As you were saying…”
    • “Please go on…”
    • “Let’s go back to the original subject…”

Separately, in a brainstorm session, it is understood that the point of the time together is to build and expand every idea and concept, and to keep thoughts and suggestions freely flowing. Hence one would not be considered to be interrupting.

No one enjoys being around a conversation interrupter; fortunately we have strategies to address interruptions tactfully and astutely.