RCT Blog


Are you one of those people who has the bothersome habit of interrupting others while they are talking?  By “interrupting,” I mean cutting people off mid-sentence to interject your thoughts, speaking over others, finishing their sentences, or (just as bad) interrupting the thought flow of others. 



Are you an interrupter?  Observe yourself.  I have found that the vast majority of interrupters are not even aware that they are doing it!  Usually they are so anxious to make their point and move the discussion along that they are oblivious to the fact that they cut the other person off mid-sentence.  They may also jump in just as the speaker pauses, ever-so-briefly, to take a breath!  The interrupter’s intent is not to be rude, but rather to participate in the conversation.  But in their haste to contribute they shut others down.  As yes, this behavior is often perceived as “rude.” If you are familiar with the DiSC© behavioral styles, we find that the “D” and “i” styles are most often the culprits.


If you are a leader, please note, this behavior shuts others down.  It sends the message that YOUR words are most important – important enough to cut off others who seek to make a point or contribute their perspective/experience/insight to the discussion.  This is shakey ground for a leader. It’s critical for you to be able to draw out the input and ideas of others in the workplace.  One of the foundational needs for employee engagement is to be “heard.”  Your interruption just sent a clear message, and it wasn’t I want to hear what you have to say.”


So how do you self-manage if you are an interrupter?  Here are some things I have had to implement to better manage my mouth:


  • Be self-aware.  Observe yourself in conversation.  Are you an interrupter?
  • Truly listen to the speaker.  Listen with the intent to understand their message, not reply to it.
  • Fight off any urge to finish the other person’s sentence.  Keep quiet!
  • Watch the speaker’s body language.  Have they concluded their thought?
  • When they have finished, respond with a question related to what the speaker just said.  It conveys the message that you were listening, and would like to hear more.
  • If you find that you indeed interrupted, stop yourself.  Apologize and invite the speaker to finish.  “I’m sorry, I interrupted you.  Please continue.”

Through self-awareness and self-discipline, you can learn to minimize your tendency to interrupt.  I challenge you, “Hold that thought. . . “

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