Communication 101: What To Do When You’re Constantly Interrupted
Whether in life or in relationships, no one likes to be constantly interrupted and it’s worse when there is one offender doing it, like a co-worker, a boss, a significant other, a mother or dad or one particular friend.
I want to confess. When I was in college, I used to interrupt people a lot when they talked to me. Eventually, one of my friends brought it to my attention by telling another friend when I did it, “See, it’s like she can’t help herself!”
Wow! That was an eye opening moment. To be called out like that to my face!
From that day on, I changed on my own and made a concerted effort to be less discourteous. Yes, I slip up once in awhile in my adulthood but I’m proud of myself for correcting a character flaw on my own.
Then you have the non-listeners. The opposite of interrupters but still as flawed
I love my dad and he is not an interrupter but he is one of those non-listeners. He will give you time to talk but then will give you a reply and immediately based on his reply, you know he wasn’t listening to a word you said while you were talking. I used to joke to my sisters that dad is always in two modes: “talking” and “about to talk.”
I wondered if I got my penchant for interrupting others from him. Who knows?
There are interrupters and non-listeners in our lives and I think these actions of not being good communicators can lead to a lot of fights and break down a lot of relationships.
This is a problem that we must understand before we can correct because not everyone will be willing to accept when told they do something and self-correct.
I did a search for websites to see if anyone or any group has summarized the different types of interrupters out there and I found one by heraspiration.com that does an excellent job. The author concludes by stating, “while interruption in communication is absolutely rude and discourteous, it has become a norm for many” so knowing the kind of interrupter is best.
The author summarizes as such:
- The Plain Interrupter: The plain interrupters are those who feel it is normal to interrupt when a ‘better’ idea pops into their mind. Their reaction can be likened to their upbringing or educational background. To them, ‘I better say it when I think it is relevant’. Plain interrupters have no hidden intentions. They just lack the right communication skills.
- The Irregular Interrupter: This category does not really pay attention to interrupting a conversation. It comes as a reflex action. However, immediately they notice the change, they apologize and set things right. Most times, the irregular interrupter interrupts when he feels he shouldn’t be left out of the conversation. I mean, he feels he should quickly give his opinion before the other person says it.
- The Nonchalant Interrupter: People here are just ignorant. They do not mind to pay attention to whatsoever you are saying and when they feel they are tired, they just interrupt. When they interrupt, you will find out that they never cared about your opinion. Most times, they use fillers like ‘uhmmm, yeah’ when they are about to interrupt. You may end up feeling frustrated.
- The Corporate Interrupter: People in this category interrupts through phone calls. They are not necessarily a part of the corporate world, but they always feel like the call cannot wait. You end up trying to see if the call is more important than your conversation Most times, you realize that the calls could have actually waited.
- The All-knowing Interrupter: This may seem like the worst of all. People in this category feels they know what you want to say. They try to read your mind to finish what you have to say. The fascinating part is that they keep doing it over and over. At the end of the conversation, you feel unachieved. Most times, they finish your statement by saying something different from what you planned to say. You end up asking yourself ‘Why did you agree to this conversation, if you knew what I wanted to say?’
Then, there are options of what to do about it. First,it is suggested that before you accuse others of not listening to you, look at yourself to see if you take too long to explain things, talk too slow, meander with the point… then it could be something about your communication style that causes the interrupter to behave as he or she does.
The next step is to take action.
First, explain to the interrupter calmly to see if he or she can see your point and work on adjusting it. Here is a summary of other solutions:
- Be calm when speaking and avoid repetition. Repetition may make your man feel like he finds it difficult to easily assimilate
- Consider your husband by making him a part of the conversation. Allow him make comments in-between. Apply the rule of turn-taking
- Be precise and avoid talking round a circle. It wears out the listener.
- Avoid placing your feelings above solutions. If you aim at a solution, he will naturally feel your emotions.
- Do not speak like you do not know what to say. It’s a conversation. Take charge when necessary
- Take note of when he begins to feel uncomfortable. That part is what you should avoid.
I like this late offered option which may seems combative and a bit extreme but I think it will work:
“Interrupt the interrupter: Well, this may seem quite excessive but the excessiveness is dependent on the approach. Immediately interrupts back when interrupted, just continue like there was no interrupter.”
People don’t realize what they do and will never do. Over time, when given a taste of their own medicine or if their ego is not stroked, maybe they’ll get it.