Can’t Control Your Impulse to Interrupt People Mid-Sentence?

Just let me finish!!!

Are any of you like me? Your mind speeds ahead when listening to someone talk, they pause and you… jump in and finish their sentence? We can listen four times faster than we can talk—which is why so many of us are prone to “interruptitis.”

Interruptions are unacceptable and rude, no matter the conversation. So how do you handle the condition? Is there a cure for a bad case of interruptitis?

Here’s what to do, both when you get interrupted and when you’re the interrupter:

What if you’re talking and you’ve barely paused and someone starts to take over your next sentence? In order to ensure your thoughts remain yours, speak up and say, “Please let me finish, and then I’d love to hear what you have to say” or “Just a minute, please” and continue. Or what if somebody totally grabs your input and tries to make it their own? Be brave and say, “How is that different from what I said a few minutes ago?” or “I’m glad you’re in agreement with what I said earlier.” It, politely, calls them out on their sneakiness.

No one wants to get a reputation as a bad listener or for having such a big ego that you can’t take turns. We all know the type who barely waits for you to finish so they can launch into their own tirade. Plainly put, being the interrupter just makes you look bad. Disruptions cause the interruptee to lose their train of thought, force them to start over, and make them feel uncomfortable and unimportant.

So what if you’re the one doing the interrupting? Sure, in some circumstances, trying to get a word in edgewise is like trying to thread a needle on a sewing machine while it’s bobbing. But you have to wait for the right moment and grab it. They say awareness is the first step to change, so if you really want to break the habit, ask for support. Get others to hold you accountable. Have your friends and family call you out when you interrupt them, or anyone: “You just did it again. Stop interrupting people!”

You can cure interruptitis one sentence at a time. Putting your attention on another person marks you as a great conversationalist. Interrupting them is a conversation killer. So do everyone a favor and zip it and listen.

Now, I’ll shut up and let you have a turn.

How are your conversation skills? Learn 10 ways to speak well… and listen better.

Colette Carlson

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