By Steve Adubato, Ph.D.
Interruptions are a big part of the communication game. We interrupt each other in conversations, presentations and in our every day communication. Let’s consider some questions about how and why we get interrupted and what we can do about it.
Why do I get interrupted by others? If you are often getting interrupted, it could be because you are hesitating too long before making a point or your body language seems to invite others to jump in. Another reason is that we simply take forever to make our point so others interrupt us out of frustration or boredom.
Does a person’s position in an organization impact on his likelihood of interrupting others? Status or perceived power is a huge factor in the interruption game. Teachers are more likely to interrupt students. CEOs and high-level managers often interrupt those who report directly to them. If your boss is droning on in a meeting, you aren’t likely to jump in and cut him off. Very often, people interrupt because they can without any consequences taking place.
What can I do to stop others from interrupting me so much? It is critical that you first acknowledge that you are being interrupted and that you don’t like it. Make a decision that you are going to change your communication style to send a message that excessive interrupting isn’t acceptable.
Will raising my voice help? Rarely. In fact, when interrupted you should bring your volume down a bit. Such an approach communicates a subtle confidence that you don’t have to yell to be heard, but you will be heard.
Finally, don’t be afraid to use your body and your voice to communicate directly to the interrupter. For example, while leaning forward say with your hand out; “Just one second. Let me finish my point…as I was saying…” This shows that you feel strongly about what you are saying.