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The Crime of Interrupting!

In a business session, I found myself wanting to interrupt my client. Knowing that interruptions are like stomping on someone’s thoughts, I controlled my impulse. I focused on listening to them as if they were the most important people in the world. They literally were: they were the only other people in the room.

What else helped me from interrupting? I took more notes which kept me busy and focused on them and what they were saying. It helped control my need to yap (and interrupt). Interruptions offend anyone who is interrupted. Just think how you feel when it happens to you. As Margaret Shepherd writes in The Art of Civilized Conversation: Interrupting is the verbal equivalent of shoving.

Hey, we’ve all done it; we’re still good people. Let’s just stop interrupting so often. Breathe deep, focus, listen and take notes and be conscious of having interrupted others more than you would have liked. All these techniques help to reinforce this message: Don’t interrupt, don’t stomp, and don’t shove! Your consideration will pay immediate dividends: you’ll feel better about yourself, they’ll feel better about you, and you’ll learn so much more because you didn’t shut them down!

When you interrupt me, you’re telling me what I have to say doesn’t matter; what you want to say is all that counts. When you do it, you’re yanking my thoughts out of my head, tossing them to the floor, stomping on them, then grinding your heel in them. Got it? It’s the equivalent of shoving me out of your way.

A wise man once told me: You have not converted me just because you have silenced me. I began paying closer attention to speaking over others. I still do it, but now it’s occasional, much less often than before. I’m still conscious of it and will be working on it, I’m sure, until I finally run out of air.

A writer and clinical psychologist I study, Jordan B. Peterson, says: It’s a problem in today’s society, and in today’s business, where these people think that because they can speak louder than you or interrupt you that they are winning an argument. They’re not! Both sides lose. Don’t shove me out of your way! Don’t stomp on my thoughts! Don’t commit the crime of interrupting!

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