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Excuse Me, But I Wasn’t Finished Speaking
Perhaps nothing is as annoying to people as being interrupted when they are talking. Equally irritating, if not more so, is when others talk over us while we are speaking. We can ignore this rudeness when it occurs randomly, but we face a different challenge when we work or live with a chronic interrupter.
Chronic interrupters are so used to speaking when others already hold the floor, they typically have no idea they are doing it. Excited and in a hurry to make their point or to disagree, they can’t stop themselves from the impoliteness of speaking their mind — right on top of whoever was already speaking.
Dealing with a chronic interrupter is no easy task, even for skillful leaders. Telling the interrupter, somewhat forcefully, they need to “wait another minute,” “hold on for a second,” or “hang on until you finish” works at times. Of course, when highly irritated by the interruption, some leaders just keep on talking to make their point that such impoliteness will not be accepted by them.
The better strategy is to anticipate the interruption. This person is not labeled a “chronic interrupter” for nothing. When leaders know this imposition will likely occur at some point, they have the option of giving the interrupter an advanced warning not to interject before they are done.
This is best done by saying something like, “I have a lot to get through here, please bear with me without interruption.” Or, “I feel strongly about this point, so please keep your comments and questions until after I finish.”
By cutting the chronic interrupter off at the pass, the likelihood of being rudely interrupted or talked over diminishes. Anticipating interruption before it occurs and asking others to wait until you are finished gets the job done without a messy confrontation or hurt feelings on either side of the intrusion. Asking others to wait their turn is a common courtesy. Sometimes, people just need a little help and a warning to be polite.