How to Manage Colleagues Who Keep Interrupting.

We all interrupt others, and other interrupt us; it is human nature. Although it occurs in face-to-face meetings, it is exacerbated by the presence of a screen, which can cause listeners to miss key facial expressions or hand gestures. 

When you are in the moment:

  • Simply state the fact that you were not finished speaking: “I wasn’t quite finished, or I need another few minutes.” Don’t phrase it as a question, make a firm statement. 
  • Keep talking to ensure you stay in the conversation.
  • Look away from the interrupter and focus on others in the group.
  • Note: Don’t let the interrupter grab the “microphone,” or they will continue to do this. 

Tips that lower the chance of being interrupted:

  • Keep your responses short. Speakers who continually run long and dominate the conversation get interrupted more often.
  • Set expectations. “I have two main ideas, so I’ll need about 3 minutes.”
  • Start with the most important information. This way, if you do get cut off, you have made your point.
  • Stay on topic. Speakers who ramble and are long-winded open the door to more interruptions.
  • Speak with confidence. Often the mere tone of your voice discourages others from interrupting.

Business discussions often involve a fast-paced back-and-forth, but continually being interrupted weakens your message. Practice these tips to ensure the interrupters do not disrupt what you want to say.