How to Manage Colleagues Who Keep Interrupting.

We all interrupt others, and others interrupt us; it is human nature. However, if it keeps happening in a business setting (either in person or virtual), you need to deal with it. The most important element is not to become angry but to have a go-to plan about how to handle the interrupter. 

When you are in the moment:

  • Say the person’s name and then state the fact that you were not finished speaking: “Mike, I wasn’t quite finished” or “Mary, I have two more areas to cover.” Don’t phrase it as a question; make a firm statement. 
  • Continue talking to remain in the discussion. Be careful not to defer to the interrupter, or they will assume they can grab the “microphone.”
  • Look away from the interrupter and focus on others in the group.
  • Speak a little louder and slower.
  • Be aware of your body language. Sit or stand tall without slouching. Square your shoulders. 

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 three key points, 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.