Why we interrupt (and how to stop)

why-we-interrupt

We’ve all been through it, that moment when we’re sharing something interesting, only to be cut off by someone else. This can be frustrating, impolite, not to mention plain rude. The reason people feel it is acceptable plus why some are always feeling the brunt of this decision, is often left unanswered.

Some studies have shown that peoples listening, and communication style differences create this unintentional behaviour. Our conversation styles are something we learn in childhood at the same time as language. It’s important to establish the intent behind them as it has a huge impact on how it it viewed. I’ve summarised them into two main cactegories below:

Cooperative interruptions

These are for agreement, assistance or clarity. Often not meant to be intrusive. but to keep up with the conversation.

Intrusive interruptions

This is the type most mean when they say interrupt as it’s used to take the floor, disagree or change topic. Also summarisation which can often minimise the speakers point.

This post will be focussed on intrusive interruptions. These are ones which are used to socially dominate the interrupters power over others. Examples of these are interactions between adults and children or, often overlooked, men and women. The latter has gained such attention that “Manterrupting” was coined in 2015 by Jessica Bennett in a Time article as a response to this. Intrusive interruptions can have a negative, emotional impact on those that are interrupted. This can be particularly challenging should this be experienced frequently.

Why we interrupt

As I previously mentioned, communication style has a huge impact on our likeliness to interrupt. It has recently been said that there are two main styles of communication which we will look at.

High Involvement

They often have high energy when speaking and will excitedly jump in-to the conversation. This will often be a fast-paced dialogue with a band-and-fourth style of dialogue. Creatives tend to use this style of conversation and they often have a large amount of ideas which they will want to share rapidly and bounce off other creatives.

High Considerateness

Style is characterized by a slower pace with longer pauses compared to high involvement style. They will politely wait for someone to finish speaking before they begin to. As a result of their communication style, they find interruptions rude.

Other reasons we interrupt:

Lack of self-awareness

Fear of forgetting

Prove Expertise

Need for belonging

Cooperative

Competitive

Everyone else does

Excitement

Looking inwards to consider whether we have done something to cause the constant interruptions is also important. Here are a couple of considerations to help reduce your interruptions.

Get to the point

Listening for long periods of time can sometimes be a challenge for talkers. This can be further strained if you tend to ramble or fil to get to the point. Sometimes providing context loses your listeners interest so try and be clear and concise in your message.

Aviod oversharing

Oversharing is something likely to happen when we unfortunately, discuss our passions. Although being enthusiastic can gain your listeners interest, keep it limited.

How to stop interrupting

If you feel that your may be guilty of interrupting, then here is a list of helpful tips:

Carry a notebook and jot your thoughts

Challenge yourself to stay quiet

Don’t speak as soon as there is a pause

Put a finger over your lips

If you slip up, apologise and allow the speaker to continue

Finally when an interruption is unaviodable then be sure to do so, politely. Remember to be kind and mindful of the differences between you and your listeners. There should be no reason why you don’t have amazing interactions each and everytime.

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