Have you ever been in a discussion with someone in which they constantly interrupted you? Frustrating, isn’t it? You wish to make a point, but they are so passionate about their view, they interrupt you the very moment they hear a word or phrase with which they disagree.
This, of course, is contrary to one of the major principles of positive persuasion which says to always let the other person finish speaking before you present your view. Then again, since most people don’t study this topic, it’s you and I who need to deal with this challenge.
If you’re not careful, and get sucked into their interruption pattern, the polite disagreement will escalate into a shouting match. The result? Neither side will have heard or been heard, and bad feelings between you will ensue. It will also make it that much harder for you to be persuasive with that person the next time.
So, how do you handle this touchy, aggravating and potentially explosive situation?
One effective maneuver works well after the person has interrupted several times. And especially when he’s interrupted after asking you a challenging question.
First, wait until he finishes his thought and then calmly (and genuinely politely) say, “Dave, it doesn’t do either of us any good if you interrupt me while I’m trying to answer the question that you asked me.” (Did I mention the words “genuinely politely” :-)? Even the emphasis on the word, “you” should be very gentle.)
In other words, you didn’t try to continue your initial response and attempt to answer the objection expressed in the interruption. Instead, you wisely established the new precedent, suggesting, without actually saying, “If you’re interested in continuing this discussion, which would mean hearing what I have to say as I’m hearing what you have to say, the only way it can happen is to listen without interrupting.”
In the next post, we’ll look at a couple more very effective ideas.