Last post we looked at one way to respond to an interrupter that will help train them to discontinue that action. This, without our coming on too strong and making them feel defensive; thus losing any chance to communicate effectively and — if the situation calls for it — to eventually persuade them to our point of view.
A second method is to simply stop talking and allow the person to finish their thought. Then, without any sign of emotion or frustration (that is key), continue with your original thought. Do this enough and there’s a good chance the other person will get the point…that although you are polite, you refuse to be “thrown off track.” And, even if their interrupting isn’t for any negatively-intended purpose – they are simply interrupting because it’s their habit to do so – they’ll most likely catch on to the inappropriateness of their action.
Still another way to respond to interruptions; in this case, the ones involving rapid-fire questions during a disagreement, is with the following words (again, said gently and unemotionally, simply communicating a desire for clarification): “Would you like me to finish my first thought or answer the question you just asked?” Then, without hesitating and with a genuinely humble, self-effacing smile add, “Actually, I’m not smart enough to keep all this information in my head. I can only answer one question at a time.”
Understand, you’ll also get the person who really doesn’t want to hear your viewpoint. Their mind is made up and they wish not to be confused by any facts you may care to share. They’ll often seem like a prosecuting attorney going in “for the kill,” just waiting for you to slip up.
In this case, you might decide to slow down even more, remain very calm and perhaps, even ask (with genuine respect and an “I message“), “Dave, are you genuinely interested in my thoughts on this? I feel sort of like your mind might already be made up about this issue. I’d love to answer you and have the opportunity to learn from you as well, but I also need to feel as though I can express my point.”
The key, as always, is to respond and not react. Think first. Ask yourself, what is it that I want to derive from the conversation? And, what does the other person want, as well? Then making the right “moves” becomes easy.
How are you doing when it comes to this area? Any suggestions I didn’t think of that you’d like to share?
We’ll conclude our mini-series in the next post by looking at when we ourselves are the interrupter and how we can break that very destructive habit.