Let Me Finish, Please Stop Interrupting Me!
“Wait, let me finish . . . what I was trying to say is interrupting other people is rude.”
When you interrupt someone it says to the person talking that what you have to say is more important than what they are sharing. It shows disregard for the person and what they are saying.
As I researched interrupting, I discovered many interesting studies about how women and men communicate. When it comes to interrupting others, men are twice as likely to interrupt women then they are other men. Women interrupt other women more often than they do men but not usually to take the floor. Instead, they often interrupt to be encouraging, as in saying something like, “I know what you mean” or “That sounds hard.”
According to gender communication expert and author Deborah Tannen, men communicate to determine and achieve power and status which leads to more interrupting, especially of women. Women communicate to create connection, and because of this they are less likely to interrupt others which can feel combative rather than collaborative. However, there are women who interrupt to determine power.
No matter who is doing the interrupting, it’s not an enjoyable way to converse with someone. When a person consistently interrupts me I end up feeling like we’re at war rather than having a conversation. It seems pointless and unproductive.
If you tend to be an interrupter, ask yourself why you’re doing it, especially if you’re a man who regularly interrupts women. Are you doing it to dominate; do you want to add to what someone is saying; or is it that you’re worried you’ll forget what you have to say? If you find it is an unconscious need to dominate, stop right now. It’s not a productive way to communicate and your communication partner will most likely shut down rather than continue to fight for the floor. If you’re concerned you’ll forget what you want to say, jot it down on a notepad and then share what you have to say when the other person is finished talking.
For those of you who are interrupted – don’t acquiesce the floor easily. As Ms. Tannen wrote in a 2012 New York Times article, “An interruption takes two — one to start, the other to stop.” However, I would argue, you don’t have to stop talking to be interrupted. I have a female colleague who regularly interrupts me. If I keep talking she talks louder. It becomes a shouting match. I now say to her, “Please let me finish.” And, that’s exactly what the person being interrupted should do. You could also say, “I’d love to hear what you have to say when I’m finished.” Don’t talk louder to out talk the other person, no one is able to hear anything and it seems to create tension and anger. Instead, calmly, but firmly ask the other person to let you finish speaking. If the interrupter continues to interject point it out. Say something like, “Joe, did you know you have interrupted my five times in our conversation. Would you please stop interrupting me? It’s making it difficult to have a discussion.”
Bottom line, don’t interrupt others. It’s rude, arrogant and selfish and usually doesn’t win you many brownie points with others.
How do you feel about being interrupted? Do you keep talking or do you give up the floor? Have you ever asked someone to stop interrupting you?
I Have A Brand And It Haunts Me
I was talking to my pal “Jonas” who recently decided to freelance (vs building a multi-consultant business) when he left a bigger firm to do his own thing.
Jonas is a global talent guy who works across the planet for some of the world’s most well known companies. He decided his best play—the one that would allow him to focus on what he loves most and live the life he’s planned—is to freelance for other firms.
His plan got off to a bit of a rocky start because—get this—none of the firms he approached believed he’d actually want to “just” freelance. He’d earned his rep by steadily building deep, brand name client relationships, practices and business, not by going off by himself as a solo.
Or as he put it “I have a brand and it haunts me.”
We both had a good belly laugh because he was already rolling in new projects, thrilled with his choice to freelance.
And yet, isn’t that the truth?
Good, bad, indifferent—our brands DO haunt us.
They whisper messages to those in our circle “trust him, he’s the bomb”, “hire her for anything creative as long as your deadline isn’t critical”, “steer clear—he talks a good game but doesn’t deliver”.
And thanks to social media, those messages—good and bad—can accelerate faster than you can imagine. One client, one reader, one buyer can be the pivot point that takes your consulting business to new territory.
So how do you deal with it?
Yep—you go for more of what comes naturally. In Jonas’ case, he stuck with what he’s known for—his work, his relationships, his track record for integrity—and won over any lingering skepticism about his move.
We weather the bumps in the road by staying true to who we are at our core.
So when a potential client says “Sorry, you’re just too expensive for me”, you don’t run out and change your prices. Instead, you listen carefully and realize they aren’t the right fit for your particular brand of expertise and service.
When a social media troll chooses you to lash out at, you ignore them and stay with your true audience—your sweet-spot clients and buyers.
And when your most challenging client tells you it’s time to change your business model to serve them better, you listen closely (there may be some learning here) and—if it doesn’t suit your strengths—you kiss them good-bye.
If your brand isn’t haunting you, is it really much of a brand?
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