Knock, knock! Who’s there? Interrupting cow.
Interrupting cow who—Mojo! (Please pause for this interruption.)
I admit I have a nasty habit that is incredibly annoying. Okay, so I have many annoying habits. But I’ll just talk about one here: I cut people off when they’re speaking.
I don’t intend to be rude. I seem to think that I know where the other person is going and that I can get there faster. I get so caught up in what I want to say that I stop listening and start sharing my own thoughts. Selfish, isn’t it? It’s also condescending. It sends this message to the other person: “what you are saying isn’t nearly as important as what I want to say.”
I blame my interrupting habit on my family. I grew up next door to my grandparents, and I have a large extended family. When I was a kid, I’d march through the cow field and have dinner at Grannies. As anyone in a large family knows, when you’re eating dinner with a lot of other family members, table manners tend to disappear—out of necessity. If there’s only one dinner roll on the table, you’d better grab it before anyone notices. You wouldn’t think of asking anyone else if they wanted it—because you would likely never get it yourself.
Conversation was much the same way. If you happened to be quiet during dinner, no one noticed you were not speaking, and no one would ask you what was bothering you. If you had something you wanted to share with everyone, you needed to speak up, speak quickly, and speak louder than everyone else.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”Nderk” via=”yes” ]Just because you’ve been doing something your entire life doesn’t make it right![/ctt]
But just because I’ve been communicating this way my entire life doesn’t make it right! Regardless of how I learned the habit of interrupting others, I do need to break it, because it’s disrespectful, rude, and unprofessional. I’ve been working a long time on breaking this bad habit. I’m willing to bet that many other people are trying to break this habit as well.
Here are some tips that I’m using, practically every day, sometimes, to help myself not interrupt. I trust you will find them helpful:
Be aware when you cut someone off. Stop your sentence midstream, and apologize for being rude. This will take discipline on your part to interrupt yourself once you’ve caught yourself in the act.
ASK For help from your loved ones
They are the best ones to ask for help, as they will be delighted to point out your mistakes. Ask them to kindly point out when you’ve cut them off so you can be more aware of how often you do it.
Place a Sign on your Phone
Or at your desk, that says “Be Nice” (or has some other positive message). Post the sign in several locations throughout your workspace as well as in your home. It sounds childish, but the more you remind yourself (in a positive way) to stop interrupting others, the more likely you are to stop interrupting others.
Count how many times a day you interrupt others. Set a goal in the morning along the lines of: “if I interrupt others less than ten times today, I will stop at Starbucks on the way home from work.” Continue to lower the goal daily until you can get to the point where you are not interrupting anyone.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”dV9Ct” via=”yes” ]Have you learned to bite your tongue? It hurts, but it is worth it![/ctt]
Learn to bite your tongue. Literally. I make a point to hold my tongue in my mouth until the person is finished speaking (and believe me sometimes that takes effort!). This takes conscious effort because my lips often move without my brain being in gear. (Does anyone else have this problem?). Wait, breathe, wait, and then respond when it is clear they are finished speaking. It takes lots of practice, but your friends, co-workers, family members, and clients will appreciate the effort.
Even if you’re worried that you’ll forget what you were going to say if you wait until the other person is finished speaking, bite your tongue. And, if you do forget what you were going to say in the next thirty seconds, it probably wasn’t all that important any- way. It doesn’t matter what your reasons are for interrupting others; you and I both need to learn to break this bad and annoying habit. It stops communication cold. Not good.