How to handle an interrupter.
Unless it’s an emergency, it’s rude to interrupt a conversation. Then why do people do it all the time? Here are few reasons:
- It’s just a quick question.
- Their time is valuable.
- They have no manners or common sense.
- They are used to getting their way.
- They don’t care.
- They are in need of attention.
- Sometimes, it’s legitimate like the boss wants an answer RIGHT NOW!
So, how do you handle an interrupter without losing your cool, or your patience?
Picture it, you’re at work; you and your coworker, Pedro are discussing whether you need to stay in for lunch to complete a project, when Gordon approaches, he leans in, attempting to be discreet, he whispers in Pedro’s ear something about RSVP’ing to his party.
Pedro responds with an agitated shoulder shrug, leaving Gordon in the embarrassing position of having to repeat the question in front of you. Awkward!
Could the interrupter have done anything differently?
- He could have waited until Pedro was free.
- He could have sent Pedro an email or text asking for a reply.
- He could have asked Pedro yesterday, earlier that day, or after lunch.
- At the very least, Gordon could have spoken the simple, yet often forgotten phrase, “Excuse me, please.”
How to handle an interrupter when your hear, “Quick question.”:
- “I’ll call you when I’m through here.”
- “Can it wait?” Be prepared for the interrupter to say, “No, it can’t,” then you’re stuck.
- “This isn’t a good time. I’ll be free at 2:00.”
“That’s harsh, why can’t you just answer the person?” you ask. Well, you can. However, aren’t you being just as rude to the person in front of you who now has to be “put on hold?” Hmm?
Cell Phone Interruptions: Gordon’s behavior is comparable to answering your phone in the middle of a conversation.
There are times when “joining” an existing conversation is acceptable. Notice I said, “joining.” This means that you listen, comment, add to the existing topic of conversation, not hijack it to suit your interest.
Naturally, if you pick up a vibe that it is a closed or intimate conversation, back off. Find another group to approach. And please, don’t take it personally.
Helping Businesses and Individuals Find Success Through Better Communication and Social Skills
Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, Social Skills and Civility Presenter, Media Source, and author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom.”
Presentations are available to support HR policies, sales teams, up and coming managers, millennials & new-hire orientation process, service technicians, professional development events, conferences, college/university students, interns. For more information, please contact me, 650.871.6200.
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