{Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay]

Yes, you read the title of this blog post correctly…that interrupting is indeed an art.  You may be wondering how that’s even possible when most of us were taught at an early age to avoid interrupting and to wait until it was your turn.

As a Corporate Communication & Speech Specialist and the founder/owner of Profitable Speech,  I coach many of my clients to know when and how to interrupt, so they do so appropriately.  When we interrupt correctly, we stand a far better chance of enhancing the conversation and relating to the other person.  Let me give you some examples.

Reasons to interrupt and how to effectively accomplish this…

  1. Improve your level of comprehension: “Let me see if I understand your instructions.”
  2. Ensure the accuracy of what you’ve just heard: “Sounds like you’re saying___. Is that correct?” 
  3. Increase your ability to process what’s been said: “Do you mean___ or do you mean____?”
  4. Seek clarification by asking probing questions: “When you used the term___, what did you mean?
  5. Stay on track: “We’ve been talking about___.  Let’s stay on that subject before moving on.”
  6. Encourage more conversation: “That’s a very interesting point, I want to hear more about it.”

Whether you use any of the aforementioned examples or one of your own, I encourage you to start out by using the person’s name.  That not only personalizes what follows but is also a good way of increasing the individual’s level of alertness. We generally like hearing our name and it’s a way of gaining someone’s attention.

Interrupting is clearly a form of communication and often shows the other person that you’re paying close attention.  It relies on being a good listener. Interrupting also indicates a level of interest in the topic and may expand the conversation or take it to new levels.

When we let someone speak for an extended period, it’s like listening to a lecture.  It often lacks stimulation and can be stifling. One word of caution—be sure you’re interrupting for the right reason vs. a self-serving reason.  If the speaker or the topic is no longer of value you may want to consider shortening the conversation or bringing it to closure.  It’s also a form of feedback, which may be appreciated.

If you’re the person speaking and encountering frequent interruptions, I have guidance for you as well so tune in next week.