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Pachter's Pointers:
Business Etiquette Tips & Career Suggestions


10.24.2011

What To Do If You Are Interrupted—Don’t Shout!

Rick Perry interrupted fellow presidential contender Mitt Romney during the recent Republican debates on television, and Romney’s response made the news.

Don’t worry, this blog is not political commentary. I am discussing the annoying habit of interrupting.

People don’t like to be interrupted. Nor do they like to be excluded from a conversation, or to have their contributions ignored. A Gallup poll a number of years ago found that people considered interrupting to be the most annoying behavior at work, and I found, while doing research for my book The Power of Positive Confrontation, that interrupting is one of the 12 behaviors that cause conflict in the workplace.

Your credibility can be hurt if you respond rudely when someone interrupts you. Here are five options to try if you are interrupted, including the one that Romney chose.

Let it go. People occasionally interrupt one another.

Continue speaking. Many times the interrupter will stop talking. You may need to raise your volume a little to make sure the person hears you.

Say something. Try a polite but powerful response, such as: “I’ll get to that in a moment;” “Hold that thought;” “Excuse me--I wasn’t finished;” or (the approach that Romney chose), “I’m still talking.” Deliver your line in a neutral, not harsh, tone of voice.

Wait until the person has finished speaking. You can then say, “As I was saying…” Make sure this doesn’t sound sarcastic.

Confront the person privately. If someone frequently interrupts you, talk to the person. Let the person know that he has a tendency to interrupt you, and you want it to stop. The interrupter may not be aware of his behavior.

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