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When not to let them interrupt


Techniques > Conversation techniques > Interrupting > When not to let them interrupt

Not made point | Had their say | Interrupted before | Demonstrating power | See also


Sometimes when other people want to interrupt, it is reasonable to let them interrupt. At other times, it is a good idea to hang onto the talking stick. Here are some of those times.

When you have not made your point

When you have not finished what you want to say, then keep going and block them out until you have finished.

If you suspect that they are not listening and just waiting to interrupt, you might want to summarize the point and perhaps ask them a question to test whether they have heard and understood.

When they have had their say

When the other person has had a chunk of the conversation time to speak, then it is your turn. You have listened to them, so now it is time for them to listen to you. If necessary, you might want to assertively remind them of this, particularly if they keep on trying to butt in.

Jan, you've made a good point and I want to respond. Can you let me finish, please?

When they have interrupted poorly before

Some people are rather impolite in the way they not only keep interrupting but do so without having anything useful to say. Perhaps they like the sound of their own voices or perhaps it is some kind of game.

If they are persistent with this, a way of handling this, other than to just keep going, is to tell them what they are doing.

Sam, you keep interrupting, but are not adding anything new.

When you need to demonstrate power

Sometimes you might find yourself in a power struggle, for example where the other person is interrupting just to show their power. You may also be in a position where you need to show authority. In such cases, other than normal prevention of interruption, you can use interruptions as an opportunity to demonstrate your power.

Richard, can you please listen? You can ask questions when I have finished.

See also

When to let others interrupt, Listening, Questioning, Assertiveness

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