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When to Let Others Interrupt

 

Techniques > Conversation techniques > Interrupting > When to Let Others Interrupt

Had a fair say | Sent a single message | They send signals | They do not send signals | See also

 

When you are conversing with other people, a question to keep in mind is when you should let others interrupt you. Here are some key points to keep in mind.

When you have had a fair say

Conversation is a system of taking turns, in which there are social rule that there should be some balance between speaking and listening. Do not over-stay your welcome or you will find that other people will switch off or treat the conversation as a competition in which the goal is to hang onto the talking stick for as long as possible. This is where people start talking at one another, not with one another.

Say what you have to say, then pause to let the other person speak, or perhaps ask them a question.

When you have sent a single message

Sometimes what you have to say contains multiple messages. If you say them all at once, the other person may want to respond to a number of the points you have made. They may well also forget most of what you have said by the time they get to talk. This leads to a poor conversation, where topics are not really discussed.

A good way of talking is to make a single point at a time, then let other people in to respond to your thoughts and add their own thinking to the mix.

When they send signals

When other people want to speak they will send you loud non-verbal signals to this effect, for example staring at you, leaning forward, mouth slightly open, starting to speak and so on.

When you see the other person's body language change, particularly after you have made some significant point, the chances are that they want to speak. At this time, they will very likely not be listening too hard to what you are really saying -- they will more likely be rehearsing what they want to say whilst looking for a point to interrupt.

If you want them to truly listen to what you are saying, it is a very good point to stop at this point and hear their point.

If you really need to finish the point (not just want to), then it can be a good idea to acknowledge that you know they want to speak and ask them whether you can finish -- this will often bring them back listening to you, though you should ensure you complete what you say in a reasonably short period.

When they do not send signals

If you have made your point or been talking for a while and you have not seen any sign of the other person trying to interrupt then it may mean that that they have stopped listening and are not interested (are they showing real signs of listening?).

It might also mean they are seeking information from you and you may wonder if you have given more details than you really intended.

Often, people are being polite or are a little timid and just do not know properly how to interrupt, and so just wait their turn.

If in doubt, pause or ask them a question to give them a chance to speak.

See also

Listening, Interrogation

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