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Rules for Life

Why we can’t stand interrupters

As you read this title, a specific person immediately popped into your mind. You pictured their face, and you envisioned them rudely talking over you, or someone else. We all know them, and many of us tolerate them out of fear of direct confrontation, or avoidance of an awkward situation. They are the interrupters, and they are out there right now, ruining conversations and chemistry, while spreading lots of bad feelings around the world.

Unfortunately, some people currently reading this are serial interrupters and don’t even realize it. That’s right; you may be ignorantly violating conversation code and creating resentment amongst your peers without even knowing it. This problem ties back to a basic urge people experience during most conversations; the desire to speak, rather than listen.

“I heard what you said. I understand what you said. I am following your train of thought.”

Any communication course will emphasize the importance of engaging in active listening during conversation, which involves listening, internalizing, and acknowledgment that the other party is being heard. Simply stated, you listen and show the other person you understand what they’re saying. This creates rapport, respect, and a natural flow between the two parties.

Once it’s your natural turn to chime in, your contribution to the conversation will follow the direction of the conversation, bringing the conversation to either 1) another level or 2) an inflection point.

Having that “give and take” makes both people feel good about what they’re spending time discussing, creating mutual respect and a feeling of satisfaction. The interrupter throws a wrench into this beautiful representation of what a “good conversation” should be, and simultaneously undermines their credibility with the person they’re talking to.

Let’s break down the basics:

1. Selfish: interrupter doesn’t have the decency to let the other person finish their thought. All that matters to the Interrupter is what they want to say. You’re dealing with someone that only cares to satisfy them self.

2. Disengaged: Interrupter shows they were not listening to the most recent thing the other person said. You’ve been wasting your time talking with them, and they’ve retained or considered none of it.

3. Arrogant: Interrupter implies what they have to say is more important than the other person. If they didn’t feel this way, they may want to hear the other person out. How can they know this without hearing the other person out? This is the definition of arrogance.

4. Elitist: Interrupter demonstrates lack of respect for the other person’s opinion. This person walks around life truly believing they know better than everyone else, because everyone else is below them. Why listen to the peasants’ opinions?

5. Close-minded: Interrupter shows there is no possibility for other ideas to enter their mind, because if there were they’d leave the door open for it. They’ve got their mind made up about what’s important, and what the other person is trying to say isn’t important enough to get any time or consideration.

6. Insecurity: Interrupter could be concerned that if they allow someone else the time or opportunity to make a point, then they will be exposed for having weak or uninteresting ideas.

7. Differences: instead of building rapport through discussion and active listening, the Interrupter is boldly demonstrating the notion that “we don’t have chemistry and we are not alike”. There’s no better way to turn someone off than that.

Speaking of turn-offs, one of the leading causes of divorce is partners not listening to each other. Robin Graine, a divorce mediator and former family law attorney, said “When married couples stop listening to one another and paying attention to each other’s needs and desires, they wind up in my office.” Good communication is always the best foundation for any relationship, but so is making sure you are listening to your spouse. If you’re cutting them off, chances are you’re missing a good portion of what they have to say. Change that for the sake of your relationship.

We live in an age where people have endless options for ways to spend their time. The opportunities for communication are abundant, between phone, text, social media, email, direct message, etc. If someone chooses to speak with you in person or on the phone, they are prioritizing YOU. Remember that they are making time to connect with you because communicating with you is important to them.

The next time you have a conversation, have more awareness and think twice before cutting someone off. You don’t want to come across as an arrogant, selfish, disengaged, close-minded elitist jerk, right?

-Your Big Bro