Conversational dynamics can be powerful, and how you use them can change the whole feeling and outcome of a conversation. They have a complex structure and unsaid rules that need to be followed to ensure everyone is heard, feels respected, and the talk is productive.
One of these rules is that one person speaks at a time. Sounds simple, no? However, many of us break this rule, again and again, interrupting people in almost every sentence. To stop dominating conversations and be a better listener, consider these five tips to stop interrupting people.
Pause two seconds
Silently counting to two is a great way to avoid accidentally interrupting people while they’re taking a breath or gathering their thoughts. It’s natural to be excited to reply to your conversational partner when talking about something that sparks your interest, however, this can be frustrating for the other person if they can’t get their point out. These two seconds may feel like an eternity to you, but this silence is a sure-fire sign that it is your turn to speak.
Jot down your thoughts
Not speaking as soon as you have a thought can cause stress in some people, as the fear of forgetting what you wanted to say can result in anxiety. A good way around this issue is to write down these thoughts on your phone or on paper to ease some of that anxiety. Just give the person a heads up so it doesn’t look like you’re ignoring them.
With so many other things to do, it’s easy to forget your goal to stop interrupting people. Leaving reminders in places you commonly look at – such as near a light switch or on your phone screen – can keep you on track towards your goal.
Review your calls
Paying close attention to how much you interrupt during phone calls can give key insights into your bad habit. It’s a good idea to jot down the time and why you interrupted them, this will show you what your interruptions are doing to a conversation. You can review any type of call you want, sales calls at work, or a catch-up with a friend, whatever works for you.
No one is perfect, so everyone is bound to slip up and interrupt people occasionally, especially when you just start the practice. As soon as you realize you have interrupted, there’s no shame in saying “I’m sorry for interrupting, please continue your thought,” and move on.
Practicing these skills will mean in a matter of weeks the natural urge to jump in will decrease and you will be relatively interruption-free.