How to Deal with a Serial Interrupter at Work

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Hi, I’m Lindsay Lapaquette and I’m a serial interrupter.

I’ll admit it.

It’s really hard for me to wait my turn to talk.

The reason why people can have a tendency to interrupt can be related to a variety of different causes.

In my own case, it’s partially due to my impulsivity and partially based on my personality style which leaves me with a strong desire to contribute and a passion for sharing ideas.

This combination leads to me sometimes interrupting before I’ve even realized that I’m doing so.

Oops…

How to Deal with a Serial Interrupter at Work

For others who are inclined to interrupt often, it may happen because they’re in a rush to move onto something else and want the conversation to move forward.

Interrupting can even be used as a manipulative technique to intentionally not allow someone to have space to share their opinion.

Basically, serial interrupters fall into one of two categories:

1. Either they’re aware that they do it and are trying their best to improve

or…

2. They have absolutely no idea how often they interrupt and how disruptive this is to the conversation.

If you’re the victim of a serial interrupter, you have one of three choices.

How to Deal with a Serial Interrupter at Work

1. You can choose to simply let it go. 

This option will only work well if the interrupting truly does not bother you and you’re not feeling irritated or resentful.

2. You can choose to say nothing, to not address it and to stay in your resentment.

If this is the category you fall into, I invite you to take a peek through my website. You’ll discover some great content to help you work through this.

3. You can choose to say something.

If this is how you choose to deal with a serial interrupter, then there are a couple of easy ways to address the issue.

For instance, you could simply say, “hey, hang on a sec.  I wasn’t quite done yet.”, while using a neutral intonation.

Or if the person has interrupted to complete your thoughts, you could try something such as, “that’s not quite where I was going with that idea.”

Simple phrases like this bring awareness to the serial interrupter that they need to leave you space in the conversation.

Whatever you choose to say, it’s important that you say it in a tone that is warm and understanding.  Otherwise, the person may become defensive and won’t truly in a space to hear your feedback.

If the person is someone who’s generally not aware that they interrupt, gently pointing it out will help them become more aware of this behaviour. If, like myself, they are aware that they tend to interrupt, it will serve as a gentle reminder and help to rebalance the turn-taking in conversations.

Like any conversational dynamic, serial interrupting is a two-way dynamic where both parties in the conversation contribute to the dynamic.

And while you can’t control how much someone interrupts, you can choose how you respond to it.

If you liked this post, you might also like:

Why It’s Important to Clarify Nonverbal Communication

The 4 Foundational Skills for Effective Communication

5 Tips to Become a Better Listener

Lindsay Lapaquette

Lindsay Lapaquette

Lindsay Lapaquette, M.Sc.(A) works with middle managers who want to communicate authentically so they can effectively lead their teams without losing themselves. As a former Speech-Language Pathologist, Lindsay applies her expertise in the neuroscience of communication and connection to help managers foster an environment of trust and respect in their teams, so that everyone can bring their best selves to work.

Lindsay’s approach has been profoundly influenced by her work with First Nations organizations, her experience as a parent to two neurodivergent children, and the premature loss of both of her parents. These experiences have taught Lindsay great lessons about the power of excellent people skills that extend well beyond her professional expertise.

Lindsay Lapaquette

Lindsay Lapaquette

Lindsay Lapaquette, M.Sc.(A) works with middle managers who want to communicate authentically so they can effectively lead their teams without losing themselves. As a former Speech Language Pathologist, Lindsay applies her expertise in the neuroscience of communication and connection to help managers foster an environment of trust and respect in their teams, so that everyone can bring their best selves to work.

Lindsay’s approach has been profoundly influenced by her work with First Nations organizations, her experience as a parent to two children with pervasive mental health challenges, and the premature loss of both of her parents. These experiences have taught Lindsay great lessons about the power of excellent people skills that extend well beyond her professional expertise.

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Hi, I'm Lindsay

Leadership communication skills to elevate team performance.

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