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Excuse Me? Handling Interruptions with Grace and Confidence

Being interrupted at work is one of the most frustrating professional experiences. On the one hand, it’s easy to let it slide: you don’t want to upset or alienate your colleagues or superiors, so for many people it seems simpler to do nothing rather than risk a confrontation. However, allowing people to continually interrupt you can be detrimental to your professional well-being. First, interruptions make it difficult to express your thoughts and ideas in a clear, complete manner, which means some of your best ideas may get lost in the shuffle. Second, allowing others to talk over you can damage your professional image. We all want to be perceived as strong, confident professional leaders, but frequent interruptions undermine that image and make it seem as though you are unsure of yourself and of the worth of your message.

So how can you head off interruptions without straining your professional relationships? Take a look at these key phrases and strategies you can use the next time someone cuts you off in a professional setting:

“I have a few more details I’d like to cover and then I’d be happy to open this up for discussion.” This phrase reassures the interrupter that they will get a chance to say their piece once you’ve finished, and will also head off any other would-be interrupters.

“Before we more on, I have one more point to address.” Giving a concrete expectation for how much longer you need the floor can help keep interrupters at bay.

“I would really like to hear your thoughts on this, but let me finish first.” This firmly establishes that you intend to complete your thought before letting someone else take the floor, but softens the blow by demonstrating that your value their thoughts as well.

Use Their Name: Try starting any of the above phrases with the interrupter’s name to address them directly. Hearing their name makes most people stop talking immediately, and as long as it’s said with a positive tone of voice, it will come across as direct but not aggressive.

Cut Out Fillers: Filler words and phrases like, “um” or “you know?” give interrupters a golden opportunity to jump in and cut you off. By using fewer filler words and phrases, you create more fluid, dynamic speech and make it much more uncomfortable for others to jump in.

If you are looking to polish your communication skills be sure to pick up a free copy of my e-book “Communicate with Clarity and Confidence!” by subscribing to our newsletter community on our website. For additional information call us at 212-308-7725 or send us an e-mail at jayne@corporatespeechsolutions.com to learn more. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you might have!

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