How to Stop Interrupting People at Work

Have you ever been so excited about an idea that you simply must interject immediately? But then you realize your colleagues don’t seem as enthusiastic about your thoughts…

That’s because you fell into the bad habit of interrupting people in the workplace. Even when it’s not intentional, interrupting people is rude, and at work, this bad habit can even hurt your career.

Most people interrupt others from time to time, but the problem comes when you do this consistently.

If you find yourself interrupting people in the workplace on a regular basis, it’s time to fix this bad habit. Keep reading to learn effective tips to stop interrupting people at work!

Why is Interrupting Bad for Your Career?

When you interrupt others, you indicate a lack of respect.

When you’re talking over someone while they’re telling you something, or you cut them off mid-sentence without letting them finish, it seems like you don’t care about their thoughts. This disrespect can damage your relationships at work, which can hurt your professional success.

Your colleagues want to be heard. Focus on being an active conversational partner. Listen to what someone else is saying. Stay focused during the conversation. This shows your co-workers that you respect their opinions and their time.

Why Do People Interrupt?

Have you ever thought about why you interrupt others?

If it’s a rare occurrence, you’re probably just excited about an idea, or you’ve waited patiently for a colleague to stop talking.

However, if it’s an ongoing habit, think about why you interrupt people in the workplace. Here are a few common reasons:

  • Feeling anxious during a conversation or meeting
  • Assuming your colleagues aren’t listening to you
  • Worrying you’ll forget what you need to say

While all these feelings can create the urge to interrupt, it’s important not to give in. After all, interrupting someone else can make them feel anxious or unheard, or you might make them forget their train of thought.

Instead, use these strategies to stop interrupting people in the workplace.

How to Stop Interrupting People

The best way to stop interrupting people is to be proactive. Become an active listener. Focus on what someone else is saying during the conversation. When it comes to good communication, listening is just as important as speaking. Plus, when you’re a good listener, other people are less likely to interrupt you!

If you need more concrete steps to take to stop interrupting, keep reading.

Pause a Few Seconds Before You Speak

When someone else stops speaking, don’t immediately jump in. They might just be taking a breath or gathering their thoughts. Instead, pause for a few seconds. Allow the other person a chance to finish what they’re saying.

If you’re not positive the other person is done, you can even ask if they’re finished speaking before you jump in.

Write Down Your Thoughts

If you’re worried that you’ll forget what you need to say, write it down! Take notes during the meeting about points other people say, and your thoughts on the matter.

Ideally, you’ll start any business conversation or meeting by letting the other people know you plan on taking notes. This is important if you’re taking notes on your phone or laptop, so they don’t think you’re ignoring them.

Don’t Make Assumptions

Even when you know a person or situation really well, you can’t always predict what people will say next. Once again, practice active listening. Listen to the speaker to understand what they’re saying, not to guess what they’ll say next.

This is especially important when discussing a serious or upsetting topic. Allow all of the facts to come out first before you react.

Wait to Ask Questions

Do you remember that one kid from school who never gave the teacher a chance to finish before they started asking questions? Even if the teacher asked the class to wait until the end to ask questions, that one kid couldn’t wait.

Don’t be that kid.

Whether you’re in a one-on-one conversation or a meeting, give the other person a chance to finish speaking before you ask questions. By listening attentively, you might discover they answer most of your questions!

This is another time when writing down your thoughts is good. Take notes about any questions you have, and bring them up at the end.

Ask Co-Workers for Help

If you still find yourself interrupting people in the workplace, there’s one more option to try.

Ask your co-workers to tell you every time you interrupt them. This method has two benefits. One, as you become more aware of your interruptions, it will be easier for you to stop. Two, your relationship with your colleagues will improve as you demonstrate a genuine willingness to change your behavior.

Apologize If You Do Interrupt

No one is perfect. Even if you try all of the tips above, you might still slip up and interrupt others. Offer a quick and genuine apology, insist the other person finish their thought, and remain quiet until they’re done.

Stop Interrupting Today!

You’ve already made the first step towards being a better conversationalist by reading this blog post. Now apply these tips to your workplace relationships. Practice active listening, and prioritize shared communication over your own desire to speak.

Soon you’ll rarely interrupt anyone!

If you’re looking for more tips to be an effective communicator in the workplace, check out these popular posts.