April 16, 2023
8 min read
Interrupting other people in conversation is a problem when anyone does it. Unfortunately, it’s particularly prevalent among men. You may find yourself interrupting others for many different reasons: out of enthusiasm, boredom, or because you feel like your opinion needs to be heard. Regardless, it’s important to learn how to stop this habit before it becomes ingrained in your behavior. Interrupting can damage relationships and make people think that their opinions don’t matter. Whether you need to interrupt others less or there’s a man in your life who you want to send this article to, here are some tips on how to stop interrupting others.
We’ll cover ten key pieces of advice for listening more and interrupting less.
Researchers have found that, while people generally interrupt in conversation regardless of gender, it is more socially acceptable for men talk over and interrupt women than it is for women to dominate conversations. Regardless of where you stand on this spectrum, we all have areas for improvement in our communication skills. The following tips are useful for anyone that frequently interrupts without realizing it.
The first step to breaking the bad habit of interrupting is realizing that you do it. It’s important not only to recognize that interrupting is a behavior you should aim to change, but also to be willing to apologize when it happens. We’re only human, and everyone makes mistakes. Apologizing when you find yourself interrupting will show others that you recognize your mistake and are take responsibility for it.
It can be hard to notice that you’re frequently interrupting others. When interrupting becomes a habit, people often do it without realizing it’s happening. To identify patterns in your conversational style, try Yoodli’s AI-powered communication coach.
Here’s how it works: record or upload a video to Yoodli and receive instant analysis of your filler words, pacing, and delivery. If you’re speaking with someone else, you’ll also get a clear breakdown of talk time. For example, in a virtual job interview, you can see the proportion of time you spoke compared to your interviewer. This tool is an excellent way to identify poor communication habits like interrupting others or dominating conversations. If analysis of a Zoom call between you and a coworker shows you speaking for 90% of the conversation, you just might have an interrupting problem. Analyzing your talk time with Yoodli allows you to see when and where you interject while another person is talking.
Another bad communication habit that’s hard to break is monologuing, or dominating a conversation without letting the other person chime in. Yoodli’s talk time feature helps you get rid of this bad habit, too. Monologuing and interrupting are behaviors that often go hand in hand, and noticing these patterns in your own speaking style is the first step to breaking them.
If you’re feeling anxious in conversations and find yourself about to interrupt, focusing on your body language is a great tactic for holding back the interruption. In that moment you feel the urge to interrupt, take a step back and focus on your posture. Drawing your attention to your breathing can give you something to focus on in the moment. Keeping your arms at your side or folded in front of you can help reduce the urge to jump in.
When speaking with someone else, allow a few seconds of silence from the time they finish their thought to the time your respond. What this looks like practically is silently counting to three when someone finishes a sentence before you being yours. Three seconds may feel like a long time, but slowing down and taking pauses is better in the long run than interrupting. This will give you time to process their idea, and it will also show respect for the speaker.
Asking questions about the topic of conversation can be a great way to contribute without detracting from the other person’s ideas. Follow-up questions are also a fantastic way to demonstrate that you value what another person has to say. Doing this also gives the other person space to explain their thoughts and ideas without interruption or judgement. Of course, you should always wait until someone finishes speaking before asking your question.
Multitasking during conversations can make it more likely that you will interrupt. In today’s world, with our smartphones on us at all times, it’s easy to be distracted by texts, emails, and news alerts. However, it’s better for your personal and work relationships to focus on the conversation at hand and give your full attention to the speaker. The email can wait.
There are many ways you can improve your listening skills. Listening is the opposite of interrupting, so it’s essential that you become a better listener on your journey of learning how to stop interrupting people. Active listening is a skill that takes time and patience to learn, but it’s essential for respectful conversation. It involves paying attention to the speaker’s body language, making eye contact, paraphrasing, and asking follow-up questions. Practicing active listening can help you focus on the conversation in the moment and build a genuine connection with the other person.
It’s hard to be honest with ourselves and recognize areas we need to improve. If you find yourself interrupting, be honest with yourself and acknowledge that it’s happening. Recognizing the behavior as soon as it starts is the best way to nip this habit in the bud. When you’re 100% honest with yourself, you’ll start to see how to stop interrupting other people.
If someone calls you out for interrupting, try not to get defensive. Taking a moment to receive and process their comment before responding will give you the chance to respond with grace. You’ll more quickly get better at not interrupting people if you accept criticism openly. In general, being open to constructive criticism is one of the best traits a person can have. By taking feedback constructively, you can learn from your mistakes and build better relationships with those around you.
Interrupting someone during a conversation immediately shuts them down. It can also make people uncomfortable and not want to share ideas. On the other hand, offering support without interrupting lifts other people up and makes them feel respected. When people feel comfortable in an interaction, they’ll open up and share their thoughts more freely. It’s easier to interrupt someone who trails off or doesn’t express their thoughts assertively. Showing support for the other speaker’s ideas can help them continue their thought without interruption. Offering positive comments and encouragement can also help build relationships and foster mutual respect in conversations. When you make a conscious effort to stop interrupting other people, your relationships will blossom.
It can be difficult to show another person that you like what they have to say without interjecting. It takes a lot of conscious effort to find a way to encourage without being disruptive. The best way to do this is to rely on nonverbal cues, such as eye contact, nodding, and smiling. Yoodli can give you quantitative feedback that measures these nonverbal cues.
For example, Yoodli tells you what percent of time you spent making eye contact during a conversation. Maintaining eye contact shows another speaker that you’re engaged and interested in what they have to say. Making a conscious effort to maintain eye contact will make you a better conversation partner and take your mind off of interrupting other people.
In addition to tracking eye contact, Yoodli tells you how much you smiled while speaking. Smiling is the easiest way to show someone you care without saying a single word. Additionally, a smile can actually improve your overall well-being.
Chronic interrupters are a huge problem throughout our society. If you’ve read this far in this article, you’re obviously committed to becoming part of the solution. Once you’ve taken these steps to stop your own interrupting, it’s time start creating positive change in your community. Lead by example and be a role model for your friends, family, or coworkers, especially other men, so that they see how they can stop interrupting people, too. Demonstrating proper behavior will help other people understand the importance of being intentional listeners. You’ll change the world for the better.
By following these tips, anyone (particularly men) can learn how to be respectful and courteous in conversations without interrupting. Listening is an important skill that requires patience and dedication, but if you’re able to practice it, you can build better relationships and have more meaningful conversations.
In this article, we’ve given you ten tangible pieces of advice on how to stop interrupting people. We wish you the best on your journey of better listening and more respectful communication.
Getting better at speaking is getting easier. Record or upload a speech and let our AI Speech Coach analyze your speaking and give you feedback.