Last month I presented “Think Fast, Talk Slow, the Art and Science of Spontaneous Speech” at the 2017 IPI Conference & Expo in New Orleans (to view the presentation, click here). Afterward, the biggest topic the group that stayed behind wanted to talk further about is how to best manage interrupters when trying to share one’s own thoughts during any given conversation.
While maybe not a big bolt of lightening, there’s a few tried and trusted ways in the moment to try and mitigate those who have a habit of cutting off others mid-sentence:
- Wait until the other person is done with his interruption and pick right back up where you left off without skipping a beat. You may or may not want to acknowledge what the other said in response, depending on the context.
- Ask the interrupter for permission to continue your narrative before he gets too deep into expressing his own thought.
- Keep on talking and ignore the interrupter all together.
Each one has its own risk and reward depending on the type of meeting, who the players are, titles in the room, etc. When we coach our clients in this space, we focus on what’s equally of value: those strategies and tactics related to ensuring interrupters don’t have a chance to but-in to begin with!
First and most importantly, know your data. So simple, but too frequently people are cut off by others because what they’re saying is more rooted in opinion (how we feel) vs. fact (i.e., what we know). All sorts of other ineffective habits appear when we don’t know what we’re talking about: rambling, changing the subject, filling the room with useless words that don’t move the conversation forward. The best way to ensure you’ll be heard is to know the subject at hand before the meeting.
Know your ticks and break them. People who have acute verbal ticks are going to be interrupted more often than those who don’t. If you talk too fast, too loud or have a habit of saying the same sentence three different ways in rapid succession, you’re susceptible to being interrupted, regardless of how well you know the topic being discussed. The best way to learn if you have any of these types of habits? Audio record yourself and listen afterwards. It’s quite an eye-opening experience listening for both language and style in the abstract and you’ll quickly detect those patterns you’ll want to address.
Measure yourself. Do you interrupt others? How often and for what reasons? You’ll be interrupted more often if you yourself display this same habit. Hand in hand, be keenly self-aware of what your nonverbal signals are and work on changing those that affect your overall interpersonal communications style. If you like frequently looking at your phone during a meeting, the message to others is low interest, so when you next speak you’re more likely to be interrupted as compared to others who are leaning in, nodding their heads and taking notes.
If you’re not sure what your verbal and nonverbal habits are, the good the bad and ugly, ask a trusted colleague for honest feedback on what works well for you in terms of relating to others, what actually inhibits your effectiveness and actionable ways to capitalize on the strengths and mitigate the limitations.
If you’d like your team to work on ways to improve their spontaneous speech, we can help. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a complementary one hour consultation or visit the Marlyn Group blog for more parking industry trends related to professional development and training, talent acquisition and human resources practices.