Don’t interrupt me, for crying out loud!

Share Button


(To Hillary) “Excuse me, I’m talking!” ” I’m not finished; don’t interrupt me!” – Bernie Sanders, Democratic Debate

I glared in awe at the TV screen during the recent Republican and Democrat presidential debates while trying my best to keep tabs on the number of times the debaters interrupted each other. With the Republican one, I simply lost account. Insults clearly spearheaded every interruption as the four men duked it out with each other on a variety of issues, including one candidate’s “hand size.”

Research has it that men tend to interrupt women more than women interrupt men. That was my reference point a week later when a woman and a man, Hillary and Bernie, took the debate stage. I was curious as to how the interruption dynamic would manifest itself across gender lines. Not sure if there’s a gender message here – is it? – but Sanders seemed to be the most irritated by being interrupted.

Interruptions! Arguably one of the most despised words in communications. Can I get a shout from those of you out there who actually like being interrupted? Okay then, how about one from those of you who suffer from occasional bouts of interruptionitis? I-CAN’T-HEAR-YOU!

Here’s the point: Folks just don’t like being interrupted. Some consider it disrespectful and others downright rude. Here’s the problem: Many who resent being interrupted – unless they’re on stage during a Democratic or Republican debate – just won’t say anything. Instead, they’re more apt to seethe in silence and, over time, build up an antipathy for the interrupter. There’s little solace in these realities.

Now to be clear, not all interruptions are necessarily bad. “Hey, great idea,” “I agree,” or “uh-huh,” can be viewed as affirming and supportive. But the problem with interruptions, the dismissive ones in particular, is that they keep you from finishing your thoughts which frustrate you.

The fact is, sometimes people need to be told to put a lid on it. (I can see you nodding out there). We all know the affable long-winded types. They just seem to love to hear themselves talk and will ramble on and on, seemingly unable to know when it’s time to pipe down. They are prime candidates for interruptions, respectful ones, I must add. Of course, people who are verbally abusive – your garden-variety screamers and cussers – should be interrupted. I doubt if anyone will take issue with that.

I’m not talking about the occasional ‘cutoff’ that, at worst, is mildly annoying. We’ve all encountered people who do that, and we have done it ourselves. Nor am I talking about those “affirming interruptions.” In fact, a dearth of affirming interruptions may have the opposite micro effect – the speaker losing confidence and focus.

Professional interrupters

Let’s now peer into the complex mind of professional interrupters, the ones who make a career of butting in. Their verbal blasts can spring up in meetings, during one-on-one conversations, at home over dinner … from anywhere. Their “interruption guns” are always cocked, ready to fire. Existing conversations, “slow talkers” and mid-sentences are where they take aim. And if you pause, even for a split second, they’ll pounce and inject themselves into the conversation.

Now the irony is that most professional interrupters don’t like being interrupted. Ever notice that? They seem to have a monopoly on interrupting; it’s their province. And if you dare to interrupt them … touché … they will just turn around and interrupt you right back. Their blind obsession with getting in a word, the last word in particular, is a sight to behold.

To wit, observe two interrupters going toe to toe. What an exhibition. The scene conjures up images of two prize fighters bobbing and weaving; sweat and spit flying everywhere, each looking for an opening to deliver the verbal knockout punch while everyone else sits transfixed on the sideline warily eyeballing the two combatants. You can often hear interrupters breathing heavily, panting, and waiting for a chance to barge in. They’re usually poor listeners. Just ask them to play back what was being discussed before they butted in and they’re hard-pressed to tell you.

So why do we interrupt?

The answer isn’t that easy. But as a “recovering interrupter,” I can tell you that we think differently; thoughts race through our minds at breakneck speeds. “Mental multitasking,” is as good as any description of what’s going on in our heads. The long winded talker and the ones who take an enormous amount of time getting to the point, drive us bonkers. And yes, some of us probably suffer from attention deficit disorder.

Now from a recovering interrupter’s perspective, I can also tell you first-hand about the adrenaline rush, the anxious moment, and the fear that we may somehow miss the moment if we don’t quickly interject. We’ll wave our hands, lurk in the background if the person’s on the phone; clear our throats, manufacture a cough – anything to let you know of our growing anxiety. Hovering is our calling card. We’ll interrupt and bring the already discussed issue up if it suddenly dawns on us that we missed an opportunity to make our point earlier.

Interrupting interrupters

Of course, it’s easy for any of us to slip into the habit of interrupting. It is such an ingrained habit in some that they don’t even know that they’re doing it. Thus it’s important to start with knowing that your local interrupter may be completely unaware of the behavior. So a firm, “Excuse me, Terry, but I wasn’t finished yet,” may be all that it takes to put me on mute. Now if that doesn’t work, get LOUDER. Talk over my interruptions. Stare me down with a frown. “I’m not quite done yet,” “Terry, I’ll be with you in a moment. I’ll continue now without interruption,” are effective ways to interrupt the interrupter.

And be patient. Interrupters may not hear you the first few times. Become a broken record if need be. Avoid eye contact with the verbal invader since eye contact provides them an opening. Getting to your point quickly will leave little room for interruptions. If you’re an observer of someone being interrupted, chime in with, “Wait, excuse me, Terry, but I’m interested in hearing the rest of Tim’s thoughts.”

As for the interrupters out there: Put a lid on it. If you’re not part of a conversation, resist barging in unless invited. Calm down. Pinch yourself. Take your medication. Simmer down and let them finish. Wait your turn. This isn’t a footrace.

Plus, understand that in some cultures “turn taking” and “thoughtful pauses” are the preferred protocol, so if you interrupt you could offend. And understand that interrupting “slow talkers” could also offend.

In the end when you see verbal cannons like me heading your way, get busy, lock your door, get on the phone, develop bad breath, anything that’ll ward me off.

Pretty soon, duh, I’ll get the message.

© Terry Howard is an award-winning writer, trainer, story teller and senior associate with Diversity Wealth. He is the founder of the Global Diversity Connection Consortium, a member of the Cross-Cultural Academy, Contributing Writer with The Chattanooga News Chronicle, the American Diversity Report and New York-based Catalyst. Visit his page at: He can also be reached at or


Share Button

56 comments on “Don’t interrupt me, for crying out loud!”

  1. bomb it 7 says:

    I read this article fully regarding the comparison of
    latest and previous technologies, it’s amazing article.

  2. RevaTJacquot says:

    Valuable info. Lucky me I found your web site by chance, and I am stunned why
    this twist of fate didn’t came about in advance!
    I bookmarked it.

  3. SachaKGass says:

    Wonderful blog! Are you experiencing any suggestions for aspiring writers?
    I’m hoping to start out my own, personal blog soon but I’m a bit lost
    on everything. Do you advise beginning from a totally free
    platform like WordPress or choose a paid option? There are many
    options available that I’m totally overwhelmed .. Any
    suggestions? Cheers!

    1. terry howard says:

      Suggest that you start from a free platform just to get started.

  4. MartyJHerrin says:

    You actually make it seem very easy with the presentation but I
    find this topic to become really something that I think I might never understand.
    It seems too complex and very broad in my opinion. I am
    just anticipating for your upcoming post, I am going to try to find the
    hang from it!

  5. KarolLSather says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate your efforts and I am waiting for your
    further write ups thank you once again.

  6. JoanaYMclead says:

    Great information. Lucky me I ran across your web site
    by mistake (stumbleupon). I’ve book-marked it for later!

  7. VerdaWGallob says:

    I enjoy whatever you guys are up too. This type of clever work and exposure!
    Continue the wonderful works guys I’ve added you guys to my own,
    personal blogroll.

  8. RossGDeloach says:

    What i don’t understood is actually how you are will no longer really far more
    well-appreciated than you may be at the moment. You will be very intelligent.
    You recognize thus considerably in terms of this topic, produced me personally consider it from countless
    various angles. Its like men and women aren’t interested except it really is something to do
    with Woman gaga! Your personal stuffs outstanding.
    All the time care for it!

    1. terry howard says:

      Thank you

  9. HaydenPHovde says:

    I the same as the helpful information you provide on your articles.

    I am going to bookmark your blog and test once more here regularly.
    I’m somewhat sure I will learn a great deal of new
    stuff right here! Better of luck for the next!

  10. GinnyEKuen says:

    I feel this can be one of the so much important info to me.
    And i’m glad studying your article. However should observation on some general things,
    The site style is perfect, the articles is the simple truth is excellent : D.
    Good task, cheers

    1. terry howard says:

      Thank you mocu

  11. ShylaCRangel says:

    Hello there! I could have sworn I’ve visited this page before
    but after looking at some of the posts I realized it’s new to me.
    Nonetheless, I’m definitely happy I discovered it and I’ll be bookmarking it
    and checking back frequently!

    1. terry howard says:

      Thanks a bunch and feel free to let me know other topics you may be interested in.

  12. JaeKWiebusch says:

    This is the right blog for anybody who wishes to find out about this topic.
    You understand so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I personally would want toHaHa).
    You certainly put a brand new spin on a subject that has been discussed for many years.
    Excellent stuff, just excellent!

    1. terry howard says:

      Thanks so much.

  13. SandyEMacnab says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about articles.

  14. MarcosUWeida says:

    bookmarked!!, I really like your web site!

  15. ValarieAHess says:

    My brother recommended I might like this web
    site. He was totally right. This submit truly made my day.

    You can not believe simply how a lot time I had spent for this info!

  16. LucyPSagar says:

    excellent points altogether, you just won a brand new reader.
    What might you recommend about your publish that you simply made some days before?
    Any certain?

    1. terry howard says:

      Thanks but not clear what you are asking me so please explain a bit further.

  17. DorseyWFrier says:

    Maybe you have considered writing an e-book or guest authoring on other sites?
    I have got a blog dependant on about the same
    ideas you discuss and would love to get you share some stories/information. I realize my audience would value work.
    If you’re even remotely interested, you can shoot me
    an e mail.

    1. terry howard says:

      Would love to learn more about considering guest authoring on your site so please email me a link to your site.

  18. Truly… this is a valuable web site

  19. ReedBAxman says:

    Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your site and in accession capital
    to assert that I get actually enjoyed account your blog posts.
    Anyway I’ll be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access consistently quickly.

  20. MayeXTrezise says:

    Hello to all, how is everything, I think every one is getting more
    from this site, and your views are fastidious in favor of
    new users.

    1. Terry Howard says:

      Huge thanks for your insight .

  21. MarniTTijing says:

    I just like the valuable information you supply to your articles.
    I will bookmark your blog and check once more right here regularly.

    I’m rather sure I am going to be told many new stuff proper on this site!

    Best of luck for the next!

  22. GailVBrayboy says:

    This site was… just how do i say it? Relevant!!
    Finally I’ve found an issue that helped me to. Many thanks!

    1. Terry Howard says:

      Appreciate your feedback. Stay tuned for more.

  23. KellySDenger says:

    Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful post. Thank you for
    supplying this information.

  24. LeeSAllgeyer says:

    There’s certainly a whole lot to understand this
    topic. I enjoy all of the points you made.

  25. FelipeSMoyse says:

    Hello i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anywhere, when i
    read this paragraph i thought i could also make comment due to this sensible piece of

  26. CecilyGSnaer says:

    Howdy! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new apple iphone!

    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all
    your posts! Carry on the superb work!

  27. CortezQDungy says:

    Hi, i read your blog every once in awhile and so i
    own a comparable one and i also was only curious if you get a great
    deal of spam responses? If how can you control it, any plugin or whatever you can suggest?
    I recieve a great deal lately it’s driving me crazy so
    any assistance is extremely much appreciated.

    1. terry howard says:

      I have not had any problems so far with span stuff. Maybe on of our readers can offer advice.

  28. AliRMariello says:

    What’s up everyone, it’s my first pay a quick visit at this web page, and piece of writing is really
    fruitful for me, keep up posting such articles or reviews.

  29. BlakeVKinkin says:

    I realize this if off topic but I’m looking into starting
    my own blog and was curious what all is required to get put in place?
    I’m assuming developing a blog like yours would cost you a pretty penny?
    I’m not too web smart so I’m not 100% certain. Any tips or advice can be greatly
    appreciated. Cheers

    1. terry howard says:

      actually getting a blog started is very easy and with minimal cost. Try googling how to start a blog and everything you need is available for you.

  30. JamalNNelmes says:

    Stunning quest there. What occurred after?

  31. Lanny says:

    Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve been to this web site before but after browsing through a few of the articles I realized it’s new to
    me. Regardless, I’m definitely happy I stumbled upon it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back often!

  32. WinnieCBurke says:

    It’s will be ending of mine day, except before ending I am reading this article fantastic post to increase my knowledge.

  33. KitSCatoggio says:

    I could not stay away from commenting. Perfectly written!

    1. Terry Howard says:

      Huge thanks

  34. blog here says:

    I simply want to tell you that I’m newbie to blogging and honestly enjoyed you’re web blog. Likely I’m going to bookmark your website . You amazingly come with wonderful articles and reviews. Regards for sharing your web site.

  35. StarrULukens says:

    Superb blog you have here but I was curious about if you knew of any forums that
    cover the same topics talked about here? I’d really love to be a part of online community where I can get suggestions from
    other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest.
    If you have any suggestions, please let me know.
    Appreciate it!

  36. VedaVKeigley says:

    Can I simply just say what a comfort to find somebody who really knows what they’re talking about over
    the internet. You certainly understand how to bring a problem to light and
    make it important. More people ought to look at this
    and understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you aren’t more popular since you definitely possess the

  37. HaleyMGodard says:

    Im not that a great deal of internet reader actually however, your sites really nice, keep
    it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to return down the road.

    Thanks a lot

  38. KarolSMonger says:

    It’s appropriate a chance to develop plans in the future and it’s time to be happy.
    I actually have look at this post and when I was able
    to I would like to suggest you some interesting things or advice.
    Maybe you can write next articles making reference to this article.

    I would like to read a lot more reasons for having it!

  39. SonnyNDegnim says:

    I’m uncertain where you’re having your information, but good topic.
    I must spend time learning much more or understanding more.
    Many thanks for wonderful information I needed this info for my mission.

  40. LuisRWollner says:

    I think this is among the most important info to
    me. And i’m happy reading your article. However wanna remark on some common issues, The site taste is wonderful, the articles is really excellent : D.
    Excellent activity, cheers

  41. LeeLCardle says:

    Simply wish to say your article is as surprising. The clarity in your post
    is simply cool and i can assume you are an expert on this subject.
    Well with your permission let me to grab your RSS feed to keep up to date with
    forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the enjoyable work.

  42. TonetteBBigg says:

    naturally much like your website but you need to look into the spelling
    on several of your respective posts. Several turn out to be rife with spelling problems and i also find it very bothersome to share with the truth however
    I’ll surely come back again.

    1. Terry Howard says:

      Please point me to the rife of misspellings.

  43. UlaDErhard says:

    I much like the valuable information you supply in your
    articles. I will bookmark your weblog and test again below
    regularly. I am just fairly sure I will be told many new stuff right right here!
    All the best for the next!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *