On being interrupted

Generally I’m a quietly spoken individual. I tend not to raise my voice, and I don’t recall the last time that I shouted (other than when watching sport!).

And I get interrupted … a lot!
It used to annoy me … a lot!

But as I’ve got older and wider (not a typo!), I’ve learned to accept this. It doesn’t mean that I like it; it is still rude and, in my view, unacceptable.

Over the years I’ve tried a variety of tactics to deal with it. I’ve steadfastly refused to ‘talk over’ the interruption – I simply will not do that.

However I have tried:

  • holding my hand up to indicate that I haven’t finished speaking;
  • waiting for the interruptor to finish, then picking up exactly where I was interrupted – not restarting my sentence or train of thought, but beginning with the next word that I would have spoken if I had not been interrupted;
  • at the end of the interruption, starting with “As I was saying…”

But now I have a different approach, which was reinforced by something that Seth Godin wrote the other day.

So (without beating myself up in any way), I simply accept that I’ve been interrupted… and let it go. Maybe what I was saying wasn’t interesting or relevant enough for the other person to wait for me to finish, or maybe they were simply too rude to listen. Either way, I clearly didn’t have their attention, so why get annoyed?

Now, I don’t try to finish what I was saying.  If anyone in the room asks me to continue, I will.  If not, I can (usually) cope.

To paraphrase Seth:  I’d rather make a difference than make a noise.

I SAID, “I’D RATHER MAKE A DIFFERENCE THAN MAKE A NOISE!”  ARE YOU NOT LISTENING TO ME?

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