10 Tips to Help You Stop Interrupting

Monday, July 14, 2014

10 Tips to Help You Stop Interrupting

In a recent coaching session, a client asked if I could help him break the habit of interrupting.  He told me that several team members had confronted him about frequently talking over them – interrupting.  They were honest enough to tell him just how much it had become a consistent source of frustration for them.  In collaboration with my client, we came up with several strategies that ultimately helped him to virtually eliminate his “communication destroyer” habit.

One of the quickest ways to shut down communication is to interrupt.  When someone repeatedly interrupts others it not only derails communication, but it also diminishes the trust and respect people have for them.

I won't tell you

If your relationships are compromised due to a habit of interrupting I encourage you to read and practice the 10 Tips to Help You Stop Interrupting below.

Live, Work and Relate Well!

Dr. Todd

1.  Write your thoughts down so you don’t forget.  While this may not be possible in a spontaneous conversation, it is effective if you know in advance that you will be engaging in a discussion. Jotting down a quick note to remind yourself to bring up a point or question will free up your mind to continue listening until the other person is finished.

2.  Place a greater priority on listening for understanding than on trying to be understood.  Develop a mindset of “It’s all about others.”

When people feel listened to they tend to talk less. If they don’t think you’re really hearing them, they’ll keep talking to try to get through.

When you interrupt, you’re telling the other person that what they have to say is not important.  That will hinder real communication.

3.  Quickly assess the importance of what you are about to blurt out.  When the person stops speaking, count to five while asking yourself, “Is what I have to say absolutely critical to the conversation?” Your answer will be “no” most of the time.

4.  In his book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith refers to “transaction flaws” that are performed by one person against another. Some of these contribute to your risk for interrupting.

Winning too much – the need to win may cause you to speak impetuously to try to get the upper hand.

Adding too much value – the overwhelming desire to add your two cents to every discussion makes it hard to keep quiet.

Telling the world how smart you are – trying to prove you’re smart may cause you to interject your commentary too often.

Not listening – a passive-aggressive form of interruption because the speaker is unlikely to finish what they’re saying when they realize you’re not engaged in the dialog.

5.  You might interrupt because you genuinely want to be helpful or positively influence a conversation.  The irony is that you will have more influence by being a good listener and waiting to be asked what you think than you will by interrupting others.

6.  Allow others to hold you accountable. Let them know you’re working on reducing your interruptions and be open to their feedback.  The positive side effect could be that you will help raise their awareness and they will also be more willing to resist interrupting you.

7.  Keep your mouth closed, literally. Practice keeping your lips together and don’t open them.

8.  Do not talk until someone asks for your thoughts. This is almost guaranteed to give you a reputation of possessing wisdom!

9.  When you catch yourself talking over someone, graciously say, “I’m sorry, you were about to say…” (and then close your mouth again.)

10. Remember, you alienate people rather than impress them when you interrupt.  Others will come away from conversations with you feeling frustrated, annoyed and unsatisfied. However, if you listen twice as much as you talk, people are likely to consider you a brilliant conversationalist!

What additional tips have you found helpful for breaking the habit of interrupting? I would love to hear about them!

71 thoughts on “10 Tips to Help You Stop Interrupting

  1. Just wanted to say thank you very much for these helpful tips. I have a bad habit of this and am determined to break it.

    1. I evidently talk over people without realizing it—as a call center agent when I stop talking, trying to break the habit, customers will ask if I am still there ( on the phone). How do I solve this issue?

      1. Amen me too. This is my problem and I am a teacher so I sort of talk for a living. But I am going to try this cause I really dont have any friends. At least they arent friends long.I feel better that I am not alone. But I am going to try this really hard. Thanks.

      2. Just say. Yes, I’m here! I was just listening tp make sure you got to say everything you wanted to say. Thanks for speaking your mind.

  2. I have an enormous problem with it. It’s affecting my marriage, and work relationships. It’s almost like an addiction. I’m a recovering from a serious heroin problem. I’ve been sober 3 years now. But somehow I can’t break this habit. Any other suggestions?? I think I might be broken!!

    1. Oh Lisa! You are most definitely NOT broken. You (like us all) are a work in progress. You recognize the issue and want to do something about it and that is far more than most. Just keep practicing the steps above and (if you’re a person of faith) pray for dedication to the steps. You can totally do this if you were able to kick heroin. Hang in there!

    2. Congratulations on your accomplishment with your sobriety! You will break your interruption habit, just like you did the other. I personally have never had a drug problem, but have battled other things such as bulimia and face picking due to anxiety. I know this is not the same as a drug addiction, but do believe that if we are strong to overcome obstacles like these, that the interruption is something that we should be able to over come as well. I’m with you when you say it’s affecting my work relationship. No one says this, but I feel it. I figure if I know it’s bad, then it’s REALLY bad. I will surely try the 10 tips. In a working environment, I think that writing down my thoughts during a conversation (and prior if possible) will be one of the keys to success.
      Keep up the good work and I wish you all the best. 🙂

      1. I also have the same type of anxiety picking… if I have to wait to speak I tend to pick my face. Also, since I have a 4 year old I take care of full time, I get overly excited when there is an adult to talk to so sometimes I unknowingly steal their thunder. Ughhh

  3. I too struggle. What has helped me is if I force myself to focus only on what that person is saying rather than my reply, when they stop talking my reply is well received. Had I interrupted with my reply it worked been dismissed because of how I made them feel by interrupting.

  4. This is excellent advice; however, I would love to go one step further. I struggle with compulsive talking and interrupting. I have been given the “advice” to talk less for years, but just telling me I talk too much does HELP me be better or change. I have been frustrated that people assume it is a blindspot. I KNOW of the issue, but just knowing has not been enough to help me change. Is there therapy or other things that can help if it isn’t an easy fix? I leave interactions hating myself for talking. Sometimes I feel like doing the things listed above makes me a bad listener, as I am so focused on NOT talking that I am missing things and become less engaged. One last thing that I could use help with…people are so used to me being talkative, that when I practice these tips, I get accused of being mad, upset or asked what is wrong. How do I make the change if others won’t acknowledge it as a good thing?

    1. Thank you for being brave enough to share your struggle. You are not alone! There are others reading your comment who share your frustration. None of us want to harbor a habit that can interfere with – or even damage – our relationships. Compulsive talking can come from a number of sources, but in some cases it could possibly stem from challenges like an attention-deficit disorder, which can make it difficult to focus and resist the impulse to talk, or from anxiety of some sort. If you have not been able to reduce your interruptions in spite of your ongoing efforts, it may be helpful to explore the cause with a counselor. That said, lifelong habits don’t change overnight. Using the 10 Tips, keep trying and don’t give up. It will take other people awhile to adjust to your new patterns of behavior and if you smile and let them know that you’re working on talking less, they will quickly figure out that your silence isn’t caused by anger. Thank them for their patience as you work on developing your skills, and they may become great allies in your battle against this frustrating habit.

      1. Thank you Dr Todd. I was just told by my dearest friend that I constantly do this and I’m afraid of damaging this friendship. I’m aware but don’t know how to stop. I printed your 10 tips and hopefully I can apply them. I am a senior and agree Steve old habits are hard to break.

        1. Hi Marie,

          Old habits are hard to break, but at any age or stage of life, if you engage in deliberate and consistent practice over time, you can literally change your brain and there establish a new habit. I wish you the best in your efforts, Marie.

    2. I have the same problem, when people are talking all I hear in my head is….me telling myself not to talk. Its really bad on the cell phone.

    3. Love this transparency. I too walk away from most encounters feeling horrible for impulsively talking and interrupting too much. Even in recorded meetings. I hear myself and want to run!

    4. I am going thru the same thing. I was teased by my 35 yr old son and husband during his visit. They want to know why i talk so much. Makes my heart hurt, tears fall, so i get up this morning. Not talking., unless asked question or hubby starts a conversation. All day he keeps asking if I am ok, am I upset. No Im fine, not mad, just miserable.

      1. Feel the same way you do. If I don’t talk or stay silent people assume I am mad, if I have nothing to say then I must be smug. So I always have something to say. Just didn’t realize it would get me reprimanded at work. But it did and now I am trying so hard to listen and that’s all i here when people talk to me is myself telling myself to listen and not reply.

  5. All the above is EXCELLENT! I too, need to work on talking less and listening more. I definitely don’t want to be known as an opera singer, (“me, me, me, me, me” !)
    At almost 63, old habits are hard to break but I am trying.
    Thanks 🙂

      1. Love the analogy Opera Singer (me me me me!!!!!). I am 58 and am bad at interrupting too. I come from a family full of them. 7 including Mom and Dad, God rest their souls. It was really hard communicating growing up. I am an introvert so I rarely got a word in edgewise. That didn’t stop me from bringing those bad habits with me when I grew up and started a new job in a new city. It was very exciting to meet the rest of the world of listeners. I’ve struggled with it for so long. Last night, I was having dinner with my husband and daughter, I was trying to be helpful when my husband and daughter were ordering their meals and they both criticized my interruptions. It left me speechless for the rest of the meal as I sat back and wallowed in my misery. I told them you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but here I am awake at 4am scouring the internet researching my bad habit. Thank you for your 10 tips. You’re right about writing thoughts down being hard to do as most of my conversations are spontaneous; however, I’ll definitely try all of them anyway. Wish me luck! Good luck to all of you!

        1. You have good insight and a great start on overcoming! Sometimes when we speak up to “help” someone, it sounds like we don’t believe they are capable of ordering a meal (or doing something else) without help. Sometimes we just need to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and then decide if we should speak up or not. Thanks for your comment!

  6. While I’ve had problems with this at home too, I was just approached by my supervisor yesterday, as he was approached by his higher ups earlier about my horrible habit of excessive talking & interrupting. He was understanding and sympathetic but talked about how it was becoming a big enough problem for the higher ups to notice. 🙁

    I do suffer from ADHD/anxiety and I even went into this job apologizing ahead of time for my blurting and interrupting that may inevitably happen (like I do in any situation) and I’m a work in progress.

    Regardless, it still got so bad that I had to be pulled aside, which absolutely crushed me as I’ve been trying recently to be more conscious of it.

    I’ve always just tried to better it in my own ways but after yesterday’s humbling experience I realized I needed to look up other ways to help outside of my own understanding. Especially if they’re trying to groom me for management. I will not let this horrible habit hinder that!!

    So so so thankful I came across this article. I will keep this bookmarked on my phone and start fresh right now!

    Here’s to being a better listener and learning to shut my mouth; only opening it when needed/wanted. <3

    1. Hello. So thankful to find this. I know I have this issue but get so frustrated. You start thinking you know what they are going to say and it’s wrong. Yes wrong but you have to listen anyways. I have hung up so frustrated because I didn’t get the answer I “wanted”. It has affected my work. I will most certainly print this list. Grew up painfully shy/bipolar/but who doesn’t have issues. Thank you!

    2. Thank you for your post. I have struggled with this my whole life. I am high energy, talk fast, a lot and apparently interrupt more often than I thought. It was pointed out in a letter and we lost an account. If you have any suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it. I have anxiety (they say) and they say this causes some of these effects. I think it is just my personality…so how do I change? I don’t want to lose my job and I don’t want people to see me in this negative way.

  7. This is def something that people always have told me I do. I didnt take it as serious until I met my fiance. It really hurts his feeling when i interrupt him. Like I don’t have a desire to hear about his day or what he is saying is not important. It crushed me that he feels that way. I am going to change this habit!

  8. thank you so much for this it is my greatest problems and is costing me everything and I am ready to work on it and will accept all the help I can get

  9. I started a new job a month ago after my career at one job for nearly 3 decades came to an end. Today I had a ” see how things are going” meeting with my new supervisor. The very first thing discussed was my interupting others while they are talking. I know I do it and I know I always seem to have something to interject when others are speaking. If I have to buy Gorilla glue to stop myself from this relationship damaging problem, that’s what I will do. It will not matter what how well you perform if people can’t stand being around you and don’t respect you because you appear to be rude and not care about what others have to say. I truly don’t mean to be disrespectful or rude. When I get this pointed out to me it is usually after someone is already frustrated with me and the damage has been done. I spend the next couple of days feeling like people don’t like me and not really liking myself. I need to write things down and let people have the attention they deserve when they are talking. I feel so bad that I have let my interrupting tarnish my reputation at my new job. I can’t even write a reply without going on and on and on

    1. Thanks for sharing your concerns with us. After reading your comments I am wondering if the stress and anxiety that might naturally accompany such a huge transition could be at play for you. Starting a new job is stressful in any circumstance, but after 30 years in one place, it must be intense! I would encourage you to review the tips regularly to keep them fresh in your mind, but you might find it helpful to try some strategies for reducing your stress and anxiety as well. Back in December of 2015 we published a 2-part blog called, “What to Do for Stress Overload”. (Part 1 was on Dec. 3 and Part 2 was on Dec. 10.) You can use the search box at the top of the page to enter the title and find those blogs. Maybe some of the tips I shared would help you through the stressful season of being the “new kid” at work after many years of seniority. But, be encouraged. The fact that you are aware of the problem and willing to address it is a big step forward in getting your interrupting under control!

  10. I’m thankful for your comments. I have this problem and need to focus on changing it. Ironically I am normally a quiet person and rarely feel comfortable talking around others. When I do find someone I’m close to I do interrupt and have seen this as a way to keep the conversation flowing. I’ve noticed though that the two people who recently confronted me about my interrupting or not listening do the same themselves and have “reasons” for their behaviors but mine is the problem.

  11. The habit of interrupting is so common that most of us do it at times, but you are ahead of the game by recognizing it and working on it. It is human nature to see our own flaws in other people, which may be why others mentioned it to you. As you make the effort to quit interrupting, they may find themselves becoming more aware when they do it and may become willing to work on it, too. Friends helping each other overcome a bad habit can be very effective!

    1. When I met a chronic interrupter, I saw myself really, for the first time. In an attempt to form new relationships with other ladies in my area, I’ve accepted an invitation to a Ladies Night. Accepting the invitation caused me anxiety so this article is a great find. Thanks so much

  12. Hi I recently got into a huge fight with my husband over this. I have been trying to work on it for years but when it normally happens is when he is saying things that I find are not true in my opinion (mostly things I feel he perceives to be true, like I’m being mean or facetious) and I find it hard to hold in words when I feel like I’m being slandered and am trying to defend myself. Should I assume these tips can work in these circumstances as well? Thanks.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for your great question. Yes, I believe these tips can help you stop interrupting even when in a difficult conversation with your husband. I would suggest that if you are most vulnerable to interrupting while in arguments with your husband and when you believe you are being falsely accused, you may have likely identified a personal “raw spot”. This means that when your husband negatively labels or blames you, you escalate emotionally. Emotional escalation can make us more vulnerable to either anger or withdrawal. Interrupting is likely fueled by anger in this case. Keep in mind, Michelle, while no one likes to be falsely accused or labeled in a derogatory fashion, it’s important to know that people more often than not defend weaknesses not strengths. Rather than push back on his negative judgments, I suggest that you take a deep breath, and when he is done talking speak to him from your heart and not your head. In other words, let him know that when he mischaracterizes you, you feel hurt, sad, angry, etc., and that the relationship doesn’t feel safe or caring for you at that time. Honest, controlled and respectful emotional expression is more likely to help deescalate tension and stress during conflict. I know it takes a lot of self-control as well as trust, Michelle, but it will give you another strategy to consider as you work to get better at not interrupting and it may also allow you to effectively address what could be a deeper issue in your marriage – a lack of emotional safety and engagement. I wish you the best, Michelle, as you continue to eliminate the interrupting habit.

  13. First, I thought I was alone on this subject. I have never looked up this topic until today.

    I knew early on, that I over talked, interrupted, probably lost respect, friends, jobs, Lastly, I know that I talk a lot because I want to be right, show knowledge, show power, show involvement, show helpfulness. I get very defensive quickly when people say what they feel about me, often is I never see myself is wrong, unless I know it for sure. My younger years this has led to many firings, terminations etc.

    I have 16 years of sales, now I own my own businesses. Recently, I invited my father on a 3-way call. He is retired police officer and hostage negotiator. My career is investigations, I often interrupt others when I do pattern interrupts or if I KNOW they are lying. After the call he said, “Do you always interrupt people like that when your talking to them?” The answer was YES. He said, stop doing that! – he is right! –

    My wife of 8 years, tell’s me all the time to stop interrupting. On the phone she says I sound like a**. Mostly because I want things done right, quickly, fast and have a very hard time with “robotic attitudes on the phone.” My wife also points out that I am all over the board. In a typical paragraph, I rarely finish one thought before going to the next, often in mid-sentence.

    Struggles. I know it has to change and change now. I thought I was alone in this topic, lol.

    One concern I have, like another person commented, when I try to be quite and listen, people ask me if I am okay, like I am sick or depressed or pissed. The answer is no, I am only attempting to listen more than I talk.

    Thank you for this article I have an important meeting Monday that requires me to ONLY talk when asked a question. Tim – Please don’t talk!

    1. Thanks for your comments, Tim. You are clearly not alone with regard to interrupting – it is very common. Fortunately, it is something you can overcome. After reading your comments I thought of a book you may find very helpful. It’s written by Marshall Goldsmith and it’s titled “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There”. You may be able to relate to some of the issues Marshall addresses as well as find practical strategies for better managing them. Thanks again, Tim, and I trust that your deliberate efforts to listen twice as much as you speak will deliver a good return on your investment.

  14. I am so glad that I stumbled upon this site this morning. I recently transitioned to a new team at work and was under the impression that everything was going well.
    I had a 1:1 feedback session with my boss yesterday that centered around ‘my brand’ with my new teammates and I walked out of the meeting completely blindsided. She told me that they think I speak up to much at meetings and that I am constantly interrupting. Her solution is that she is ‘going to be watching me closely and making notes on when she sees this behavior so she can provide examples’. Besides now feeling as though I am under a microscope, I am also feeling really deflated – I had no idea they felt this way. I know my boss is trying to help me grow and become the best teammate possible, so I am going to do my best to follow these tips.
    I really want to change the perception they have of me because I truly love my job and the work we do. I would never intentionally do something that frustrated or annoyed anyone. I can only assume that this has also bothered others (I am 47 , and I don’t think this is new behavior) but no one else has really placed it so clearly on the table before.
    This page is now bookmarked on my computer and I plan on having it at my fingertips at meetings going forward.
    I also agree with so many of the above comments – I feel like what others wrote is exactly what is in my head, so it makes me feel better to know I am not alone in this.
    Thank you very much.

  15. This has been an ongoing struggle for me that I sometimes do better with and then seem to revert back to my interrupting ways. In the past I have found it helpful when friends, family or close colleagues help me by pointing out to me when I interrupt them. It usually stops me right in my tracks and gets me focused on not continuing to interrupt them. It can be a bit infuriating at first but I quickly recognize their willingness to help me. I’ve more recently been called out on this bad habit by my significant other. I’ve asked that he help me stop this by making me aware when I do it. He has yet to do that and instead prefers to not say anything and harbor anger towards me for it, only much later to attack me for my behavior. I plan on sitting him down and explaining exactly what I need from him and asking him to get on board with helping me or not continuing to bring it up as an issue. These tips are so helpful and I really hope to find myself on the right side of this problem very, very soon.

  16. Thank you for these tips Dr. Todd.

    I have been dating my girlfriend for 1.5 years. We started off really well. I hung on every one of her words. Now, she had pointed out to me that I constantly interrupt her. Also, I don’t know if this is related, but I also am less likely to listen to her when we are with friends. These two issues are very hurtful and I am determined to stop demeaning her.

  17. Thank you. I have had this bad habit for a while now. I always have so much to say. I’m afraid that I won’t make my point if I don’t get it all out. I will really be more aware of keeping my mouth shut

  18. I’ve been told this alot and grateful it find i’m not alone. I’ve noticed that I am very observant in body language so when i’m sober i can usually gauge when someone’s annoyed with me and i try to curtail my talking.

    However when I’m drinking with friends at a bar it’s a whole other story. I become oblivious to my behavior. Often i don’ t even realize i do it. That’s why i’ve asked friends to say something to me. But it’s ultimatley up to me to work on this and make it a habit to be a better listener. One of the reasons why i knew counseling wouldn’t work for me (i have a undergard degree in psych)

    I will work on these steps. it’s ironic because i was so quiet throughout my whole childhood. Not so much as an adult.

    Thanks for posting this. Its greatly appreciated!

    1. Jessica, I am glad this was encouraging to you. As you have pointed out, too much alcohol can interfere with your best intentions, but awareness is a great start to overcoming any problem.

      Thanks for your comments!

  19. My daughter and I both have this problem, so you can imagine how badly we communicate with one another. It’s very likely that my fear of not being listened to was passed down to my daughter (probably from interrupting her). Thankfully our relationship is strong and over the years we have learned to accept that about each other but it puts a strain on our relationship and inhibits our communication. Sometimes one of us gets so upset it results in tears of frustration but neither of us completely understand what the conflict was in the first place, we’re just hurt. I’ve always been a bad communicator and bad at expressing myself so I am either babbly and loud, disruptive or keep silent for fear of being babbly and loud. For me I think it comes from fear, bad communication skills, lack of control over my emotions and sometimes ego. Thanks for the article, I think it helped me 🙂

  20. Roberta, your comment reveals good insight into the challenges you face in communicating with your daughter. It helps to talk openly and honestly about the problem so you can recognize it when it’s happening. It can be helpful to stop and say, “I think we are doing it again. Can we slow down and take turns talking and listening?” This shows love and respect for each other and sincere desire for the relationship to be improved through better communication.

    By recognizing the problem, you’ve taken the first step toward solving it!

  21. I appreciate this article very much. I struggle too much with this. I need to change. The sad reality is I see others do it, I don’t like it when they do it, I’m the hypocrite!

  22. Omg, I always thought I was alone. I truly never knew there are others like me. I’m the person above. I feel if I don’t interrupt, I won’t get my point across. I also have suffered both professionally and personally. Until I read the posts I never realized how often people don’t listen. I suffer from bipolar disorder and a component of this is called “pressured speech” which is a compulsion to get it out. When I’m in that state of mind, I interrupt even more. I pray for help to stop talking so much.
    I believe it’s doable. I’m going to practice your steps just like I did with overcoming alcohol and drugs – 31 years clean and sober. Fingers crossed guys. Thanks for existing.

  23. I am in danger of losing the love of my life because of my annoying habit. He sees my interruptions as disrespectful. He is a psychologist, but has offered no suggestions on trying to help me stop. Hehas threatened to end our relationship if I continue interrupting and, because we are perfect for each other in most other aspects, I would feel terrible for being the cause of the end.

    1. I’m not a professional, Helen, but you might reconsider marrying a man that is threatening to break off your relationship because of interrupting. I have the terrible habit as well, so I totally get it. If he can’t be empathetic and helpful with tips, then he may just end up being the type of husband that you might have to walk on eggshells around. What else will he expect you to be perfect at? You too can say what Joyce Meyers says, “I’m not where I want to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be.”

  24. I found this article very helpful, however the comments moved me the most to realize many others struggle with this problem as I do.
    I finally have a perceptive and caring supervisor who has brought my interrupting behavior to my attention. My problem is that I’m not clear why I do this. I think I fear I’ll lose my thought. I don’t mean to be rude, try to cause personal harm or try to act smarter. I think I want to be helpful. Regardless I desire to change.
    My husband has often pointed out to me how many times I’m interrupted by my mom or sister when I try to talk. With this said,I think it is learned behavior from my family who fought to be heard and talked over each other. I am curious if anyone else has this same family experience?

    1. Tee same here. My wife is constantly telling me how I’m interrupting her which has led to some major fights. I was definitely brought up in a family where my father always had the last word on everything and if you were saying something he didn’t agree with then he would just interrupt you and tell you his opinion. He really had no filter, just whatever was on his mind needed to say. I believe it’s one of the reasons my parents got divorced. Now I’m seemingly having the same issues in how I speak to others and my wife has said she can take no more of this. I have just recently found this site and am fully committed to follow these steps, I’m hopeful I can save my marriage.

      1. Hi Justin, there is no doubt that interrupting can be a serious problem in marriage, because it sends a strong message of disrespect for the other person. It’s hard when that behavior was modeled to you as a child, but you can break the cycle. Acknowledgement of the offense and a short, but sincere, apology can often clear the air and allow your wife to see that you care about what she has to say. Thanks for your comment!

  25. Hi Tee, your comment about being interrupted by other family members is revealing, in that our communication styles develop as habits in the family we grown up in. It can stem from passion and enthusiasm or a fear of being disrespected or unheard, or anything in between. But regardless of the reason, it is a habit, which means it can be changed. Active focus on listening can help. And when you do jump in while the other person is talking, simply stop, acknowledge it and let them resume speaking. Keep it short and light, “Oops, I interrupted you. Sorry about that. Please continue.” This will reinforce the concept of waiting your turn in your own mind while giving the other person a strong, positive message that says you care about them and what they are saying. Along with the specific tips in the article, this can address the biggest problem of interrupting – the disrespect it shows to the speaker. As you practice, you’ll get more and more control over your habit.

  26. I have a this horrible habit. I’m made fun of for it. Not they mean to make me feel that way. I interrupt everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are. Kids, grandparents, parents, lover, Pope, President of the US, etc. I’m told and feel just the same about all of this. My kids now have the habit. My relationship is falling apart because of it. I’m even known to talk louder if they continue to talk to see if I stop.

    1. Hello, Bree,

      I’m sorry this habit is having such a negative impact on your life! I hope the steps we shared in the blog will help you overcome it. If it continues to be a struggle, it could be helpful to enlist the help of a professional counselor, especially if there is an underlying issue of anxiety or attention deficit of some type.

      Best wishes in your effort!

  27. I too have this problem, I try not to talk over people but I honestly can’t help it… My mother and both my sister’s are exactly the same (as too are my mother’s three siblings), so much so that my partner refuses to attend family events (or visit my family with me) as he says all we do is shout they loudly over each other.
    At work they all call me chatter box, and if my boss needs to tell me something important he sends me an email because he says he can’t tell me face to face as I will just talk over him the whole time.
    I’m trying to stop myself but it’s a life long habit that I guess I learned from my family (I suppose I was brought up with this as the “normal” way to communicate)

    1. Thanks for your comment, Julie. You have been able to express very clearly how this habit has negatively affected your relationships and even your work environment. I hope that the tips in this blog will help you break the cycle, but it sounds as though you are very distressed about it, so it may be beneficial to get some help. If you have friends or family members who will take a “Control Your Interrupting Challenge” with you, it can boost your confidence and success. People who care about you might welcome your permission to hold you accountable in a positive, caring manner. It may also be helpful to speak with a professional counselor who can help you identify your triggers. We wish you the best!

  28. I’m grateful to see a post like this, as trying to find helpful supports has just turned up a lot of links to ‘shutting down chronic talkers’ and not how to deal and improve from our perspective.
    I’ve been struggling with this during my year of service in AmeriCorps. We’ve been doing social justice talks on Fridays and I always have something I want to share… We have this motto, take space make space, about knowing when you are talking too much and letting others contribute. Also, to become comfortable with silence. But while I have made progress, it is not enough. A coworker pulled me aside today and told me she felt frustrated, that whenever she was gearing up to speak, I would go ahead and share first and it discouraged her. And I don’t want to take up too much space… But I am really, really struggling. I can’t stand it when the group is silent for too long after a facilitator prompts us. And I do feel engaged with the content, and want to discuss my thoughts… It feels awful to be told that there is no room for you or your comments, and I’m left feeling confused and repressed and agitated and even like they’ll miss out if I can’t add something to the conversation… I don’t know, it’s just super upsetting. I appreciate you all discussing this side of the issue!!!

    1. Hello, Kenzie,

      Thank you for your comment! I think a lot of people will identify with your experience. It is very clear that your tendency to talk comes from a passion for your topic and a desire to be part of something special and helpful. Those are great motivators, but I encourage you to continue the hard work of self-control. Since you seem to be passionate about people, maybe you can begin thinking of your teammates as people who have great things to offer and when the discussions begin, maybe you can focus on how much you would like to hear what they have to say. Channeling your passion to making room for others may be one way of helping you become a positive, unifying force in your team.

      With your great desire, I believe you can do it!

  29. I am very glad that I found your website, because I also am an interrupter. It has affected my relationship with my wife. I feel terrible and told her that I am working on learning techniques and applying them, to overcome this. She answered by saying to me, “One of us is unnecessary, and that would be me.”
    That was a punch in the gut, but I think I understand how strongly she feels about not being respected. I love her and want to overcome interrupting people so very much.

  30. Dear Dr. Todd,

    I am 55 and married for 32 years. I have always been labeled as the social butterfly and “the talker” and for the most part people do not complain. The one person that tells me I interrupt is my husband. He is so angry with me that he has stopped talking to me and I have decided that maybe I just need to give him space and time so I too, have stopped talking. This is literally the hardest thing I have had to do. I work from home and he is currently looking for employment . It is extremely difficult for me to go thru each day without barely a word to him. I even emailed him and told him I was sorry and that I found this website and I was going to try really hard to not interrupt and be a better listener and I was here when he is ready to talk. He still hasn’t said anything and that was yesterday when I sent him the email. Should I continue to just be quiet and wait for him to speak up? Thank you for your tips and any advice.

    1. Debbie, I am so sorry to hear about the situation you and your husband are going through right now. You have taken a step in the right direction by recognizing that you can do something different in order to change a dynamic that’s not working well. Job hunting can be extremely stressful and your husband could be feeling frustration more easily than usual during this season. Giving him some “space and time” can be healthy if it is done in a gentle, respectful manner – not in a “cold shoulder” manner. Emailing him was a great idea, and he may need a little time to process what you said and to see if your actions reflect your commitment to avoid interrupting and listen more. Stick to what you have promised and if your situation doesn’t improve and you feel as though you need more help, you may want to speak with a counselor who can help you with more specific recommendations. Thank you for your Comment!

  31. This website could help me save my marriage and be a better friend to everyone I know and will meet in the future!
    Thank you everyone so much for sharing!
    I’ve got the worse case scenario y’all can imagine! The worse part about every comment here sounds like my situation!
    I’ll change to be the exact opposite with this kind of reason and logic and a full heart of love for my wife and myself and everyone I come in contact with! Y’all have given me hope! Can you share testimonies of this who work from those who have made the change in their communication style?

    1. Hello JC,

      Glad you found our site and that it has been helpful! It sounds as though you are open and willing to learn new ways of communicating with your wife and others, and that is very encouraging. The first step to any improvement is recognizing the problem and being willing to address it. I hope we will get testimonies from some of our readers who applied the tips we shared and improved their relationships!

      Thanks for your comment and best wishes!

  32. Dr. Linaman,

    Based on the responses here, you might consider expounding further in a book. Clearly, many people have this concern, myself included.
    Thank you for these helpful tips. I am very grateful! 🙂

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Raena – we appreciate your comment! This topic certainly has generated a lot of response, showing how common the habit of interrupting is, and how much difficulty it can cause. I’m glad the tips were helpful to you!

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