As an extreme extrovert, I do my best thinking while I’m talking. That’s awesome for me but not so awesome for anyone else trying to get a word in. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I also often thought “I have to make sure this is highlighted” as a reason for my constant talking.
Thankfully, I received feedback that prompted steps towards addressing my talking desires. Unfortunately, I was gaining the reputation of “interrupter.” My intent was not to interrupt. In fact, in some cases I was so excited by what you were saying that my intent was building onto your thought. Yes, I realize that’s interrupting but my point is that I wasn’t doing it maliciously. I wasn’t doing it because I didn’t care what the other person thought.
So I asked a coach for ideas to help me work on this. His suggestion was to write my thoughts down and wait until it was my turn to talk. This step alone helped because:
- I wasn’t afraid I would forget about the note – so the need to say it immediately lessened; and
- I didn’t interrupt.
However, the negative was that when it was my turn, I seemed to talk for a very long time. I had saved up an arsenal of thoughts and they were unloaded all at once. So after talking with my coach, we expanding this approach to:
- Checking off a note when someone else said it.
- Evaluating the note on the importance of whether it needs to be shared to the entire group or later
- Re-ordering the notes to formulate a better conversation as I shared
This definitely reduced my talking to valuable engagement levels. There is still a downside that remains as sometimes people perceive that:
- I’m not paying attention when I am making a note; or
- I’m just picking holes in what they are saying and building my case.
However, by being open about the reasons why I use this technique and how I act when my turn has arrived to talk, has always addressed those perceptions. I’m sure I will accidentally interrupt again (I hope that person calls me on it because I don’t always notice) but with this approach it is certainly less than before.
What techniques do you use to not interrupt others?