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Tuesday morning: You're talking in a team meeting and are on roll! A coworker starts talking over you, tearing down your idea. Sound familiar?

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Nothing is more frustrating than being interrupted while expressing yourself.

So, how can you overcome interruptions and make your voice heard at work?

1. Set The Tone From The Start

When you speak up at a team meeting or when you make a presentation, set clear expectations from the beginning.

Am I open to questions and interruptions during the presentation?

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Clearly state if others should save questions and comments until the end or if they can ask throughout.

2. Keep The Conversation Going

Pick your battles! You do not need to address every interruption, but if there is something valuable, acknowledge it and move forward.

Examples:

  • “This is a good observation, and I was actually about to get into it. As I was explaining...”

  • “I knew you would be interested, that’s why I brought it up. So, getting back to what I was saying…”

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3. Use Body Language

If you got cut off in an important part of your speech but still would like to finish your argument, use your body language to reinforce that it is still your turn to speak.

Example: Raise an open and friendly hand, and maintain eye contact with the interrupter.

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4. Politely Re-interrupt

If non-verbal cues aren't enough to take back control of the conversation, interrupt in a friendly way. Use the person's name and politely point out the interruption.

Examples:

  • John, I know you’ve got some insights to share, and I want to hear more. But before I lose my train of thought…

  • Karen, I wasn’t quite done. Do you mind if I finish it quickly?

5. Have An Honest Conversation

If you have tried all the above tactics, and someone continues to interrupt you regularly, it's time to have a direct conversation.

This quick video provides great tips on how to carry on this type of conversation:

Quiz

Which of these approaches will help you have an effective conversation with someone who regularly interrupts you?

Summary

Make sure your voice is heard!

Over the next week, notice: Do I leave any meetings feeling unheard?

If the answer is yes, apply the tactics in this Byte.

Bonus Tip: Stay vigilant. Sometimes you may be the interrupter!

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This Byte has been authored by

CB

Camila Beltrame

Lifelong learner | L&D Professional