Once, when working with a team, the group could not finish a conversation without interrupting each other. I mean EVERYONE on the team kept interrupting. They acted like a bunch of kindergarteners. “Look at me!” “Listen to me!” I almost expected them to start jumping up and down when they couldn’t have a turn.
The tendency to interrupt others can be the result of someone who did not learn self-regulation as a child. The Cambridge Dictionary defines interruption as the act of stopping a person from speaking for a short period by something you say or do; to stop something from happening for a short period; to interrupt progress or momentum.
When you frequently interrupt someone, 3 things are communicated to the person who was interrupted:
1. My thoughts and opinions are more important than yours.
2. I am not actively listening to your conversation.
3. I am not here to collaborate, but to win.
Another problem with interrupting is that interpersonal safety is also effected. Psychological safety is a shared belief that the team or environment is a safe space for interpersonal risk taking. It can be defined as “being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status or career.” In other words, members of a team feel safe, accepted and respected.
The next time you are running a meeting, think about creating a culture of respect by instituting a NO INTERRUPT rule. Allow your employees to ask questions, share ideas and engage in discussion without fear of repercussions. If you are the one interrupting, consider a time of self-reflection. Why can you not allow someone to finish their sentences? What strength of yours is in overdrive?
If this is an issue for you or one of your team members, we can help. Personality assessments can reveal which talent is overcompensating and we can teach you how to self-correct this tendency.