Creative Leadership

Please Stop Interrupting!

I love a great cause.  World hunger, poverty, clean water – whatever.   I love anything that helps make the world better.  And now, I’m suggesting another great cause – stopping people who interrupt.  Sound far-fetched?  Maybe.   But I’m convinced that more great ideas, innovative thinking, and brilliance have been squashed by interruptions than anything else.  Think about it – when you’re interrupted – especially by a “serial interrupter” – doesn’t it infuriate you?  Doesn’t it take the wind out of your sails, and the momentum from your thinking?

I have a friend who’s a serial interrupter.  I’ve asked her to stop, but it doesn’t help.  It’s gotten so bad I avoid her.   I know she’s not trying to be a jerk, but she has no discipline or grace when it comes to conversations.  Anytime an idea pops into her head – no matter how lame or inappropriate – she just blurts it out – no matter who’s talking.  Drives me nuts.

I’ve been told that interrupting is the verbal equivalent of shoving, and I agree.  Interrupters are conversational bullies – whether they mean to be or not.  Learn to be comfortable with silence.  Value the other person enough to let them finish.  Let’s start a revolution of civilized conversation.

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  1. Excuse me, could I just tell you what I think!!!!–I think if you want to save the whales, then just eat more lobster and what about the trees-maybe we should just make everything out of recycled tires that way we could scrub the dishes and exfoliate all of our age spots at the same time. I want to know who picked the colors for a traffic light–why not neon green and fusia–I’m getting tired or red, yellow and green. Could someone tell me what school airline employees go to?-I would like to cut their funding!! Does anyone else think it’s halarious that Dunkin Donuts coffee beat out Starbucks? Why do preacher’s never wear watches? blah-blah-blah-blah-blah——–Sorry, I couldn’t resist

  2. Talking about interrupters, I wonder if some big mega-church and television preachers are more susceptible to suffer from this condition….Any ideas?

  3. I agree to an extent, as I have experienced people who are so un-selfaware that they dominate conversations (conversational bullies) and avoid them whenever possible. But allow me to plead for mercy on behalf of fellow iconoclasts and catalysts…sometimes an interruption is necessary to turn the conversation toward the possibilities, rather than staying mired in the thing that isn’t working. "Interrupting" can be a most fabulous tool for picking up on one train of thought and pushing it forward into a whole new dimension.

  4. Great blog – happens to me all the time, everyday, my husband included is a verbal bully such as getting louder, tone and just plain old cutting me off. Let me also say…..please…that I dont talk much. Have just spent 4 days on a missions trip and was constantly cut off whenever I began to provide an idea or share, in short, point form a story of my own.May have been a cultural thing, mostly South Africans and me an Aussie, I don;t know, but I’d like some tips please, apart from giving up the 3rd time saying ‘doesn’t matter happens all the time’, that drew a look of mild ignorant surprise.

    It seems to go along with my ignored and invisible status as well. People constantly bump into me or push past me and I’m a size 12.

    Love covers all sins, love waits, love defers etc, but, it’s tedious and demoralisng and while I might be a fabulous listener, I might also have something worthwhile to contribute if I could get the chance to say it.  Agree with the statement and I too avoid the torrent talkers who also dont listen.

  5. I just have one thing to say:
    Why do christians “christianize” everything?
    Phil´s observation is for every aspect of our lives, not just the church or some preachers…

    BTW I love Kimi´s comment!! That´s exactly it!

  6. An interesting article. Thanks Phil.

    I had a manager who, I felt, was a chronic interrupter, and it got on my nerves no end. I felt she was rude, and by not allowing me to finish was jumping to conclusions instead of getting the whole story. Even though we both tried to even this out the relationship was still strained, and I believe this contributed to it.

    She would often tell me that for her this was just a normal way of talking and discussing things. She was a vocalizer of thoughts, evaluating and testing them through discussion, rather than in her head, before speaking them. Being much the other way around, I had difficulty in understanding and accepting this.

    However, the realization came for me when I was discussing this and other topics with another manager. I realized that I too was interrupting! And whenever I did so, the other party was just patient and silent, waiting for me to finish (and then some!) before continuing on. It came as a shock to me that I too could be as much an interrupter as the very boss who grated so on my nerves.

    The moral is, of course, that we are often tested by those that are most like ourselves. I still consider interrupting a bullying technique, and this eye-opening experience has made me more humble, and have a desire for patience.


  7. Mr. Phil Kan I truly admire your honesty and integrity. In my opinion you are a real & true believer. When a person can admit their own flaws and be humble enough to recognise the need for change – they have truly understood what it means to follow Christ Jesus. God bless you real good.

  8. What irritates me the most is I wait for the other person to finish – usually… I admit, I interrupt at times too, but I’m trying hard not to – and then when I let them finish their thought and begin mine, they don’t have the courtesy or respect or whatever to wait until I have finished what I have to say, interrupting, often times mid-sentence to tell me whatever they are thinking. It’s supremely frustrating.

  9. And by the way, if it’s that important or that earth-shattering of an idea, hold on to it in your mind. Nobody with any sense ever complained that someone had a better idea. But they might miss your better idea if you don’t have the patience to not interrupt to suggest it.

  10. Are we living our Christ-like life like a bull in a china shop, rushing through with a singular goal in mind (no matter how noble, or even God-called), shattering fragile things of beauty, (or shattering fragile lifes?).  Or is our choice to realize we have a calling, but that servanthood rises above even our calling and divine purpose.  A servant is humble, waits to speak, is eager to serve, but doesn’t require thanks.  

    Great posts — plus I learned two new words "serial interrupter" and "conversational bullies"  
    (and I loved the graphic  accompanying the post!)

  11. I think this is upside down… it should be ‘Please start interrupting!’

    Think about much of the communication we get in the church – let’s start with sermons. Do we need to say ‘Please stop interrupting’ there? I have heard the person giving a sermon interrrupted once in about 35 years of being a follower of Jesus. How many times have you heard a sermon interrupted? 

    So on the subject of being a follower of Jesus… how many times was Jesus interrupted? Many, many more times than the average preacher.  Each time he took the oportunity of the interruption to dialogue and communicate with the person where they were. He used the interruptions as creative methods of communication that the Kingdom of God was close at hand.

    Increasingly over recent years I have seen creativity being squashed and crushed by a lack of interruptions. So for me, ‘Please start interrupting!‘ Being an iconoclast is using the interruption and encouraging dialogue.

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