21 Effective Strategies to Stop Interrupting People

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Some people interrupt as a habit and don’t realize they’re doing it. It could even be you. Maybe you stumbled across this article to learn how to stop interrupting people in your own life.

Interrupters barge in to voice their piece of mind even when no one asked for it. Sometimes, people interrupt because they’re drinking, super excited about a ballgame, or simply think their opinion rules.

There are moments when interrupting may be acceptable behavior, like celebrations. But it usually is not during a conversation, and it can ruin your reputation.

In this article, I’ll explain the act of interrupting people, the importance of recognizing the signs, why you might interrupt others, the negative consequences, strategies for stopping yourself from interrupting, and the benefits of using these strategies.

Table of Contents

What is Interrupting People?

The act of interrupting people is when someone interjects their own thoughts or disruptive action in the middle of the other person’s sentence, effectively cutting them off. It is one of the rudest social interaction snafus and will inevitably have negative consequences.

Interrupting quite literally means:

  • A break in continuity or progress
  • Severance of a smooth flow
  • To obstruct or interfere
  • To hinder a process
  • To intrude or scatter

Interrupting is the opposite of empowerment and positive interaction. Interrupting other people most often benefits no one.

The Importance of Recognizing the Signs that you may be Interrupting People

It is important to recognize the signs that you may be interrupting others because it is the first step toward correcting the behavior. Ignoring it is not an option. Ignoring your behavior or excusing it will only make it worse.

Check out how you can recognize and use the following signs to help you learn how to stop interrupting people.

Here are a few signs that you may be interrupting people in case you don’t realize you’re doing it:

  • Other people’s body language shows annoyance, irritation, or anger.
  • Other people shut down and walk away from the conversation.
  • People move away to avoid being near you.
  • Invitations to social gatherings drop off significantly.
  • You feel rejected, like an outcast.
  • You think that others are gossiping behind your back.
  • You wonder what you did wrong to feel pushed away.
  • Friends and family refuse to take your phone calls, texts, or emails.
  • You feel like you’re getting the silent treatment.
  • People tell you that you’re interrupting.

Interrupting others is a symptom of something deeper inside you. It is seldom as simple as, “You’re just an @$#.” But the people you interrupt typically only judge the surface issue of the rude act.

Most will not hang around long enough to evaluate your feelings or mental health. So, whether you’re doing it intentionally or unintentionally won’t matter to them.

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Being mindful during conversations happens when you are self-aware, recognizing your value and worth without having to prove it.

One more thing to add is that everyone has interrupted others at some point. It is human nature to yearn for communication and stimulation of brain cells to convey thoughts.

What matters most is how you handle the recovery. The best option is to apologize and be more mindful going forward.

Why People Interrupt (Intentionally and Unintentionally)

There are many reasons why people interrupt others, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

The human brain is more elaborate and intricate than the most complex thing scientists have discovered in the known universe.

Its hundreds of billions of cells and interwoven trillions of connections leave us awestruck still today. So are the reasons why people interrupt.

The following are a few reasons why people interrupt:

  • Impatience
  • Excitability
  • Seeking attention
  • Seeking authority and power
  • Needing to matter
  • Cultural differences
  • Impassioned beliefs or values
  • Needing control
  • Inherent personality trait
  • Gender differences
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders like ADHD and autism
  • Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, or anxiety disorders
  • Lack of self-awareness
  • Yearning to fit in or be included
  • Urge to complete a thread of ideas before the opportunity passes
  • Lack of structure to the conversation
  • Yearning to prove they’re listening
  • Longing to persuade others
  • Desire to get to the point more quickly
  • To prove they have value
  • Leftover residue from a past abusive relationship
  • Nervousness or fear
  • Defensiveness or combativeness

Negative Outcomes Produced by Interrupting People

The adverse consequences produced by interrupting others may be subtle or outright brutal.

It depends on those whom you interrupted and, of course, yourself. Go easy on yourself. Life is already hard enough.

These are several possible negative outcomes produced by interrupting others:

  • It negatively shapes your reputation as rude, egotistical, and disrespectful.
  • It makes you appear out of control with a lack of self-discipline.
  • It makes you feel more tense and stressed.
  • You may become a social outcast by friends and family.
  • You lose the opportunity to hear what the other person has to say.
  • Your feeling of being misunderstood will be enhanced.
  • Your mood and mental health may decline.
  • Your physical health may also decline.
  • It sends the message that you don’t care about others’ ideas.
  • It also tells others that you think you know everything.
  • It reveals that you are not a listener and don’t care what others think.
  • Interrupting others may cause them to feel offended, resentful, and unwilling to participate.
  • It may cause you to feel guilt, shame, or the need to punish yourself.
  • It may also cause others’ mental health to decline.

Interrupting others has few positive benefits to offer, and those depend on the other people you are dealing with. Such as, the conversation has gone off track, and the interruption causes a refocus on the main topic.

However, not everyone will see it that way, so it’s a good idea to learn effective strategies to stop interrupting people.

21 Effective Strategies to Stop Interrupting People

As I stated earlier, we have all interrupted others at some point. I know I have felt the embarrassment and humiliation of doing it, and you probably have too.

Human communication can be complicated to understand, especially if you’re an Aspie like me. For instance, the substance of some words is convoluted with hidden meanings that others assume you know, and on and on.

I don’t know about you as a reader, but I have made many communication mistakes. Interrupting others was just a minor dent compared to some I’ve made.

Now, let’s check out effective strategies you can do right now to train yourself to stop interrupting others. This can be fun to learn as you discover things about yourself and apply these techniques.

1. Be mindful during conversations.

Being mindful during conversations happens when you are self-aware, recognizing your value and worth without having to prove it.

2. Bridle and tame your enthusiasm.

Emotions are powerful and can derail communication efforts if they go unbridled.

3. If you catch yourself interrupting others, stop, apologize, and hand the conversation back to them.

This is an excellent recovery tactic in communication. Acknowledging your mistake, apologizing, and allowing others to speak is simple. It demonstrates respect.

4. Care about how others perceive you.

Showing respect and controlled interactions will demonstrate to others that you genuinely care about them, are in control of yourself, and do not need to interrupt to gain attention or power.

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Reading body language goes a long way to improving communication skills.

Not interrupting will earn you greater respect and authoritative power.

5. Do one thing at a time to stay focused and pause 10 seconds before responding to ensure they are finished talking.

Doing one thing at a time means focusing on the communication and not multitasking, creating an opportunity for a communication mishap.

6. Think about what you want to say before you say it and shape it to acknowledge the other person’s thoughts.

It pays to think about the topic of the conversation and plan the appropriate things to say beforehand. This gives you the opportunity to tie it in with someone else’s comments and acknowledge them.

7. Look others in the eye during the conversation and learn to read their body language.

Looking others in the eye while speaking conveys that you are listening, interested in the topic, and interested in their ideas too. Reading body language goes a long way to improving communication skills.

8. Acknowledge and reflect what others have already stated.

Reflecting on what others have said shows that you are listening and have great ideas to expand the topic.

9. Never assume you already know what the other person will say.

When you assume you already know things, it provides a dark space for communication to collapse.

10. Make your words count and stay on topic.

No one wants to listen to babbling about things that don’t pertain to the conversation. In other words, avoid using “filler” conversation.

11. Learn to be an active, attentive listener and practice daily.

Listen. Ask yourself if what you want to say is essential to the conversation, if it matters, and whether or not it adds to the topic enough to risk the consequences of interrupting.

12. Repeating the other person’s statements is an effective conversation tool.

By conveying the other person’s statements back to them as you understand it, it makes the other person feel that you are listening to their ideas.

13. Stop viewing overspeak as a power mechanism.

When you talk too much, it is not a sign of power. It is a crack in your mask and shows weakness.

14. Remember, the focus is on a particular topic, not you.

Keep a bigger picture of the conversation in your mind and how you shape it by asking yourself, “Who is doing the most talking right now?”

15. Instead of talking about yourself or your own stories, direct the attention to the other person so they can chime in.

When you appreciate others’ ideas, you earn respect and admiration. Keep demonstrating it isn’t all about you.

16. Allow others to complete their sentences, thoughts, and ideas on a topic before asking questions.

They may answer your question if you allow them to finish the message they’re sending.

17. Follow the 80/20 rule.

That is 80% listening and 20% talking. It is the best communication strategy so you don’t interrupt others.

18. Place your finger over your mouth if you feel tempted to interrupt.

It will remind you to stay in line, focused, and patient. It will also convey to others that you are listening and thinking deeply about the topic.

19. Write down your thoughts.

Write down your ideas, keeping them focused and precise, especially in a work meeting.

20. Ask a friend to assist you.

Getting helpful reminders and practice are huge helpers when training yourself to stop interrupting people.

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Listen and ask yourself if what you want to say is essential to the conversation, if it matters, and whether or not it adds to the topic enough to risk the consequences of interrupting.

Ask a close friend to nudge you or give you a clue when you are in interrupting mode.

21. If you cannot control your interruptive behavior, seek counseling or therapy to help you.

There may be underlying conditions that you need professional help with to get to the source of the problem.

The Benefits of Using these Strategies to Stop Interrupting People

An invitation to share ideas is far better than an unwelcome interruption. Patience is the key. You must discipline yourself to have patience with others as they speak and with yourself as you change how you interact. But it is definitely worth making it happen.

Here are several benefits of using strategies on how to stop interrupting people:

  • You learn more by listening to others, not talking over them.
  • You gain admiration from others.
  • Respect will follow you.
  • You will feel more socially accepted.
  • You begin to learn more about yourself and why you felt the need to interrupt in the first place.
  • You begin to feel more compassion and empathy for others.
  • You respect their ideas and contributions more than hearing your own thoughts spoken out loud.
  • You will grow and mature as a person.
  • You’ll have more ability to see the bigger picture.
  • Practicing active listening will help you in meditation and vice versa.
  • Building trust.

Final Thoughts on Strategies to Stop Interrupting People

No one should interrupt others during a conversation. However, if you have something important to add but can’t a word in edgewise, at least acknowledge it.

Say, “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I have something important to add.” Others will welcome your interruption because you show respect.

I once worked on a team where one interrupter spoke over others constantly. He lost friends over it. People avoided him.

He lost respect. Since then, I reflected and wished I had gently confronted him and given him the opportunity to correct his behavior, not losing his reputation as a consequence.

As you walk this path in your life’s journey, don’t forget self-care and being kind to yourself.

To help remind you, check out 70 Affirmations for Self Worth and Love Yourself More. Perhaps if you give yourself more credit, you won’t feel the need to be so insecure.

And if you're looking for more articles about listening and communication, be sure to check out these blog posts:

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