How to Stop Interrupting

Let the speaker finish talking and complete their thoughts by writing down your question or keeping mental notes during the conversation.

Lisa B. Marshall,
November 28, 2012


Some people interrupt simply because when the other person is talking, they think of something to say. It could be a rebuttal or an idea that is related to the conversation, but no matter what, they have the urge to blurt it out as quickly as possible. The problem is that when this happens, the listening stops and the focus moves away from the speaker. The interrupter will focus instead on what he or she wants to say.

Fixing this is just a matter of keeping quiet. Instead of breaking into the conversation, write down ideas as they occur to you. Don’t verbally express them the moment they occur; just jot them down for later use. If you don’t have paper, just make a mental note. The idea is to quickly record your thoughts so you can continue to focus on the speaker (and not on yourself). Later, after you’re sure you’ve heard everything, decide which ideas to present and how to present them to the speaker.

This is generally a good technique to use with people who have significantly more power or authority than you, like senior managers. It’s a good idea to let them finish. Mostly because they’ll assume they’ll be allowed to complete their thoughts. But also keep in mind that they might decide to use their power against if you continue to interrupt.