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This is one of a series of brief articles on how
to respond effectively to annoying social
behavior. An effective response occurs
when you get your
primary needs met
well enough, and both people feel
heard and respected enough.
This article offers useful responses to
the behavior of someone who interrupts you "too
often."It assumes you're familiar with...
intro to this nonprofit Web site and the
This video clip previews what you'll read in
Can you think of an adult or child who
chronically interrupts you? How does that feel?
What's your normal response - tolerate it?
Seethe? Interrupt back? Talk louder? Avoid the
person? Complain or whine? Get angry? Gossip?
Pretend? Tune them out? Lose-lose responses like
these usually degrade your self-respect,
your communication outcomes, and your relationship.
A Better Way
Imagine using these powerful options with your
favorite interrupter/s. Read these options
through before following any links...
Check to see if you each have
awareness-bubbles. If not, that's
a separate problem.
Check to see if you're talking too
much (so s/he has to interrupt to
"get a word in edgewise.") Option -
ask your partner if s/he feels you're
monologing without pausing for a reaction.
Check to see if you're talking about
something that doesn't interest your
partner, or makes him/her uncomfortable, so
s/he wants to change the subject. Another
possibility is that your current
If so, offer win-win
Decide specifically what
change/s you need
from the other person now. Likely options
include needing the other person to (a) be
aware of your
mutual communication dynamics, (b)
respect your needs as equally important to
his or hers, and (c) want to stop
interrupting you so much.
Ask if the other person is open to
some constructive feedback. If not, that's a
problem (e.g. defensiveness and distrust). If so...
need/s clearly and firmly, with steady eye
contact - and expect resistance. A
practical way to assert is to use a
''I-message'' like this:
"(Name), when you regularly interrupt me,
I feel disrespected, hurt, and irritated. I
need you to want to be aware of this
and to stop interrupting me."
to this assertion include...
don't interrupt you
defensiveness and excuses ("It's not
my fault, because..."),
blame ("If you'd shut up for awhile,
I wouldn't need to."),
whining ("I just can't help it"),
anger ("Why are you always
criticizing me?"), and...
over-apologizing ["I'm SO sorry - I'm
so insensitive (and inferior)."]
with any resistances,
and reassert your need calmly,
without lengthy explanations. That can sound
you don't interrupt me too often."
you have to interrupt because I talk too
you can't control your interrupting."
"You feel I
criticize you too much."
guilty and apologetic for interrupting
me so often."
statements like these do not
mean you agree with the other person - they
simply affirm you hear what s/he is saying!
Notice the outcome of your assertion,
and thank the other person if they stop
If they continue to interrupt, enforce a
behavioral limit with them, like...
hold up a finger (count) each time they
interrupt, and keep good eye contact;
they interrupt, say something calmly
like "I feel disrespected by you now;"
time you interrupt me, I'm going to walk
away / confront you / hang up / stop talking with you /
... (Define a consequence
that you can enforce.)
taking responsibility for the person's
interruptions - e.g. if s/he says
something like "You have to remind me," say
"No, I won't do that."
Pause and reflect on these response options. Do
they seem realistic? Doable? Is there anything
in the way of you're using them with your
favorite interrupter/s? Experiment with them to
experience their effectiveness! Then teach them
to other people you care about - specially kids.
Let's look briefly at the other case...
How Can I Stop Interrupting Others?
Do others complain that you interrupt them too
often - and/or do you feel guilty for doing so?
If so, what have you already tried to curb that
reflex? Has it worked?
or excessive interruptions usually signal that a
rules your personality with this person.
Where true, interruptions are a symptom
of this primary problem problem. Typical
your Self ( capital "S") and over-interrupt
and diligent Guardian subselves like these...
This premise suggests that to reduce impulsively
interrupting others, work toward
empowering your true Self and negotiating
permanent changes with well-meaning subselves
you're skeptical (or curious) about the reality
of your subselves, try this
and read this letter to you
This is one of a series of brief articles
suggesting effective ways to respond to common
social behaviors. This article offers ways to
respond effectively to an addicted person. The ways are