How to Etiquette-fully
Interrupt Someone

Networking Conversation

We’re taught from a young age not to interrupt someone. If you have ever experienced what it’s like to be interrupted, and to feel that what you are saying is of little importance, you know that waiting your turn is always the polite thing to do.

Yet, there are times when you can’t help but interject when others are speaking. However, it is possible to give a rude behavior an etiquette-ful spin.

Where Do Interruptions Come From?

Interruptions are usually deemed a selfish, rude behavior. It doesn’t take much nerve to interrupt someone, it simply takes thoughtlessness. A coworker, lost in their own thoughts, walks into the manager’s office while you are in the middle of a conversation with him and blurts out a question regarding a report received. Your coworker was only thinking of himself, giving no regard to your presence.

Other reasons interruptions occur are:

  • Excitement to contribute on the subject at hand
  • Eagerness to change the subject
  • Impatience…Want to get to the point more quickly

Interrupting is not always a completely selfish act, though. There are times when a person speaking needs a little help.

  • Someone feels that the speaker needs focus assistance.
  • Person speaking lacks confidence and because of that interest was lost.

Polite Ways to Interrupt Someone

Even when it’s for purely selfish reasons, it is possible to interrupt someone in an etiquette-ful manner. Being mindful and aware will help you navigate the conversation and your level of participation in it.

Your awareness of the demeanor of those already in conversation and the status of the conversation itself will guide you. Is the conversation at a point where your interruption won’t be too disruptive? Is the speaker pausing long enough for you to interject? Will your interruption be welcome, or will it appear rude no matter what you say?

Polite interruptions may include:

  • Acknowledgement 
    “I know I’m interrupting here, but could I just say . . .”
    “I understand you’re in the middle of your conversation, but I really need to ask . . .”
    “Your perspective is very important, but what if we see things like this . . .”
  • Apology
    “I’m sorry to cut you off, but . . .”
    “I apologize, I really don’t mean to rudely interrupt you . . .”
    “I’m sorry, do you mind if I just say . . .”
  • Asking permission
    “Could I quickly explain . . .?”
    “May I interrupt for just a second . . .?”
    “May I just say . . .?”
  • Adding a viewpoint
    “On that point, may I just add . . .?”
    “While we’re on the subject . . .”
    “I love that, and another relevant point is . . .”

Remember that a smile and eye contact will help you represent yourself as friendly and sincere. Two important characteristics when you decide to interrupt someone.

We know what it’s like to be interrupted, but no one would like to be known as an interrupter. And then, again, no one would like to be known as a conversation hog. So, we work, etiquette-fully to be considerate and respectful of others and try to catch ourselves and correct ourselves when we are not.

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