17 Ways to Stop Someone Who Keeps Interrupting You

Have you ever been in a conversation where you can’t get a word in because someone keeps cutting you off? In this article, we’ll explore 17 ways to help you navigate interruptions smoothly and keep your conversations respectful and productive.

Use Non-Verbal Cues

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Non-verbal cues can help signal that you have more to say without interrupting the flow of conversation. For example, you can raise your hand slightly to signal that you’re not done. Some examples of non-verbal cues from Lifesize include hand gestures, vocal tone, and facial expressions.

Create a Safe Word

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A safe word can be a respectful reminder to let someone finish their point. When someone uses this word, it should be a gentle but clear signal to stop talking and let the other person finish. Before starting your session, everyone should agree to use this word and understand why it’s being used.

Set Clear Boundaries

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Setting clear boundaries from the start can help minimize interruptions during conversations. If it is important that you are not interrupted, communicate this before you start speaking. When someone interrupts you, politely shut them down and remind the audience to have some patience.

Keep Your Cool

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Stay calm in the face of interruptions to minimize the risk of conflict. If someone interrupts you once, it might be a mistake, so simply let them know that you are still speaking and continue to do so. If they do it again, you may want to be more upfront but avoid showing frustration or annoyance.

Practice Active Listening

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VeryWell Mind defines active listening as a communication skill that involves going beyond simply hearing the words that another person speaks. If someone interrupts, you can repeat what they said to show you were listening before you continue with your point. When you do this, you set an example of how to have respectful and thoughtful conversations.

Politely Interject

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Polite interjections can remind the interrupter that you were still in the midst of a point. Use phrases like “I wasn’t finished speaking” or “Questions after the session, please” to politely communicate that you are still speaking. Keep your tone friendly and respectful.

Address the Behavior Directly

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Directly addressing the issue can lead to a mutual understanding and respect for communication norms. Take the culprit aside and discuss the interrupting behavior privately. Be specific about when and how they interrupt, and suggest alternative behaviors or signals.

Use Body Language

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Your body language can communicate powerfully that you’re not done speaking. According to John Academy, good body language is key to good communication and can therefore be useful in many instances, such as this one.

Implement a Signal When Interruptions Are Welcome

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Agree on a signal you can use when you are ready to hear from your audience. A common example is having a slide that simply says, “Any questions?” This trick is especially handy for audiences you address regularly, as they will always know the standard procedure.

Use Humor to Deflect

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Humor is a gentle way to highlight the issue without creating tension. Lighten the mood with a joke about being interrupted. Make sure the humor is suitable for the type of audience you are addressing. You do not want to push it when talking to a room of judges.

Seek Understanding

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Understanding the reasons behind interruptions can pave the way for more respectful conversations. If the interruption feels unjustified, ask why they felt the need to interrupt in that way at that time. If possible, discuss how both parties can communicate better in the future.

Use a Speaking Order

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Establishing a speaking order ensures everyone’s voice is heard in a structured manner. Suggest taking turns to speak in group settings. Use a physical object as a “talking stick” to have an objective way of giving a turn to everyone in the group.

Reward Positive Interactions

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Reinforcing positive interactions encourages better communication habits in your audience. Praise moments of effective communication and highlight the benefits of listening fully before responding. For example, talking about how good it feels when everyone listens and responds thoughtfully can make everyone want to keep doing it.

Set Conversation Goals

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Define what each person hopes to achieve in the conversation, and regularly remind each other of these goals when interruptions occur. In addition to reducing interruptions, you can increase productivity and save time.

Take Breaks if Needed

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Taking regular breaks can reset the conversation dynamic and reduce frustration. Suggest a brief pause when interruptions increase, and use the time to reflect on how to communicate more effectively.

Offer Constructive Feedback

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Constructive feedback helps the interrupter understand the impact of their actions and how to adjust. Privately speak to them and clearly let them know when interruptions were problematic. This may also be a good time to suggest ways to improve communication.

Revisit the Conversation Later

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Sometimes, a fresh start is the best way to ensure everyone is heard and understood. This doesn’t mean that the meeting did not succeed, but rather that it can be done better. When having the do-over, try to prevent the mistakes that happened the first time so you don’t have to do it a third time.

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