Estimated read time: 3 minutes
Formal marketing and communications leaders often are leaders because they:
- Know their industry and know what works
- Are often right
- Know what they want or at least think they know what they want
- Aren’t afraid to share their opinion
Of course the last item can sometimes lead to the interrupting of people- maybe intentionally and most likely unintentionally.
And I am the first to admit that I am sometimes prone to interrupting too. I’m excited to get my point out, share my right answer and keep moving forward.
Team member explains a new project and says “And then we will target the cows that are white …”
<Gets interrupted by seasoned executive>
“BUT but but we also need to target black and brown ones.” And then the executive might give a short lecture on how they know that that is the case and why that’s important and based on their 30 years of experience, etc.. Blah blah blah
And then of course the team member is stuck because they would have finished the sentence with “.. are white, black and brown.”
Of course many team members won’t finish the sentence at this point because the executive already interrupted them and shared the same information. And let’s not think that this is a situation of a couple in love where are they finish each other’s sentences.
At the worst it’s an interruption that’s overlooked by everybody and nobody’s feelings were hurt and at the worst the executive will now tell everybody that it was their idea to target two thirds of the target audience.
Of course the most terrible result: employee is let go because they never come up with ideas anyways. But they really do except they never get to share them because they keep getting interrupted by the bosses.
The other example happens when executives interrupt and disagree with the statement they think will come next. But since the statement has been made the person who started talking and was interrupted can actually come back and either agree with the premature disagreement or build on it to move things forward.
So what’s the theoretical answer to this problem?
First of all, the people making their points, don’t let people interrupt you. I know that’s easier said than done but give it a try and forecast what you’re going to say and then say it. I’m not blaming the interrupted victim at all. Just to keep in mind that if there is a pause people might actually think that you were done.
Second of all, executives especially, take a breath before responding or adding to the conversation. Be sure that people are actually done saying what they wanted to say. I know that pause breaks can be perceived differently on both sides.
But ultimately it can hurt executives more to interrupt often. Good employees might leave and diverse opinions won’t be truly hurt or even offered. That’s understandable because why would you share an opinion if you’re just going to get interrupted anyways?
Something to keep in mind as we are continuing to live and share our stories, which of course includes our teams and organizations.