Listen Up! Waiting Your Turn Applies to Your Business Life, Too
Updated: Feb 22, 2019
You learn as a kid that interrupting people is rude, if only because your parents told you not to do it when adults were talking. Somehow, though, in business conversation, interruptions have somehow become more of a norm. And for this week’s Listen Up! topic - we’re here to tell you to stop interrupting.
We know you probably have the best intentions! You just want to make sure you’re both on the same page, right? Be that as it may, when you interrupt someone speaking, even if they’re saying something you know to be false, you’re doing a few things with one fell swoop that can completely undermine the entire conversation.
The most obvious thing you’re doing is showing the person you’re talking to that you don’t respect their opinion enough to allow them to speak.
Whether you’re speaking to a colleague, a subordinate, or a potential business partner or client, there is NEVER a circumstance where you’re more likely to get what you’d like from a conversation if you’re talking with someone who doesn’t feel like you respect them.
The easiest way to show respect for a speaker, outside of your body language is allowing them the freedom to speak and to finish their entire thought.
That’s the other pitfall of interrupting someone; you’re not allowing them to finish their entire thought. If it becomes a habit, the people you’re speaking to will be rushing to get their thoughts to you for fear of an interruption.
Whether they’re rushing to get to their main idea, or if you just happened to interject something in the middle of their thought, you’re probably missing out on the full point the speaker is trying to make.
Perhaps the speaker is mistaken about something. You can ALWAYS correct them, or offer your opinion when they’re done speaking. If you let them finish, you might find a deeper reason or a deeper rationale for their thinking beyond the surface misunderstanding.
Try nodding the next time you hear a point you don’t agree with. This seems counter-intuitive because we assume that nodding signifies agreement. But in this case, it does not - it signifies acknowledgement.
Once the speaker is done speaking, even if they finished far away from the initial idea that you took exception to, you can simply refer back to it. “Thanks for taking the time to share this with me. I want to just touch on one thing you mentioned before you keep going….”’
Interrupting also triggers another big no-no when it comes to being a good, active listener; you lose focus on what the speaker is saying. Being sure not to interrupt a speaker - no matter how tempted you might be! - is a simple way to show them that you’re really listening to them and engaged with what they’re saying.
It shows that you’re an active listener and not just finding an opportunity to speak for yourself – demonstrating respect, thoughtfulness, and upmost professionalism.
This is part of a continuing series on active listening in the workplace, titled "Listen Up!" A truly successful entrepreneur is an active listener - keep checking back each week to learn a new habit to form, and an old habit to break.