Imagine this meeting: After carefully listening to everyone’s comments, you open your mouth to say, “Yes, I agree this is a challenging situation. Here’s a way we…” when a colleague jumps in, interrupts your flow of thought, and inserts himself into your comments with “I think we should do….”
Whether you’re an actor on stage or just two old friends so excited to catch up that the conversation seems more like a jumble of words rather than a conversation, we’ve all been guilty at one time or another of “stepping on someone’s line.”
Using our analogy of “a cast of characters,” there’s a few likely culprits who might be guilty of such rudeness. Maybe it’s Talkative Tammy, who can’t seem to control her tongue, or Andy the Arguer who feels the need to jump in, finding fault with anything proposed.
Regardless of who the culprits are, in a business setting, talking over other people can be seen in a variety of ways: from simply being excited to contribute, to mildly lacking in self-awareness, to rude, domineering and or even arrogant. None of which will help create a conducive atmosphere for accomplishing the purpose of a meeting.
Here’s a few ways to handle the problem, depending on your role in the meeting.
George Washington University research found that men interrupt women 33% more often than if they are speaking with other men. And this isn’t unique to the business setting: Northwestern’s law school found similar results when analyzing how often the female justices of the Supreme Court were interrupted (32%).
But whether you’re a Supreme Court justice or a junior executive, how do you handle someone stepping on your stage? It truly depends on your situation.
Managing the cast of characters in a meeting can be challenging, but if you know who’s attending the meeting, you might already have a sense of who in particular might be challenging to keep under control.
Whether it’s an over-enthusiastic supporter -- or someone who’s simply being rude – Chronic Interrupters are a part of the meeting landscape that has to be addressed by all involved. Stay engaged in the meeting – and help the group accomplish the purpose of the meeting by allowing everyone the chance to participate.
If your firm’s meetings aren’t as productive or efficient as you’d like them to be, check out our Meeting & Facilitation Skills coaching services to help your employees get more from their meetings.