Shut Up and Listen

Stop Interrupting Conversations

Have you listened recently to a group of friends talking face to face? When one friend starts talking about something, before they can take a breath, one of the others in the group interrupts and takes over the conversation. The first friend had some good news to share but the second friend just couldn’t keep her/his mouth shut long enough for friend 1 to say it. 

Doesn’t anyone shut up and listen when someone else begins to speak? Is this a contest of who can tell the news first?  Some people talk slower than others, but regardless of their speed, when a friend is talking within a group the others should be listening.

Why do they do it? Interrupting happens when you’re too busy formulating what you’re going to say next, instead of actually listening to the conversation at hand. You’re not present, instead, you’re thinking about what you want to say, then blurting it out.

 Listening without interruption is a powerful and often overlooked skill. Active Listening Skills (psychology Today).

Are you waiting for your turn to talk or to interrupt?

Below are 5 steps on how to listen without interrupting others.

First, Are you aware you’re doing this? A good way to find out is to ask a friend if you have the tendency to interrupt? 

Second, Try to do one thing at a time. Nearly impossible these days, but when you are in the middle of multitasking, stop whatever you’re doing when someone ‘interrupts’ you and listen to them. If you need to continue what you’re doing, ask them to wait until you can get to a stopping point so you can pay attention to what they have to say.

Third, Wait to formulate your ideas. Instead of thinking about what you are dying to say, really tune in to what the speaker is saying. Wait until they are finished talking before you speak. Say your response in your head first, then out loud.

Fourth, Maintain eye contact. When you do that, you’re sending a message to the speaker that you are paying attention and are listening to them.

Five, Reflect on the content and their emotion. Summarize what they’re saying back to them, and then, if they ask, respond.  When people feel you’re listening to them, they’re more open to another opinion. 

It will be interesting the next time you hear a conversation, to watch how many people are listening and waiting to talk or how many ‘interrupt’ the speaker and take over their conversation.



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