What is the most common starter phrase people use as a reaction to being interrupted, when they wish to regain control of the conversation?
If you thought “Excuse me,” or “I’m sorry,” you’re exactly right. Most people start their response with these two phrases, and most people are not effective at maintaining the communication floor. These phrases will not result in regaining control of the conversation.
If you want to be a more assertive (or even aggressive) communicator, one of the effective communication skills you’ll need to develop is your ability to maintain the floor when someone tries to pull it out from under you. Today’s professional communication tip isThe Anti-Interrupter.
If you are in a meeting and someone (let’s say your competition) successfully interrupts you, you lose your position and credibility along with losing the floor. Don’t let this happen to you ever again. Learn how to be an effective anti-interrupter.
I use Judge Judy as a perfect example of someone who is not easily interrupted. JJ’s communication style might be different from yours, but let’s take her Anti-Interrupter tactic and break it down:
Step 1) Keep your head straight; no tilting to the side.
Step 2) Make “wide eyes” or open your lids to show the entire iris.
Step 3) Use a stop gesture (Think of what the international sign is for “stop.”)
Step 5) Use an anti-interrupter phrase (There are two to choose from– “I’m speaking,” and “I’m still speaking.”)
If you ever watch Judge Judy, you’ll see she never strays from this formula. Use it, practice it, and while you might not call people names in a meeting, you’ll be able to maintain the floor against the best–and most aggressive–of them.
BTW, if you’re into politics, watch the Republican and Democratic debates and see what the strongest candidates do when they’re interrupted. You’ll note that there is nothing shy about the way they turn to the offending opponent and say “I’m still speaking!” And they’ll repeat that phrase until they have regained the floor. There is no harm in learning from the best. . . . Of course the strongest ones do it with calm and grace, whereas the weakest ones yell it out, mistaking noise and bullying for power. You decide which method best reflects YOU.
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