Please, do interrupt me.
This week, I learned something about myself. I learned that I enjoy being interrupted in a healthy way when having a meaningful conversation. This goes against everything we are taught about being social norms. We are taught not to interrupt someone when they’re talking. To listen quietly and wait our turn.
So of course, I’ve always seen interruptions as negative and felt bad every time I inevitably interrupted someone out of pure excitement. Shame on me.
I interrupt a lot because I am excited about something they just said and have something to share or add to it. Usually I want to say how much I relate to it and understand or experienced the same thing once. If I wait until the whole story is done, my comment may not be relevant (if I even remember what my comment was). It makes me anxious to hold it in and then I cannot focus on the rest of whatever you’re saying. I most certainly don’t interrupt to monopolize your story—I do it because this is how I show I’m listening and even how I express empathy.
Before I went on a tangent about how not interrupting is very hard for me, did you read what I said?
I am excited about something they just said.
This right here is the reason I also prefer to be healthfully interrupted by someone. I want you to be excited! Now, I don’t want you to think I love being talked over and interrupted all the time to the point where I cannot express myself at all. I simply mean interrupted to add something to my story to show you are paying attention and encouraging me to continue on—like what I’m saying is interesting and valid and maybe you relate to it just like I do to you when I interrupt you.
This allows my words to flow better and I may find it easier to say what I’m trying to say. This natural back and forth of excitement is how a conversation should be. This is active listening and 100x more engaging and makes me want to continue talking.
On the contrary, having the attention to talk uninterrupted makes me a little nervous. My anxiety gets the best of me and the longer I talk on my own leaves me questioning everything I am saying. This makes me want to retreat inward and hide and never speak again.
Have I made an error? Are they judging me? (If this is a digital convo like a video call) Has their internet connection frozen?
I will never know.
Lastly, if I feel like I can’t interrupt you, please know that after about 5–10 minutes of you talking straight without a mere pause, it has likely taken me a great deal of strength to not zone out completely. If you’re talking without wanting responses, you’re not talking—you’re preaching and you should be on stage for a Ted Talk.
If you’re not on a stage though, let people briefly interrupt you. Or maybe just pause and give them a chance to chime in if they want to. You’ll never know when they might have something wise to say that will help you further make your point.
I used to say talk less—listen more.
But I think now it is more like: listen first—respond more.