From the archives: Modus Interrupti


Originally posted on May 23, 2011.  This one deserves to be dusted off and shared again, because people never stop interrupting.

Back to Basics Monday: Modus Interrupti

We all know that it's rude to interrupt people.  But we still do it.  Not all the time.  But, sometimes.  Why?

Image credit

1)  We get excited.  
Sometimes, the little kid inside of us (and there's one in all of us; this I deeply believe) WANTS TO TALK NOW.  And the "now" isn't relative; it isn't next in conversation; it isn't in turn.  It's RIGHT NOW.  So, sometimes we interrupt because we are so excited about what we have to say.

2)  We are uber, mega relaxed in the company.  
If it's your sister or your oldest friend, or a dinner party with your sister and your oldest friend, sometimes you just don't think.  You get in there with your witty banter and your love of these people and the comfort that comes from the fact that they've seen you in good times, and bad, and you just talk the heck over them.

Image credit (OMG, this tumblr is hilarious)

3)  We are correcting something.  
Whether it's of crucial importance or not, one big time interruptions occur is when the speaker says something that the interrupter wants to build on, correct, tweak, or otherwise give their  revision to.  

4)  We are "lawyering."  
I have noticed that attorneys are frequent interrupters.  Usually it arises in the context of a work discussion where a legal theory is being discussed.  Good lawyers think quickly, and can often anticipate the line of reasoning another lawyer is going to use.  This means that, sometimes, an overly enthusiastic or smart ass lawyer can (1) hear what the other person is saying; (2) finish their thought before the person says it; (3) think of something they would like to add or contradict that hasn't been said yet; and (4) interrupt to say it.  

(Full disclosure:  I'm a lawyer.  I have done this.  Crap, when you type out how it works, it's even more rude than I imagined.)

Thanks, Proper Paige, for this litany of reasons that we all do something that we know to be wrong.  What's the point here?

The point is this:  You don't need to tell me that interrupting is wrong.  But, as pointed out in the blog post referenced above, the interruption basically works like this:

  • Talker is saying something. ("So, one time when I was traveling in Europe, I was on a flight from London to Frankfurt...")
  • Talker gets interrupted when seemingly incorrect information is presented, and the interrupter gives the ‘correct’ information. (OR) Talker is interrupted with some sort of encouraging remark.  ("Wait, you told me this happened to you in Munich!"  OR "Oh yeah!  I love this story!  Were you flying British Airways?")
  • Talker responds.  In any number of ways, including but not limited to:  They may close down and stop talking.  They may integrate the new data and keep talking.  They may disagree with the new data being given and a debate could then ensue.  They may be thankful to the person for correcting them.  They may be resentful of the person interrupting.  They may be grateful or relieved that the correct data was supplied. They may feel embarrassed.  Or they may experience some hybrid combination of all those responses. ("Oh, yeah, it was Munich!  Anyway..." OR "No, it was Frankfurt.  Seriously."  OR "Ha ha!  Your memory is so good.  Yes, Munich..."  OR "Uh...what was I saying?  Anyway, Germany..." OR "Seriously.  Can I finish?")
  • The flow of conversation and immediate dynamic between the people talking has changed. (Link to a blog post which shares this astute observation.)
Image credit

 That's it.  No matter what the person was talking about, what the interrupter said, or how the person responded, an interruption changes the flow and dynamic of a conversation.

Eew.  That makes it sound selfish.  That makes it sound aggressive.  That makes it sound really childish, even.  Because it is.

So, I'm counting myself in here.  No mas interruptions.  Let's not do it anymore, mmmkay?

Letting you finish your thought.  For reals,
Proper Paige

I think I've gotten better about not interrupting in the past couple of years since I originally wrote this.  Proper Husband may disagree.  It certainly won't hurt to pay attention to it, anew and again.

Also, yes, I watched quite a bit of the Cosby Show marathon on TV Land this weekend.  Why do you ask?

Hope your thoughts are valued and completed today.

Ta ta for now,
Proper Paige

1 comment:

Sara Panza said...

1. I LOVE that tumblr. Of course. Thanks for sharing it.

2. I will remember this when Gchat tells me "Heather is busy. You may be interrupting."