What to do when other speak over the top of you?(58 Posts)
I am a fairly reserved person. I have had an ongoing problem at work meetings, book clubs, biggish social gatherings: i.e. where there is situation where anyone can contribute adhoc. I find others constantly talk over the top of me. Any ideas on what I can do? I realise this not a situation unique to me but I do think it happens to me more than most. I must be doing something wrong.
Stop speaking, give them a death stare & say loudly" When you've quite finished" or " I was speaking" & carry in with your point.
I agree with thattine, with DH I often resort to "Stop interrupting me" or "I hadn't finished...."
Its not easy the first time you do it, but gets easier with practice.
With people I know well - family, close friends - I use a Friends quote which is "lips moving, still talking!"
In more formal situation e.g. work, I wait until they've finished and simply say "As I was saying..." If it's hard to break in and the conversation moves on, I will say "Just to go back to X's point for a moment..." and then say what I intended.
As a manager, in team huddles or if I'm chairing meetings I always watch out for people who aren't getting their say, or who are starting to talk and getting drowned out, and make sure I invite them to speak, even telling the persistent loudmouths "hang on, let X speak" or "you've had a lot to say so far, I think X has something to add".
This happens to DD a lot. She is 13 and not assertive enough. She is always being blanked out by one girl in her group, but won't stand up for herself.
I have this with someone at work. He does it particularly to me, other people have noticed too.
To begin with I tried the slightly subtler approaches as suggested above, but in the end I said in a meeting 'you haven't let me finish one of my sentences without interrupting.'
He was quite taken aback - but not enough to stop doing it - so now every time he cuts across me I say loudly 'once again, not able to finish my sentence'. I don't know any other way of dealing with it. He's been told and he just carries on.
Sorry Madeitagain, so just to say you are not alone!
I think some interrupting, talking over someone is natural in everyday conversation. So i let some of it go, knowing i probably am a bit guilty of interupting people too. My aunt doesn't tolerate it ever, and does all that "I'm talking..as I was saying..." And too much of that is weird too. I think use these phrases that have been suggested are perfect.
You could take an assertive speaking course or session. I've a friend who did a two hour workshop and found it helped. There are tips and tricks. But ultimately there are also people who are arses and so learning to be blunt is also good.
Lots of people do this, and it happens to lots of people. It's widespread.
Starting to talk before someone else has stopped can happen for lots of reasons. It might be because the new talker doesn't value what the current talker is saying, but it might be because that's they way they keep a conversation going (some families are like that - can't stand a moment of pause), or because they are in violent agreement with what the current talker is saying.
The Abrupt Stop works for me - as soon as the new talker starts I abruptly stop talking and adopt a 'polite listening and waiting face' until there's an awkward silence, then resume what I was saying. Works best when you are in pairs or small groups though.
In larger groups most people struggle and if you listen you will notice that a large proportion of the group members will be talked over before they finish (senior people less so). Key tips i've been given in my career is to say something early on starting with "I..." so you establish your presence, keep what you do have to say short, and do a lot of listening.
This is normal in large groups. Just repeat yourself and get louder, maybe let someone else dive in but then you go back to your original point after.
Or repeat the persons name who is talking over you....say it over and over again until they say what?
You have to be quite ahem assertive to do it!
Interesting thread, I suffer from this too. I appreciate some of the tips here.
This actually came up on the Question Time panel last night, discussing how all the men in parliament just shot over each other. There is nothing worse than women staying to shout over the noise, it sounds terrible, so we need better ways to desk with it, these are good.
Apologise for speaking while they're interrupting you.
It's an a assertiveness thing to some extent, but also depends on the group. Women's voices can be harder for men to hear in group situations, and whereas a woman might stop and wait for a gap, a man is more likely to repeat louder. (That's going to sound like a load of generalisations but a quick glance over "discourse analysis" type papers, gives a flavour.)
Mrs Thatcher, who didn't have an issue with assertiveness, perfected a technique where she would slow down, drop her voice, lick her lips and pause - and when the other person tried to talk, would start up again slightly louder, as though she hadn't finished her point. It was marvelously unsettling, and amazing to see in action. I hated her politics but she was dynamite at getting her point over. She also had voice coaching to lower her overall tone and sound less squeaky.
"Oh I'm sorry, Did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?"
Just carrying on talking can be effective sometimes. The interrupter will expect you to stop and when you don't they will often tail off or say "I was trying to speak!"- giving you the chance to point out that they interrupted and you hadn't finished what you wanted to say.
I don't find this happens to me very often, but when it does, I find, 'if you'll just let me finish' usually works, with proper eye contact, and a fairly loud/firm tone, if necessary with a 'stop' hand signal (only for really ignorant persistent interrupters).
If you find it hard to be assertive, something I have seen work effectively is to walk away. I've been in a meeting where a young lady was constantly being over-spoken by a bullish, red-faced braying type. She tried a couple of times to get her point across, but he just wouldn't let her speak. She calmly packed her papers together and left the room.
The rest of the table stopped and there were a few "WTF?" bandied about. It took them some time, but eventually someone said "Well, it's not like she could speak is it?"
I do that at work now - I am an assertive person, but unfortunately my 'line of work' means that I cannot always say what I want to say to certain people. So now I'll let it go a couple of times, then busy myself with something else...when it is then commented on I say (very passive aggressively, but with an air of innocence) "Oh I'm so sorry, I thought you didn't want my input...what I was trying to say was XXXX"
This used to happen to me a lot.
I learned to be louder and more assertive in my delivery. I try to get my point across succinctly initially and then embellish so that if I'm interrupted I've made my point.
When I'm interrupted I do a quick recap in my head:
Have I said pretty much what I wanted to?
Have I waffled and bored the group?
Have I repeated myself?
Have I repeated someone else?
If that answer to any is yes, or probably, I shut up and let the next person speak.
If the answer is no, or I don't think so, I continue, slightly louder whilst keeping eye contact with at least one other person.
This doesn't always work, but often does.
Sometimes I interrupt others when they pause and I think they are finished. I get embarrassed and often keep going because I feel like a fool. If I've done this to anyone then sorry .
It is difficult to manage if you are quite a quiet or reserved person. I really believe some pople don't even realise they are doing it.
When it happens to me, I carry on talking regardless and maybe raise my voice a tiny bit, hopefully catching their eye as I do it.
The usual outcome is that they tend to trail off, so it works for me
Carry on talking at the same pace and volume. The person interrupting expects you to stop talking - don't. To stereotype, I work closely with a type of profession renowned for assertiveness
and arrogance. It's only in the past few years I've felt able to do this, but it works.
While I agree that a certain amount of interruption is usual in 'normal' conversations, I have a friend who will completely talk over people ALL the time in a really loud voice, even changing the subject mid flow. It kind of leaves people a bit open mouthed. She is so lovely apart from this that I put up with it even though I've mentioned it to her a few times. I don't think she'll change now.
Thanks I appreciate the ideas. I have tried just continuing talking but have generally given up, when the other person steamrolls on. It happens most frequently at my work. The team leader is normally very good at not letting this sort of thing go on but is often not present in meetings.
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