Don’t interrupt me!

We all bring habits formed in childhood to work with us, some helpful, others not! Interrupting can be one of the most dangerous to your career. Whether you like it or not, when you interrupt someone, you are sending one or more of the following messages:

  1. my time is more valuable than yours
  2. you don’t know what you’re talking about
  3. what you are saying is unimportant
  4. I want to be in control
  5. I’m impatient
  6. I’m not a listener
  7. my emotional control is limited
  8. my situational awareness is limited
  9. my potential is limited
  10. it’s all about me

speedbump for the mouthYes, there are times when it’s appropriate to interrupt. In many circumstances, it may be perfectly reasonable for your boss to interrupt you for reasons one through five.

But, it’s not okay for you to interrupt your boss, a customer, or a hiring manager in a job search interview for any of those reasons.

Yes, some people talk a lot. Sometimes you need to interrupt to do your job. Practice interrupting politely. Say the person’s name, reflect back what you just heard and then move the conversation in a new direction. For example:

“Santa, I hear you saying that we need to build more Jack-in-the-Box’s  because kids love them — and I want to… but the thing is, we need more little metal boxes, so if you can help us find more we’ll get right on it!”

When you can do this skillfully and your situational awareness is high, then by all means, interrupt when necessary. Just make sure you know when and why you interrupt, that you are choosing to do so instead of interrupting habitually and/or for the wrong reasons. Know yourself, know the risks and balance them.

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  • jessicaemployee

    As a young person, I find it very useful to look up social norms in specific places (such as the work place) because different places have different to-do’s and taboos. Articles like these help not only young people, but any novices find a more easier way to transition to professional settings.

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In 1997, Eric Shannon launched the first job board for bilinguals who speak English/Spanish at LatPro.com. Eric still serves as CEO of LatPro Inc., developer of JustJobs.com. He lives in Boulder, CO with his wife and two girls.

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