The Quest to Communicate
Oh, what it’s like to be one of the shy ones! To regain the conversation from interrupters is a task many have tried to master.
The journey to become a better communicator and, harder yet, hold yourself amongst a group conversation is tricky, to say the least. I am sure many of us recall the awkward moments of standing in a group, trading back-and-forth the “conversation ball.”
And when it comes our turn to speak – when all the stars align for us to open our mouths after twenty minutes of standing there in silence – we mutter three words before our “ball” is snatched from us unwillingly.
And in our mind we think…
The Dragon – Interrupters
To be real, it’s not just the shy who find ire in these situations – it’s pretty much everyone. Find me a person who says they like being interrupted and I’ll find you a liar.
Having attention stolen from us sucks – plain and simple. It makes us feel small, insignificant, and places us in a seemingly impossible situation. Do we claim the stage back and come off as aggressive? Or, do we let them take the stage and use us as a doormat?
Fortunately, there are two things to remember when trying to regain the conversation…
- They are not trying to compete with us on purpose. (usually)
- We are not faced with the dichotomy of being an aggressor or a passive.
Conquer the Beast!
You may be asking, “How do I handle these situations tactfully and regain the conversation?” The answer is two-fold.
First – Forgive
Realize that this person is not your enemy. In fact, most people are not really all that socially aware – they just run with whatever their personality tells them to do. On one hand, many people take time and craft the perfect sentences in their heads before speaking their words. On the other, verbiage will fire as soon as a thought enters their brain.
If you are the slow, sentence crafting kind of person, many times being interrupted can be a compliment. If I can say less than five words and somebody carry on without control from a thought I planted in their head, that’s a powerful feeling.
However, there are exceptions. People may be competing for attention – most commonly when it comes to dating. Either way, like before don’t take it personally. It’s all part of the game.
Second – Assert
How do we use assertion to regain the conversation?
Now that you know it’s not a personal affront, it’s time to regain control. Here are 5 ways to do so.
- Assert Your Position – Don’t be a jerk about it, but be forthcoming. When I resort to this, I will touch their shoulder, smile, look them in the eye and say, “Hey, I’m going finish what I was saying, and then I’d love to hear what you have to say”. Then I will return to the conversation at hand. When I am done, I will make sure to pass the mic to that person. Better yet, if somebody else has something they want to squeeze after I am done, you can reinforce your promise by saying, “Before you go, let’s give our friend here a chance to say what’s on his mind first.”
Be genuine to the person. Don’t try to embarrass them. Remember, most times they don’t mean to do it, and even if they are vying for attention, it shows great self-control on your part and makes people WANT to listen to you.
- Pull Them Aside – Maybe you are not that confrontational. If that’s the case, no problem! I found that pulling the person to the side after the conversation is over and telling them how you don’t like being interrupted often puts matters at rest for the future. Any faux pas after that can generally be fixed by making eye contact with them and smiling – most times, they’ll remember and apologize and hand the conversation back to you.2
- Move the Conversation – This one works great for those trying to butt in purposefully on your one-on-one conversations. Simply tell your partner that you’d like to move to another area for whatever reason, and guide them away from the interrupter. For example, “Let’s sit down over there. My feet are killing me!”
- Powerful Eye Contact – Like #3, this one is great for people who are trying to steal your conversation. If your conversation partner is good with eye contact and is socially savvy, keep powerful eye contact with them until the unwelcome party leaves. Many times it becomes a game and I have found myself laughing with my new friend more often than not!
- Offer the Floor – Finally, let’s not forget that the fault may be on you for not giving others a chance to speak. If you feel like you’ve been rambling on for too long, ask others to chip in! We all mess up from time to time. Making it right will garner the respect from your peers!
Of course there are more ways to regain the conversation! This article from entreprenuer.com has a few bonus tips as well!
It’s not easy dealing with people butting in on your conversation, but with a little forgiveness and practice you’ll master it! Remember to forgive, act, and use the proper tactics depending on the situation!
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