Wednesday, February 13, 2013

May I Finish, Please?

Finish the Sentence Friday
This post was written in preparation for "Finish the Sentence Friday." I know it is not Friday yet, but each week, Kate gives a heads up on what the sentence for the next week will be. I wasn't really interested in last week's prompt, but I knew exactly what I would be writing about when I saw the prompt for the following week and I will link up as soon as her blog is ready for it. Here is her sentence to finish:

I get so frustrated when…



I get so frustrated when…people interrupt me.

I will have to explain this one, especially since it doesn't always bother me. It is only frustrating when it happens under certain conditions.

Most people don't like to be interrupted when they're speaking. We are taught from a very young age that it is impolite. Cutting someone off mid-sentence is right up there with chewing with your mouth open, staring or pointing at people, calling someone names, and putting your penis elbows on the dinner table. It is just not something you are supposed to do. However, it seems to happen with the same frequency as Charlie Sheen calling his coke dealer.

I am fully aware that as much as I hate having this done to me, I am not totally innocent. I have been known to do it as well. However, I do try to keep myself in check and hopefully don't do it very often. Truthfully, the people that don't do it often I really don't even notice. The times I do notice is particularly when I have a story I am trying to tell or have something I really want to contribute to the conversation, but for some reason the other person just won't let me say it…even after several attempts.

Years ago, I was married to a woman who had this bad habit. After coming home from work, I would try to tell her something about my day. As soon as I would start, I might get cut off with a suggestion for us to out for dinner that night. I would reply and then start my story again. After a sentence or two, she would ask if I remembered to pick something up from town. I would answer and then get back to my story. After about the fifth time of being cut off, I would give up.


This happened often enough that I felt like a jerk when I would sometimes explode and burst out, "Are you going to let me tell my story or not!" She would then look at me surprised and say, "Sure. Go ahead." Apparently, she had no idea she was doing it. I sought a new way to try to let her know without actually saying anything so we could both save face. I tried several tactics.
  1. Continue speaking - When cut off, just keep talking like it never happened. This is difficult since you don't want to have a reaction when it first happens. You just want to continue on naturally. 
    • Benefits - You get the satisfaction of knowing that you have easily communicated what they have done without saying anything to them about it.
    • Drawbacks - Your story isn't really being heard until they realize what is happenning and stop talking. Then they missed the first part and you may not be understood. Also, they end up looking like a jerk if done in a crowd.

  2. Start over -When interrupted, politely stop talking and wait your turn again. Regardless of the direction they have taken the conversation, start your story over again (from the beginning). Do this every time you are cut off and always restart, do not just pick up where you left off.
    • Benefits - You may get to deliver your entire thought in one piece the way you intended it.
    • Drawbacks - You end up sounding like a babbling idiot.

  3. Talk louder - When you get interrupted, just keep talking (see #1), but raise your voice to talk over the person that has interrupted you.
    • Benefits - You don't have to start over and you get to finish your thought.
    • Drawbacks - You look like a jerk.
I tried every one of these with no success. It was noticed that I was doing it and it usually only succeeded in making her mad. I even explained why I was doing it, but nothing worked. Plus, another drawback to each of these practices was the mental removal of myself from the actual conversation. I started concentrating on the game rather than the words she was saying. Also, once I got into the habit of employing one of these techniques, it had a way of getting used outside the privacy of my home as well. I gave up on the talk louder technique when I raised my voice to talk over my boss when he had interrupted me at work. I didn't mean to, but I had developed the habit. My explanation to him didn't seem to help matters.

Today, when someone cuts me off, I just go back to telling my story when it is my turn again. I don't even notice until about the third or fourth time it has happened in the same conversation. I have learned that it is even more rude to tell someone they have interrupted you than it is to interrupt someone. After several attempts at trying to tell the same story, I just give up. In fact, I usually just excuse myself from the entire conversation.

Of course, then they want to know why I am being so quiet. In these situations, I have also learned that it doesn't really help to ask them why they won't let you speak, but are also concerned when you don't. I have yet to figure out how to properly navigate this conversational maze.

They look very attentive.
I sometimes wonder if it might be beneficial for society to adopt the conch shell method from Lord of the Flies. The one holding the shell gets to speak. When it is passed to someone else, then they may have their turn. Only the person holding the shell gets to talk and anyone who starts speaking without the shell is reprimanded by the entire group. The method seemed to work for them…until they started running naked through the jungle, bashed Piggy's head in with a rock, and started killing each other for sport. We may need to figure out where things went wrong, but it was a good system for a little while.

In the meantime, I will use my favorite go-to method of dealing with people most of the time…I will avoid them. I don't seem to have these problems when I am sitting at home.



This week's post also correlates to the writing prompt supplied by Something Clever 2.0 for its Theme Thursday post. This week's theme: Pet Peeves.

That worked out pretty well. Knocked out the themes for two different linkups in one post.

41 comments:

  1. Ugh, I have a friend who does this. I typically just stop telling my story, because her interrupting makes it seem like she wasn't really interested anyway. Yes, I agree, frustrating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. After trying every tactic I could come up with for years, I just gave up. It's not so bad when you don't care about the person, but when it's someone close, it happens too often to just ignore. Very disheartening.

      Delete
  2. I've never seen Lord of the Flies. Not really sure that I want to now.

    When I'm talking, either people pay specific attention because I'm actually speaking (I'm a very quiet person, as most people point out) or they decide I have nothing worth saying and ignore me... or walk away. One of the girls I work with is horrible about that. It's worse than being interrupted. I've been in the middle of a short story and she's just walked away from me like I wasn't even there. This has happened more than once and never while we're busy. Every time, I just say, "Or just walk away and ignore me. That's cool too." and hope she hears me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That one is beyond rude.

      As for Lord of the Flies, forget the movie. Read the book.

      Delete
    2. I didn't even know it was a movie...

      Delete
  3. When that happens to me I just stop telling my story or end my part in the conversation. It's irritating, but less confrontational and I'm a person who avoids confrontation as often as possible! I'm lucky to have a spouse who doesn't do that often I can't imagine having one who did it all the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is incredibly frustrating when it is the same person doing it all the time. The occasional one isn't so bad.

      Delete
  4. If I'm interrupted several times, I just figure I'm boring them and stop my story and move into their conversation. Sometimes I've been vindicated by the interrupter later asking about the very thing I was trying to tell them! Then I can honestly say, "Yes, I started telling you about that the other day, but you wanted to talk about..." HA!

    I know I occasionally interrupt, usually to ask a clarifying point on the topic. (I like my details) I don't *think* I change the subject. If I do, just reach through the phone and smack me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I stop my story, most of the time they don't ever ask again. The last time they did ask, they cut me off again as soon as I started.

      I don't like people.

      Delete
  5. Yep, this is a huge one on the pet peeve list.

    Friend: How was your day?

    Me: It was pretty good. It's so cold at work...

    Friend: Oh don't even talk to me about cold

    My Brain: Okay, I won't.

    Friend: Blah, blah, blah...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am happy to know that it is not just me being grumpy.

      Delete
    2. Not at all. I finally one day asked her - why do you even bother asking how my day was if you aren't going to let me tell you about it.

      Delete
  6. Interrupting me is 2nd on my list right behind leaving garbage laying around. My favorite remedy is to just stare at the person until they finish + about 5-10 seconds and when they ask "What?" I say "Just making sure you were finished." However, like your remedies, mine is not really well received either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This seems to be one of those things that people really do not enjoy having pointed out. I wish I knew why.

      Delete
  7. I hate it when I'm interrupted, but the I must admit I am a bit long-winded.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have that problem as well. Maybe that's why it happens so often.

      Delete
  8. When I was a kid this was a very bad habit with me. It followed me into my adult years, until a nice lady said,"No, you go ahead" and politely waited for me to finish my interruption, I felt like a jerk and have worked hard at listening and not interrupting. I find that I really like hearing the other guys story and it is no burden to wait until they are done talking to have my share in the conversation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a younger problem with me as well. I know that I still do it occasionally, but try to keep it under control.

      Delete
  9. I was reading and nodding my agreement with this and then got to the part about piggy. Now my laptop is covered in spittle. Thanks Brett.

    My dad is a notorious interrupter. He's like a child in that, if any of us try to talk to my mum, he wants her undivided attention and will always butt in, no matter the subject or the urgency of the subject. My sister has expressed a desire to bash him over the head with a brick whenever he does this but we have advised her that jail just isn't worth killing a pensioner. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess you are a fan of Piggy.

      I don't see her very often, but my grandmother is awful about it. her interruptions won't even be on the same topic. She just starts talking and she has been that way as long as I can remember.

      Delete
  10. I know who isn't interested in what I have to say. If they interrupt I close my mouth and move on to other things. However if it is my spouse, or his family, I know the stories are just repeats and there will be no break and I re interrupt if it is important to me. Unfortunately, my experience tells me that you can not change a person that feels their stories are more important.

    Hestia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately, that's the direction it usually goes. It's not right that someone should ever be shut out, but a person who has done this for a long time will not be easily turned around.

      Delete
  11. Oh Lord my sisters do this to me all the time. The other day I hung up on one because she did it repeatedly then when I hung up on her she called right back screaming like a moron. Just over it. OVER IT.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the most frustrating part about it. The people that do it all the time, really have no idea they are doing it. It is really difficult to break them of it.

      Delete
  12. I feel your pain - unfortunately I have turned into the interrupter! Ha! In high school with my friends I was never able to get a word in so lately I have taken control and butting in. I tried giving it up for lent last year and that lasted about two days! I'm working on it! LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's really difficult when it becomes a habit. I believe I was well into my 20's when I really became aware of how often I was doing it. It required a prolonged and concentrated effort to break the habit. I still slip now and then.

      Delete
  13. Brett, this is up there with my pet peeve of never being able to say sorry. I agree with are taught this one at a young age and still people continue to do it. Ok, yes I have been known to do this one probably from time-to-time too, but thanks for pointing it out and will try better :) Seriously awesome ending to the sentence and thank you a ton for linking up with us!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I was a teenager, I could not say I was sorry to anyone. I always found a way to justify anything I had said or done. Even if I knew I was wrong.

      I was happy to have found this and knew exactly what the end of the sentence would be as soon as I saw the prompt.

      Delete
  14. I am with you on this one! My husband does the SAME thing your wife did. EVERY time. As if whatever bursts into his brain MUST be said RIGHT NOW or it will die on the vine. I've tried all of your solutions too with no success. Now, I've just stopped talking to him for a while. We'll see what the next step is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's especially frustrating when the interruption isn't even about the topic being discussed. That just proves they are not even listening to any part of what you are saying.

      Good luck. I never found the solution.

      Delete
  15. Ha ha! I've tried all of these with my kids. At least they still have the excuse of their age, but man, it's frustrating - especially with it's frequency. I have a friend or two that never let me talk. I never even get to participate. I'm kind of okay with that - that's weird. Glad you linked up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can let it go with the casual acquaintance, but when it is someone you see on a regular basis, it gets old real fast because of how often you have to put up with it.

      Delete
  16. I used to deal with this when I did stand-up, although we simply called the interrupters "hecklers." There was always some drunk in the audience that thought they were going to be funnier. Fortunately, for me, I was able to quickly put them down and regain control. In real life, I simply ask them a question, "What did that have to do with my story?" That actually lets them know what they've done, and usually shuts them up. Some people don't even realize what they've done unless you let them know. I'm not one to be shy of doing that. lol Good post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would assume snarky comebacks would be more acceptable from the stage. Even if the person it was aimed at got offended, as long as the rest of the audience laughed, it could be considered a success.

      I am a bit too reserved when it comes to saying things to people I know. I am always worried I will offend and need to not be as concerned about it. I will give your approach a shot.

      Delete
  17. Ugh, I hate being interrupted as well. SOOO frustrating. My son is only three and is on the autism spectrum so trying to teach him to not interrupt feels impossible some days.
    Awesome post! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As young as your son is, I think that is still a challenge for everyone. Hang in there.

      Delete
  18. I try restarting a couple of times and if it keeps happening, I just walk away. I look rude when I do but I don't care. If they say something about me walking away, I just say "you weren't interested in what I had to say, why should I listen to what you have to say?"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I need to get a little more bold and stop accommodating people.

      Delete
  19. Oooh, peopleus-interruptus is a maddening species indeed!
    I'm friends with a person who does just that.
    It's frustrating, makes me feel like whatever I'm trying to say is unimportant to her.
    When we get together, she talks "at me".
    When she asks a question, she interrupts the answer.
    I end up stopping talking, thinking of grocery list while she rambles at me.
    Now I avoid in-person contact choosing instead more polite friends.
    ~PolishSpring

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I quickly disassociate with those people. It's tougher to learn what to do when it is someone you have to interact with. Then they start to wonder why you don't listen to them.

      Delete

Getting comments on my blog is like finding a McNugget in my fries. It just doesn't get any better. Leave a comment while you're here.