2023年12月8日
阅读时间:6分钟
阅读时间:6分钟

Why Do People Interrupt? Exploring the Psychology Behind Interruptions

Why Do People Interrupt? Exploring the Psychology Behind Interruptions

Original article can be found at https://nspirement.com/2023/12/07/the-psychology-behind-interruptions.html

Have you ever been in the middle of telling a story, and suddenly, someone cuts you off and starts sharing their own experience? Or perhaps they introduce a new topic into the conversation altogether? In this situation, which many of us may have already encountered (or have been guilty of doing), the interrupted person may feel disregarded and overshadowed by such interruptions.

While interruptions are not unusual in conversations, interrupting someone can make them feel frustrated or disrespected and can often cause misunderstandings. Let’s explore the psychology behind them to help improve communication and understand the impact of interruptions.

What are interruptions? 

Generally, an interruption is when someone jumps in while the speaker is talking, essentially not letting the speaker finish what they are saying. Additionally, talking too soon, just as the speaker finishes talking, or overlapping with the end of what they are saying can also be considered an interruption.

Both circumstances communicate that the person interrupting is more focused on speaking than listening to and fully processing what the speaker is trying to say. As a result, the speaker can feel irritated and unheard. 

Power interruptions are done intentionally to gain power over the speaker, steal attention, or control the conversation.

Power interruptions are done intentionally to gain power over the speaker, steal attention, or control the conversation. (Image: Blanscape via Dreamstime)

Types of interruptions

Getting interrupted isn’t the best feeling. If so, why do people still do it? To understand the underlying psychology of interruptions, we look at the different types and their motivations to know the best way to deal with them.

1. Power interruptions

Power interruptions are done intentionally to gain power over the speaker, steal attention, or control the conversation. The interrupter asserts their dominance by talking over the speaker or cutting them off, establishing their presence, and assuming command over the discussion.

Re-asserting yourself in the conversation is essential, as it conveys that you do not appreciate being interrupted and that you value what you are saying. Phrases like or along the lines of “Please let me finish” or “I wasn’t done talking” are great for taking back control. Your tone and choice of words can change depending on how subtle, polite, or aggressive you want to be.

2. Rapport interruptions

Unlike power interruptions, which seek to take attention away from the speaker, rapport interruptions have positive intentions, mainly affirming the speaker or letting them know they are heard and understood. They add a natural flow to the conversation and help build rapport in interviews and one-on-one interactions.

While rapport interruptions aren’t inherently wrong, they can sometimes be mistaken for power interruptions, especially if the speaker feels blocked from expressing their point. In most cases, the interrupter may have just been carried away and will often ask the speaker to continue once they realize they have cut them off.

3. Neutral interruptions

Interruptions with motivations that neither seek to gain control nor build rapport are called neutral interruptions. While they can be mistaken for power interruptions, the reasoning behind neutral interruptions is as follows:

External factors

A noisy environment, an untimely phone call, situational urgency, and similar scenarios can be the reasons for cutting someone off mid-sentence.

Communication styles

Some people may take fast, and others are more slow-paced. A mismatch in communication styles can lead to one or the other interrupting during the conversation.

Emotions

As a reaction to what the speaker is saying, the interrupter may sometimes interject due to excitement or strong emotions.

Mental conditions

Those with mental health conditions such as ADHD and autism may be more prone to interrupting.

People sitting around a conference table attending a business meeting.

While sometimes the occasional interruption may be okay and part of bouncing off each other’s thoughts, interrupting someone (especially over and over) can become a conversation killer. (Image: Rawpixelimages via Dreamstime)

Ways to stop being a chronic interrupter

While sometimes the occasional interruption may be okay and part of bouncing off each other’s thoughts, interrupting someone (especially over and over) can become a conversation killer. Here are some healthy practices to avoid being the guy who keeps interrupting:

  1. Focus on understanding and engaging in what they say, not what you want to say next.
  2. Wait a few seconds before responding when they pause or finish their statement.
  3. Practice listening techniques, such as repeating the speaker’s words to help you stay on the subject and convey that you understand them.
  4. Solutions aren’t always the best response. Sometimes, the speaker wants to be heard, and providing solutions may come off as interrupting.
  5. Practice apologizing and redirecting it back to the primary speaker if you interrupt them.

In essence, interruption is more about asserting yourself and diminishing the speaker’s. Remember that communication is a two-way street; an effective and healthy exchange of information is impossible without correctly hearing what the other person says.

Follow us on XFacebook, or Pinterest

更多来自Nspirement