How to Stop Being an Asshole Who Gets in the Way

Nobody likes someone who interrupts people all the time. This is rude and actually interferes with communication. However, some of us distractions are aware of our problem and are tired of being the jerk who cuts people off. Here are some tips on how to turn yourself off.

Know that interrupting is bad for everyone.

Above all, you should know that interrupting rarely helps anyone, including yourself. When you interrupt others, they feel like they weren’t heard, so they end up talking more just to try to get their point across. This means you need to listen more. Or worse, they shut down completely and feel like their thoughts aren’t worth sharing at all, and this destroys the point of communication.

Whatever the reason you interrupt the conversation – you want to win, you want to add value to the conversation, you want to be the smartest in the room – you will almost always be better off listening. Listening gives you more information to use in a debate, makes you seem wiser because they end up asking you for your thoughts, and prevents you from looking like a know-it-all. Do you know who cuts people off so they can be heard? Children. You are a child?

Practice biting your tongue

Have you ever heard the expression “bite your tongue”? Try this – literally. It looks like a game. While other people are talking, stick your tongue between your teeth. If your tongue sticks out of your teeth, you will lose and become a dummy.

If you don’t want to bite your tongue – I understand it can be painful – just keep your mouth closed. Breathe through your nose as you talk, try to keep your lips together at all times, and never open them unless someone asks you directly. If you accidentally open your mouth to spew out some kind of debris that would validate your place as a super great person, stop and take a deep breath instead. Then close your mouth again. The key word here is practice. There is no magic pill to make you stop interrupting people. You must try to change your habits yourself.

Give them three extra seconds

Sometimes interrupts don’t have to be interrupts; you are simply assuming that the other person finished their thought because they paused. But the pause isn’t always obvious! When someone stops talking, count to three in your mind and then respond with your thoughts. If you can handle it, you will almost never interrupt anyone, even by accident.

Take notes if you are in a meeting

The reason most people interrupt a conversation, myself included, is because we have a thought that we want to throw away before we forget it. We are convinced that this is genius and vital to the conversation, but that does not mean that it needs to be blurted out immediately.

If you’re in a note-taking environment, such as at work or school, LEADx’s Tara Millett invites you to write these thoughts down rather than spewing them out of the cake hole. You won’t forget them, and you can share them later in the conversation when the time is right, instead of disrupting someone’s train of thought.

Try the five second rule

If you can’t write down your thoughts, at least mentally analyze them before using them to poison the air. Psychologist Todd E. Linaman, Ph.D., recommends the five second rule :

Quickly assess the importance of what you are about to blurt out. When the person stops talking, count to five, asking yourself, “Is what I want to say absolutely important to the conversation?” In most cases, your answer will be no.

You can also start a five-second countdown as soon as the thought occurs, if you also practice the three-second wait period mentioned earlier.

Catch yourself and bring it back

When you are trying to get better, mistakes are inevitable. Sometimes you will interrupt people anyway. This is fine! Just try to catch yourself doing it and apologize. It’s as easy as interrupting yourself in the middle of a sentence (you know how) and saying something like, “Sorry, I interrupted you, please finish what you said.” Then return to tongue biting and review your thoughts before giving birth. If you find it difficult to catch yourself, enlist the help of coworkers, friends, and family members. I’m sure they’ll be happy to help you shut up.


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