Finishing other people’s sentences is a habit that we can easily fall into. Many of us do it or have done it at some stage in our lives both at home and at work. You might even know a couple of folk who are real crackers at it.

There are many reasons we interrupt. It might be because we are super excited and want to join in the conversation. At other times we might be simply processing out loud what is being said or considered in the conversation and as a result interrupt the flow of another. There are also those moments when we just want to get our two bobs worth in or, in our opinion, the person speaking is ‘just taking too long’ to convey their message.

What message do we send when we interrupt though? Often our intent is to simply be engaging, but it can have a dark side too and as a result the message sent can be quiet a different one.

Listening with intent, to truly hear what the other person has to say, is incredibly important to building strong and purposeful relationships.  This type of listening changes perspectives, builds capacity and validates connections.

At the heart of it – it really matters to listen well.

The best type of listening is the well-known skill of active listening. You may have heard of it, but if you are an interrupter you are unlikely to practice it effectively. Active listening puts the listener in a position of collaboration and allows the speaker the opportunity to purposefully connect to the listener.  Active listening means no more interrupting; making mental notes for clarification and collaboration for once the speaker is done. Active listening maintains the focus of conversation to the topic rather than engaging in a battle of the wills.

For the speaker, active listening affords a great deal of respect. The gifts it offers are the satisfaction of being heard, the feeling of validation and allows for the presence and clarity of mind to hear feedback and another perspective.

One tool I use to make sure I am improving at this is to put a hand under my chin as I listen, as modelled here by Hugh Jackman. It is simple and yet very powerful.

aec64b110b8b76c5fe9ec8b02d85b4aaWhile I don’t have the same sultry good looks it is a great way to help keep my mouth shut, stay focused and connected to the person speaking. Keeping my mouth shuts helps me to truly consider what is being said rather than being distracted by my own thoughts which I want to squeeze into the conversation.

The pay offs of practicing active listening; in turn I also get truly heard, my contributions are equally valued and my relationships grow ever stronger. All of which are super important to get a job done and move ahead engaging in new opportunities.

So if interrupting is something you do…. what’s your plan of action? What are you going to do to stop interrupting?

Yours in quiet respect


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