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How to Deal With Being Interrupted

The 2 Best Tactics For When You Are (Inevitably) Interrupted at Work


Although it may not be the biggest workplace issue facing women today, being interrupted during meetings or group discussions is a disrespectful annoyance that working women deal with on a constant basis. Studies have shown that women are interrupted more frequently than men (by both sexes), and men, specifically, are three times as likely to interrupt women than other men.

While it can be intensely frustrating to be interrupted while making a point, there are ways to smoothly address it and move forward without yielding your ground. Next time you're in the middle of a thought and someone interrupts you, try these tactics:

  1. Keep right on talking. Don't cede to the interrupter and simply continue speaking until you've completed your point.
  2. Say the interrupter's first name. In a move that is polite, firm, and oddly effective, try saying the interrupter's first name as you let them know you'll continue speaking. For example: "Rob, I'll just quickly finish this point." As Fortune points out, "You can also do this for others if you see a colleague being interrupted. 'Sarah, I'd actually like to hear the rest of Hannah's thoughts before we shift gears.'"

It's also worth reading up on the "amplification" tactic employed by female White House staffers, in which women in a meeting will repeat the points of other female members of the meeting and credit them, lest they be steamrolled, dismissed, or spoken over.

There are so many ways — both overt and subtle — in which women's voices in the workplace are undermined, so taking action wherever we can is crucial to eliminating discriminatory (not to mention totally irritating) workplace dynamics.

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