Solution Saturday: Can’t Get a Word in Edgewise

Dear Dan,

Our small work group has many discussions. In these discussions people talk over each other and vie for the opportunity to share.

I feel uncomfortable interrupting. When I don’t jump in, sometimes my teammates feel I am not involved.

Do you know of discussion protocols that could support sharing without the feeding frenzy approach?


Reluctant to Interrupt

my first suggestion is get clear on who you want to be.png

Dear Reluctant,

The greatest opportunities of leadership are about us, not others. The idea that you are sometimes perceived as “not involved” is the most important aspect of your situation.

My first suggestion is get clear on who you want to be. After that, bring your best self to this situation.

  1. Think about who you want to be, before thinking about what you want others to do. Avoid the first inclination to expect others to change. Their “over-involvement” troubles you, but your “under-involvement” troubles them. Begin with you.
  2. Explore new behaviors that might take you where you want to go. Talk things over with a mentor or coach.
  3. Reject advice from people who seek to take your side, rather than advance your career or make the situation better. Openness takes your further than entrenchment. Those who take your side, help you justify yourself, rather than explore options.
  4. Try being involved with your team by having one-on-one conversations before or after team meetings.
  5. Formulate a few questions before meetings begin. Interrupt by asking questions that create clarity or move the ball down the field. “Jimmy, what’s important to you about that suggestion?”
  6. Suggest, to the team leader, a workshop that enhances teamwork.
  7. As a general rule: Get on other people’s team, before asking them to get on yours.

After you approach this situation from a personal viewpoint, explore what you want from others. My initial suggests are not intended to minimize the role of other teammates in successful communication. 

You have my best,


Thanks to Facebook friends and fans who offered great suggestion for “Reluctant” to consider.

What suggestions might you add for, “Reluctant to Interrupt?”