7 Ways Successful Managers Interrupt
Successful managers have bad manners, sometimes.
You aren’t going far if you don’t learn how to interrupt people who talk too much. Managing isn’t therapy.
Successful managers have bad manners when team members talk on and on.
People who talk on and on want sympathy, not solutions.
7 ways successful managers interrupt:
Use one of these seven questions to interrupt people who are talking too long. Don’t wait. Interrupt.
- “What’s your question?”
- “What’s next?”
- “What would you like to do about this?”
- “What are you trying to accomplish?”
- “If things were going perfectly, what would it look like?”
- “And what do you want?”
- “What’s your conclusion about this?”
I used #1 while answering questions after a recent presentation. There was a long line of people who had questions. I decided to interrupt one participant who was sharing too much information.
“What’s your question?”
Without taking a breath, she asked her question. I answered and said, “Thank you.” I fear we might still be sitting there if I hadn’t interrupted.
4 tips for having bad manners:
- Speak gently. Tone matters. Frustration doesn’t create connection.
- Set a time limit when the conversation begins. “I’m sorry, but I only have ten minutes right now. What’s your question?”
- Insert an “and” or “so” before you interrupt. “So I’m just wondering what you want?”
- Don’t say, “How can I help?” until they offer their own solutions (unless it’s to help them find solutions).
Successful managers learn how to interrupt in productive ways.
Some of us could use a little more patience when it comes to listening. You may need to practice saying, “And what else?” rather than interrupting.
How might managers help people get to the point?
And how does one interrupt appropriately a talkative manager who gives irrelevant TMI?
Thanks Jeff. It’s never easy. You might soften the blow with a gentle introduction, but in the end, you have to just say, “I don’t need all this information.” Or, “That’s too much information”
You might try asking, “What do you think I need to know?”
My gut says, this conversation might sting a little.
I just had this conversation w my sister who was frustrated during a meeting w their client when a newly hired co-worker kept leaning in and whispering illrelevant comments to my sister regarding how she had answers so not to worry(as if she was the expert). My sister tried to interrupt her by whispering I need to hear what our client is saying but she kept doing it. Any thoughts??
Dan, Great post again today. I have found over the years that some “need” to be interrupted. They can actually seem relieved because it appears they cannot stop on their own sometimes and actually welcome someone that helps them apply the brakes.
Your post was referring to a one-on-one conversation. This issue obviously comes up in group settings also. It is a great disservice to the whole team when 8 people have their time wasted by one person that goes on and on. The person in charge needs to show leadership and close out the monologue.
Some people lose all track of time once they have the stage.
Other options in a group. Tell the speaker that you would like to follow up with them after the meeting and close out the topic. Use the follow-up to coach them on shortening their comments.
Final thought – develop some hand signals that can be used to let them know their going to long and/or going too deep with TMI.
Love your fourth ‘bad manners’ tip: “Don’t say, “How can I help?” until they offer their own solutions (unless it’s to help them find solutions).” For me, expect one or both of these reactions: (1) the person will expect to ‘follow the leader’ – maybe even complaining about it; and/or (2) the person will probably never think creatively and contribute to organization growth.
A politely and slowly raised palm or one finger pointing up to prepare to address the person speaking along with “Excuse me (or ‘Whoa!’), we need to get back on track” is another effective way of cutting off a lengthy explanation or conversation and redirecting the topic. Brevity is often a key to effective communications and can be taught. Good post, Dan. Thanks!
This post brings back memories of many people who abused our agency’s “open door” policy to seek “sympathy, not solutions” as you put it. I put a sign on my office door that read, “All stories over three minutes in length must have a point .” Some people got it, others had to be told more directly. As others have said, I think many of these folks actually welcome a metaphorical restraining hand over their mouths. I can’t compute the hours I lost in meetings that were dominated by talkative participants and no one in a position to do so called Time Out on their verbosity. Great “Bad Manners” tips in this post!
This is one of the things that often is a concern of internal processors. They are great listeners and just see interrupting as bad manners. Thank you for suggested ways of doing this.
I have found “run-on” talkers as having little awareness of others. They do not notice someone else is about to speak or people are getting “fidgety” with their talking, or that they are taking a lot of air time. And vice versa – great learning for external thinkers who verbalize alot and think out loud.
This is a common coaching issue for new or mid-level leaders.
Dan, How might managers help people get to the point? Perhaps I respect what your saying what is your point, message, or statement that your wanting us to perceive? I like the calm voice approach as you mentioned too!
Thank you. Going to go practice a couple of these right now.
what if it is the manager who will not stop talking, being repetitive
and does not listen?
This post is great! I was just teaching a class of youth leaders at my church yesterday. It seems that a lot of them aren’t yet able to articulate succinctly and feel they need to explain themselves a lot. I wish I had read this before yesterday so I could put some of these things into use. I’ve always felt rude interrupting like that, but seeing it written out with a practical example makes this something that I want to do.
Thanks for the post!
In your example of using question #1 in the first set of questions, would you have interrupted her if she were a man? Was everyone’s time being wasted because she was a woman? Did you know that studies show that women are interrupted at a far higher rate than men? Makes sense though: women are so silly, always thinking their opinions matter when they should know it’s us men who run things.