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.

people who talk on and on want sympathy not solutions



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.

  1. “What’s your question?” 
  2. “What’s next?”
  3. “What would you like to do about this?”
  4. “What are you trying to accomplish?”
  5. “If things were going perfectly, what would it look like?”
  6. “And what do you want?”
  7. “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:

  1. Speak gently. Tone matters. Frustration doesn’t create connection.
  2. Set a time limit when the conversation begins. “I’m sorry, but I only have ten minutes right now. What’s your question?”
  3. Insert an “and” or “so” before you interrupt. “So I’m just wondering what you want?”
  4. 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?