Listening Responsibility: 5 Reasons People Interrupt Us #peopleskills

Listening Responsibility: Listen While We Speak!

Do you get annoyed when people try to interact with you while you are speaking to them? Do you see it as an interruption?

You may be defining listening as complete silence until you are done. If so, you may also be overlooking your listening responsibility.

Listening Responsibility: Image is olive oil pouring through funnel strainer.

Listening Responsibility: Listen for Input While You Speak!

Image courtesy of Williams-Sonoma product catalog.

Unless our purpose is to preach or make a speech, great communication requires that we listen for input while we speak. This is our listening responsibility for true connection.

What kind of input?

  • Non-verbal cues like negative facial expressions, a hand up, heads turning away, people walking away. If we overlook these and keep on talking, our message to others is one of power not care and connection.

  • Polite requests to jump in. Phrases like — excuse me or pardon me or sorry I have to go — signal a need. If we show annoyance at being interrupted, we communicate a desire to dominate and please ourselves rather than connect with others.

  • Input that keeps everyone connected. If people aren’t with us, who are we communicating with? Speaking without allowing input, disengages and disconnects.

Listening Responsibility: 5 Reasons People Interrupt Us

When we speak, people may jump in for various reasons.

  1. They are confused. People who tell me they hate interruptions believe that if people would just let them finish speaking, the confusion would disappear. However, they discount how people feel when they are confused. Waiting prolongs and intensifies the pain of confusion. To communicate and connect, allow people to jump in to clarify and eliminate their confusion.

  2. We are confused. Picture yourself speaking with a customer. They ask a question and we begin to answer it. They jump in when they realize we misunderstood their question. Our listening responsibility is to hear what we misunderstood as soon as possible. Great service comes through dialogue not monologue.

  3. They are seeing disaster that we don’t see. The purpose for speaking can create tunnel vision. As others hear what we are saying, they may jump in to prevent our feet from being stuck in our mouths. Instead of being annoyed at the interruption, consider the helpful input they offer.

  4. We don’t know how they think. Picture presenting to decision makers you don’t know. You start your presentation and they quickly jump in and ask questions. Listen to this input. They are telling you how they think and how they decide. Turn their gift into your success! Don’t resist their input as an interruption. Project your desire to serve not your need for power.

  5. Something has changed. Things can change from the moment we start to speak to the moment people jump in. Perhaps they need to leave suddenly. Maybe we’ve said something that completely changes the topic and view. While we speak, our listening responsibility is to be aware of what is changing and adapt to close the gap.

Speaking is not output. It is output in response to input that is flowing at you. Embrace this input. Connect with others by listening while you speak. Reach ’em, don’t preach ’em!

Your turn: When have you embraced input instead of being annoyed at it?

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

Related Posts:
Leadership: Are You Communicating w/ Honesty & Civility?
People Skills: The Secret Within Every Great Communicator
Career Success: Are You Rocking w/ These 13 People Skills?

©2014 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.



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4 Responses to “Listening Responsibility: 5 Reasons People Interrupt Us #peopleskills”

  1. Alli Polin says:

    I absolutely love this, Kate!! Thank you for pointing out that interrupting is not always a bad behavior but in fact can take the conversation exactly where it needs to go!

    In addition, so many people are taught to display active listening (and make noises that show tracking along) that it’s even more authentic to say things like “Absolutely!” “Great point!” I’ve seen even those types of “breaking in” to the dialog annoy the speaker.

    Thanks for raising these important and often overlooked points!!



    • Kate Nasser says:

      Thank you Alli. I really appreciate your feedback on this particular article. The world has defined listening for so long as “being silent/not interrupting” yet there is so much more to it.

      I plan to write even more listening posts and I am grateful for your insight here.


  2. Khalid says:

    Hi Kate,

    Thanks for reminding me for such a great source of connection. Interruption saves energy on the sender side not to send unneeded information that won’t be listened!


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