If you allow yourself to be consistently interrupted, you’ll never be taken seriously. And if you’re not taken seriously you won’t advance in your career—no matter how smart or talented you are. You have to speak up, share your ideas, verbalize your concerns and be heard. But don’t expect others to make it easy for you. It’s time to exercise your right to be heard. Here’s how to do that:
Know you’re not alone
Being “talked over” is a widespread problem and you’re not the only one on the receiving end. Men can, and are, talked over but women have to deal with it more. It’s such a problem The New York Times addressed it earlier this year. Knowing you’re not the only one being interrupted doesn’t solve your problem, I know. But it’s a start.
Speak up immediately
If you’ve been allowing someone to interrupt you, decide now to deal with it the next time it happens. If it’s someone who hasn’t interrupted you before, you might give them one free pass. However, I don’t recommend it. Better to speak up the first time than to establish a precedent. If you feel bad about interrupting the interrupter, don’t–they don’t feel bad so why should you?
Know what you’re going to say
One reason we don’t speak up for ourselves is we are at a loss for words when we need them the most. We feel embarrassed or angry and in the heat of the moment we don’t want to make matters worse. The solution is to decide now what you can and will say to stop the interrupter from stopping you from being heard. Just remember, the key is to jump in immediately before the interrupter gets out a full sentence. Here’s what you can say,:
The softer response:
“You probably didn’t realize you just interrupted me. Thanks for letting me continue now.”
“I really want to hear what you’re saying and I’m sure you want to hear what I was going to say, so let me get right back to it.”
The not so soft response:
“Please stop right there—I’m not finished.”
“I want to hear you out—and I expect the same courtesy.”
Bonus Tip: If you interrupt the interrupter and he or she doesn’t stop and give you the floor, use the “broken record” technique and immediately repeat what you said or something similar. Also, be sure to use effective body language—you can hold up your hand signifying they need to stop. And if needed and everyone is sitting down, you can stand up and let everyone know you intend to be heard.