Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Interrupting cow!

Some kids love this joke!  Other kids don't get it.  As I participate in more conversations each day with kids and teachers, I have noticed a continuum of interrupters.  Some people cannot let you finish a single sentence without interrupting.  Some people never interrupt.  They practice Covey's Habit #5 almost perfectly, seeking first to understand before trying to be understood.  Don't we all love to be listened to and heard!

On the interrupting side of folks, there are many different reasons and styles.  Some simply cannot wait to share their own thoughts.  Some are excited about the topic and want to participate.  Some understand your point-of-view perfectly and don't need to hear any more.  They interrupt to move the conversation forward.  Some want to tell your story for you or better than you.

Then there is the method of interruption.  There are the, "Umm hmm-ers."  They voice their agreement throughout your words with a barrage of agreeing hums!  There are the sentence finishers.  How lucky not to need to ever finish your own sentence!  There are the folks who already know what you are saying.  They provide a response before you have even posed a question.  There are the story-tellers.  They interrupt in order to tell you a personal story related to the topic of conversation.  There are the questioners.  They have a question before you finish what you are saying.  In a classroom, you know these kids because their hands pop-up after the first 6 words, regardless of what you have already said or what you still need to say.

My favorite, new interrupting style is the, "Yeah, no" and the "No. yeah."  These folks may or may not agree or disagree.  They usually add their two cents with truly contradicting what has already been said.

With students, it is easy for most of us to handle the interruptions.  As a teacher, you choose the correct response.

How do you handle it with adults?  Is it different?  What about that one person on campus that interrupts everyone, every... single... time?  Everyone has that one coworker that interrupts every single time.  So much that it is impossible to have a conversation.  Do you give up?  Do you interrupt back?  Does your facial expression make it clear that you don't appreciate the interruption?  Do you handle it gracefully, while always seeking to first understand?  Or do you put your head down and simply avoid the conversation altogether?

It seems to be a common response for folks to follow the interrupting lead.  In order to participate with the interrupter, lots of folks are compelled to interrupt back.  Other folks just stop trying to talk.  If you get two interrupters in a group, they just end up talking over each other until the oxygen is depleted from the room.  The silver lining in this situation is the valuable side conversations that ensue while the two of them make noise together.

To make this better for your work team, what do you do?  How do you make sure there is equal voice for each team member?