How to Stop Getting Interrupted at Work


Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Management pros

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Getting interrupted when you're in the middle of something is one of the most frustrating things in the workplace but here's how you can stop it happening.

Article 3 Minutes
How to Stop Getting Interrupted at Work

Being interrupted at work can be frustrating, but for those trying to manage or lead other employees it can also be massively undermining. If left undealt with, it can cause significant problems for those in a company's management structure.

Not only may your peers and superiors stop taking you seriously, but it may lead to your own team losing confidence in your ability to support them. For all professionals, it's important that you're able to communicate effectively regardless of who you're speaking to and what message you're delivering.

This means interruptions - however well meaning - can be disruptive not just to the goal you're trying to achieve but can also undermine you as a professional.

But there are steps you can take to stop it from happening:

Check yourself

Studies have shown that women and people from minority backgrounds feel more interrupted at work than their white male counterparts. You need to be clear that you're unfairly being cut off, rather than unconsciously thinking your voice is more important than that of another colleague.

This sort of workplace bias is fairly common and not something that most people will do deliberately but it's important that you're aware of what professionals you feel are interjecting and why it's unfair. 

Make your message concise

It may be that you're constantly being interrupted because you waffle. It may be that colleagues feel this is the only way they can get a word in and - if so - it's important that adjust your way of speaking.

Before any brainstorm or meeting, think about what message you want to get across and the best way of saying it. You should focus on making it as concise as possible, giving people the very basics of what they need to know. If they have further questions, they'll ask. This also creates an open dialogue about the topic rather than just one dominant voice.

Be aware of how you hold yourself

Your physical stance can play a big role in how likely people are to take you seriously in the workplace. It's important that you are able to command respect from your peers as well as your superiors. The latter can be a more delicate balancing act as you don't want your boss to feel as though you are undermining them, but it's crucial that they respect you as a professional and value your contributions.

Focusing on the body language and posture that you adopt when speaking can have a massive impact on how you are perceived by others. This will also influence how likely your colleagues are to cut you off mid-speech.

Focus on tone and language

The language and tone of voice you use can also be incredibly influential on those around you. It's important to get the correct balance between being enthusiastic about the subject matter and ensuring those you're speaking to take you seriously. The key to getting this right is understanding your audience and tailoring your tone and language to suit them.

For example, a speech to motivate and engage your team should be very different to a meeting where you’re pitching a new idea to the company directors. Adapting your style to each conversation you have at work is one of the best ways to effectively communicate with your audience and avoid getting interrupted.

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