Being a good listener takes extra effort in this modern paradigm of remote work. It’s difficult to tell when someone has completed speaking and when it’s your turn to talk. You also might get too anxious waiting for your employee to finish their point. This can happen because you are in a superior position in the work space and know better. But, such interruptions can bring down the morale of the meeting as well as of the employee who has found a safe space to explore and speak their ideas. So, how do you curb this demoralizing tendency? Let’s have a look at possible ways to stop interrupting your employees in a meeting:
Attempt to jot down what the other person says. This will keep you from jumping in and will make sure you don’t miss the point you want to make or the question you want to ask. This has the potential to be a game changer. You will not only avoid the awkwardness of interrupting, but you will also be able to react more thoughtfully and groundedly.
Focus On Your Breathing
Another effective method is to concentrate on something physical, such as breathing. When we are in a difficult argument or are being reprimanded, our heart rate increases and we enter fight or flight mode. Interrupting becomes a means of self-defense. You’ll be a little less likely to cut your employee off if you concentrate on your breathing. Follow every breath in and out to help your heart rate slow down. It may appear to be a basic method, but you’ll be astonished at how rapidly it allows you to concentrate and listen.
Pretend You are Taking an interview
If you believe you are conducting an interview, there is no way you would want to interrupt the person. Consider that you are being videotaped and that interrupting your employee would damage the clip. This is a good one to contemplate, especially because meetings are commonly held virtually or over the phone these days. A pause does not provide an opportunity to answer. Consider it a call to patience – to listen more intently so the other person may finish their thought.
Make a Conscious Effort to Stay Quite
If you have a propensity of interrupting others, you can find yourself cutting in or blurting something out before you realize it. Before you begin a meeting, tell yourself, “I’m going to shut up until they finish speaking.”
You can also physically remind yourself by:
- Biting your tongue gently until you become ready to speak.
- As you listen, place your fingers against your lips.
- When you feel the need to talk, take three deep breaths.
Concentrate your whole attention on what the employee is saying while they are speaking. You won’t be able to absorb what they’re trying to tell you if you spend the entire conversation planning what you’re going to say and seeking an opening.
Listening entails more than simply hearing. Concentrate on the other person’s words and consider what they are attempting to say. Keep an eye on them as they speak so you can pick up on their body language and other nonverbal indicators.
Don’t be too harsh on yourself if, even after your best attempts, you wind up interrupting. When you discover you’ve interrupted someone, say something like, “Oh, I’m sorry. Please continue.” Don’t apologize more than once, and don’t make a greater issue out of it than you have already. The employee you’re speaking with will most likely notice and appreciate your efforts to improve your listening skills.
Ask if You Can Speak
If you’re still unsure whether it’s okay for you to speak out, ask the employee nicely. “Do you mind if I speak a few words?” and “I’d like to ask you a question?” are examples of appropriate phrases. “Are you finished, or do you want to add something else?” you can ask.
Speak in a kind, polite tone so you don’t come out as pushy or irritated. You might also use a nonverbal signal, such as raising your hand, to indicate that you’d want to speak.
As you continue in your position, remember that timing and awareness of your status are critical to how you interrupt and handle interruptions. Knowing how to stop, engage, and talk during a meeting can help you build your own brand and build your presence at work.