Generally there are two types of interruption - ´Collaborative´ interruption, when someone jumps in to express agreement or re-enforce an expressed idea which can be perceived as positive and´Intrusive´ Interruption that can serve to redirect the conversation, change the subject entirely and hijack the speaker which can be perceived as less than positive, unless of course you are the one doing the interrupting!
Listening Actively is a meeting behaviour that is always requested by groups, it asks for people to listen intently, give all their attention to the speaker and suspend judgement, hold back the desire to jump in and allow the speaker to finish and time for what the speaker has to say to ´land´ before forming a question, challenge or response. Interrupting breaks all of these behaviours.
During the away day last week, the reasons for interruption were varied; firstly; ´ I get excited about what I´m hearing and can´t help but jump in with my ideas´ that may be the case, however had the speaker been allowed to continue they may have also covered these ideas!
Secondly: ´I´m worried that if I don´t say it when I think of it, I will forget it´ - write it down in that case, and if the speaker does not go on to address your issue, once they have finished you can refer to your note and all this without interrupting the speakers train of thought.
My challenge to the group was that if you interruot when someone is talking, you are effectively saying that you and what you have to say are more interesting/important and in the spirit of respecting others and allowing space for everyone to contribute their thinking- interrupting, hold on a minute I have more to say, .... should be avoided! No what would you like to add?
I was going to say that if you are the one talking, be consise, be aware of how much you are talking, signal that you will invite challenge at the end but would ask that you are given the space to tell your story. Thank people for their excellent listening..
Have a look at the tweet on Interruptions for additional insight and strategies.