There are instances when interruptions are required, such as when a speaker at an awards ceremony drones on for an excessive amount of time. But interruptions, where one person is talking over another, are typically impolite and annoying. And regrettably, some people constantly interrupt others without ceasing to do so, no matter how often you tell them not to. Fortunately, writer and podcast producer Rose Eveleth has a few valuable tips for dealing with people who talk over you. Her tactics were featured in a recent issue of the Recomendo newsletter.
What to say if someone keeps talking over you
1. Put subtlety aside
Don’t wait for the other person to recognize what they’re doing (they won’t anyway) since being courteous or subtle won’t get you anywhere.
2. Don’t wait for a pause
Eveleth noted that there are no pauses in the conversation while dealing with an interrupter, so you shouldn’t wait for one or think it will ultimately happen because it won’t. She imparted this helpful advice:
Start your phrase as soon as your partner finishes theirs, she advises in her essay. “Don’t hold off until they finish speaking. They shouldn’t stop to consider whether they are actually finished because the answer is never “yes.”
3. Question sneak attack
Interrupt the person you are talking to by saying their name and asking, “Can I ask you something?” They’ll likely enjoy the opportunity to explain things and talk even more. However, launch into whatever you want to say as soon as they pause for your question.
4. Name drop
If you still cannot get a word in, start addressing the interrupter by their name. And then keep repeating it. Eveleth believes this is useful because it draws attention to the fact that someone is talking over you and because saying their name makes it obvious that you are speaking to them individually. Besides, they’ll eventually have to acknowledge you, at which point you’ll have the opportunity to speak out and let them know that they’ve been talking over you.
5. Emergency chuckle break
Eveleth said you should laugh aloud when someone is talking over you as a last resort. She instructs, “Not a tiny giggle, a loud laugh so they can hear you.” They find it highly distracting because they don’t understand what is hilarious, and it can make them nervous enough to throw them off their train.