One of my own social deficits that I have actively worked on over time is my penchant for interrupting other people. I know I do it, I don’t mean to, and I focus very hard on being aware of it and improving in this area.
When kids or people interrupt each other, it can be for a variety of different reasons:
- We are excited and interested in the topic of conversation;
- We have great ideas or input we want to share on the topic;
- We can relate something from one of our experiences to the topic;
- We may have attention or memory challenges and want to share the thought before we forget it;
- We lack skills in reading the room and responding to what is going on in the environment (interrupting other people’s conversations); and,
- Understanding the multiple and invisible facets of engaging in a conversation.
No one likes to be interrupted, but few of us know how to help the Interrupter-Sauras. Here are tips on helping your child become a better listener, knowing that being a good listener will attract people who want to be a friend.
- Describe it for what it is. *That* was interrupting. I need you to hold your thought until I’m finished with mine.
- Practice listening to someone *all the way through* until they are finished. It is not easy. When you begin to master this skill, you will see the pleasure that is experienced by the other person who hasn’t been interrupted.
- Help kids listen to fully understand, not just to form their own response.
- One of the tricks I use when someone else is speaking is to put my fingers on my lips to remind me to keep my mouth closed until they are finished.
- If I do catch myself interrupting someone, I say something to the effect of “Oops, I interrupted your thought. I didn’t mean to. Please go ahead.”
- Another way to describe interrupting is that we just *stepped on someone else’s words or story. Let’s let them finish.”
- If you lose your thought, you lose your thought. Sometimes it will come back when it’s your turn to talk, but it isn’t the end o the world if it doesn’t.
Certainly, there is the opposite problem when you are talking to someone who speaks in run-on sentences and you can’t get your own thoughts or ideas involved in the conversation. In this instance, it’s okay to announce, “I need to interrupt for a minute, I have something to share.”