EastCoastMojo
EastCoastMojo GRM+ Memberand Mod Squad
4/17/18 7:22 p.m.

Backstory: my boss interrupts other members of the team frequently when they are speaking. In my experience this is not due to others being long winded or rambling, but appears to be almost involuntary on his part. We are all under pressure to get the maximum amount of work done, and he may feel pressure to hurry things up, but he is actually making it more challenging to communicate effectively with this habit. A simple "hang on a minute" is not typically very effective, and I don't want him to feel as if there is a power play afoot, in case his behavoir stems from insecurity.

I have some notes prepared and hope to discuss this with him one on one in a productive, non-challenging way. To augment this and hopefully reach a peaceful understanding, I welcome your thoughts and insights.

Go! 

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
4/17/18 7:32 p.m.

Just accept it as a quirk of his personality and ignore it.  If you are less productive because of him, well, that's his fault then, isn't it?  You get paid the same either way, right?  Just say "berkeley it" and drive on.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/17/18 7:39 p.m.

If he were a dog, you'd squirt him with a water bottle. You could try the same thing here. I'll bet it would stop him the first time at least.

CJ
CJ GRM+ Memberand New Reader
4/17/18 7:40 p.m.

I have been involved with a couple of organizations that insisted on developing mutually-agreed upon ground rules.  Generally thought the process was dumb, but became a semi-convert when a very negative asshat came on board and the ground rules kind of neutralized him.

The downside was that sarcasm was never allowed, which essentially removed my personality...

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
4/17/18 7:53 p.m.

I do it by making myself as unpleasant to communicate with as possible. Condescending dickhead works well. 

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/17/18 7:57 p.m.

In reply to EastCoastMojo :

I’ll confess to being somewhat guilty of this trait at times... In my case it’s an instinctual(and typically truthful) fear that if I don’t interject my spontaneous comments, those thoughts will be long gone by the time my turn comes around. At work I have the cognizance not to do it, though I’m also not in any kind of leadership position either. 

Toyman01
Toyman01 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/17/18 8:11 p.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett :

I see we have a lot in common. 

I also tend to blurt out what pops into my mind before it vanishes into the murkiness of my mine. 

It took a lot of years to recognize that tendency in myself. He may not even realize he is doing it. 

EastCoastMojo
EastCoastMojo GRM+ Memberand Mod Squad
4/17/18 8:17 p.m.

All good points. I do try to say berkeley it whenever possible (it's almost my motto), and up til now I've held my tongue about it. I do try to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he is not being malicious or a bully when he jumps in. He may just be really engaged with the flow and blurts out whatever he is thinking at that moment.

The thing I struggle with is that when I am stopped midstream to answer a question or consider an alternate or parallel situation related to the topic being discussed, is that I often can't jump right back in where I was before the interruption. I strive to be consice and relay all the pertinent info, but when my flow is cut off things get missed and have to be brought up again later, which then gets me the response "why didn't you bring this up when we were discussing this earlier? ", which I find mildly infuriating. It's not feasible to have all my thoughts in an outline form going into these conversations, as they often happen while I am working on other projects and he comes in to ask me something only to interrupt me in the middle of my reply. In essence, a double interruption. I can't always say "let me get back to you on that."

I know it is futile to try to change others, as we can only change ourselves. Perhaps the better question would be, how can I become a more effective communicator?

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
4/17/18 8:20 p.m.

In reply to EastCoastMojo :

A polite berkeley off works. 

EastCoastMojo
EastCoastMojo GRM+ Memberand Mod Squad
4/17/18 8:28 p.m.

In reply to Mndsm :

That truly is what my heart wants to say. I just don't think I can pull it off politely. I will practice. laugh

dculberson
dculberson UltimaDork
4/17/18 8:53 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

If he were a dog, you'd squirt him with a water bottle. You could try the same thing here. I'll bet it would stop him the first time at least.

I feel like trying this with my 3 year old some times. My wife is not on board. 

Robbie
Robbie GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
4/17/18 9:11 p.m.

Just calling it out directly does a world of good.

"Hey Joe, I think you just interrupted Sally. I was interested in what she was saying."

That will make it clear what is happening. If the boss cares, it will go a long way to fixing it. If he don't care, then, well, tough cookies.

Robbie
Robbie GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
4/17/18 9:12 p.m.
dculberson said:
Keith Tanner said:

If he were a dog, you'd squirt him with a water bottle. You could try the same thing here. I'll bet it would stop him the first time at least.

I feel like trying this with my 3 year old some times. My wife is not on board. 

I'm on board. 

Toyman01
Toyman01 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/17/18 9:25 p.m.
dculberson said:
Keith Tanner said:

If he were a dog, you'd squirt him with a water bottle. You could try the same thing here. I'll bet it would stop him the first time at least.

I feel like trying this with my 3 year old some times. My wife is not on board. 

It works on dogs, cats, and kids, equally well. Also works on older children when they don't want to get up for school in the mornings. 

I haven't had the nerve to try it on the wife yet. surprise

 

pilotbraden
pilotbraden UltraDork
4/17/18 9:26 p.m.

When I get interrupted I just shut up Let the person finish their tale and then say "as I was saying "and pick right up where I left off. A few times of doing that and they generally pick up on it.

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy UltimaDork
4/17/18 9:38 p.m.
Pete Gossett said:

In reply to EastCoastMojo :

I’ll confess to being somewhat guilty of this trait at times... In my case it’s an instinctual(and typically truthful) fear that if I don’t interject my spontaneous comments, those thoughts will be long gone by the time my turn comes around. At work I have the cognizance not to do it, though I’m also not in any kind of leadership position either. 

Truth.  If I don't get it out, it may be gone...

RevRico
RevRico UltraDork
4/17/18 9:43 p.m.
dculberson said:
Keith Tanner said:

If he were a dog, you'd squirt him with a water bottle. You could try the same thing here. I'll bet it would stop him the first time at least.

I feel like trying this with my 3 year old some times. My wife is not on board. 

I want to, but I know my kid would like it. Water is unfortunately one of her favorite toys. 

Stefan
Stefan MegaDork
4/17/18 9:52 p.m.

My wife’s culture does this by default, it’s a weird thing, but they all talk all over each other and it’s very disconcerting.

Unfortunately, when her family is together, it truly is the only way to get a word in edge-wise, so I either wait until they ask me something specific or sit by myself or the other “white people” in the family and have some chit-chat.

when she does it to me, I just stop talking and look at her a bit hard until she acknowledges what she did.  Usually she interrupts without getting the full story because I only mentioned the first part and then I finish up with the rest that if she had paused to let me finish my though she’d have not looked so stupid.  A few rounds of that or having a sit-down with her helps reinforce the proper habit.

It doesn’t happen a lot, but just every once in a while, but it makes it hard to communicate sometimes, so it’s important that we work on it.

As for your Boss?  Well, I’d try what I do, or just wait until they finish and say, “as I was saying” Like has been mentioned earlier.

You could also pull them aside privately and talk to them about interrupting you and others and how rude it can be considered in some cultures.  As a leader, they do need to communicate clearly and forcefully, but that unless it’s life and death, interrupting without at least a good reason and acknowledgement (like a conference call or discussion is going off the rails for example) is bad form.

barefootskater
barefootskater Reader
4/17/18 10:35 p.m.

I know this situation well. It describes every single blood relative on my Mother's side of the family to a t. Family gatherings are just shouting matches, though odd ones, as nobody is arguing or angry. Just loud and everybody talking over each other. Being raised in it, I was naturally guilty myself. I would have the same worry that my thoughts would get lost if I didn't get them out right away (I still worry about that sometimes). I think I was about 20 or so when a really close friend called me out. He was blunt and a bit rude and it honestly offended me more than a little. At first. Then I spent the next year or so very consciously trying to break myself of the habit. I can honestly say that I am a much more effective communicator now and have better relationships with friends and family.

The only time I really think I am still guilty is when I am having discussions with my mother. I'll be interrupted, or a sibling or whoever, and before my mother (who I love and respect deeply,who is my personal super hero) can finish her interrupting sentence, I will return the favor and interrupt back. A perfect example was a couple weeks ago at my birthday party. My dad started to crack a slightly political joke and before he could finish she went off on "These evil people are trying to ruin the world, ruining schools, poisoning us with corn syrup, making our kids autistic...." (she can get a lot of info out very quickly) "Hey Ma! It's still my birthday and I don't want to talk about politics."

"But they are! You should read ..."

"Nope. My birthday."

Turned out to be a really nice evening. 

TL;DR: In my experience the people most guilty of this are usually more than a little insecure and are just trying to make themselves seem important. They are not doing it to be rude.

akamcfly
akamcfly Dork
4/18/18 4:45 a.m.
Toyman01 said:
It works on dogs, cats, and kids, equally well. 

I had one cat, once, who was completely unphased by the spray bottle. He was the best worst cat ever and I miss the little guy. sad

914Driver
914Driver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/19/18 1:32 p.m.

Does he interrupt with valuable information or offers points to consider moving things forward more effectively?  Depends on your relationship ECM, he may fire you, possibly get pissed, definitely be embarrassed.  A coworker did that a lot, I just stared blankly until he was done, then you get the awkward silence; he says "Wut"?  Oh, sorry, it's impolite to interrupt someone's story so go ahead. 

He still does it.....

Smile and nod, everybody is somebody's weirdo.

Dan

thestig99
thestig99 Dork
4/21/18 9:30 a.m.

I had this problem with my previous boss, whose communication style could best be described as "mild to severe temper tantrums".

Quitting the job proved to be very effective. YMMV.

 

Stealthtercel
Stealthtercel Dork
4/21/18 4:23 p.m.

To ECM:

One useful response to have in your pocket for the next time the boss barges into your office to derail your work is "I'm sorry, Bob, I'm not smart enough to think about two things at once.  Just a sec."  Then politely shut him out (turn back to your keyboard, or whatever), get yourself reasonably quickly to a stopping point in your first task, turn back to him with a bright smile, and say, "OK, try again."

He might figure out what you're doing and why, or he might go bother somebody else if he really, really needs the instant gratification, or he might get all pouty at you and you could have a Teachable Moment.

This obviously doesn't work very well in meetings with large numbers of people, but it might be helpful in a small group, especially if everybody was briefed in advance and ready to do it too.

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