Please Interrupt Yourself
You know that interrupting someone when they are speaking is really rude. If you have children you have probably worked very hard to teach them to say “Excuse me”, before they break into conversations. What about interrupting you? I wish you would.
Be honest, every once in a while you have a strong and immediate reaction to a person or a situation. It could be something they do or it could be something they say. In the best case scenario, it causes you to burst out laughing. (Work with me here, I am assuming laughter is the appropriate response.) But in the worst case scenario you might say or do something you regret. You might yell, say something truly ugly or stomp off slamming the door behind you. I get it, you were overcome with emotion. Most people will give you a free pass on one or two outbursts. Beyond that you are really damaging your reputation. You are at risk of becoming categorized as difficult, unable to handle conflict and unprofessional.
You don’t want to have outbursts. You know everyone around you does not have outbursts. Are they all just over-analytical, unemotional, unfeeling people? Not likely. You might be more emotional than others, but you can still learn to control your own outbursts. You can learn to interrupt yourself.
Pay attention to what happens right before you begin your outburst. In poker it is said that people have tells; signs that indicate when they are bluffing. You have signs that indicate an outburst is on the way. You might feel warm or your stomach turns flip flops or your hands start to clench. Do you grit your teeth? Does your head start feeling like it is going to explode? Pay attention.
When you know what you feel like just before an outburst, you can practice interrupting yourself. You do not have to immediately respond to every action taken or every comment made by others. You do have a choice. If you are really upset, it can take about 90 seconds for you to gain immediate control of yourself. Take the 90 seconds, it is well worth it.
Interrupting yourself means you do not allow yourself to speak until you feel confident that you can respond calmly and professionally. It means you do not allow yourself to get up and stomp out. It means you understand that you are having an emotional reaction and you take time to come to grips with your emotions, then you respond. If you feel uncomfortable knowing that others are waiting for your response, learn to calmly and quietly say, “I just need a minute to reply” or “I heard you and I am thinking I am not ignoring you.” The fact is people probably will not remember that you took your time to reply to them, but they will definitely remember if you reply inappropriately.
Sometimes interrupting yourself is good manners.
Posted: February 28th, 2011 under Job Performance, Leadership, Professional development.
Tags: damage your reputation, emotions, immediate reaction, interrupt yourself, interrupting yourself, outbursts