Beware: There are small talk criminals lurking everywhere. The coffee shop, your kids’ school, the gym, the office, the dinner party. These brazen bullies strike quickly and without warning – and they don’t care who they hurt. My ongoing series, Talk Tyrants, serves two purposes: it allows you the chance to escape the attack of THESE villainous creatures and it guarantees that YOU will never fall into a life of small talk crime. Here we go:
The Interrupter is everywhere and can use his power to yield what is commonly known as “brain freeze” – that feeling of forgetting where you were in a sentence and why, exactly, you were talking in the first place. Rest assured, you are not suffering from memory loss. Instead, The Interrupter is so focused on his or her point that your train of thought is, well, interrupted and therefore you are rendered frozen.
How to Spot The interrupter:
The Interrupter probably had a rough childhood. No, no – not rough like foraging for food or knitting mittens, but a childhood void of the ability to finish a sentence. Maybe The Interrupter comes from a large family where siblings were all vying for attention. Maybe The Interrupter simply likes the sound of his voice. It doesn’t really matter. You don’t need any real skills to spot The Interrupter; this small talk criminal will make his presence known immediately. If you are making a point that does not sit well with The Interrupter, he will jump in immediately. The Interrupter assumes he knows what you are going to say next, so instead of waiting for you to complete your thought, The Interrupter beats you to the punch. Or The Interrupter things you are incorrect or incompetent in your views and, therefore, feels justified in pointing out your flaws by stopping you in your tracks. The Interrupter typically has very little patience for others.
How to Deal with The interrupter:
Interruptions sabotage a good conversation, but changing The Interrupter’s ways in nearly impossible. You can try a soft push-back like: “Oh Jack, I will lose my train of thought if I don’t finish my sentence,” but chances are it won’t help. You can also excuse yourself, but sometimes that’s not possible. Like President Obama. So, my advice is to not BE The Interrupter. Remember there are only a few good reasons to interrupt:
- You need to exit immediately
- You cannot bear the topic of conversation
- You are with The Monopolizer who refuses to give you a break in the conversation
- Something is on fire
My father is a pediatrician and I recall him asking parents if their children were talking in complete sentences – it was one of the milestones dictated by the AMA. That said, children interrupting an adult conversation was never allowed. Now, I remind myself that everyone deserves the chance to “talk in a complete sentence” when I am anxious to interrupt someone (like my husband). Because finishing someone’s sentence for them, even if you can, is not necessarily a good thing. Or so I’ve been told. By my husband.