How to Interrupt People (and Not Look Like A Total Jerk)
Have you ever been in a meeting where someone just keeps talking on and on about a topic that has nothing to do with the purpose of what the meeting really is about?
Have you ever had to listen to a customer (or maybe a friend) who kept talking in circles about some issue, and it seemed like they would never stop venting?
Today I want to share with you a tip for how you can interrupt them and still preserve the relationship.
No, I’m not going to tell you to look them square in the eyes and shout “stop saying words” – that’s not going to preserve the relationship (though the results might be entertaining).
So how can you stop an endless venting cycle or get a conversation back on track?
Try this:“Just a moment, I want to make sure I understood what you said…” “Correct me if I’m wrong, but what you’re saying is…”
And then just repeat back to them, in their own words, what you’ve heard them say.
This will short-circuit a potential endless cycle of venting, reduce the escalation of frustration, and at the same time, demonstrate a really powerful fact: you’ll prove to them that you really have been listening, and that you understand what it is that they’re concerned about.
I first learned this technique while reading the book Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion. I would go as far as to say that Verbal Judo is a must have book for anyone who deals with conflict or high stress situations when communication is important.