Stop people talking over you

Do people talk over you at meetings or in important situations? Regain your voice and be heard!

Being talked over is annoying and frustrating. People do it for different reasons. Some people care so much about the topic under discussion that they forget to wait for your input. Others are just egocentric. You need to recognise the difference. People who are enthusiastic will only talk over you occasionally. Those who are egocentric will make it a habit. They are insecure – being the centre of attention compensates for their own inadequacies.

If you frequently find that others talk over you, your own communication style might be contributing to the problem. You might be using a passive style of speaking. In other words, you might be speaking hesitantly, quietly or in manner which communicates self-doubt. In this case, you need to learn how to speak up assertively. Here are my top tips for getting a word into the conversation when others speak over you.

Signal your intent to speak

Make a verbal request by saying “May I interject?” or “Can I say something here?” Or raise your hand to communicate that you want to talk. Catch the eye of the most influential person in the room before you do this. Once they’re listening, everyone else will do the same.

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Use assertive body language

Eye contact is an important component of assertive body language. Make sure you look at everyone as you speak. It also helps to turn your body towards the people you want to hear your message. Keep your arms unfolded, so that you look confident and competent.

Be consistent

Just because someone interrupts, doesn’t mean you have to condone their behaviour. Hold up your hand and calmly say “I’d like to finish what I was saying.” Recap the points you’ve already made and then complete your message. Once you’ve done this two or three times, people will stop interrupting you.

Follow up serial offenders

If someone keeps interrupting you, talk to them privately. Explain the impact of their behaviour and request that they stop. Keep your message empathic by recognising their desire to talk. For example, say “I know you’re eager to contribute to the meeting. So am I. And I find it distracting to be interrupted like I was today. So I’m asking you to hold off making your contribution until I finish making mine.”

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