Stop Getting Interrupted - How to Stand Up for Yourself in English

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In this lesson learn the strategies that will help you to stop getting interrupted. Interruptions are not bad, but if they keep happening, you need to learn how to stand up for yourself in English. I encourage you to think of interruptions as overlapping speech so that you can look at it as a type of collaboration.

Most people do not like getting interrupted.

This is particularly true if you come from a culture where interruptions are anathema, meaning 

abhorrent or offensive. 

In some parts of the US, interruptions are common. It’s common for people to interrupt one another as well as be interrupted themselves. And in this context, it’s not considered rude. This is what conversation analysts call overlapping speech. Overlapping speech is a form of interruption, but it’s seen as more collaborative and friendly.

If you spend any time in New York City, you’ll find people talk fast and interrupt often. So in the context of New York City, overlapping speech happens quite often. Just a head’s up.

It’s alright to be interrupted but if it gets to the point where it’s constantly happening then it might get a little frustrating. 

So today I’m teaching you phrases so that if you are being interrupted and you’re not okay with that you’ll know how to avoid getting interrupted.  

Let’s get right to it.

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With the following phrases, delivery is everything. You can be assertive without being rude. We never want to be rude, but we do want to stand up for ourselves. 

So if you say the phrases in a firm but softer tone, put a slight smile on your face, and adopt non-aggressive body language then these phrases will not come off as offensive. However, if you use a combative tone, have no smile, and use aggressive body language, then the following phrases could come off as rude. So, please be mindful of how you are saying them.  

Alright let’s have a look at the phrases.

  • I wasn’t quite finished yet.
  • Sorry but you cut me off.
  • I was still talking.
  • I’m not done yet, would you let me finish?
  • I’m actually not finished yet, would you let me continue what I was saying?
  • I didn’t finish my thought when you interrupted.
  • Mind if I continue?
  • Now I lost my train of thought!
  • Do you mind if I finish before cutting in? I was in the middle of my thought.
  • Before you jump in, may I finish what I was saying? Thank you.

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Again, with all these phrases delivery is everything. 

Please pay attention to how you are saying them.

There’s a fine line between aggressive and assertive. 

We never want to be aggressive in our communication, but we do want to be confident and assertive.

Practice saying these phrases in front of the mirror so you can check your facial expressions, body language, and posture. Adopt a relaxed body stance, use openly outward hand gestures showing inclusivity, and have a slight smile on your face.

Then I’d highly recommend recording yourself so that you can hear the tone of your voice. Use soft tones that are pleasant to the ear. Use falling intonation instead of a rising intonation, because you want to sound confident. 

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Remember that when you get interrupted, it’s generally not out of malice. The interrupter is not trying to be rude. Most of the time the interruption is really an overlap of speech, meaning they want to contribute to the conversation, elaborate and expand on what you’re saying. It tends to be collaborative.

That being said, if you haven’t finished your thought or you feel like you’re being interrupted too much then stand up for yourself. And now you have the phrases to do that.

So practice these phrases and you’ll know what to do the next time you’re interrupted and want to complete your thoughts. 

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So that’s it for today. I hope you found this lesson helpful. Share with me what your favorite phrase is. Do you have experience with being interrupted? What have you done in that case? I’ll see you in the next lesson where we'll continue advancing your English. Until then, keep up the awesome work. Bye for now!