Is It Ever OK to Interrupt Someone?

Generally, it is rude to interrupt my husband, my boss, a customer, or even my children (in certain situations). Interrupting others can be a form of disrespect, a way of saying my voice is more important than theirs.

Unfortunately, our culture is one of constant interruptions where people speak over each other all the time. In fact, sometimes it so normal, we don’t even realize we are doing it.

Ideally, I want to try not to interrupt people at all. And I want to teach my children not to interrupt. 

However, there are times when it can be necessary to politely interrupt the speaker in a conversation and speak up.

13 Situations Where I May Need to Interrupt

  1. If there is an emergency.
  2. Because I will be late if I don’t leave.
  3. Because I am very pressed for time.
  4. If we are talking by video conference call or phone and there are technical problems and I can’t hear them.
  5. If someone is trying to speak to me from across the house and I can’t hear.
  6. If I am confused about what the other person is saying and don’t want to misunderstand.
  7. If I see a significant issue going on that others don’t notice and it needs to be addressed.
  8. If the other person is gossiping about someone else.
  9. If the other person goes on and on (ie: for thirty minutes or longer) not giving anyone else a chance to speak.
  10. If someone is going on and on degrading himself, is verbally beating herself up, or talking about wanting to harm himself, etc…
  11. If I absolutely know the person is lying.
  12. If the other person is speaking abusively to me.
  13. If another man is flirting with me.

Some people talk slowly and take long pauses between their sentences. It can be tricky to know when they finish speaking. If your husband does this, consider waiting a bit and then saying, “Honey, I’d like to share something… were you finished?” 

If I must interrupt, I want to try to do so as politely and respectfully as possible. And I want to keep my interruption very brief.

If I Must Interrupt…

  1. I could clear my throat first and when the speaker pauses, I could quickly and respectfully interject what I need to say.
  2. I could hold up my hand to get the person’s attention and then say what I need to say, “I’m so sorry, but I am about to be late, I’ll need to continue this conversation another time.” “I apologize, but I just received a message about an emergency.” “This sounds like it is gossip, I’d rather not hear this, please.” “Jan isn’t here to share her side of the story, I’d rather we wait to discuss this until we can include her in the conversation.”
  3. With gossip, I could also just quickly jump in when a speaker pauses to take a breath and try to change the subject.
  4. I could wait for the speaker to take a breath and then politely, say, “I’d like to share something, please,” “If it’s alright, I’d like to address what you just said, please,” or “Excuse me, may I please interrupt?”
  5. With someone who is emotionally distraught and verbally flogging himself, I might say, “Excuse me, but the way you are talking to yourself is not healthy. Would you please allow me to share a different perspective here that may be more life-giving?”
  6. If someone is lying, I may want to let them finish everything they want to say, or I may need to say, “I’d like to stop you there, please. I am aware of what actually happened and I would appreciate it if you would tell me the truth.”
  7. If someone is cussing me out or verbally abusing me, I may need to say, “It’s not okay for you to speak to me like this. I would be glad to have a respectful conversation with you, but I will leave if you continue to verbally abuse me.”

Ultimately, I want to rely on the Holy Spirit to help me discern when to politely listen and wait, and when I may need to respectfully interrupt someone.

The No Interruption Challenge

I’d like to invite you to join me for a 4-day challenge.

  1. Pay attention to how often people around you interrupt each other.
  2. Try to not interrupt anyone at all, but especially seek to avoid interrupting your husband. 
  3. If you have an important reason to interrupt, attempt to do so respectfully, perhaps using some of the suggestions above.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful 1 Cor. 13:4-5

1 Cor. 13:4-5

Share

Can you think of other times when interrupting someone may be necessary?

What do you think is the hardest thing about not interrupting other people?

Have you learned any godly wisdom about how to handle this issue that may be a blessing to other ladies?

Related

A 3 Week Fast from Negative Words

What Is the Difference Between Complaining and Informing?

What Is Respect in Marriage?

What Is Disrespect in Marriage?

The Peaceful Wife book – all the baby steps for learning to treat our husbands with honor, respect, and a cooperative spirit without being a doormat.

5 thoughts to “Is It Ever OK to Interrupt Someone?”

  1. Interesting timing on this post, given the Tuesday night Presidential debate!

    I’m often challenged and reminded about interruptions with my interactions with children. They are always vying for attention and use volume or interruption to get it. I believe it’s the same with adults, just we discipline ourselves to control it.

    However, interruption works to get people to focus on us more than than anything else. So controlling this is an exercise of humility and respect.

    Great post!

    1. MinTheGap,

      It seemed like a good time for a refresher on the topic. Yep.

      Yes, this is about self-control, good manners, patience, humility, and respecting others.

      It’s not pretty when we interrupt and talk over each other.

  2. Very helpful post. I get interrupted inappropriately a lot. I don’t like it. I don’t want to do this to others. Have you written on the topic of how to handle it when people regularly interrupt you inappropriately? I want to learn to be a better listener generally.

      1. grandmabethblog,

        When I was a retail pharmacist, patients interrupted our work all the time. Of course, if I stopped in the middle of entering a prescription or counting, it would end up taking much longer or I may make more mistakes. So I would usually try to look up and smile and cheerfully say, “Hey! I’ll be with you in just a second.”

        With my kids, if they interrupt me and their dad when we are talking about something important, I’ll try to say (with a smile and a friendly voice), “Hey, Honey. I want to hear what you want to tell me but I need to finish talking with Dad first.”

        If they interrupt me when I am working and I need to finish what I am doing, I may say, “I want to hear what you have to say and be able to give you all of my attention. I need to finish this. Please give me 5 minutes then I can listen.”

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