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I have a tendency of talking over my family and interrupting during conversations. It's a bad habit and then I break the other person's concentration and often miss out on what they're going to say.

The more serious the conversation the more likely I am to do it. I feel the need to teach them and ideas come into my head and I feel the need to say them.

It's a shame, I think I've missed out on being more supportive of my family and I feel I'm a bit arrogant to be doing this.

Rather than thinking about what I'm going to say; what exercises or practices can I do to help stop me from interrupting and to focus on the other person?

Related to How can I learn to be a good active listener?

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    Not related as context is different, but a link I grabbed some useful information from is at the bottom of the answer, hopefully, it'll give you some clues Stop Finishing Other People's Sentences. – OldPadawan Aug 4 '17 at 6:16
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    I do this, and for me it is a control mechanism for having the safety of knowing where the conversation is going (the way I can control). If you are a controlling kind of person (I wonder because you say "I feel the need to..."), you might consider some professional guidance (perhaps therapy) rather than just deal with the symptoms. – user3169 Aug 24 '17 at 5:57
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There is someone very close to me who does this - like you, she is aware of it and realises that it's not good, but can't really help it. We have just come to an agreement that when she does interrupt me I gently stop her and tell her, "Hey, you just interrupted me." Usually she will apologise and let me finish after that, and the conversation goes on as normal.

Initially it was a bit awkward - we both got a bit frustrated and irritated by it, which is pretty normal really: overall the whole situation is a bit belittling and embarrassing. I don't want to feel like I was telling her off, and she didn't really like being told that she'd done something wrong; both pretty normal human reactions. But over time it's just become a thing that we do. I've come to terms with the fact that when she gets excited she may try and interrupt me, and she accepts that my opinion is important and if I cut her off because she interrupted me then it's justified.

Basically, if you adopt this practice and are all capable of being adults about the situation, it should be fine, barring some teething issues as you get used to it. It becomes more difficult when we're with friends or acquaintances and she interrupts me then: usually I won't say anything because anyone who doesn't understand the situation may thing that I'm overbearing or rude, and we have yet to find a workaround for that. But with family, if you're all on the same page, I would assume that it's something you can work together on.

NB: I don't wish to post this answer as a solution instead of any others, but more suitably in conjunction with them. However, while I agree that there are many things you can do alone to solve the problem, the best way to tackle a problem is together, with the help of people you are close to.

6

If you are already set to correct your behavior, it might be best to ask them to remind you when you interrupt them. I noticed that I control myself better if I do these two things:

  1. Responding by nodding or "hm" or "uh-huh" occasionally, especially when they just finished a point.

  2. This might not be for everyone, but during a serious conversation, I tend to cover my mouth "thinker" style (I don't know how to phrase it better, sorry). At least I need to interrupt my position if I need to speak, giving me time to realize I'm about to speak (in this case, about to interrupt).

4

Every time you want to talk, take a slow deep breath while (5 seconds). This will allow the other person to continue with their train of thought.

Another option is the Speaking Wand. During the early phase of retraining yourself, only the person holding the wand is allowed to speak. This tool is used in negotiations between parties that want to shout over each other.

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    Welcome! I think you have an error you say "while..." while what? How does a wand or breathing deeply help someone focus on the other person? Please expand your answer to explain these points! – Catija Aug 24 '17 at 3:26
  • Speaking Wand - this is 'the conch' from the book "Lord of the Flies" - whoever has the object gets to speak but must pass it on. – JBRWilkinson Aug 24 '17 at 9:34
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I have struggled with this myself and wanted to provide what has assisted me in breaking this habit, especially since this is the kind of topic that could have many answers depending on the individual.

Whenever I feel the need to interrupt, I cross my fingers to remember that I have something to say. Since my friends are aware of this, having having this "small" physical action I perform has given me several benefits:

  • Reminds you that you had something to say once the speaker is done
  • Raises awareness in the speaker that something they said gave you a thought (so maybe they can help you remind you what they were talking about if you forget by the time they're finished)
  • Allows the speaker to acknowledge you have something to say (my friends have even went as far as to halt their stories and ask me if I want to quickly interject with my thoughts)

All in all, sometimes habits like this are hard to break. When you do stumble, I'd recommend just throwing in a

"Anyway, sorry for interrupting - please continue."

as this lets the original speaker know that you do care about their thoughts and stories, and you didn't mean to take away from that.

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