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4 steps for handling a 'buttinski' boss

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in Your Office Coach

Question: “Our department has regular update meetings where all team members review their projects. When I’m presenting, my manager continually interrupts to add background information. I believe that I should be the one to provide any additional information about my work. How do I handle these annoying interruptions without offending my boss?” — Frustrated Speaker

Marie's Answer: First, you must try to figure out why your boss keeps butting in. Understanding his motives will help you determine the best way to respond. Here are four steps you can take:

1.    If your boss interrupts everyone, then that’s his natural communication pattern. Some managers like to actively participate in every discussion. In that case, just accept his talkative nature, and try not to view his interjections as a personal affront.   

2.    If you are the only target, then the two of you may simply have different speaking styles.  Concise speakers try to include only pertinent points, while comprehensive speakers strive to convey the complete picture. 

3.    Before your next presentation, ask your boss for some feedback. See if he would like you to provide more detail or depth on certain topics. If you can agree on what should be covered, he might have less to add.

4.    Finally, try giving an overview at the beginning of your talk. For example: “Today I plan to review the project schedule, the marketing plan, and factors that could cause delays.” If your manager knows what’s coming, he may resist the urge to jump the gun. 

For some Office Coach suggestions on meeting management, see How to Lead a Productive Meeting.

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