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Interrupt the pecking order

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in Office Management

Q. I’m tired of people who interrupt me constantly, especially the top brass who can get away with it because they’re higher in the pecking order. They don’t seem to get it: When they cut me off, they wind up drawing the wrong conclusion from what I’m saying. That wastes my time and theirs. What can I do?

A. You need to preface your remarks with a preview of ideas. That means, insert a sentence that alerts them to what you’re about to say. Examples: “Let me propose three solutions,” or “There’s a twofold answer to your question.” If you’re interrupted before you cover all your points, you can remind the person that you’re not done. Another tactic: When interrupted, respond in an earnest, nonthreatening tone: “If you can let me finish, this is an important point that’ll clarify your concern.” Resist the urge to speak faster to get more in before you anticipate being cut off. If you get into the habit of speeding up, you may say something you regret later. And you may string your words together and sound flustered and confused.

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