Women – The Next Time a Man Interrupts You in a Meeting, Do This

May 21, 2018

This is what you can do the next time you are interrupted at work.

Women, stop me if you’ve been in this situation before.

You are in the middle of sharing an idea you are really proud of in a meeting. But, before you can even finish making your point, some guy interrupts to either prematurely criticize the idea, change the topic or – worst of all – take credit for the idea himself.

It’s unfair, it’s belittling and it’s unproductive. And yet it’s something that continues to happen.

Well, we want to help. In our course Proven Success Strategies for Women at Work, we explain exactly what to do in this situation – and provide role-play examples of what you should do if you find yourself in it.

In this excerpt from our LinkedIn Learning course Women at Work, see role-play examples of what to do if someone interrupts you in a meeting.

What you should do when someone interrupts you in a meeting

There are a few strategies you should do if someone interrupts you in a meeting. They include:

    1. Interrupt the interrupter.

If someone interrupts you, it’s fair to interrupt them back.

Try this – next time someone interrupts you, say, “There are a few more essential points I need to make. I'll need a few more minutes to do that.” Or, simply, “I’m not done, let me finish.”

Also, when you interrupt the interrupter, don’t use apologetic language. If you are confident in your idea, stick with it. There’s no need to apologize.

    2. Have an ally redirect the conversation.

You don’t have to go it alone.

Say there’s a point you want to make in a meeting. Enlist an ally beforehand, so they can support you.

This way, if someone interrupts you, the ally can redirect the conversation back to your point. Plus, you can be their ally in future meetings – helping both of your voices be heard.

    3. If it’s a consistent issue, speak with the interrupter offline.

If there is someone on your team who constantly interrupts, talk to them offline. There’s a chance they aren’t even aware they are interrupting.

Or, if everyone on your team interrupts, talk with your team’s manager and ask to install a non-interruption policy. This will ultimately lead to better collaboration.

The takeaway – interruptions are a sign of a bigger problem

Interruptions are a symptom of a bigger problem, where loud voices and authority trump good ideas and collaboration. If interruptions are allowed to persist, not only does it alienate people – it also leads to worse business results.

And, while this issue affects women disproportionally, it’s hardly a women’s issue alone. Nearly everyone has had the experience where they feel like they weren’t heard.

The above steps can help you stop interruptions when they happen. But, for business leaders, interruptions are a sign of a non-inclusive culture – and need to be addressed.

Looking to learn more? Watch our full course, Proven Success Strategies for Women at Work.

Other LinkedIn Learning courses you might be interested in are: