Communication in the workplace: 96% of all interruptions are committed by . . .

by on April 5, 2010 · 8 Comments POSTED IN: HR Cafe
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Excuse me. Can I finish my thought here?

I was trying to say that interruptions in business meetings are overwhelmingly committed by . . .

As I was saying . . .

Oh, never mind. Clearly your point of view is the only one that matters.

Yep, it’s the guys

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that men are more likely than women to interrupt someone in a meeting. But the numbers are truly shocking. In settings where members of both genders participate, men contribute 96% of the interruptions. That’s according to communications trainer Dianne Gardner, and it’s huge.

Half your talent isn’t heard
Gardner says these male interruptions create more than one negative result. Not only are meetings deprived of female attendees’ views, women eventually opt out of the collective process and turn to one-on-one communication. And this in turn may cause male employees to conclude women have less to contribute. And it may mean that when important decisions are being debated, managers are missing out on valuable ideas and perspectives.

These stats aren’t likely to change on their own. Managers who want to get full value from their teams will have to take proactive steps to ensure everyone’s heard. For example, they might consider these ideas:

  1. Save questions for the end. Instead of allowing people to interrupt a speaker, have them jot down their thoughts and raise them afterward.
  2. Make sure to specifically solicit the input of less assertive participants.
  3. When a speaker is interrupted, ask her (or him) to finish the thought.

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8 Comments on This Post

  1. April 5, 2010 - 11:23 pm

    Thank you for the great suggestions. I also recommend that women learn to communication more confidently. Specific suggestions include:1) Continue talking if someone tries to interrupt you. Often women quickly drop what they are saying and let the men take over the discussion. 2) Don’t wait for someone to give the discussion back to you. If you get interrupted, repeat your key point again. 3) Show right away how your points benefit the group and they will be less likely to interrupt you. Saying, “This idea will save the company $100,000”, is a lot more interesting than saying, “I’d like to give you an update on the new order processing software project…”Laura BrowneAuthor of “Raise Rules for Women: How To Make More Money at Work” and “Why Can’t You Communicate Like Me? How Smart Women Get Results At Work”

  2. April 5, 2010 - 11:23 pm

    Thank you for the great suggestions. I also recommend that women learn to communication more confidently. Specific suggestions include:1) Continue talking if someone tries to interrupt you. Often women quickly drop what they are saying and let the men take over the discussion. 2) Don’t wait for someone to give the discussion back to you. If you get interrupted, repeat your key point again. 3) Show right away how your points benefit the group and they will be less likely to interrupt you. Saying, “This idea will save the company $100,000”, is a lot more interesting than saying, “I’d like to give you an update on the new order processing software project…”Laura BrowneAuthor of “Raise Rules for Women: How To Make More Money at Work” and “Why Can’t You Communicate Like Me? How Smart Women Get Results At Work”

  3. Anonymous
    April 6, 2010 - 6:25 am

    Great article. And I fully agree. Interruptions can really impact productivity and team performance.

  4. Anonymous
    April 6, 2010 - 6:25 am

    Great article. And I fully agree. Interruptions can really impact productivity and team performance.

  5. pierrekhawand
    April 6, 2010 - 2:25 am

    Great article. And I fully agree. Interruptions can really impact productivity and team performance. The Results Curve demonstrates this clearly (see the free ebook download at the people-onthego.com site). Would love your input!

  6. pierrekhawand
    April 6, 2010 - 2:25 am

    Great article. And I fully agree. Interruptions can really impact productivity and team performance. The Results Curve demonstrates this clearly (see the free ebook download at the people-onthego.com site). Would love your input!

  7. September 24, 2010 - 11:54 am

    Study: Face-to-face communication is critical to team performance

  8. September 24, 2010 - 11:54 am

    Study: Face-to-face communication is critical to team performance

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