Do You Interrupt People or Finish Their Senten…’I Do’

Closeup portrait of young female covering her mouth with both haInterrupting and finishing other people’s sentences is something that many busy people do, ahhem… like myself, and it’s certainly a bad habit worth changing.

Let’s be honest peeps.  Women like multitasking and men like quick results. Neither preference is conducive to dealing with long winded conversations with grace and patience.

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I’m the typical multitasking mom.  I walk into rooms with no clue why I’m there.  I forget to switch laundry and have to rerun it…  I can barely remember my last thought, as I have already moved on to 7 others. (Something about laundry, right? Sadly they often are.  What? There’s a lot of laundry.)

When I talk to people, I find myself wanting the pace of the conversation to fit into my packed schedule.  Well, that or I have something to add that is much funnier than what they’re saying and I just can’t wait to say it.

If you’re trying to explain your feelings on a subject and I already get where you’re going, I may ever so “politely” hurry you along by either responding before you’re done or telling you “I get it,” while you’re still speaking. If you’re truly lucky, I may help you get your thought across by finishing your sentence for you. I know, no thanks necessary.

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So, I recently read an article that discussed the side effects of such lovely behaviors. Not only is it rude (who knew?), but it actually makes the speaker unconsciously feel rushed, nervous, and annoyed; both your pulses speed up, which can cause irritability and a defensive tone to erupt.

That would totally explain the wrestling match I got into with homeless man in the street. What? The light was about to turn, I had to help him along so I could hand him my 26 cents.

What again? I don’t keep a lot of change in my car.

Sheesh, you people are real sticklers huh?

I’m sorry, was I putting words in your mouth again. Well, I’m clearly working on it!  SO, BACK OFF!

Moving on, the fix for this embarrassing habit is simple: Be Aware; Be in the conversation on your own end, and allow people to finish their thoughts before chiming in. Make a point to remind yourself of this before going to a meeting, picking up the phone, or having lunch with a friend.

*Make a real effort not to interrupt even if you’re two paragraphs into the next conversation, unless of course, they are boring the crap out of you. There’s just no excuse for that.

Technically, being incredibly boring and wasting someones time with inane mumblings should be considered rude as well, no?  In some tribes it’s punishable by death.  Death by boredom!

Oh, the irony.

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32 thoughts on “Do You Interrupt People or Finish Their Senten…’I Do’

  1. Alison

    Jenny—Once again you have me ROFLMAO!!!!! I have a client with this same habit, so I try and always keep my conversations with her to a minimum, as I find this habit utterly annoying! But as long they she keeps mailing the checks, I will continue to enable this awful habit! Be well, and you are right about one thing, your stories/endings/additions are funnier than what most people are saying anyway, so interrupt away…who gives a s**t about their lives anyway!!!!

  2. Mark Kalan

    “but it actually makes the speaker unconsciously feel rushed, nervous, and annoyed; both your pulses speed up, which can cause irritability and a defensive tone to erupt”
    -The reason that the Fixed News reporter kept interrupting the president in the interview broadcast yesterday. No matter what side of politics you’re on – there’s no excuse for being rude and the President deserves the respect of the office. It’s congress and out local governments that don’t deserve any respect.

  3. cherie

    I know what you are talking about, I find I lose interest very quickly if the story or point is proglonged or dragged out. So my advice is shorten your thoughts…that’s why they invented shorthand. Lol, Another great subject that you can turn into humorous explanations.

  4. Bari

    I constantly interrupt others and finish their thoughts, but only because a. I am exceptionally intuitive and b. what I have to say is far more important. Is anyone listening? Anyone?

    1. Jenny from the blog Post author

      I think it’s clear to Cherie, Bari, Carol and many others of us, that what we have to say is just more important, or we can’t help ourselves and so, I will continue to try and break this habit, but not that hard.

    2. B

      Holy Cow! I was reading about why some people constantly interrupt others, in relation to a specific person named Barry, who also says he is “intuitive”. Kinda freaked me out to find this blog. Stop interrupting it is getting obnoxious, making me anxious, annoyed and other wise wanting to run the other way.

  5. crazy coupon carol

    I totally do this!!! But the reason I do it is not really because what I have to say is any better – it’s really because i have impulse control problems. (I’m bipolar) well that and I do tend to talk to people who drag their comments out like seriously FAR FAR FAR too long. 😉

  6. Barry

    I don’t mind being interupted. I’m uninteruptable ( is that a word )? Forget I asked, I don’t want to be interupted!! I don’t stop talking, even if someone has tried to finish my thought. I change my thought in order to make that person feel rude, dumb or both. Ive found i’m pretty much guaranteed a receptive, interested and polite audience if I talk to myself. If my conversation with me becomes boring, I end the conversation by walking away.

  7. Michelle

    I hate when people do this, though I totally do it myself. But, when I do it it’s okay, because I’m in a rush and you’re boring me:)

  8. Linda

    Thank god I found your article!! I do the same thing!! But I didn’t look it at it from the point of view where in fact I m so busy needing to get to the next point that I interrupt in order to speed up the though of the other person and to get trough the conversation so I can finish whatever else I need to do next….BUT its still a bad habit!!! and that habit should be used only when necessary and PLEASE do not try to use it at home, at home what you should do the most is to listen and understand ( spouse, children, parents etc…)

  9. Michele McGraw

    I do that all the time. I’ve been trying to stop it, but it’s a horrible habit to break. I just have way too many things going on and I can’t wait for them to take their sweet slow time. 😀

  10. Mike

    Sometimes if the person is saying a sentence, and then seems to stall, looking for a word related to the topic being discussed, I will interrupt with the word, and then the other person will repeat the word and continue on with the thought… is this wrong for me to do? I’d really like to know, because I sometimes get the feeling that they’re actually stuck, so instinctively I want to help out, but am I doing more harm than good?

  11. k8

    “but it actually makes the speaker unconsciously feel rushed, nervous, and annoyed; both your pulses speed up, which can cause irritability and a defensive tone to erupt”

    Actually it makes you feel completely disrespected and lets your audience (cause that`s all we are to you ppl that chronically do this) know that you don`t really want to know who we are and what we believe in. I give you one chance to stop this crap during a conversation and then I completely shut down and let you make an ass of yourself. You usually think you know where I`m going with the conversation, and you are wrong 99% of the time. So I let you yammer on and continue to interrupt me with your “oh-so-superior“ insights and when you finally say something like `do you know what I mean`or `don`t you think so` trying to get me to wrap up the conversation by letting you know we`re on the same page but you just summed it up first (cause you`re just so smart and fast!) that`s when I drop it on you. No, I say, actually my point was this and I sum it up and listen to you stupidly say “oh…..“ and then I hang up the phone or walk away, suddenly I`m the one that doesn`t have time for you–you`re just too stupid to converse with after all. And some of us don`t let you know that that`s what we`ve done…we`re just silently mocking you instead.

    It`s quite fun sometimes!!
    It`s a good screening tool too.

  12. Earful

    Well here’s a kicker: Not only does she interrupt CONSTANTLY, but if you try and regain control of the conversation, she’ll interrupt LOUDER! So she can overtalk you in every sense of the word.

    How does one handle that? Apparently me stopping dead in the middle of a sentence and closing my eyes and then repeating what I said after she’s done … isn’t getting it.

  13. Louise

    I had to look this topic up this morning because I met someone in person for the first time after a long and friendly internet correspondence, and she interrupted me to finish all of my sentences, jumping in to guess what I’m going to say and I never got to the end of any sentence, suffering multiple interruptions. I was flabbergasted. In between my attempts to actually express myself (and failing more than half the time) she went on long, completely rambling speeches that went from one topic to another and mentioning people I didn’t know and their mothers-in-law and cousins and then jumping back a topic to something else that was said an hour earlier. I was looking forward to meeting up with this person, who has done me some significant favors in terms of advice and support remotely, and finally had to cut the evening short and go home… I couldn’t take it anymore. This person was like Earful – the more I tried to actually say what I was trying to say, the louder she got. I finally had to surrender and fell silent. I don’t know how anyone can endure this woman – it is completely intolerable.

  14. Ash

    I’m afraid I do the “finish your sentence” thing too, though I never realized it until it was pointed out to me recently. (I am one of those always-in-a-hurry -to-do-the-next task kind of people, so maybe that’s why. Or maybe I was raised by wolves.) I know it’s obnoxious, but it’s a really hard habit to stop. Most of the time I don’t even know I’m doing it until after I’ve done already it. I’m trying to learn to be mindful of it, though.

    1. June

      I think wolves let each other communicate much better than you, by the sounds of it. Maybe your mind is too active. Try meditation, tai chi, yoga, anything that’ll help your mind be able to focus. It worked for an exboyfriend who had anxiety and was annoying.

  15. Joyce

    I’m working very hard to overcome my interrupting-other-people habit. But I do it because I used to be painfully shy, and I interrupt when I’m afraid the conversation might lag–I’m afraid that silence means I didn’t keep up my end of the conversation.

    1. Bilal

      Very well said, i do it for the same reasons. More because I feel that they could use the help, or that they may appreciate it. And i’ll be honest most times i feel they actually do appreciate it. Only when you’re in front of someone who may take it the wrong way could it be completely disastrous.

  16. Dee

    I have a friend who calls me ‘daily’… She’s married & doesn’t work & I am a ‘single’ retired woman.. We’ve been friends for many years, however, now that I am retired, her calls are ‘daily’, after he husband leaves for work.. When I was working, every day off she’d call me.. Truthfully I don’t have that much of a change from day to day, however, I’ve come to the conclusion that this ‘daily call’ is something I don’t need. She’s continually talking and if I say anything to contribute to the conversation, she’s interrupting me and never lets me finish a sentence or she’s ‘second guessing’ what the end of my story will be.. I have told her on numerous occasions that she’s interrupted me, or to ‘let me finish what I was saying’ but it doesn’t SINK IN…To me, it seems like people who ‘interrupt’ all the time are those that are so AFRAID they won’t be listened to, they have to interrupt so you’ll HEAR THEM… Now, I’m teaching her the ‘computer’ and various new ‘technology’, and there again, I tell her to ‘be quiet and listen’..but I just think her attention span is too short…It’s frustrating and mind boggling that people continue to interrupt you when you’ve told them that they do it all the time… If I’m talking with her husband, it’s continual interruptions, she’s asking him questions and not even contributing to the conversation…or even listening at all to LEARN… I will attempt a few more times to bring this ‘bad habit’ to her attention, but if that doesn’t work, I’ll just ‘hang up’ and talk to her another time…MAYBE… Even when we go for lunch, and we’re across the table from each other, it’s a continual battle to finish a sentence…or if I’m talking to the waitress, she interrupts… Perhaps it’s insecurity or A.D.D… but whatever it is, it’s FRUSTRATING!!

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  18. BRAD

    Does anybody think there is a medical condition to support this behavior??? A girl in my office does it, and I am her boss (but I can’t fire her) and her work is good I guess, but she tries to finish every sentence, usually guessing or sometimes even repeating what I am saying like my 4 year old does to music to pretend she knows the words. I am CONVINCED it is a medical nervous condition and NOT just a rude thing she does. She does it to everybody else too. I have a strong desire to diagnose her so I can feel better about it. Oh she is a “whacka whacka” so it is okay.

    1. Deanna

      I def suffer from this.. It comes out at my place of work, yet my boss loves me and I do produce good work.. I must not be that bad if only a close friend has pointed it out and one other person. I am very aware I do it , but I have to say.. It is not to hurt the other person if it is a friendly conversation to me/us who have this issue…..It is without a doubt an impulse control thing.. We do not mean harm, at least speaking for myself.. I tend to feel at times when I conciously make an effort not to interrupt, my friend will say “well what do u think?” Almost in a nervous way to say hello! You’re not talking.. So we get mixed signals sometimes.. Also when I tend to let others talk, I am very disturbed at the gibberish that comes out of their mouth, finding it amusing, mostly untrue and/or highly offensive what they are saying, which validates my reason for interrupting them.. Also it stops the other person from embarrassing themselves.* I will work on this around ones I care for ,but as for the rest spitting highly offensive/false gibberish out of their mouth, I will continue to interupt them then come here to read about how people like me/ other people who do it offended them…. It is a battle of Ego’s is what it is…. I have actually dealt with people who di this to me, (even though I am guilty as well) and it is not offensive to me.. Things only bother you, if you let them*…. Everyone should learn to control their situation better.. People like myself who talk to much and the others here letting the person who talks too much, get to them.***

  19. Sara

    Love this blog! I just realized how much I do this and I am REALLY trying to stop. I never realized just how rude I was being by doing this. :/ I guess the first step is admitting you have a problem.

  20. Diana

    Yep. I do it all the time and now that I know it’s rude, I am going to try my utmost to be patient and silent until the speaker has completed what they have to say. I know this habit annoys my husband, who is a rambler and a mumbler, and I now understand why he avoids discussions with me. The comments made here have been a revelation to me.

  21. Donna

    That post made me laugh so much,I am exactly the same, why can’t other people just hurry up. I only interupt certain people I have some freinds who like me can talk and talk and we are fine, but the slow thoughtful types just get mown down! I really need to stop doing this though, it must be awful to be on the receiving end of it.
    Donna recently posted…The Not So Relaxed WeekMy Profile

  22. Me

    Barry wrote: “I don’t mind being interrupted. I’m uninterruptable ( is that a word )? Forget I asked, I don’t want to be interrupted!! I don’t stop talking, even if someone has tried to finish my thought. I change my thought in order to make that person feel rude, dumb or both.”

    The last time I interrupted someone, the response he gave not only made me stop interrupting, but I use it now!

    Like Barry said, he didn’t quit talking because I interrupted him. When he was finished he asked me “What did you say? I didn’t hear you because I was talking.”

    GREAT response!

  23. jme

    I do this and I know its rude but its definitely a compulsion. I have joined a waiting list to do a conversational course in an effort to stop. I think its a really selfish compulsion, like saying, “anyway your opinion isn’t valid let’s talk about what I think” when in fact I do appreciate others points of view, or I wouldn’t be talking to them. I think I may suffer from extrovert’s’ social awkwardbess! I hope I can stop.

  24. James

    I find it really annoying and belittling when someone finishes my sentences for, or tries to predict what I’m going to say. Young females are notorious for this, and it’s a type of “i got your figured out and I can control you” behavior to me: definite sign of a control freak. Just like chess, if you know your exponents next move because you got them figured out, you have more control over them and have a better chance at winning. We had a waitress that did this when ordering food. She would ask what salad dressing you want on your salad, and as soon as I or someone else was about to mutter a word, she spoke right over us. I said to myself, how does this person even know me or know what I’m about to say in a matter of knowing me for only a few minutes. Probably paying attention to details of my lips, jaw… right before I say the word. I got up and just left because I was there to enjoy my dinner, not to be told what I like and don’t like, let alone what I was thinking. To me, this is sociopathic type behavior because serial killers are known to do this to profile their victims. Like I said, the majority of young women are like this. I rarely find this behavior in men. So keep your mouth shut, and let the other person finish what they’re about to say.
    This especially goes for chatting with the elderly. There brains don’t function like when they were 20 year old, and are slow. That’s fine though, that’s comfortable for them. If you don’t like, don’t engage in a conversation then in the first place unless you’re willing to except this. Remember, you’re not going to young forever, and someday (if you live that long) will be in the same shoes. Young people tend not to think about this. The empty can rattles the most and wise people listen more. A few ways to retaliate at those who do this to you, is speak in another language (if you can that they don’t know) or talk about a very advanced topic that you’re fluent in (like differential equations or maxwells electromagnetic field equations) where most people don’t have a clue, and watch the tables turn then.


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