By Paola Pascual & Simon Kennell on Aug 12, 2021 6:49:01 AM
Interrupting is an uncomfortable thing to do for many people, especially when they are not communicating in their native language. There are different cultural aspects that play a role in the whole interruption game, and interrupting is more appropriate in some countries than in others. In this article, though, you will find some easy-to-apply tips to interrupt in business meetings and stay polite in an international context.
How to get the meeting back on track
You know when someone brings up a different topic and the meeting just goes off on a tangent? While the person might be saying something interesting, you probably need to get the conversation back on track. Otherwise, you won't cover the points on the agenda and you will need to schedule –yet another!– meeting. So here are some useful tips:
#1 Use their first name
When you want to interrupt someone in a business meeting, use their first name. It grabs the attention, and it shows that you're focusing on what they're saying.
#2 Use polite phrases
Use one of the following phrases to interrupt politely:
- Do you mind if I just jump in really quick?
- I don’t mean to interrupt, but…
- May I interrupt briefly?
- Can I just add my two cents?
- Can I quickly share an idea that just popped in?
- Can I just add something here?
#3 Acknowledge the person you interrupted
Thank the person for the information and interest and ask to move the discussion to another meeting.
- Can we save this for another meeting? Just because we have these other aspects to cover today.
- I think this is a great topic that we need to discuss. But for today, do you mind if we jump into the other points, just so we can get through those?
How to steer the conversation away from a dominating person
Our second situation is about stopping someone from dominating the conversation and allow other people to get involved.
#1 Jump on the conversation
- Hey, Paola, I just want to add on something here...
- Can I just add (something)?
- May I add...?
- If it’s OK, I’d like to add…
#2 Summarize their idea or add something to it
- In a way, what Itay was saying is...
- Hey Max, I just want to add on to that example that you had about the marketing situation...
- I really appreciate your idea about….I think it could be a huge opportunity going forward.
#3 Involve another person
- Yeah, I completely agree with that. And I definitely think that's the direction we should be heading. I would really be curious to know what this person has to say about it.
- I would be interested to hear what Suzy thinks...
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Interrupting A Meeting - Transcript Episode 20
If you are learning English, including new English words and expressions will help you with effective communication. Remember to check out our other episodes on how to make small talk, how to deliver engaging presentations, how to speak English fluently, and many more: visit the podcast website. You will also find plenty of idioms (success idioms, negotiation idioms, money idioms) in there! Listen to it on your favorite platform:
Welcome to Talaera Talks, the business English communication podcast for non-native professionals. My name is Paola and I am co-hosting this show with Simon. In this podcast, we're going to be covering communication advice and tips to help express yourself with confidence in English in professional settings. So we hope you enjoy the show!
Welcome back for another Talaera Bit. My name is Simon. And I hope wherever you are, you're having a great day. To start this episode, it's gonna be a short episode, as it's a Talaera Bit, I just have a very quick announcement, one that all of us at Talaera are very excited about. And that is that we have officially passed the 10,000 mark for our podcast downloads, which is just really an amazing thing. It's been such an incredible journey. And I know from Paola as well, the both of us, it's just really incredible to see that the growth and all of these downloads have been organic.
And it's just so great to that, that, you know, our profession, and what we do is really around helping people develop professionally and and, and build the confidence to communicate effectively. And we're just so happy that we can reach as many people as we do, all over the world, from China, to Vietnam to Israel to all different parts of Africa. I mean, South Africa, Egypt, I mean, we have downloads in South America and in North America. And it's just, it just really is awesome to see. So I want to just to start today with a big thank you.
So what are we discussing today? Today, we will be talking about something that is, I think, something not a lot of people enjoy doing. It's something that's typically a bit uncomfortable to do, especially if you're in a business meeting. And that's interrupting? And how do we do that? How do we interrupt in a way that's polite and professional, and it's something that kind of takes a bit of practice and a bit of skill. And it's, yeah, I think it's a great thing to do, especially when we have these meetings.
Not necessarily a great thing to do. But a great thing to practice if you need to because we have these meetings, these zoom meetings where, you know, we have maybe a block of time an hour, and you really need to stay on track, right. And that's so important. And to do that sometimes, you have to be able to jump in very quickly. So the way I'm going to just break this down and to give you a lot of examples is to kind of set to two situations, two scenarios.
The first is when you need to get back on track. And that's really around, you know, we're in a meeting and we have a set period of time. And you know, even though the person what they may be saying is interesting, we know we need to we have a set number of things that we need to discuss. So we need to get back on track. And how do you jump in when the person is maybe bring up a different topic? And then the, you know, the meeting just goes off on a tangent? How do you jump in really quickly.
And then the second situation is going to be around if there is a person, one person in the meeting that's dominating or, or, you know, just taking kind of over the the the conversation. And this can be something that that can happen? Yes, of course in meetings, but also in, in webinars and just in conversation in general and negotiation as well. So you can use these for a lot of different things.
So let's discuss this first one getting back on track. So I'm going to use Paola as an example. She's not here to defend herself, but let's say Paola is just we're in a meeting and she is discussing something that is actually really interesting, but it's not on the the list of things to discuss today. So what I would do is if Paola is going and I don't want to be rude, but I know I need to jump in. I would start first with the name. So always start with their name. And then I would jump in and say 'Hey Paola, do you mind if I just jump in real quick?" or "Hey, Paola, I'm sorry to interrupt but..." So this is really important to do when using the name. (It) grabs the attention, and it shows that you're focusing on what they're saying.
But we know we need to interrupt. You know you can use "Do you mind if I jump in real quick?" or "I don't mean to interrupt but..." So when you're saying that, of course, you're you're in a way apologizing for interrupting, although technically you do mean to interrupt, it's a polite way that shows that you have a, you know, you're coming at it from a polite angle. And this is a good way to kind of steer the conversation back.
If you say, "Paola, I'm sorry, I don't mean to interrupt. But, you know, can we save this for another meeting? Just because we have these other aspects..." You can also say, "I think this is a great topic that we need to discuss. But for today, do you mind if we jump into the other points, just so you know, we can get through those?" And this is a great way to show that you care about what they're saying. But at the same time, you know, you need to get back on track.
Now, the second situation will be stopping someone who's dominating the conversation. And this happens a lot. Right? So what can we do? The way that I think is a really good way to think about it is by stopping them, you stop by jumping on and steering. So what do I mean by that? Well, let's see. Let's say, you know, taking the example with Paola again, she's just dominating the whole conversation. And you know, she's very smart. So everybody's listening to her, but we want to get some other people involved. So what do we do? Well, I can jump on by saying, "Hey, Paola, I just want to add on something here," or "Can I just add (something)? or "Hey, Paola, that reminds me of that point that you said, and I just want to add this..."
Now, when you jump on, and you kind of add a little bit, or you summarize in a way of what she's saying. So I think that's a good thing to do is to jump on, and maybe add a little bit summarize. "In a way, what Paola was saying..." And then what you do is you steer the conversation to another person by asking for input from other people. So I could say, "Hey Paolal, I just want to add on to that example that you had about the, the marketing situation that..." "Yeah, I completely agree with that. And I definitely think that's the direction we should be heading. I would really be curious to know what this person has to say about it." And then you bring in another person, right, so we jump in, and then we steer the conversation.
Okay, so what did we cover today? First, we were talking about getting back on track, right? So we're talking about interrupting, how do we do that? We always start with the name. "Hey, Paola, you know, I don't mean to interrupt, but..." Right? Or "I'm sorry to interrupt, but..." And then you can also add, "Hey Paola, do you mind if I jump in here?" "Can I just jump into say...?" And then that way you're jumping in, but in a polite way, okay. And starting with the name is is really a good way to show that you're focused on them. And you're not just waiting for your chance to say something.
The second is when we're trying to stop someone from dominating the conversation we want to remember to jump in, but then steer the conversation. So we jump in with the interruption, the polite interruption, right, we jump in, then we summarize a little bit, add a little bit and then we steer towards the other person to get other people involved.
Okay, now, yeah, there will be a link attached to this, that will have all the examples, which I definitely recommend you to take a look at, and then go through and apply them, you know, practice them. And I think they're definitely good tactics to use, when you see that that meeting is kind of getting out of control, or getting off the rails onto different topics.
So I hope that you enjoyed the episode today. Again, you know, go back through, listen, apply, practice, and repeat. And, of course, we are always looking forward to any feedback or any ideas that you guys have, that you would have for further episodes. So by all means, send us an email. And besides that, I hope you have a great day wherever you are. And as always, keep learning.
And that's all we have for you today. We hope you enjoyed it, and remember to subscribe to Talaera Talks. We'll be back soon with more! And visit our website at https://talaera.com for more valuable content on business English. You can also request a free consultation on the best ways for you and your team to improve your communication skills. So have a great day and keep learning!
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