Workplace expert Jane Harper advices that when you have a co-worker who interrupts, it is best to let them know politely that you would like to finish first. It is also good to bring it to the notice of your HR so that they can make sure everyone is heard in a meeting.
I am Lynda. I'm an ardent reader of your columns and I really find them very helpful. I never thought I would write to you, but a colleague of mine compels me to do so. I have a co-worker who has been working in the office for the past 15 years. He is the second senior-most person in our workplace. I understand that he has a lot of experience and knows a lot of things but sometimes I feel that he does not like the younger people who come and work here.
Whenever anyone has a new and unique point to share, this colleague will interfere and not let them complete their ideas. So if I have something to say, I will raise my hand and start talking about it. But, then this guy interrupts me and I lose my train of thoughts often getting flustered and angry.
I have had half a mind to go and tell him to ‘shut up.’ But since he is my senior, I don’t say anything. How do I solve this issue? How do I ask him to keep quiet and let me finish. It’s been happening a lot of times but now I can’t take it anymore.
Hello Lynda! I can understand your plight. This is not something new. I have often witnessed elders feeling insecure because of the fresh talent. They too wish to be as creative and enthusiastic as the younger crowd, but they are unable to cope up. You need to understand why the co-worker who interrupts you is doing so in the first place.
Never show your frustration and anger during a meeting. By doing so, others might notice it and not take it in the right spirit. Now to address the issue at hand, the next time your colleague intervenes, excuse yourself politely and tell him you are not finished. So you could cough a little, smile and say that, “I would like to continue my point. Could you please speak after I am done? My train of thoughts seem to get disturbed.” Speak in a very polite manner. If you feel that your colleague might get offended then you could take up the issue with the HR. They can assure that everyone gets a chance to speak during the meetings.
To deal with old people at work can be tricky and you don’t need to rub them up the wrong way. In fact, you can make them feel important. Before you start you can always say that, “I have a point but, I will require an expert’s advice. (Look into their eyes) I request you to listen to me and let me know if you feel I am right or wrong.” This way, they won’t feel hurt and will also listen to what you have to say. It is one of the best ways to be assured that the co-worker who interrupts you will stop doing so.