Since the dawn of time, it has been man's duty to protect and provide for women. Even though we've evolved out of the Stone Age and into a new age of women's empowerment, it doesn't stop the the once more "dominant" voice from being overpowering.
Have you ever been at work and realized that your male coworker or boss keeps interrupting you? Well, you're not crazy, sis! Studies have shown that men and women are socialized to communicate differently and for that reason, men are prone to make themselves heard, even if it's at your expense. In a 2014 study at George Washington University, it was noted that during conversation, men were 33% more likely to interrupt women who were talking than they were to interrupt other men.
Even though we've done so much as a society to learn the differences between the sexes, men still have trouble waiting their turn to speak, especially when a woman is added to the equation. This miscommunication all stems from how each sex interprets conversation.
We love to joke that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, and I'm starting to believe there is truth to this generalization. We communicate differently, thus creating issues in our day to day life, but also in the workplace. I know you're probably thinking of that one male coworker right now that made you mad the other day, but hold your tongue and put down the bat, girlfriend. As it turns out, he might not understand the problem. Gender communication expert Deborah Tannen breaks it down best: men speak to determine and achieve power status, while women speak to determine and achieve connections. Very different, right?
In American society, the person speaking is usually determined to be in the position of power, so who wouldn't want to be seen as the one leading the conversation? That's probably a factor in why men feel entitled enough to interrupt women while in conversation. But, if you're like me, you're probably wondering, how can we make this stop? Time's up, after all.
Let's be honest, it's going to take much more time and patience for both sexes to change their modes of communication. But, as we approach a new era, it's time we integrate new systems into the workplace that will help each party better navigate effective communication. No "manterrupting" included. Below are some helpful communication tips that will benefit men and women on their journey to understanding each other.
If you're "manterrupting" because you simply can't remember what you're going to say, write it down! Otherwise, communication will forever be stifled by the excuse of forgetfulness and bad memory. A handy dandy pen and paper can fix the need to interrupt conversation in ways that jumping in front of someone else's train of thought will not. Your thoughts and opinions aren't more valid or more important than the those of the person you're speaking to, so wait your turn and follow the natural flow of conversation.
If you feel the need to interject, make sure it's because you have a valid point and apologize for your interruptions. Every interruption isn't personal, and as a society, we must recognize when and when not to get offended.
If you find yourself constantly being interrupted, try to change the way you're making points when interrupted. For example, speak more concisely so the interrupters have less of a chance of sneaking in and interrupting.
If you find that manterrupting is a constant annoyance, speak with conviction and ask for what you need. If your coworker constantly interrupts you, address the situation. Now, I'm not advocating going off on him right in the middle of a board meeting. Instead, tell your coworker that you've got a few other important points to make and would like to finish. Surely, they'll get your point.
Lastly, don't take it personally. As Don Miguel Ruiz famously said, people rarely do things because of you, their actions are always a reflection of how they feel about themselves in that moment. While studies suggest that men naturally feel more comfortable interrupting women than other men, it's still not a factor that should make you question your validity in the workplace. If you've done all you could do and find that your coworker still interrupts, understand that sometimes interruptions come with conversation. If nothing else, it can be a teachable moment. Use it as an opportunity to improve your listening skills.
You might be able to show your manterrupting coworker a thing or two about effective communication.