Interrupting can be a bad habit…and it automatically shuts down lines of communication. When we are so eager and in hurry to get our point across, it is difficult to slow down and not interrupt the other person. The quick interjection and cutting off the other person sends out a bad message that they don’t matter. The receiving end can feel as if you’re invisible, what you have to say does not matter, and you’re not important. There are good intentions bind this approach, yet it unfortunately sends the opposite message.

Here are a few quick tips on how to stop the bad habit of interrupting:

Remember It’s Not Your Turn: Remind yourself that it is your partner’s turn to talk. Have your mind focused on your partner and what they are saying. It is their turn, so your job is to simply listen and try to understand what it is like to be in their shoes.

Bite Your Tongue: If you disagree or have something to say, bite your tongue, pinch your arm, and count to 10 in your head. Slow down your response and help keep yourself grounded by biting your tongue.

Breathe: Take a deep breath to calm down your reaction and remember that you want your partner to be active in the relationship. Sometimes just taking a breath will help slow down our reactions.

Take a Mental Note: If something comes to mind, take a mental note to share your point of view later. Your voice and your views matter, so take note of it and bring it up when it is your turn to talk.

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Active Listening: Put into practice the active listening tool. Your job at that moment is to show your partner that you are listening, try to understand what your partner is saying, and stop thinking about what your next response will be. Start active listening, stop talking, and stop the active interruptions.

Value Your Partner: Successful communication is to make your partner feel important, emotionally safe, and that they matter. When communicating, make it your personal goal to send the message that your partner is important and what they have to say matters. Remember that your partner has value.

Take Turns: Create 20 minutes of uninterrupted discussions and take turns sharing your views, ideas, and thoughts. One person gets to be the talker and other person gets to be the listener. Take turns on each side.

By Jennine Estes, MFT. Copyright © 2010 Jennine Estes, used with permission. All rights reserved.

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