Dear Aspie: How to Stop Being Interrupted?

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Dear Aspie:
?I have a really big problem with commanding attention in a conversation. When I start talking, people talk over me, or they’ll interrupt me to say something they want to say. What can I do??

–Aaron_Mason

Read on for GroovyDruid’s response!
Dear Aspie:
?I have a really big problem with commanding attention in a conversation. When I start talking, people talk over me, or they’ll interrupt me to say something they want to say. What can I do??

–Aaron_Mason

Argh! I hate that. I?ve had trouble with over-zealous talkers from time to time. I have some ideas for you.

First, in case you aren?t already certain of this, their interrupting and talking over you shows very poor communication skills. It?s not only rude, it shows they are not listening. Rather they are lying in wait for an opening to show off their lung capacity. Furthermore, to anyone who knows, it shows that they don?t understand the cycle of communication. (See my previous column replying to anonymous below.) Talking over another person is a great way to alienate and upset anyone, not just an aspie.

But ? it happens. The reason such people feel licensed to push over your speech most likely stems from a perceived lack of intention from you. In addition to the message communicated, a speech also must transfer the intention behind the words. This tells the listener the importance of the input. You can tell people God?s last name or the secret to infinite ice cream, but if they don?t perceive intention in your speech, they still won?t pay attention to or give it importance, because they think you don?t give it importance.

Aspies often have trouble with intention in their speech. They tend to ?talk to themselves?, and not in a schizophrenic way. They seem to intend the message for themselves first and to others around them as a secondary audience. Aspies love the sound of their own voice, not because of egotism, but because it seems to be foreign to them, like another being speaking. This phenomenon may be a result of a structural deficit: autistics often exhibit signs that the brain hemispheres aren?t communicating properly, or at all. When this is the case, one side of the brain can communicate to the other by verbal messages spoken by the mouth (one side of the brain) and taken in by the ears (the other side of the brain).

You can improve the intention in your speech through practice. Creative visualization helps to get the proper idea. For example, don?t speak to someone. Instead, speak to a point in space three feet behind his head. Concentrate on that point, and visualize your message going there. INTEND your message going there. Each and every time you speak to someone, first ask yourself, ?Where do I intend this message to go? To this person? That person? All of them?? Then sock it to them with force, and overshoot the mark. You can even start out by practicing with a willing person and raising your voice. Yell your message to that point behind the person, and make darned sure the person gets it. Then tone down your volume, but keep that same level of intention. Put all your attention into getting the message out of you and across the distance to the other person.

If you practice these drills, I think you?ll be amazed at the results. Pretty soon, you will develop strong speech habits and commensurate confidence. It won?t matter if you?re reading the phone book: people will pay attention. They won?t have the guts to interrupt someone who speaks with such intention?because very few of them have it, and it impresses and cows them.

By the way, there are some great lines to embarrass people who interrupt you. They are worth preparing in advance to ease the transition from ?interruptee? to ?feared and respected communicator?. The simplest is, ?You interrupted me,? which in adult conversation obliges the interrupter to apologize and yield. Far more fun, though, is my personal favorite: ?People who interrupt me tend to disappear under mysterious circumstances.? Deliver that one with a sly smile and watch what happens!

Good luck!

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