How To Interrupt

So, it’s church supper/morning tea time and you need to speak with three people about Bible study rosters, say hi to the new people you sat next to AND desperately want to ask your friend how her exam went.

The final amen is said, and after that awkward stand-y, sit-y, should-we -leave-the-room part at the end of the service – suddenly everyone’s crowded around the coffee station, chatting, and you’re going to have to interrupt people to speak with them or otherwise they’ll leave and the roster will remain undone.

Your options:

1. The Hover – preserve of the timid and the “polite”. The thing is, if you think you’re too polite to interrupt, you need to abandon The Hover, because lurking at somebody’s elbow STILL INTERRUPTS the conversation! It just let’s you smile apologetically and awkwardly and everyone is unclear whether you’re trying to join the conversation or break it up. 2/10

2. The Insertion – preserve of the over-confident, or those unable to read social cues. Inserters do just that, they push into your conversation by laughing loudly at a joke they didn’t share, or answering a question that wasn’t directed to them. I’m guilty of this one pretty often because I’m shy and hate introducing myself, so I just join the conversation, forcefully. Can be done smoothly, but is also confusing for the interruptees and a little too abrupt. 2/5

3. The Smug Married (even WORSE if you’re just dating). This happens TO me obviously, rather than BY me, but there I am, chatting to a guy over supper or whatevs, and suddenly a female appears, draped around his body, smiling at me without her eyes. Yes, hi. I am aware your husband is married. Surprisingly, we were just having a conversation about the sermon, so, don’t worry, he’s all yours. This doesn’t rate low because it’s confusing, just cos it’s rude. I’m not talking about when it’s friends and you know each other and you all know who’s touch oriented and whose not, it’s really just offensive when you don’t know each other yet cos it feels like you’re being viewed competitively. No no no. 1/5

4. In The Clear. It goes like this. Open body language, friendly, clear voice. “I’m so sorry to interrupt, I just need to let Fred know I need to speak to him about rosters before he goes.” Oh, so you’re giving me an option of either breaking up this conversation NOW or LATER? You’re letting me and the person I’m speaking to know what you need or intend? Yay! 5/5

The only interruption that could possibly score higher is the food interruption. If you have stuff on a tray and are interrupting me, I do not now, nor ever will, mind 🙂

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