Everyone knows that interrupting others when they’re talking is rude, so why do some people keep doing it? Few things are as annoying as getting constantly interrupted. This behavior puts you on edge and frustrates you to the point where you may want to stop the conversation altogether. There are a few basic reasons why interrupters interrupt others, and none of them are good signs for the future of a relationship. If you come across someone who interrupts you and others constantly, you have to understand that there is a significant – and pathological – reason they do it, and the root of what causes them to interrupt others is not going away anytime soon.
Reason # 1: Anxiety
Most men and women who interrupt others do so because they are anxious. They are anxious in a clinical way, meaning that their anxiety has a negative impact on their social or work life. Socially, interrupting others won’t make you any new friends. It’s a rude and impulsive behavior, and conveys the message to your listener that all you really want is the chance to speak more. The intense need to be “heard” by others reflects serious, long-term anxiety. Many people who have this need didn’t get enough attention or “mirroring” from parents when they were young, so they spend the rest of their lives trying to make up for it.
Reason #2: Egocentrism or selfishness
Plain and simple, interrupting others is a socially off-putting behavior. Unless there is a medical condition which causes you to be more impulsive or socially awkward, interrupting is a selfish behavior that suggests to others that you are the smartest person in the room and need to be in control at all times. Only passive individuals can manage close relationships with someone who is so egocentric and smug.
Reason #3: Social awkwardness
Some men and women, though nice and decent people, are socially awkward and don’t read social cues like everyone else. They may interrupt others on a regular basis because they are impulsive and do not understand that there is a give-and-take which is supposed to take place in conversation.
Reason # 4: Aggressiveness
When you think of the word “aggressive,” you may imagine someone hitting someone. (If you live in Los Angeles, like I do, you may picture a highly aggressive driver!) A lot of behaviors don’t look aggressive on the surface but are definitely aggressive at root. An aggressive personality needs to dominate and assert their territory, so aggressive men and women will have no problem cutting others off in conversation because they need to send the message that they are there to dominate. When it comes to talking, they need their audience to understand that it is their own voice that matters most. Interrupting others is an aggressive behavior that gets increasingly annoying and off-putting over time. If you’re ever on a date with someone who shows a pattern of interrupting you, you can call out this behavior in the moment. When you address it, try saying something like this: “Sorry, I just wanted to finish what I was saying.” By making this statement, you are sending a message that you want to have equal say in the rules the two of you set up for the relationship. Specifically, you are saying that when you are talking, you don’t want to be interrupted or dominated.
At the same time, correcting a date’s socially rude behavior isn’t a job that you necessarily should take on. Sure, you could probably help him or her stop interrupting you or others, but why not just move on early in the dating process and find one of the millions of people who already understands this basic social rule? Overall, when you encounter an interrupter, my advice is to move on. None of the reasons that causes someone to be a chronic interrupter indicate a healthy, balanced personality, so save yourself the drama and look for someone who is patient enough to hear what you have to say!
About the Author:
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve