I was trying to explain my position during a recent meeting, and one of my fellow board members started to interrupt me. At first, I glanced at him awry and cocked my head. I then raised my hand and said, “Please, let me finish.” When he continued to interrupt, I was a bit more forceful and said, “Let me finish.” When he continued to persist, I leaned forward and said, “To be a good board member, we agreed that we should listen to each other. I listened to you. It is now my turn.” To which he finally stopped and let me finish my thought.
How Team Members Can Intervene Gracefully:
Do Nothing. When he first interrupted me, I paused and asked myself, “Is this worth pursuing or should I just let it ride?” Since I had observed that this was a trend (I wasn’t the only one he interrupted), I decided to escalate to the next level:
Eye Contact. I turned my head to look directly at him.
Movement. I cocked my head, probably raised my eyebrows and raised my hand ever so slightly.
Redirect the Conversation. I simply asked him to let me finish my sentence. When that didn’t work, I escalated to the next level:
Remind Him or Her. I referred to a board member ground rule or best practice.
Fortunately, I did not have to confront this person – so these escalating levels of intervention worked for a team member as well!
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator. She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years. She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.