Ask Amanda is a new advice column for you to anonymously submit questions about the soft skills and hard topics you need to master as a go-to-market leader.
I am a Senior Director and often am in meetings with the Executive team. There is another member of my department who is a VP, though in a different group. In meetings, this person consistently interrupts me, talks over me, and minimizes the points I am trying to make. It’s not just me, either. He does it to many others, mostly women, though some men. Everyone else seems to accept it. But I struggle with continually being minimized. Should I accept it, too?
Signed, Pavilion Member
Now is the time to find your voice. If you accept this behavior, you are allowing yourself to be treated less than optimally. It’s time to stand up for yourself and engage your teamwork, conflict-resolution, and communication soft skills.
Many interrupters don’t realize they interrupt. Imagine if your brain was working so fast and your thoughts just shot out of your mouth. They lack self-awareness around this behavior, which also means it is unintentional. Or, your colleague could be trying to establish dominance over the conversation.
However, approach this situation by giving your colleague the benefit of the doubt. Finding the best words is sometimes hard, so offer this subtle social clue calmly when they interrupt you: “If I may continue,” holding your hand up if necessary, and returning to making your point. Do this once or twice in the meetings.
Suppose your colleague still doesn’t connect the dots. In that case, you may have to pull them privately aside after the meeting and be more direct, saying, “I want to call to your attention to what is most likely unintentional behavior. Do you know that you often interrupt and talk over others, including me? I am sure you don’t mean any disrespect.”
Once you share your side, what happens next is out of your control. Your colleague might be upset, try to argue, get defensive, ask for examples, or maybe even thank you for bringing it up to them! Whatever the response may be, be prepared to let it go. Don’t get entangled or snared. Stay calm, cool, collected.
Essentially, you are accomplishing two things: (1) improving your communication skills by standing up for yourself and using your voice, and (2) developing your conflict resolution skills by attempting to find a win/win resolution, which, in turn, improves teamwork. If developed, these skills will be an asset to your character and be useful in the future.
Amanda regrets she cannot reply to questions individually. By submitting your questions to Ask Amanda, you agree to have them published anonymously on Pavilion’s Blog.
Amanda developed her business acumen by repeatedly scaling metrics and creating value for a number of VC-backed startups (YouEarnedIt, BlackLocus, Infochimps), and established technology companies like: Rackspace, Dell, SolarWinds (Forbes #1 Best Small Company in America), NetQoS (bought by CA), PeopleAdmin (a Vista Equity Portfolio Co), and Pervasive Software. She is a longtime startup mentor at Capital Factory and Tech Stars Austin. Amanda is an accomplished speaker, board member, and advisor who believes in integrity, the value of community, and the power of connection. She has lived and volunteered in Austin for nearly 30 years.