The Common Cure for Conversation Interruptus

Oct. 8, 2020
I'm Speaking wasn't just a declaration or a debate tactic, it was a reminder to everyone who's ever had to stand up for themselves against a verbal bulldozer and remind them "Hey you, I'm still talking here. Stop interrupting me" 

I'm 2 for 2 on post-debate phrases I'd like to emblazon on my coffee mug, shirt, or Zoom background. Joe Biden's "Will you shut up, man?" was a clear winner for me until last night's debate between Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence. Now I'm declaring "I'm Speaking" as my favorite statement of the entire debate series. 

I'm Speaking wasn't just a declaration or a debate tactic, it was a reminder to everyone who's ever had to stand up for themselves against a verbal bulldozer and remind them "Hey you, I'm still talking here. Stop interrupting me." 

Show of Hands

Raise your hand if you've ever had a dialogue with someone. Congratulations. You're like 99.9% of us. You can put your hand down now. 

Now, raise your hand if you've ever had a conversation with someone who started speaking immediately after you did. Yep, most of us have endured that too. You can put your hand down now. 

Raise your hand if you've ever been in a conversation where someone began talking over you, or taking their turn to talk while you're still talking. Most likely you've experienced this sort of thing in your daily life. We all do. You can put your hand down now. 

Let's move into workplace scenarios. Raise your hand if you've ever been in a meeting and were presenting an idea and in the midst of your presentation, someone barreled in and started talking over you. It's definitely annoying and certainly frustrating. You can put your hand down now. 

Raise your hand if you've been in a meeting, trying to explain your justification or reasoning for something, and someone else in the room won't let you finish. Keep that hand way up for a bit. 

Ok, put your hand down now. How's your shoulder or your elbow feeling? Are you feeling the effects of the repetitive use? Are you annoyed at the entire exercise?

Conversation Interruptus

I don't know who exactly coined the term conversation interruptus, but it's the perfect way to define what has become an ill on our debate stages and meeting rooms across America. A cousin to mansplaining and womansplaining, conversation interruptus is the intentional act of speaking over someone because you believe you know the answer better than they do. 

Though it's never really been scientifically studied, conversation interruptus is an affliction that often is found in men, though more cases have been showing up in women, too. Its symptoms include the aforementioned talking over another person, as well as beginning sentences with "But, you..." or "You do realize," or "You don't have." The long term effects of conversation interruptus often depend on who you are and who you know, but men who have conversation interruptus often find themselves with promotions or raises, whereas women often find themselves with labels like b*tch and monster, as well as feedback to not be domineering or unlikeable. 

A Cure

One of the known cures of conversation interruptus is good old-fashioned respect. Taken every day and with every interaction, respect has a 98% effectiveness rating. Studies also show that a well-rounded diet of good feedback combined with a course of how to engage in civil conversation have proven 100% effective for curing conversation interruptus.

It remains to be seen if the trend to talk over people will continue, particularly on the debate stage. As I've been writing this, Trump has indicated he has no plans to participate in a second debate on account of its virtual format. I suspect knowing that someone can cut his mic off from talking over Joe Biden might have something to do with that. 

Maybe the cure is finally starting to work. 

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