Why are the people I love getting mad at me? I’m just trying to help, and hey, I’m not interrupting, I just thought they were done talking!
I really didn’t want to admit that I’m an interrupter. Then I read in the The 5 Love Language (Amazon affiliate) that the average person doesn’t go more than 17 seconds before interrupting the person talking.
17 measly seconds?
Really? I certainly wasn’t that bad….
So I started to try it with my husband and my kids…and oh dear. I was shock at how often I was ready to talk during that 17 seconds.
The 17 seconds started to be my waiting time before I jumped in to try and fix something or give a suggestion. How could it be possible that in only 17 seconds so much could happen?
For instance, the following NON interruption:
One day we were sitting together doing our own art projects and one of my kids got really frustrated about a mistake.
My brain desperately wanted me to say: Would you like some help?
But I remembered my 17 seconds plan and my mouth was quiet 1. 2. 3. 4…
He started to get more loud and frustrated about his task, but he kept at it.
I kept counting …8. 9. 10…
My urge to rescue him was calming down as I realized my child needed this time to struggle with difficulties and to problem solve.
14. 15. 16….
“Mama – I think I can change this. I thought this was trash, but I found a solution!”
If I had started in with a suggestion a few seconds earlier it would have robbed him of that moment!
And I’ve tried it with conversations (yes, it’s a bit odd, and not perfect listening to count in my head, but it’s just getting the habit started of waiting.) I’ve found that frequently when I think one of my family members is done talking, they’re actually just taking a breath.
Yup – 17 measly seconds makes a big difference.
I am not cured of interrupting, not by a long shot. I’m a talker, that’s for sure.
But 17 seconds is giving the people around me a chance to talk, and it’s giving me a chance not only to hear them, but to let them show me how capable they really are.
Give it a try and see if 17 seconds makes a difference in your family too – let me know!
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