Topic Progress:

Barrier Two: Knowing the Answer (or Thinking You Do!)

Throwing out answers as they come to you may help you win games such as Trivial Pursuit or Charades but it won’t help you in becoming a good communicator. Jumping to conclusions ahead of a person speaking may make you miss the message the person is trying to pass across.

Ways of disrupting the flow when someone is speaking includes:

  • Cutting off speakers before they finish
  • Answering an unspoken question
  • Finishing the sentence before they do

While it’s natural to want to engage (and often times coming from a completely well-intentioned place), it can hinder your conversation — even if you do correctly predict where the speaker is going with the message. This kind of interruption can distract the speaker or even offend them. They may interpret it to mean you don’t value their thoughts or their words.

It is even more destructive to your communications when interrupting becomes a tool of disagreement. When you cut a person off before they can explain their thoughts fully, you are doing a disservice to them as well as yourself. It is likely you are offending them. You are also limiting your opportunity to learn something new or gain a new perspective on an issue. Many times, people just need to say their piece and in that, the potential argument will be avoided.

This barrier may arise as either a conscious or unconscious strategy when we are trying to avoid the message. Either ways, only you can decide to practice good listening habits by focusing on the speaker and their words instead of letting your own ideas commandeer your attention.