Don’t interrupt! I’m talking! How to Keep the Peace in Relationships

Don’t interrupt! I’m talking! How to Keep the Peace in Relationships

MAUDE: Today was a little visit to the past, as we returned to the local breakfast place to decide what to write for this week’s blog and to work on the contents. We haven’t done blog prep there in quite awhile. It was really fun and engendered an unexpected topic.

There is so much going on in our daily lives right now (yes, even more than usual!), that we both had lots to share and relay to each other. We found ourselves interrupting the other a number of times, causing us to stop and look at what was happening, and presto, the blog topic for this week appeared.

Many of you are familiar with what we call Our Process, a method for solving problems and making decisions (to read more details, click here). A foundational part of this experience is listening deeply to each other and really hearing what the other person is saying. This precludes forming responses and just waiting for your turn to speak them, or interrupting with your thoughts.

We do quite well with deep listening and lack of interruptions when we are consciously working to solve something. And yet, in these day to day conversations, we realized that we seem to encounter a different behavior. Not only do we burst into each other’s talking, but we each point out the other is doing it and feel irritated.

The thing is, yes, we both get annoyed or irritated when we feel interrupted, but we never feel anger or distance or conflict over these petty frustrations. That is because they are petty and do not reflect upon our deep knowledge that we are on the same side. We rest in the assurance that we are both always working to grow and better ourselves, and to increase our ability to come from a higher place that brings us closer, and helps each of us on our path.

Nevertheless, we each experience impatience or frustration over these occurrences, and so we started to really look at the phenomenon, what causes it and how we might change it to improve our communication and create an even greater sense of peace.

We have already learned more about ourselves and each other from this discussion. Looking at and talking about the behavior only served to bring us closer, and reaffirm how much we are both motivated by love and a desire for honest peaceful relating. It again offered assurance that we both are on the same side and want the best for each other.

This is an ongoing exploration, so stay tuned for more discoveries! We’d love to hear how you handle these types of annoyances when they occur in your relationships. Do drop some lines in the comments section. so we can all learn from each other.Listen deeply to each other and really hear what the other person is saying #quote #relationships Share on X

PHIL: We went out to breakfast to come up with a blog topic, the first time we’ve done that in a long time. We noticed that we were interrupting each other, something that has happened many times before: “Wait, I haven’t finished saying what I want to say,” and so we examined it further. What is peculiar is that we have a method for making decisions and resolving differences that involves listening to the other person without judgement, without preparing a response, and instead listening intently to what is being conveyed. This is something we use often and it has worked well for us.

But it is strange that in general discussions, we are not giving the other person that space, so at this breakfast, we explored what was going on with that. We are both acutely aware of being interrupted, but barely notice when we are doing so, and frequently deny it. We think that the listener has a response, a reaction, feedback or an idea based on what the speaker is saying, and it is hard to keep that in mind and pay attention to what the speaker is continuing to say, so the listener either interrupts the speaker or starts speaking when the speaker ends a sentence, even though there may be more to follow.

What caught our attention was the difference between our normal conversations and the ones where we are explicitly hunting for a resolution. I think that the tension between listening to Maude and listening to my own reactions is present in both cases, but in normal conversations, I am less focused on the importance of listening to her.

It is important to note that these interruptions are transient irritations because we do not feel that the other person is discounting us or trying to control us. The sense that we are on the same side, that we are never opposed to each other, permeates the whole of our relationship.

Photo credit: Phil Mayes
Photo note: Phil and Maude at breakfast

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3 Comments on “Don’t interrupt! I’m talking! How to Keep the Peace in Relationships

  1. Would it be feasible to use an object the way a talking stick is used in sacred circles? It could be a cute impromptu thing like “ talking sugar packet?” Or “talking salt shaker “, “talking purse”. Or whatever holdable object is nearest. The person with the object talks and when they finish their thought they hand the object to the other person . And so on. But how to decide when to be done with the exercise. You don’t want it to become a Cacao (Portlandia) thing that just never ends.

  2. I taught school in China for one semester in 1995. A school in Chaozhou. Of the many conversations
    I had with fellow teachers and other workers, I noticed they would listen, and wait for a few seconds
    before responding to ensure I was through. How different. The power and courtesy of listening
    without a “hurry up” feeling.
    I’ve tried to practice that, but I occasionally fall back on the old way.

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