How to Interrupt a Conversation Politely

by William McCoy

Whether you're having a discussion on the phone or are speaking to someone face to face, it's possible that you may need to interrupt -- perhaps your cellphone battery is about to die or you realize you're late for an appointment. Whatever the case, the key to a successful interruption is doing it politely. The right wording can make all the difference in how the other party views your interruption.

In-Person Interruptions

Pair your words with body language to politely interrupt a conversation. Leaning forward in your seat or holding a hand up can indicate that you're about to speak. Use a statement that acknowledges you're interrupting, such as, "I'm sorry to interrupt you" or "I hate to jump in," and then explain why you're interrupting. If you're interrupting to add a point to the speaker's last comment, a phrase such as, "Before we continue, I just want to add ..." is appropriate.

Over the Phone

Because you can't use body language when you try to interrupt a phone conversation, find a brief pause in the conversation during which you can politely interject. At the appropriate moment, use a phrase such as, "I hate to cut you off, but ..." or "Excuse me, but I just thought of something to add." Other suitable phrases to use include, "Pardon me, but ..." and "Do you mind if I jump in here?"

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