Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog is intended to give you a flavour of how I work as a counsellor. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links above.
If you find that you have got in someone’s way, or inadvertently pushed in front of them, you will probably say “Excuse me” or apologise in some way. Do you do the same if you get in someone’s way in conversation; if you interrupt them?
Being interrupted can be quite a hurtful thing; you can feel that you are not being listened to, that the listener feels you don’t matter, or that they are finding you boring. To interrupt you it must mean that what they want to say is more important, in their opinion, than what you are saying, and while it might feel like that to them, it may not, of course, feel the same to you.
I was talking to a couple recently about this; we were exploring a particular incident when the man interrupted his girlfriend to tell her that she had a smear of jam on her face. She felt quite hurt; she felt ignored, that he wasn’t interested in what he was saying, that she occupied just a small place in his world, that she was low down his priority list – and that on top of all that, he was criticising her appearance!
Her boyfriend explained that his motives in the interruption were none of these. He said it had felt to him a bit as if they were having a conversation in the street and he observed that behind his girlfriend’s back, a double-decker bus was careering towards her, out of control. Should he listen attentively while she finished what she was saying – or rather, failed to finish what she was saying because she was run over by the double-decker bus? Or should he interrupt to say that, interesting as he is finding her conversation, she might like to move out of the path of the onrushing vehicle?
He was concerned that she might go to work still with the jam on her cheek, and so wanted to save her that embarrassment. In retrospect, he acknowledged that the jam on his girlfriend’s cheek was not going to cause her an injury in the next ten seconds; he could have waited before pointing it out, there was no great urgency to interrupt. And she recognised that her feelings of hurt, the anger she felt about being interrupted, were out of proportion to the incident; that it would have been helpful if she could have put those feelings on hold rather than just to conclusions about her boyfriend’s motive in interrupting her.
So people may interrupt us for different reasons; and sometimes maybe it is because we are talking too much, boring our audience, or repeating ourselves. If you are someone who talks a lot, it might be that sometimes your partner feels that the only way to get a turn to speak is to interrupt. And sometimes we may feel like interrupting when it is inappropriate, before your partner has finished what they are saying.
Counselling can help by slowing these conversations down and giving you time to understand each other, rather than guessing at your partner’s motives. It can give you a safe environment, free from double-decker buses.