The Art of Conscious Interruption

For past year I’ve been practicing something I call “The Art of Conscious Interruption.”

Most people interrupt other people in conversation, and most of those interruptions are Unconscious — meaning the person didn’t really make a conscious choice to interrupt, they just got caught up in the excitement.

Usually what happens is person A says something that triggers an association in the mind of person B. Then person B blurts out that association before Person A finishes her point.

Person B didn’t mean any disrespect. But if Person A really wanted to make a point, she will likely feel disrespected. Repeat that scenario multiple times over the course of multiple conversations, and resentment will brew.

I noticed this dynamic several years ago and decided to make a habit of NEVER interrupting people.

The biggest challenge in breaking the interruption habit is breaking the habit of “holding on” to your points while you await your turn to speak.

If you fixate on “not forgetting’ the point you want to make, your mind won’t be clear enough to actually receive the message the other person is saying.

It’s tough, but if you manage to break this habit, you’ll discover that the benefits of being a good listener FAR outweigh the benefits of getting all your points across.

Not only do you learn more through listening, you also build deeper rapport with people, since there are few things that people appreciate more than the feeling of being genuinely listened to.

All that being said, I learned last year that there is a place for interruption. In fact, interrupting people is an artform, and it’s quite exciting to develop your mastery of the Art of Conscious interruption.

I discovered this Artform for myself a year ago while collaborating closely on a project with a friend.

My friend would interrupt me repeatedly during brainstorming sessions, and I found myself reaching the limit of my patience and willingness to “let go” of what I was trying to say. Eventually it dawned on me that the only way I could get my point across is if I actively interrupted her.

So I decided to consciously interrupt her.

At first it felt awkward, but then I started to notice that there were certain times when my interruption seemed invited.

Interrupt someone while they’re struggling hard to make a point, and they will feel frustrated. Interrupt them while they are unconsciously rambling, and they will feel grateful that you saved them from feeling confused or foolish.

The artform is to find those points when interrupting is in everyone’s best interest and to interject something productive before the opportunity is lost.

That weekend, as my friend and I got better and better at interrupting each other, we discovered a powerful state of consciousness that I call “Hive Mind.”

It stopped feeling like we were separate individuals with separate ideas. Instead, it felt like we were two hemispheres of the same brain, exchanging data and building connections the way a single person would in silent contemplation.

I consider Hive Mind one of the most meaningful states to be in, so I’m trying to create it with more people. It’s very elusive, and i don’t know how to get there reliably yet. But without a doubt, building trust through true listening and maintaining flow through conscious interruption are major pillars.

If you’re interested in stepping up your Conversation Game, I highly encourage you to try the following:

  • Practice NEVER interrupting and letting go thoughts
  • Practice CONSCIOUSLY interrupting at points where it feels like it’s in everyone’s best interest.
  • Practice paying closer attention to your conversation partner’s facial expressions and body language while speaking.

The better your conversations, the better your life.

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