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How to Interrupt Politely  

How often do you interrupt people while they are talking? Are there polite ways to interrupt someone?  I get this question a lot. Well, it may be rude sometimes, but also useful because you may want to interrupt someone who’s been talking for too long and you don’t see a point in listening; or simply because they’ve started talking about irrelevant matters. So, before you interrupt someone, think about your reason. Is it justified? If it is, and you decide to go ahead, always try to interrupt politely. Here is how to interrupt politely in English.

How to introduce interruption

The point is that interrupting doesn’t have to be rude. It can also be polite, especially if you use proper language. 

It is always appropriate to introduce your interruption with a polite phrase:

  • I’m sorry for interrupting/to interrupt, but…
  • I’m terribly sorry to interrupt, but …
  • Sorry to butt in, but…
  • Excuse me, but I’d like to add/mention something…
  • May I/Can I say something…?
  • Can/may I add something here…?
  • Before you move on, may I say/add something here…?
  • Could I jump in…?

How to interrupt politely

How to approve someone’s interruption

In case you are a person who is being interrupted, try to avoid an awkward moment. Tell the interrupter that their comment is welcome and that you are not offended. You can use these phrases:

  • No problem!
  • It’s OK.
  • Please, go ahead!
  • Of course, what do you think?
  • Sure, what’s your opinion?

How to reject interruption

Although, there may be a situation when you don’t feel like being interrupted. How can you do that? Well, you may try to ignore the person who is trying to jump into your speech. In case it doesn’t work, you may try some of these phrases:

  • Will/would you please let me finish?
  • Sorry, I’d like to finish the thought.
  • Please, don’t interrupt me…
  • Excuse me but I haven’t finished yet.
  • Hang on a moment, will you?
  • Can/may I continue, please?

How to interrupt politely

Reasons to interrupt someone

Once you decide to interrupt someone while they are talking, the first thing to do is to apologize and try to make your comment a valuable contribution to the discussion. Also, try to make it as quick as possible.

Anyway, we can classify interruptions into five groups:

  1. Ask something in order to clarify things,
  2. Give your opinion  or add something,
  3. Pass a message,  
  4. Join a conversation,
  5. End a conversation

1. Ask something in order to clarify things

You may be listening to someone speaking and may not hear or understand very well what they are saying. Or you may need an extended explanation to clarify things. Apologize for interrupting and try to make it quick.

  • I apologize for the interruption but I don’t quite understand…
  • Sorry to butt in, but can you please repeat that…?
  • I’m so sorry for the interruption, but could you please clarify

How to interrupt politely

2. Give your opinion or add something 

Sometimes you may think that you could contribute to the conversation by sharing your opinion. Go ahead, try to interrupt politely and say it.

  • Sorry to butt in, but what you said…
  • Excuse me for interrupting but I have a point to make…
  • Sorry for interrupting, but I feel like sharing my opinion…
  • I apologize for interrupting but what you said makes me think/reminds me of…

3. Pass a message

Sometimes you need to interrupt people while talking when you have a message to pass. Just apologize and pass on your message. Try these phrases:

  • I apologize, but your wife is on the phone.
  • Sorry to interrupt, but just to remind you that your Zoom meeting starts in five minutes.
  • Sorry to butt in, but you are wanted in the other office.

How to interrupt politely

4. Join a conversation

How can you join a conversation and not be rude? Simply, ask to join in. Here are some useful phrases to help you do that:

  • Do you mind if I join?
  • I’m really sorry to butt in but I couldn’t help overhearing…
  • Sorry to interrupt, but I think / in my opinion…
  • I apologize for the interruption but I’d like to join your conversation…

5. End a conversation

In case something urgent has come up or you just have to end up someone’s conversation for any reason, try using these phrases:

  • I’m afraid I have to interrupt your conversation. Something’s just come up…
  • Sorry to interrupt but the time we set aside for this meeting is over so please, be quick.
  • I’m terribly sorry but I need to go now. It was great seeing you. Have a nice day.

How to interrupt politely

How to continue your speech after an interruption

Once the interruption is over, and the person who interrupted your speech has finished, you may want to go back to what you were talking about previously. In that case, you can use these phrases:

  • Anyway…
  • Back to what I was saying…
  • To continue…
  • As I was saying…

Happy interrupting! 😃

How to interrupt politely
How to interrupt politely

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