interrupting

When you're talking a lot and worried about how much space you are taking up

Anonymous asked:

Do you have any advice for how to facilitate participation when you’re a student who does tend to talk a lot?

I have social anxiety but when it doesn’t affect me as badly I tend to talk a lot. I’ve tried waiting for others to speak but they often don’t even if I wait 30+ seconds… And then I feel an intense urge to fill the space.

realsocialskills said:

A couple of things:

It might be ok if you’re talking more than some other students. Very few classes have everyone talking an exactly equal amount.

Different students have different preferences about how much they like to talk in class. It’s ok that some students prefer to talk more and some students prefer to talk less. It’s not always a problem. It becomes a problem if some students are taking up space in a way that prevents others from participating.

I’m not sure how to tell whether you are taking up space in a problematic way. One way might be to ask your teacher after class or in office hours if they think it’s becoming a problem. (If they do think it’s a problem, they’ll probably be glad you asked and that you care.)

Another way might be to watch whether you’re interrupting people. And if you are interrupting people, whether or not they’re shut down by your interruptions. If you’re interrupting people and that’s resulting in them not getting to make their points, that’s a problem. (Interrupting isn’t always a problem – in some cultures it’s normal and expected for people to respectfully interrupt one another and be respectfully interrupted in turn. If the class you’re in doesn’t have that culture, it’s important to be careful about interrupting.)

Here’s one strategy that might work for coping with silences without interjecting to fill them (this can also work for overcoming urges to interrupt people).

Typing or writing out what you’re having an urge to say:

  • If you type or write the reply you have an urge to make, it can calm the urge without you having to say anything
  • While you’re doing this, someone else may start talking
  • Then, if you still want to say the thing, you can take a turn and say it
  • If you don’t want to say a specific thing but are just feeling uncomfortable, typing/writing about how uncomfortable you are might work to fill the space until someone else starts talking (This works for me sometimes; it seriously backfires for other people. Your milage may vary; trust your own judgment about whether it will be helpful or harmful to you).
  • This can work even in a seminar class when not everyone is taking notes
  • (It may be more socially accepted in that context to use an iPad than a laptop, because you’re significantly less likely to be perceived as goofing off on Facebook with an iPad)

tl;dr Talking more than some other students in a class isn’t always a problem in itself. It’s a problem if the way or the amount you talk prevents others from participating. Typing out stuff you’re thinking of saying before you say it can make it easier to refrain from interrupting people and from rushing to fill silences.

when others struggle to find words

Anonymous said to :

When other people forget the word they’re trying to say I often just say the word for them. Normally they seem happy to have gotten the word they couldn’t remember but I notice that I seem to be the only one I notice doing this (note: I’m autistic). I was just wondering, is this rude? Is it something I need to stop doing?

realsocialskills said:

Saying the word you think someone forgot is a form of interrupting. It’s usually rude, but not always. (That’s true of interrupting in general. The formal rule is “don’t interrupt people”, but there are a zillion exceptions, including many situations in which it’s rude not to interrupt.)

It’s basically rude to suggest words unless they wanted you to do it. People’s preferences on this vary a lot. For instance:

Some people need time and space to find words when they’re looking for words. Suggesting the word for them can actually make it harder for them to figure out what they wanted to say, especially if you get the word wrong.

Some people get stuck and like other people to help unstick them by suggesting words.

These are just two examples; there are a lot of other reasons people can prefer different approaches. 

It’s not always obvious. The best way to find out about someone’s preferences is to ask, preferably when they’re not actively struggling for words, eg: “I’ve noticed that you sometimes have trouble finding words. Would you like me to suggest words when you get stuck, or would you rather wait for you to finish your sentence?“

It’s probably better to err on the side of not suggesting words, because people who are bothered by it are really bothered by it. But for people who find it helpful, it can be a good thing to do. If you can’t tell, it’s good to ask. 

A further thing: pretty much nobody likes to be told what they are saying; if you’re suggesting a word, it should be a question, not an answer (you are not a mindreader and sometimes you’re going to get the word wrong).

Eg, if you say it like this, it will probably aggravate the person you’re trying to help:

  • Them: You know? The thing? The sit thing? With the surface?
  • You: You’re talking about a chair.

If you say it like this, it’s more likely to be helpful:

  • Them: You know? The thing? The sit thing? With the surface?
  • You: A chair?

tl;dr Most people who are struggling to find words don’t like to be interrupted with a suggested word. Some people find it helpful. It’s usually best to err on the side of not suggesting words. When in doubt, ask.

Anyone else want to weigh in? When you have trouble finding words, how do you like people around you to react?

Students who take up a lot of space caring about the subject

Anonymous asked:
I’m a teaching assistant for a medium-large class (~80 students) at a university. One student has a habit of interrupting me or the professor when we are lecturing, which can be very disruptive. Sometimes we have to cut him off while he is speaking, which feels rude, but we have limited time to teach. He’ll also monopolize class discussions. He’s often insightful and on-point, but I want to get other students’ input too! I don’t know what to do! And I don’t want to hurt his feelings! Help?

realsocialskills said:

This sounds like a student who means well, so I’m going to answer this question with the assumption that he isn’t a jerk and isn’t taking up all the space on purpose. Some students do not mean well derail things for different reasons, but that doesn’t sound like what you’re dealing with here.

Here are my thoughts on how to deal with well-meaning students who take up too much space: 

Make time outside of class to talk to them:

  • When students are really into your subject and monopolize class time, it’s generally not because they want to shut everyone else down
  • It’s usually because they’re really into the subject and passionate about exploring the particular questions that are interesting to them
  • That’s a beautiful thing, and there needs to be space for it, but it can’t take over the whole class
  • When students derail class to discuss the questions they’re interested in, it can work well to say something like “That’s a great question, but we need to get through some other things now. Let’s talk about that during office hours.”
  • This demonstrates that you respect them and their questions and dedication to the subject, and that you will make room for it but need to make sure that the things that need to happen in class time happen
  • That only works if you mean it and follow through, though

There also might be a cultural issue. Norms about interrupting are highly culturally dependent:

  • In some cultures, the way you demonstrate that you’re respecting someone and paying attention is to take turns talking, and wait for the other person to indicate that it is now your turn. 
  • In other cultures, the way you demonstrate that you’re respecting someone and paying attention is by interrupting in on-topic ways and expecting that they will also interrupt you. 
  • It can be really frustrating to negotiate conversation with people who have radically different assumptions about how to pay attention
  • It might be that your student thinks that they are doing what they’re supposed to do, and that there’s confused with lack of response and interruption
  • If that is the problem, it might help to make expectations clearer. If the cultural divide is that wide, dropping hints and relying on politeness won’t help, but being explicit might:
  • For instance, by saying when they interrupt something like “I’ll take questions at the end”, or “Let Bob finish his point first”.
  • This demonstrates that you respect him and his interest, but that you aren’t going to allow it to take up al of the space

It’s also possible that he finds it difficult to follow what is going on:

  • I’m not sure how to describe this, but I know that I find it easy to pay attention to conversations and nearly impossible to pay attention to lectures
  • For me, the things that make it possible to pay attention to lectures are asking a lot of questions, using a strategy like collaborative note taking , or writing notes that are as much running commentary as they are taking down information.
  • He might be asking a lot of questions in order to follow what is going on
  • I’m not sure how you’d go about assessing or responding to that. I am mentioning it as a possible problem in hopes that someone else will have suggestions about what teachers can do if they suspect that a college student is having that kind of problem

No matter how you approach the situation, it’s possible that it might hurt your student’s feelings to realize that he takes up a lot of space and that it bothers people. This is not something you have complete control over. Facing up to problems like that can be painful. You shouldn’t avoid getting your class back on track in order to protect him from that kind of pain.

You should treat him and his interest in your subject with respect, and help him find ways to pursue it seriously without taking up all of the space during class. You’re probably in a position to do that. You’re not in a position to manage his emotional life.