1. Any comments/suggestions on my planned feedback below for a direct on interrupting and side discussions?
2. Is it appropriate for me to stop him when he interrupts or ask him to stop/share when he has the side discussions? Should I tell him I am going to do this?

He is a high D and high C - very passionate and very vocal. He's also pretty upset about recent layoffs and such but that's not an excuse.

Specifically, at a meeting yesterday afternoon he: 1) was writing notes on a sheet of paper to a peer next to him & discussing it; and 2) he kept interrupting a presenter on the phone when that person was answering a question he asked.

My feedback is:
"There were two specific behaviors at the meeting yesterday I need to address. First, you were writing notes back and forth to 'teammate' sitting next to you and talking lowly to him. This behavior distracted the rest of the team who kept looking at the sheet when you wrote. Once you confused the presenter when you say "no" loud enough that he could hear and he paused and asked if there was a question. Since we were using a web cam, the remote areas could see this side conversation as well. When you do this, you distract all parties present. It is disrespectful to the speaker. You were not listening to the presenter when he was answering questions - most of which you asked. I will not allow side discussions at my meetings - written or oral. If you have something to say, say it to the group or keep it for after.

Secondly, I counted 8 times where you interrupted the speaker answering a question that you asked. You should not interrupt others. First, you did not listen to their whole comment. You should not assume you know what they were going to say from the start of a question. Secondly, others on the team may have been interested in the whole statement but never heard it. Third, people will quit talking if you continually interrupt them. A lot of people on the team are high C's and quiet in meetings. Your talking over them shuts them right down. You must wait until someone is finished speaking before talking.

What can you do differently??

US41's picture

If your direct is interrupting you during a meeting, I think holding up your hand and saying, "Please do not interrupt me. Everyone will get a chance to be heard," is perfectly fair.

After the meeting, give feedback, but not what you wrote. Feedback is best when it is fast and focused. "When you interrupt me, not so good. What can you do differently?

What you propose to deliver is like dropping a nuclear weapon on a housefly.


MsSunshine's picture

Thanks for the input. I've been told before by a direct that they thought I over reacted. But a former boss always told me I was too easy on people.

I'll keep it short. He was actually interrupting a peer of my boss ... and my boss already talked to me about how bad it looked. This direct hasn't worked for me long and apparently was allowed to do this in his other groups. (He's really smart.)


RobRedmond's picture

If your direct commits to change or you have to shoot across his bow continuously without impact, then pull him into a conference room and make your speech. Hold him to a commitment, and enter into Late Stage Coaching mode. "Dude, this is serious. Either you stop with the interrupting, or I put a stop to your opportunities to do it."

I don't know what your former boss was about, but I think giving the feedback above too many times in a row without stepping it up a level and getting serious could be perceived as being too easy on people.

I wouldn't worry about being too easy on people. If you give the feedback, chances are the interrupting will diminish. Especially if you give this feedback, "When you were listening to Joe yesterday, you let him finish every sentence. It looked like you were really concerned about what he was saying, and you appeared very professional. Good job. Do more of that, please."

Make sure you make a big fuss when he doesn't interrupt.

-Rob Redmond

MsSunshine's picture

He actually walked into my office for our one-on-one and said he screwed up and acted badly at the meeting and was sorry and he'd never talk at a meeting again. We talked through appropriate ways of expressing disagreement and possibly using this as a longer term coaching topic.

Right before he left, he told me a peer had told him he acted badly. It really bothered him to lose the respect of that peer. I'd been working on having the team give each other honest feedback. It was both good to see that they are trying and the strong effect.

HMac's picture

I'm glad it worked out.

I wanted to say that you're also combining two different behaviors into one proposed feedback (1. side conversations with a peer; 2. Interrupting).

I though it would be still worth pointing this out, because the my experience is that broader the coverage of the feedback, the harder it is to stay focused.

I would have told you to pick one and give feedback. And then wait for another instance to provide feedback on the other behavior.

But again, glad it's working out for you.


asteriskrntt1's picture

Hi Sunshine

Glad things are improving. I am leering of people who make absolute promises (I will NEVER etc.) People are people and they fall down, then get back up. Don't think this will be the last time you have this discussion but as Rob said, make sure you not when he is successful.


PS - We all work with super smart people. That is no excuse for letting one slide. As smart as they are, there are likely many candidates just as smart that you can replace them with.

Davis Staedtler's picture

I like US41's input here. Also, the O.A.T.meal Model will apply, collect yourself and deliver the feedback directly after the meeting. The shot across the bow is a terrific reminder here as well. Remember to keep the goal in mind. The goal is to give the feedback. We can't control their response, nor should we have an expectation that they will reform behaviors immediately. The goal is to GIVE the feedback.