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April 28, 2015

Polite Ways to Interrupt in English

Americans do not prefer to talk over each other in professional settings.
There are many reasons why a person may interrupt others while speaking. First and foremost, when interacting with US clients, Indian developers must learn about the conversational cues. These cues are different in American English than Indian English. If a lack of understanding of these cues creates a situation where the only way to interact is to interrupt, it could cause the US client to get a bad impression of you and your team. If the client is often interrupted or the team members on the Indian side often interrupt each other, the American client will get the impression that the Indian team members are not effective communicators. This will not give a good impression of you, your team or your business.

The phrases below showcase the polite and impolite ways to enter a conversation if interruptions are necessary. Use the polite interruption phrases both with your US counterparts AND with your Indian teammates when on group calls.

How do we politely interrupt others in English? Below there are phrases to use and to avoid when interrupting others.
English phrases to use to politely interrupt someone.

Phrases to Politely Interrupt
Try to use these phrases:
  • "I'm sorry to interrupt, but...."
  • "Before we move on to the next point, may I add...?"
  • "Sorry, I didn't catch that, is it possible to repeat the last point.."
  • "Excuse me (name), may I add to that...?"
  • "Do you mind if I jump in here?"
  • "Pardon me..."
  • "I don't mean to intrude..."
  • "While that is an important point, it's also important to add..."

Impolite Phrases for Interruptions
Do not use these phrases:
  • Wait a minute!!
  • What was that?
  • Hold on/Hold up while I say...
  • Be quiet...
  • It's my turn to talk...
  • What are you talking about?
  • But, I already said....
  • You're not listening to me... I said....
  • What did you say?

*Take note the tone of voice is important as the words used.

Jennifer Kumar is a coach helping Indians to communicate better within their teams and with US clients in English. Contact her today for more information.

Related Posts:
Phrases to use in a group discussion (conversation)
Making small talk with US Clients
When to Say "Sorry" to an American

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Authentic Journeys: Bridging Culture on Virtual Teams

We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.