Why do people interrupt when we are relaying a story? It seems after a few sentences in, it reminds them of something similar that happened to them and they have to tell it right then and not let you finish your story. Or they interrupt and finish my story! It has become so common that I often don't continue with my story after they are finished and rarely do they ask about the ending. Or if they have guessed about my story ending, I say yes or no, or “That is not what I was going to say” or “Guess again” or some other attempt to be funny but get the point across.
Interrupters interrupt out of enthusiasm (at least that’s the most benevolent explanation), impatience, and/or egotism (that’s the least benevolent explanation). Etiquetteer, lo these many years, has been looking daggers at That Mr. Dimmick Who Thinks He Knows So Much, who has a terrible habit of interrupting others either to supply “the right word” or to speed things along. He never seems to understand that people need to tell their stories in their own way in their own time.
Someone wise once said to Etiquetteer that people take advantage of us as much as we allow. The time has come for you to stop allowing people to interrupt you. Like Congresswoman Maxine Waters, you need to “reclaim your time!”
There are a few different methods; experiment with what feels most comfortable (or least uncomfortable) to you.
The Plough: When in the midst of a story and a companion interrupts for what might be a long time, just don’t stop talking. Continue telling your story. Raise your voice slightly if necessary to make the point that you have the floor and will not relinquish it.
The Reverse: When interrupted, after collecting yourself, interrupt right back. “No, it’s actually a little different from the way you’re telling it. Now, back to me . . . “
The Call Out: Just ask your interrupter point blank, “Are you interrupting me? Don’t worry, you’ll get your turn when I’m finished.”
The Silent Treatment: Remain completely silent even after your interrupter has finished, and perhaps after all conversation has ceased. Focus your Steely Gaze on the interrupter. If someone asks you a question, respond with “Oh, am I allowed to talk again?” This will, of course, lead to a Big Discussion in which no one may wish to participate. Just be advised. In fact, let’s modify that to use less sarcasm. Sarcasm doesn’t do much good in social situations except on television.
All these might need to be accompanied by hand gestures.
From your query Etiquetteer picks up that there might be some Habitual Offenders in your life. You need to talk about this with them one on one, away from other people. Tell them you think they might be unaware of their behavior, but that you are, that it feels disrespectful, and that it needs to stop. Believe it or not, not all interrupters are aware of how often they steal the floor from others. And after you’ve had that conversation, stand up for yourself by using one of those methods above. Etiquetteer wishes you uninterrupted success in future conversations!