Pardon the Interruption

Christine Whelan | Posted on 03/25/10

"Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself."

Interrupting someone is rude. Your mother taught you to wait until the other person is finishing speaking before sharing your own opinions. Seek first to understand, then to be understood, says self-help guru Stephen Covey.

That's all fine and good, but if you want to get a word in edgewise in any television debate, you've got to interrupt. And now, from U.S Congressmen to movie stars, interrupting seems to be spreading to all public forums.

At the Oscars, it's the thanks-for-playing-now-get-off-the-stage music that interrupts most long-winded remarks, but at this year's awards, Elinor Burkett "verbally nudged" (a.k.a. interrupted) her co-awardees comments.

In Congress, between Rep. Randy Neugebauer yelling "baby killer" during health care debates and Rep. Joe Wilson interrupting President Obama's speech by yelling "you lie!" it's beginning to look like the British Parliament.

While advertising used to be based on interrupting, The New York Times says that's a thing of the past... and yet, now our public figures are doing it instead?

One of Benjamin Franklin's core virtues was "silence." While this wasn't one of his own strongest virtues, he tried. He wrote:

Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself.

Wonder what he would think of all this interruption.

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