Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Interrupting cow.

Interrupting co…


That has long been one of my favorite “knock knock” jokes. I find it hysterical ¬– perhaps because it pokes fun at so many people in my world: the interrupters.

I’ve tried to be patient with those closest to my orbit. But it’s becoming more and more difficult to remain calm and overlook the blurted insertion into a conversation, a story, or even a focused concentration on one’s work.

I’ve gotten to the point that when someone in my tribe interrupts me to point out a similarity to what happened to him – or even to fully validate what I’m saying – I just stop talking.

I had first thought it was my issue, that I took too long to relay a story, or concept, or get to the point. But I’m not sure now. I think most people are just impatient and need to jump in right NOW so they can tell their similar story.

Or maybe they feel like they are “sharing,” which seems to be gaining in popularity. Thank you, social media!

We used to call those people a Buttinski. They can’t listen to someone else’s entire story without adding their own experience, interjected at whatever random point they choose, even steering the story away from the original point.

This kind of behavior drives me crazy. And, as I read recently, I’m not the only one.

A recent study found that “interrupting” is the most common annoying issue that people have with their coworkers.

Back in March, a promotions company, Quality Logo Products, conducted a survey of some 2,000 Americans to find out what behaviors they found most irritating in their coworkers. I recently read about the survey on LinkedIn, where the repost got a fair amount of attention from my peers.

Want to guess what was the most-often cited annoying habit? Well, let me interrupt you here and tell you: It was interrupting.

The margin wasn’t huge: 48% said coworkers who constantly interrupt others are the most annoying, while a close second at 47% was “taking credit for someone else’s work,” followed almost as closely (45%) by “oversharing.”

The study continued asking questions about annoying coworkers: Have you ever confronted a coworker about being annoying? How often do you get annoyed? What topics of conversation are most annoying? (Interrupt me here if you know the answer. Of course you do: politics.)

Since we brought up coworkers, I have to say that working mostly from home for the past two years has been a blessing for me. Not only can I work in my jammies, at odd hours, and tackle the laundry between editing articles, but I don’t have any coworkers in the next room.

Not that my coworkers in the office are annoying. They truly aren’t. We have a mostly quiet atmosphere when we all are there for production days.

Turns out, some of the above issues about interrupting might just be true of me as well. I’ve caught myself a few times recently jumping into the middle of a companion’s story. For me, it’s almost always questions (like a true journalist): Who was there? What did you do after that? When did that happen? Where was this?

But that depth of interest doesn’t mean I should interrupt to ask questions. My experience doesn’t matter to the story being told, the experience of the speaker.

All this discussion calls to mind something my mother pointed out when I was much younger: God gave you two ears and only one mouth. That means you should listen twice as much as you talk.

That about covers it, doesn’t it?