Here's what happened just the other evening. During a business dinner, I sat with two friends I've known for a long time—a husband and his wife. We were in the middle of a discussion when another friend came up to our table. Granted, she has a long and close relationship with the couple, and I'm just a casual friend. She interrupted the conversation, nary an acknowledgement or hello to me, captured the attention of my friends and that was that. Conversation stalled. All the while, she stood (no room at the table), making the wife turn her back to me, and the husband turned to the person next to him. Is the picture clear?
People often have one-track minds with an immediate,
self-serving agenda –
I’m going to talk. They often
don’t even realise that they've interrupted, or that they should
have included the person just knocked out of the conversation.
In this case, the best thing for all of us would have been to
get up from the table and talk as a group. There is no way
three people sitting and one standing could have been a
conversation! In this situation, moreover, the couple could
have also shown a bit of courtesy...
Tips for when you do want to interrupt
- If you're determined to approach people who are talking, look and listen.
- Does it look like the people with whom you want to talk are they actively already engaged in conversation?
- Does their body language suggest concentration?
- Does it sound like they're in a heated or enthusiastic conversation?
- If you answer
yesto these points, then wait!
- When you do think it’s appropriate the join in the existing conversation, acknowledge all of the people in that particular group with a hello. (Remember, in my case, she didn’t even smile, nod, or anything!)
- Perhaps, if people are standing, then introduce yourself
may I join in your conversation?
- Hand shaking is not always necessary.
- If someone approached while you are having a conversation and asks to join in the existing conversation – be positive! It's good networking! Also,
- Tell the newcomer what you were talking about so they feel welcomed and can join in, if they wish.
- If you don’t want another person to be part of the
conversation, bet nice about it. Say
I hope you don’t mind...
In truth, I have never experienced or heard of this kind of situation. Lucky me!