How to Repond To Communication Blocks When Initiated by the Boss (part 2)

How to Respond to Communication Blocks When Initiated by the Boss (part 2)

Everyone has different communication habits and behaviours. These can be interpreted in many ways due to our nature. The messages can be perceived as negative by the receiver.

In this second article, we will look at a boss who changes the subject and interrupts and what to do about it.

Changing the subject

Changing the subject can easily be interpreted as a lack of interest or unwillingness to listen.


In an Executive meeting, the CEO dismisses discussions about Human Resources issues every time they come up.

A teenager quickly moves to another subject when faced with the problem of cleaning up his room.

A spouse who embellishes his financial situation when his partner starts talking about it.

An owner of a small company who focuses on operation efficiency when health and safety matters are raised (often happens unfortunately).

How we feel

Many feel a lot of emotions. Does the person have something to hide? Is the person not ready to discuss the issue? Are there no interests? Is our input not valued?

The person violates our dignity by failing to listen or recognize our worth. The person does not feel we are worthy of his/her attention by failing to listen, acknowledging what we say or responding.

The more often this behaviour occurs, the more frustrated we are and the more negative our reactions become.

What to do about it

Verify first. Is this something that happens frequently? The person may have a lot on her mind or may simply not be aware of the behaviour.

What assumptions are you making about the other person’s intentions?

Could the person be viewing the situation based on a different set of values or attitude?

What do you want for yourself, for the other person, for the relationship?

If this really bothers you, address it rapidly and in private.

(Use Process for Difficult Conversations to prepare or Non-Violent Communication in Practice in my previous articles)

  • Sort out the facts
  • Look at emotions
  • Establish your goal
  • Decide on the mindset you want to adopt
  • Prepare your script
  • Practice and repeat until you are comfortable (visualize a positive outcome)
  • Do it


The Boss Who Interrupts

Interruptions can be useful when you want to point out facts clearly. However, most people interrupt others to express their opinion or to counter or oppose what has been said.

How We Feel When Interrupted

When interrupted, the speaker may well think that the other party is not interested in what he/she is saying. We may feel disrespected nor recognized as a contributor. We may see this as someone who feels superior and that our opinion is not valuable.

What to do about it. How to respond.

This is often an example of lack of awareness from the interrupter. Perhaps the other person does not even know the bad habit and the impact it has. Perhaps the person is very eager to help and to participate in the discussion.

It is very useful to describe the situation.

I feel increasingly frustrated when you interrupt me in the middle of a sentence or finish the sentence for me. You have done on multiple occasions in the last month. Can you let me finish first and then, share your perspective?

Your input is valuable to me. When you interrupt me like this, it may not be in line with what I want to say. Can you let me finish first and then we can hear your input? “

If the person continues to interrupt be a little more forceful

“I have brought your attention to this several times. I really get annoyed when you interrupt me in the middle of my thoughts. It becomes counter productive. Can we establish a process where we both agree to let the other finish before intervening? When one talks, the other agrees to listen attentively. “

It is a question of respect and common sense. Most persons will change their behaviour when they become conscious of it.

Jean-Paul Gagnon, ACC, CHRP is a professional coach, certified as CINERGY Conflict Management Coach. He is also a trained practitioner in conflict resolution. He is a mediator in the workplace and a volunteer community mediator. He has over 35 years of experience in Human Resource Management.                    

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