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Overlapping speech

 

Techniques > Conversation techniques > Interrupting > Overlapping speech

Speech overlap | Gender overlap | National overlap | See also

 

Speech overlap

When you talk and I interrupt, I seldom wait until you have finished speaking. Conversation thus tends to be set of overlapping sets of speaking as one person starts before the other ends.

There are two primary ways in which the interrupt of the second person happens. One way is the first person finishes their main point, which is spotted by the second person who interrupts as the first person starts elaborating or slowing. The alternative interrupt happens when the second person butts in earlier than might be expected, for example through enthusiasm, ignorance or in a power move.

Gender overlap

Women seem to overlap their conversations more, and are better able to hold simultaneous discussions with multiple other people than men. A potential reason for this is in the way that women can often multi-task better than men, who are better at single-focus activities.

National overlap

In some nations overlapping conversations are quite natural. In other countries, one person stops before the next person starts. In Japan, perhaps the most extreme example of this, the second person must pause to show respect and that they are considering their response carefully. This leads to the dilemma where many Japanese people find themselves unable to interrupt in many Western conversations.

At the other end of the scale, perhaps, Italians seem all to talk at once in their Latin enthusiasm that appears to be impolite and chaotic to people such as Germans and English (and especially the Japanese).

Perhaps there is a gender element here. The Japanese culture is traditionally male-dominated, which would tend to result in one thing at a time, including speaking. On the other hand, Italians are family driven in which the matriarch often holds court and women speak as much or more as men.

See also

Use of Language

 

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