Social Norm Violation: Interrupting Others (By: Jennae Haug)

In our culture, it is typically impolite to constantly interrupt someone when that person is talking. Doing so may be considered rude and even selfish. So what happened when I chose to interrupt those who attempted to have a conversation not just with me but even around me for an entire day? That’s right. All day I interrupted people who were having conversations. I started out with those who were talking with me. They would get a sentence or two into what they were trying to say, then I would interrupt with a semi-relevant comment that turned into something completely off topic. Those people tended to get back on subject when it was once again their turn. However, after the fourth interruption, the majority of people gave up trying to hold a conversation. Towards the end of the day, I also began interrupting other people’s conversations. For example, I got home and my roommates were discussing dinner, and I immediately popped in. This was not as bothersome at first, but by the end of the night when I had interrupted every conversation they attempted to have, they went for a walk.

The common initial response to being interrupted was understanding. People understand that others want to get a word in, and I think in our culture, that is alright. However, once being interrupted became a pattern, frustration began to fume, and people left the conversation as quickly as possible. I initially felt uncomfortable violating the norm simply because it was rude, and I genuinely am interested in what others have to say to me. I apologized the next day to all those I interrupted and even offended, and they were very understanding.

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