Tone Deafness & Talking Over Another – Two Peas in a Pod

“Never let your persistence and passion turn into stubbornness and ignorance.”

Anthony J. D’Angelo

In a separate blog, I shared my reckoning with manterrupting. I hope owning this interpersonal facilitate forgiveness from my interrupting relatives, friends, and colleagues over the years. If not, I understand. Some may argue setting this expectation is as much an exercise in male privilege as manterrupting. I have no rebuttal to that fair assertion either.

Now, I pivot to tone deafness and talking over someone – two demotivating forms of interruption.

I reference not the inability to distinguish the difference in pitch between different notes. I speak of aloofness. Self-Centeredness. Incompetence. They are the relatives continuing to put the onus of solving problems “in the hands of the Lord” yet change nothing about their behavior causing unfavorable situations. They are the colleagues who repeatedly perform archaic strategies producing mediocre results – though more effective alternatives exist.

Tone deafness impedes getting things done effectively and efficiently. It thwarts efforts to achieve wholeheartedness. We may be tone deaf toward one or more factors comprising the whole – which becomes deprived of the attention it deserves.

For instance, being tone deaf toward punctuality because you do not like being told what to do; making every single act a show of rebellion; may cause you to lose the bid for the condo you want, the promotion at work you deserve, or the dentist appointment you need.

“You aren’t learning anything when you’re talking.”

Lyndon B. Johnson

Talking over someone elicits confusion, numbness, and exhaustion. It chases active listening out of the room. It is a form of bullying. Talking over another when it is clear they are speaking, passive aggressively says that person’s input is unimportant.

Talking over others interrupts conversational flow, diverts positive energy arising from feeling heard to the more taxing dread of playing bad cop in ensuring credit for one’s ideas is not confiscated. It births suspicion; which spreads to other areas of colleague engagement causing unnecessary drama. For the remainder of the dialogue, the person talking over others siphons excitement and focus from the point of the conversation to being annoyed by the loquacious perp’s ineptitude or selfishness.

Talking over another illustrates an insatiable need to set the record straight. Whichever record is straightened, its relationship to the matter at hand is irrelevant. The goal? Shutdown conversations, meetings, stop-n-chats, lunches, bouts of laughter, or whatever may be transpiring. Why? To feel seen and heard.


Person One: We should consider contracting with Company X because…
Second Person Interrupts: The same Company X selected last time which overbilled us by 50% of the agreed-upon price? That Company X?

The point of this blog is to share my experiences and have the reader reflect on how this shows up in his/her life. No solutions here; addressing tone deafness and those who talk over us is purely situational. Stopping and checking this behavior is left to the parties involved, who knows the ordeal best.

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