My Embarrassing Tale – And Its Lesson For Leaders

I can’t stand it when people interrupt me.

It stems from being the youngest kid in my family. I was constantly being talked over by my two older brothers and my parents.

Don’t get me wrong, as far as childhood wounds go, I’d say I didn’t do too badly. But it’s interesting how it still triggers me.

Earlier this week I had a little tanty at my family because they ALL (yes – the daughter, the two sons AND the husband) were interrupting me before I finished my sentences. I may have even stomped my foot in frustration.

After momentarily pausing what they were doing to watch this little two-year-old-like rant unfold, they all did that thing people do – when they look sideways knowingly at each other as if they were all in on a little secret I wasn’t privy too.

“What?!” I demanded (really getting into the whole toddler vibe).

My husband then tentatively (bravely?) suggested that I too, fall prey to this interjectory faux pas. In fact, they all claimed, I was one of the worst culprits.

Of course I denied this profusely and petulantly stomped off to the bedroom.

But, after a little ‘pity party’ and a few folded arm “hurrumphs”, I decided to take it on the chin and try an experiment. I would watch myself interacting with others during the week and see if I interrupted other people.

I was mortified.

It turns out the thing I hate in others I do ALL. THE. FREAKIN’. TIME.

Finishing people’s sentences, interrupting people mid-flow and talking over my colleagues?

Yup. That’s me. Interruptus Mostus.

The moral of this somewhat humiliating ditty?

The next time you take someone to task or talk about their need for  improvement in the workplace (or at home for that matter) you might want to do the little “watch myself for a week” experiment.

Good leadership starts with self.

Look in the mirror before you look through the window.

Work on yourself much more than you work on others.

All of us can continue to develop our self-awareness. Putting things on your mirror radar is a simple yet effective  way of doing this.

Meanwhile…I’m workin’ reeeeally hard to let people finish their sentences. I’ve apologised sheepishly to my family. And, I’m saving my tantrum-like behaviour for when it really matters!


  1. Maria Deutsch on May 26, 2016 at 4:23 am

    Kia ora Suzie,
    maybe this quote to add to your insightful reflection:
    “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    I found it always helps to remind me to implement what I understand first before I suggest it to others. Some days I am more successful than others.

    Nga Mihi

    • Suzi McAlpine on May 26, 2016 at 4:48 am

      A wonderful quote Maria. Thanks for sharing.

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Suzi McAlpine

Suzi McAlpine is a Leadership Development Specialist and author of the award-winning leadership blog, The Leader’s Digest. She writes and teaches about accomplished leadership, what magic emerges when it’s present, and how to ignite better leadership in individuals, teams and organisations. Suzi has been a leader and senior executive herself, working alongside CEOs and executive teams in a variety of roles. Her experience has included being a head-hunter, an executive coach, and a practice leader for a division at the world’s largest HR consulting firm. Suzi provides a range of services as a Leadership Development Specialist, including executive coaching, leadership workshops and development programmes for CEOs, leadership teams and organisations throughout New Zealand.

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