Expert reveals why women shouldn't be afraid to seem 'difficult'

Tired of being interrupted at work? Public speaking expert reveals the six phrases YOU need to know to assert yourself in meetings

  • UK public speaking expert Patricia Seabright advises women on how to speak up
  • She said women should not be afraid of seeming difficult in the workplace
  • She also gave her tips on what to do when people keep interrupting you at work

A British public speaking expert has revealed the six phrases anyone can use to regain control of a conversation after being interrupted.  

Patricia Seabright shares her expertise in a new book She Said! A Guide For Millennial Women to Speaking and Being Heard and explains women especially should not be afraid of speaking up, even if they’re perceived as being ‘difficult’. 

She also gave tips on how to react when people keep talking over you, and gave five sentences to ease the tensions and direct the narrative when interruptions occur.

A public speaking expert has revealed the six phrases anyone can use to regain control of a conversation after being interrupted. Stock image 

Patricia stressed the importance of finishing your point even if you get interrupted.

‘Notice if you ever feel silenced by interruptions,’ she said. ‘Notice it for what it is – an interruption – and try to just continue making your point. 

‘If you are not allowed to, calmly challenge the interruption. Find some words and phrases you’re comfortable with to push back on the interruption.

This needs to be in your style and in a way that you feel is mostly likely to succeed in your work context. Some examples could be:

  • ‘I’d appreciate the chance to finish my point.’
  • ‘Wait a second, please let me finish.’
  • ‘Give me one more minute to finish my point, then I’m interested to hear your point of view.’
  • ‘Hold on, I haven’t got to the good bit yet!’
  • ‘I’m glad you’re so eager to contribute, but please do let me finish my thought.’
  • ‘I’m sure you didn’t mean to interrupt me so if I could finish my point, which was…’

Patricia explained women and men were likely to be perceived differently in the work place.   


Patricia Seabright shares her expertise in a new book She Said! A Guide For Millennial Women to Speaking and Being Heard (right) and explains women especially should not be afraid of speaking up, even if they’re perceived as being ‘difficult’

‘Women internalise the message that they need to be good girls, and if they are, then the affirmation and rewards come their way,’ she explained. 

‘This requirement of perfection is utterly exhausting and the phenomenon of burnout and ill health in women is a growing problem.’

She explained double standards like ‘a woman is bossy/ a man has leadership skills’ and ‘a woman is aggressive/ a man is assertive’ keeps many women from speaking up.  

Six phrases that will help you recover from ANY interruption 

  • ‘I’d appreciate the chance to finish my point.’
  • ‘Wait a second, please let me finish.’
  • ‘Give me one more minute to finish my point, then I’m interested to hear your point of view.’
  • ‘Hold on, I haven’t got to the good bit yet!’
  • ‘I’m glad you’re so eager to contribute, but please do let me finish my thought.’
  • ‘I’m sure you didn’t mean to interrupt me so if I could finish my point, which was…’

‘It does not matter whether you are speaking one-to-one or in a meeting, a presentation or a speech,’ Patricia wrote in the book. 

‘For you to make an impact and advocate for yourself, your ideas, or your beliefs, to get what you want and need, you must speak to influence.’

However, she noted that it was harder for women to speak in front of crowds – be in during a team meeting or at other corporate events – because women were more used to being silenced than their male counterparts. 

‘Sadly, a common theme has been that so many of these women have often struggled to be willing and able to speak up and speak out at public and internal events and meetings,’ Patricia wrote. 

‘I’ve identified a consistent pattern of women finding ways to avoid speaking engagements, ranging from simply not volunteering to speak to coming up with a creative array of good reasons to delegate that task to junior colleagues. 

‘I come across women who are technically brilliant but feel tongue-tied and incapable of speaking up even when they really need to.’

Patricia added that when women did find the courage to speak up during meetings, they were more likely to either be shouted down or interrupted.  

She said that often, ‘pleasant’ people did not realise they were interrupting, and would be mortified if she pointed it out.    

Patricia said it was important to draw attention to interruptions when they occurred and help other women overcome them. 

‘You can politely and calmly draw attention to the interruption (without attacking the interrupter) when you notice this happening to a woman,’ she continued. 

‘For example: “I don’t think Mary quite had the chance to finish making her point but it sounded like the beginning of a good idea. Mary, would you finish your point?” 

‘This will start raising people’s (both men’s and women’s) awareness of the importance of not interrupting, and will both encourage women and create a more positive environment for all.’

She added it would be helpful to keep track of who dominates the ‘airspace’, aka, who speaks the most out of women and men in the same meeting.   

‘You can use this just for your own awareness and as encouragement to speak more, or you can share it with colleagues to start raising awareness of the airspace issue, which might encourage men to let more women speak, perhaps even invite them to.’

She also encouraged women to volunteer or accept more offers for public speaking. 

‘This may push you out of your comfort zone but recognise that being in that comfort zone is a place of restriction that will do you no favours. Speak up, speak out, be heard,’ she said. 

She said it would also help women build her their public speaking skills and to become more confident.  

‘The more you do it, the better you will get at speaking You will worry less and your skills and confidence will grow.

‘It is important to tackle this at the beginning of your career, as it is a way to accelerate your progress towards career success and the achievement of your goals.’

Patricia Seabright is a speaking coach and the author of She Said! A guide for millennial women to speaking and being heard, published by Panoma Press on 25th November, priced £14.99, available online and from all good bookstores.  

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