Do you know what men hate? Overlapping. You may ask, “What is overlapping?”

It’s how women talk! Think of a group of women talking. What do we do? Women can interrupt another woman’s conversation but we think of it as acceptable “overlapping.” Men think of it as rude. What do men hate? Overlapping! Tweet that!

This is difficult for us to understand. When we women talk among ourselves, we will offer something to the conversation and no one minds. Women consider “overlapping” a way to show their involvement in the conversation in order to develop closeness. Men view it as disrespectful because they wait their turn–most of the time. Of course, all these comments are generalizations. 

In her book, You Just Don’t Understand, linguistics professor Deborah Tannen explains, “In many of the comments I heard from people I interviewed, men felt interrupted by women who overlapped with words of agreement and support and anticipation of how their sentences and thoughts would end. If a woman supported a man’s story by elaborating on a point different from the one he had intended, he felt his right to tell his own story was being violated. He interpreted the intrusion as a struggle for control of the conversation.”

I decided to test this idea. I decided that when I next was in a group of friends with a particular male friend, I would purposely “overlap” him. I considered him a very spiritual and secure person. I choose him in particular so that I couldn’t wonder, “Well, his reaction was only because he’s insecure.” 

I put my plan into action. As my “secure” male friend was talking, I deliberately interrupted him. Another woman would have thought I was contributing to the conversation and she would have responded with another aspect of the topic. What did my male friend do? Shut his mouth and not utter another word.

Think about this “overlapping” concept within the context of your marriage or in a business situation. Have you ever sensed another man emotionally withdraw after you “overlapped.” At least you thought it was overlapping and contributing to the topic. But he most likely felt disrespected and interrupted.

I’ve found this information very important in giving my husband the blessing of respecting him. Let me know if you find this important. I’d love to hear.