Interrupting and Disagreeing Politely - English Oral Skills Notes

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  • English is a polite language. For this reason, it is advisable to indirectly contradict a person. It is rude to do it directly.
  • Although conversation is a two way street, interrupting a speaker is usually regarded as rude. However, at times you need to interrupt. When then can one interrupt?
  • You can only interrupt to:
    • Ask a question;
    • Make a correction;
    • Offer an opinion; and
    • Ask for clarification.
  • In this section, we shall learn how to interrupt and disagree politely.

Steps to Interrupting

  • It is important to take note of the following steps when interrupting a speaker during a conversation or during a discussion:
    1. Signal to the speaker that you have something to contribute by implementing the body language such as:
      1. Making eye contact;
      2. Slightly raising your hand;
      3. Sitting forward on your seat;
      4. Quietly clearing your throat; or
      5. Coughing quietly.
    2. Wait patiently until the speaker pauses or incase of a lull in the conversation.
    3. Speak clearly using polite phrases. These phrases will be learnt later.
    4. Wait for the speaker to acknowledge your request to speak before you do so.
    5. After you have spoken, thank the speaker and allow them continue.
    6. Take a deep breath and calm yourself before interrupting when you feel angry or annoyed.
    7. Take care to use low tone of voice.


  1. Unnecessary interruptions.
  2. Finishing speaker’s sentences.
  3. Interrupting to correct the speaker unnecessarily.
  4. Speaking harshly or using disparaging comments.

Phrases Used in Interruption

Below is the list of phrases which you can use to politely interrupt someone:

  • May I say something here?
  • I am sorry to interrupt, but …
  • Excuse me, may I add to that…?
  • Do you mind if I jump in here?
  • Before we move on to the next point, may I add …?
  • Sorry, I didn’t catch that, is it possible to repeat the last point?
  • I don’t mean to intrude ….
  • Sorry to butt in, but …
  • Would this be a good time to ….?
  • I hate to interrupt, but …
  • I know it is rude to interrupt, but …

How to Disagree Politely

The tips that follow will help you handle disagreements without annoying the other person in a discussion or discussion:

  1. Actively listen to the other person’s point of view. This helps in showing respect and understanding of the other person’s perspective.
  2. Stay calm even if you feel angry.
  3. Acknowledge the other person’s point of view before the buts.
  4. Disagree only with the person’s idea but not he person.
  5. Use polite phrases to respectfully disagree.
  6. Speak in a low tone.
  7. Give some credence to the other person’s point of view before challenging it. For example, say: It’s partly true that I bought this phone at a cheap price, but …

Disagreeing Politely Expressions

  • I agree up to a point, but …
  • I see your point, but …
  • That’s partly true, but …
  • I’m not so sure about that.
  • That’s not entirely true
  • I am sorry to disagree with you, but …
  • I’m afraid I have to disagree
  • I must take issue with you on that
  • It’s unjustifiable to say that..
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