A viral TikTok video explains why interrupting others isn't always as rude as it might seem

For many of us, the idea of interrupting someone when they're talking is almost always a no-no. Conversation means taking turns—listening while another person talks, taking some time to think about what they've said, and then responding accordingly. Interjecting before a person is finished speaking is seeing as "cutting them off" and perceived as rude.

While this perception may be part of the historically dominant Northern European culture in the U.S., it's not a universal thing. In fact, the opposite is true within many cultural groups.

TikToker Sari (@gaydhdgoddess) explained how conversing works in Northeastern Jewish culture, and how her being "an interrupty person" isn't actually a sign of rudeness, but rather a sign of active engagement in the conversation. This concept is called "cooperative overlapping," and while it may appear to be "interrupting" to an outside observer, it's a standard conversation style for people accustomed to it.


"You're overlapping just like at the end of what someone's saying, you're not trying to cut them off because you don't care what they have to say. You just, you already got the gist, so you're building up on it. So to us, good conversation, there are not any pauses. If there's a pause, I think somebody doesn't want to be speaking to me anymore, unless they're visibly thinking or chewing or something."

She explained that the reason some people find Jewish Northeasterners "grating" (think Bernies Sanders, she said) is because their conversation style is different. That doesn't mean it's bad or wrong—it's just different.

The term "cooperative overlapping" comes from sociolinguist Deborah Tannen, who described how it works in her book "Conversational Style: Analyzing Talk Among Friends." In a later essay, Tannen described how people with different conversation styles might interpret interruptions and pauses in speech:

"A speaker who stops talking because another has begun is unlikely to think, 'I guess we have different attitudes toward cooperative overlap.' Instead, such a speaker will probably think, 'You are not interested in hearing what I have to say,' or even 'You are a boor who only wants to hear yourself talk.' And the cooperative overlapper is probably concluding, 'You are unfriendly and are making me do all the conversational work here'... '"

In other words, these conversational differences can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings if we don't recognize and understand what's happening and why.

A few caveats are in order, of course. Not all Jewish people participate in cooperative overlapping as a rule, and there are several cultures outside of the Jewish Northeast who do. People from various Eastern European, Indian, and African-American cultures, as well as different geographical regions (generally New York/Northeast), have shared that such interaction is common and viewed as active engagement. It can also be common among people with ADHD or other neurodivergences.

As Anil Dash wrote on Twitter, "Ahhhh omg it feels so validating to hear this has a name! I really struggle with talking over people (I understand many experience this very negatively) but it's an incredibly difficult pattern to change because it's literally how I grew up communicating enthusiasm & support. Not talking 'with' someone is like leaving them alone, similar to refusing to look at them when talking."

The difference between cooperative overlapping and actually rudely interrupting may be subtle, especially for those who aren't used to it. Those of us from cultures that take distinct turns talking and allow pauses between turns may find cooperative overlapping overwhelming, and the seemingly chaotic conversation style can feel offputting.

But that discomfort goes both ways. People from overlapping cultures can interpret pauses as coldness or indifference.

Of course, there are personality differences that come into play with all of this as well. Some people within a cultural group may find that the dominant conversational style within that group doesn't work well for them individually. And it's also important to acknowledge that there's a difference between cooperative overlapping in a conversation within a friend group and someone actually trying to dominate the conversation within a different power dynamic. The word "cooperative" is key here. If it becomes competitive, that's a whole other thing.

The bottom line is communication varies a lot between cultural groups and it's good to understand those variations. What's normal or acceptable in one might feel uncomfortable to another, but that doesn't make it wrong. Learning about these differences and adjusting our expectations accordingly can go a long way toward more enjoyable conversations for all.

The fasting period of Ramadan observed by Muslims around the world is a both an individual and communal observance. For the individual, it's a time to grow closer to God through sacrifice and detachment from physical desires. For the community, it's a time to gather in joy and fellowship at sunset, breaking bread together after abstaining from food and drink since sunrise.

The COVID-19 pandemic has limited group gatherings in many countries, putting a damper on the communal part of Ramadan. But for one community in Barcelona, Spain, a different faith has stepped up to make the after sunset meal, known as Iftar, as safe as possible for the Muslim community.

According to Reuters, Father Peio Sanchez, Santa Anna's rector, has opened the doors of the Catholic church's open-air cloisters to local Muslims to use for breaking the Ramadan fast. He sees the different faiths coming together as a symbol of civic coexistence.

Keep Reading Show less
Courtesy of CeraVe
True

"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

Keep Reading Show less