Co-workers Interrupt Sales Presentation

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about interruptions during a sales:

Several co-workers constantly interrupt others while they are conversing with a customer, making a sale, in a retail store. Even though there are no commissions paid these co-workers, their interruptions do not seem appropriate.

Signed, Not Right

Dear Not Right:

You don’t say how these interruptions have been handled. I assume you are a coworker of those who interrupt and see the interruptions as both impolite and harming sales, but you don’t know how to voice your opinion without causing trouble between your coworkers and you. This is a problem for your store manager should handle; however, apparently she/he has not. You are right to be concerned because the success in sales affects all of you employed. You have several overlapping options: If you are interrupted by a coworker, politely say to that individual, “Thank you for wanting to help but, Sally, I can handle this sale.” Then afterward, privately re-enforce that with, “Sally, please don’t ever interrupt me again while I am talking with a customer. It is impolite and can hurt a sale. I won’t interrupt you. So don’t interrupt me. Please don’t be angry about this.”Wait until you observe such interruptions again and to gently say to that individual something like, “Dana, that is something to talk about later.”

To take your co-worker aside and frankly voice your discomfort with such interruptions, “We all want to make a sale, you probably wanted to help Sara, but do you realize that interrupting her conversation with a customer is impolite and can turn off a customer?” Or “Jane, I know you don’t realize that interrupting a coworker while speaking to a customer is impolite and can hurt a sale or you wouldn’t do it.” Or “Jane, you interrupted Sara while she was making a sale. You might have thought you could do a better job, but that is impolite to both Sara and the customer.”At your next staff meeting, raise the problem of co-workers interruptions. Suggest that you have a rule of no interruptions unless requested by the one engaged with a customer.Speak with your store manager about your concern about interruptions. Ask that he/she make clear that interrupting a coworker is wrong. Do these suggestions make sense? This is a solvable problem. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and that is what you want a store that is coworker and customer polite and friendly.

William Gorden