Interruptions had a reason

Several team members at a joint office had built up an irritation bordering on allergic reaction to the young man we call him Lars, who had a habit of interrupting when the others were sitting immersed in their tasks. Lars could find out in the room if anyone could remember a given postcode, and he wanted reading and confirmation of things that were considered routine tasks by the rest of the team members. Lars himself felt the reluctance the others nurtured towards him, and he tried to get into the heat by being welcoming and talkative, which had the opposite effect.

A study of Lars's needs behind his habit of asking elementary questions showed that he felt isolated and longing for contact, and appeal to the others' expertise was a spontaneous strategy. When the colleagues, who longed for labor, respect and immersion, heard it, a thaw was done on the spot.

From interruptions to respectful contact

It was not necessary to enter into new agreements; it came all by itself: When colleagues got up anyway to go to the copy room or the coffee machine, they rounded Lars' table to say a single remark. Lars himself was not a man of many words, and just a few seconds of contact with colleagues now and then calmed him differently, and he switched to sending his requests for approval of text by email, so that colleagues did not have to be interrupted.

Where Lars had previously been isolated and colleagues tense over the many interruptions, the need-based communication helped the team to develop a culture of friendliness and acceptance. It was vulnerable to Lars to stand up, but the investment came back for the whole team.

Does your business have a case that could be the next good example?


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