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Speak Up

Is interrupting a good business tactic, or just plain rude?

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This story appears in the November 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

From a young age, most women are taught to be polite in conversation, but how do these manners translate in a dynamic business conversation, especially in mixed company? Should women learn how to interrupt to be heard?

"I'm an excellent interrupter," says Cathy G. Lanier, 48, president of Technology Solutions Inc., a $2 million-plus software development and consulting firm in Columbia, South Carolina. "I tend to go with the ebb and flow of meetings and am pretty good at timing my interruptions so they don't seem overly rude or pushy. I've never left a meeting where I didn't get my opinions out there for review." Lanier admits she doesn't always wait for an opening, but she tries not to step on others too much.

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