How to Deal With a Talkative Person in the Workplace

A chatty co-worker can cut into your concentration.

A chatty co-worker can cut into your concentration.

There's usually one in every office -- the talkative co-worker who seems to have nothing else to do but share the latest on his dog, his mother's surgery or what he watched on TV last night. You don't want to be mean -- maybe he's just lonely or insecure -- but the constant interruptions make you nuts and keep you from getting your work done. Find a way to cut off the onslaught of chatter without hurting your colleague's feelings or being rude.

Close the door to your office when you need to work without interruption. This makes it harder for the office chatterbox to hover at your desk, waiting for a chance to bend your ear. If you don't have your own office, find an unused conference room or office and shut yourself in there if you need a quiet zone.

Put on headphones or plug in your music player, if your company's OK with it. This will signal to most co-workers that you're trying to focus on what you're doing and would prefer not to be disturbed.

Tell your talkative co-worker, when she shows up at your cubicle, that you're working on a major project or have to meet a short deadline and can't talk right now. Then turn right back to your papers or your computer. If she doesn't take the hint, tell her again that you really can't talk now, but that you'll be glad to talk to her at lunch or after work.

Talk to your co-worker at a time when you are both relaxed and have a few minutes for a non-threatening, private conversation. Explain to him that you need to concentrate on your work when you're at your desk and have trouble staying focused when people stop by to chat. Tell him you would really appreciate his cooperation in saving conversation for lunch hour or after work. Be direct but don't attack him or be critical; he might not even realize what he's doing.

 

About the Author

As a national security analyst for the U.S. government, Molly Thompson wrote extensively for classified USG publications. Thompson established and runs a strategic analysis company, is a professional genealogist and participates in numerous community organizations.Thompson holds degrees from Wellesley and Georgetown in psychology, political science and international relations.

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