Dealing with an Over-talkative Co-Worker

What’s by far the best thing about work? Engaging with colleagues! Several studies have found that the thing just about all of us like about work the most is the camaraderie and engagement going to work each day provides us as we interact with colleagues and customers.

In other words: we often enjoy work because of our co-workers.  Humans, in short, are people persons!

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Yet as much as you enjoy chatting with friends there usually is at least one colleague who just…takes the talking up a notch to where it becomes too much of a good thing. As in, you have a hard time getting work done because a certain work buddy is always stopping by with the latest work news, news of the world, personal news, and so on.

Take a look below to learn how to deal with an over-talkative co-worker professionally and kindly.

  • Remember, chatting is good.

Talking with colleagues helps you build professionally personal bonds. If you want to take  the relationship to a true personal level – that is, be friends beyond work – that’s up to both of you. It’s not necessary to become best buds but daily interaction in a friendly way is important – and makes going to work enjoyable.

  • Always be polite when you want to disengage – or not engage at all.

If a colleague comes up and starts talking without asking if you have the time, politely let him know you are on a deadline or are deep in the throes of something and could this wait until you have more time to give your friend your full attention? Say something like “I’d love to hear more, but I need to get XX done now.” NEVER fib, saying you need to prep for a conversation with your boss in 15 minutes without really having a confab with your boss in 15 minutes.

  • Wear headphones or ear buds when you really want to concentrate.

You don’t need to actually listen to anything, but wearing headphones has become something of a universal “do not disturb” sign in the workplace.

Important nice-guy/gal tip: don’t jam the headphones on as soon as you see Chatty Charlie headed your way. He’ll no doubt see it and his feelings will be hurt. Instead, make sure to put your headphones on every time you need to do concentrated work.

  • You’re wearing your headphones but the colleague interrupts you anyway.

If this happens, explain your need for concentration and ask if your colleague needs help with a work-related problem that can’t wait or if he has other truly work-related news. If he says yes, determine if it really is important. If it isn’t critical for RIGHT NOW, ask if you two could schedule a conversation for a bit later.

In other words, ascertain if it really is important to talk right then because sometimes it, well, is.

  • If your friend doesn’t get the “do not disturb” message for non-critical conversation, it’s time for “the talk.”

Gently explain how much you enjoy speaking with your friend, but that there are sometimes you need to concentrate. You value his friendship, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and that’s concentrate on something.

If your friend balks or is affronted, understand that your request is a legitimate one: work is for working after all. If your friend doesn’t understand that, it’s on him, not you and it pretty much shows a lack of maturity and/or self-centeredness one his part.

If he persists or if he starts teasing, cajoling, whining, or even bullying you somewhat over this – and especially if the friend still interrupts you without concern for your need to concentrate – it may be time to speak with your own supervisor about it or even HR.

Are you looking for new work friends with whom to share quips at the water cooler? Then take a look at some of our current job opportunities and if one or more appeal to you, follow the application directions or contact the Helpmates’ branch office nearest you.

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