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.

When You Have to Give Tough Love at Work

No matter if you’ve just become a manager or supervisor or you’ve been serving as one for a few years, there’s going to come a time – perhaps sooner than you think – where you’re going to have to provide some tough feedback to one of your team members.

When do such times crop up? When an employee is late in meeting a deadline. He rarely takes initiative. She made a mistake that could have been avoided. He has poor time-management skills. Her overall performance suddenly has taken a dive.

Take a look below for suggestions on what to say to these members of your team when warranted.

(Important note: always have these conversations in private – and private means in an office with the door closed, not huddled at the employee’s work station.)

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  • She misses a deadline.

Do you know why you weren’t able to meet the deadline/the project was late? Whenever you believe you’re going to be late with something or miss a deadline, I prefer that you let me know as soon as you think this may happen. That way we can see if we can find a solution to whatever is keeping you from completing a project on time.

  • He has overall poor time-management skills.

I’ve noticed that you tend to struggle with time management. When you’re late or behind it effects everyone because your colleagues often can’t do something until you do your part. Can you tell me why you’re struggling? Would meeting with me every morning for a few minutes help you prioritize your tasks  and goals for the day? I’d also like to encourage you to read [this book; these blog posts] on time management. They have many great strategies you can start implementing immediately.

  • She just doesn’t take initiative.

I’ve noticed that you haven’t been able to get yourself started on some tasks/projects you’ve been assigned.  Can you tell me why, in confidence? Is there anything I can do to help? Are you feeling overwhelmed and perhaps need to learn project management?

I know you are capable of doing this, otherwise I wouldn’t have asked you to. Perhaps if we met each morning briefly for a couple of weeks to discuss what needs to be done would be helpful to you?

  • He made a mistake that could have been easily avoided.

No one likes to make mistakes and I know you didn’t want to make this one. What’s done is done and we’re not going to dwell on it. What do you think you could have done to avoid it?  What are you going to do differently from here on out to make sure you don’t make a similar mistake again?

  • Her performance has been declining.

I’ve noticed that you haven’t been working at your usual high level and so I wanted to touch base with you to see  if there’s something I can help you with. If you want/need to talk to me about something, please know that I’m always here to listen, talk and act as a sounding board. Do you feel comfortable talking to me so that I can know what’s going on and together we can work to solve it?

Does your Southern California company need some more terrific people to manage? Let Helpmates help! We can source, vet and place skilled and reliable workers for your temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire opportunities. Contact the branch nearest you.

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