Your talkative co-worker wants to talk to you all the time about conversations totally unrelated to work.  You have work to do and the quicker you do it, the quicker you can go home instead of working overtime.  What do you do?

Co-workers can interfere with your time if you let them.  Your goal is not to let them.  How?

Here are some effective ways to handle those oh-so-talkative co-workers:

  • Say, “I’m sorry, I can’t talk right now, but would you like to have lunch with me today and we can talk then?”
  • Put a note on your cubicle or office that simply says, “Not available until 2:00 p.m.”
  • When your co-workers walk to your desk, stand up to encourage them not to sit down.  Say, “I’m working on something now, but I can meet you to talk at break this afternoon at 3:00.”
  • Put books or papers in your empty chair so your co-worker will have to stand up.
  • Walk to the door of your cubicle or office so that your co-worker will follow.  Explain you are unavailable due to deadlines but would like to talk later.

The key to the effectiveness of all these strategies is following through in actually meeting your co-worker at break or lunch to chit-chat.  In doing so, you demonstrate that you want them as friends and you are modeling effective time management skills for them.   You may not be able to break their talkative habits, but you can control when you allow them to interrupt you while you’re working.   And, the more you can control when they interrupt, the sooner you can go home at night.  Isn’t time management a wonderful thing?

Hallie Crawford and Terry L. Wynne, Ed.S., LPC, BCC
Certified Career Coaches

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