How to handle an overly chatty colleague

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Office Politics
28 Oct 2022

It’s always a good thing to speak to your colleagues. It builds rapport and develops a friendly relationship with them—you get to know them better and you make connections. A good communication with your colleagues means that your office is a comfortable place where you can relax and feel good while working. However, there’s always that one chatty colleague at your workplace who talks a tad bit too much. And it can sometimes get in the way of your work. And this, can get very annoying as well.

So, what can you do when a colleague gets very chatty with you when you have an assignment you have to finish? You can’t brush them away because that would be rude. But, if you’re too nice, it can be misunderstood and they’ll continue talking to you.

Here’s how you can handle an overly chatty colleague at work.

#1. Ignorance is not bliss

Yes, it might be the first instinct to ignore them and look busy. However, because they’re your colleague and you are bound to working with them, this might not necessarily be the best idea on the plate. Instead, when your chatty co-worker stops by your desk and tries to talk about something, pay attention to them for one second, respond and then get back to work. If they intend on continuing the conversation, try and tell them that you’re swamped and that you really need to get back to work so that you can finish by the deadline.

By occasionally listening to your chatty coworker, you’re showcasing your interest in their connection however, you are also showcasing that you’re more focused on your work. This won’t give them a wrong idea, and can help maintain a friendly relationship.

#2. Call for a rain-check

There are some things that you choose to not talk about in the workplace, but your chatty colleague might not feel the same way. Instead, they might find it interesting to bring up a few scandalous topics of conversation, just to get your attention. And if you have by any chance given them the wrong idea of having listened to them before, this might only motivate them into talking about such things at the workplace.

However, you need not straight away tell them that this is inappropriate or show any disinterest. This can push them away. Instead, try telling them that you are interested, but you don’t want to talk about it in the office. If this chatty colleague is a friend of yours, you can invite them to talk about it over dinner or if they are someone who you primarily see just at work, then you can tell them you are uncomfortable talking about such things in the office. Albeit, in a nice way of course.

#3. Tell them about you

Try and bring the conversation to yourself. Sometimes, a chatty colleague is only chatty until it is themselves that they are talking about. When the attention is directed to you, they tend to feel left out and might go back to getting some work done. This is not because they aren’t interested in your life, but simply because they are not listeners. Each person is different, right?

Either way, bring the attention to yourself a bit and gently narrow it down to an end. After this, get back to work and maintain a calm composure so as to not give the person the wrong idea. Tell them that you want to talk only about yourself. Listen to them a bit, and then draw attention to yourself.

#4. Be honest

If they’re chatty at the wrong times, or if they seek your attention when you’re piled up with work, just tell them you’re not a talkative person. It doesn’t always help if you listen to them a bit and then get back, sometimes this by itself, can give the impression that you’re free to listen at all times. This tends to be the problem when you put building relationships above being honest—sometimes, we all inevitably have to do this.

However, if things get out of hand, it’s best to end a conversation before it begins. If they’re talking about a particular TV show, then tell them you’re not a fan of it. Try telling them that it’s hard for you to focus on work when you talk about other things. And that you are willing to continue the conversation during a break.

However, if they are causing a great amount of trouble for you and if you are not able to finish the set tasks given to you, it might be time for you to bring this matter to the HR or a superior. Nothing should get in the way of work. And if something is hindering your performance, it’s always best to steer clear. Draw boundaries with your colleagues who are not your friends, and build a respectable rapport with them.

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