Reader submission from Jenna

Everyone loves to break up the workday with some friendly conversation, but there’s a point when it crosses the line and becomes a problem.

It seems like every place I have worked there is always someone who will talk my ear off and prevent me from getting my work done. We all have work to do, so how do you handle the co-worker who won’t stop talking?

Sometimes all it takes is a brief mention of lots of work piled up or a meeting I need to prepare for, and the chatty co-worker will take the hint and wrap it up.

But I have encountered situations where a repeat offender won’t take a hint. They will suck up your valuable time if you let them. They might follow you to your office or even keep talking while you attempt to work at your computer. In one case, I even had a co-worker sit on my desk and block my computer monitor with her body. It was obvious she wanted to be the sole focus of my attention.

Eventually, you need to confront the person and just tell them you don’t have time to talk. Let them know that they are cutting into your free time. If you need to stay late or skip lunch to get your work done, let them know in a gentle way that you can only chat for a few minutes and then need to get back to business. This will usually take care of the problem and your co-worker will appreciate your honesty.

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