my coworker won’t stop talking to me

Ever had a coworker who just won’t stop talking to you while you’re trying to work? She pops by to ask you a work-related question but is still there 20 minutes later, talking about her weekend. Or you’re on deadline and she keeps interrupting you to gripe about the IT guy. Whatever the specifics, a coworker who won’t stop talking to you when you need to work is annoying and can harm your productivity.

But you don’t need to sit by and watch as your work time gets sucked away. You can put a stop to it, if you’re willing to be direct. Let’s talk about the three avenues that can help solve the problem, in the order that it usually makes sense to try them.

1. Say something in the moment. Rather than let your coworker ramble on while you look longingly toward your computer, be direct! Say something like, “I’m actually just in the middle of finishing something, so I should get back to it.” Or try a white lie, like “I’ve got to get ready for a phone call that’s about to come in” or “I’m on deadline.”

2. Address the pattern. If addressing individual instances as they occur doesn’t get the message across, then your next step is to address the larger pattern. You can do this politely, but it does require being direct. For instance, here are a few different ways you could say it, depending on the specifics of your situation and what you’re comfortable with:

  • “Jane, I’ve noticed you like to drop by and chat! I enjoy talking with you, but it’s hard for me to do much of that during the work day. I usually need to get back to work pretty quickly.” If you do genuinely enjoy your coworker’s company, you could add something like, “I’d love to get coffee with you sometime, but I’ve got to do a better job of not letting us get into longer conversations when I should be working.”
  • “I’m finding the amount that we talk during the day is preventing me from getting my work done, so I need to really cut down on how much chit chat we have during the day.”
  • “I know we’re both in the habit of chatting a lot, so going forward, I’m going to be really vigilant about not doing that. I’m mentioning it now, because when I tell you that I can’t talk, I don’t want you think I’m being rude.”
  • When the problem is less about lengthy social conversations and more about multiple small interruptions: “It’s hard for me to get my focus pulled away. What if we instead scheduled one or two meetings a week to talk about whatever items we need to discuss? That way you’d get the responses you need from me, but it would help keep me from breaking my concentration.”

However you word it, this is about the larger pattern, not something you say in the moment about one particular instance. (In fact, this is the same step that managers should take when an employee continues to make the same type of error: Stop addressing it instance-by-instance and step back and have a bigger-picture conversation.)

Then, after that big-picture conversation, when she starts chatting with you, be direct and be firm. You’ll need to be direct each time: “Working over here!” or “I’m on deadline, so let’s talk later!”

3. Decide if it’s worth taking to your (or your coworker’s) manager. If the two steps above don’t work, at that point you’ll need to decide if it’s impeding your productivity to the point that it’s worth asking your coworker’s manager to get involved. You might decide that you’re not comfortable doing that, or that your manager doesn’t handle things like this skillfully, but many managers would appreciate a heads-up that this is happening and would step in to resolve it.

Overall, the message here is that you shouldn’t stew in frustration. If you want a coworker’s behavior to change, you have to be willing to speak up and address it directly.

{ 89 comments… read them below }

  1. Technical Editor*

    I have a coworker that does this all the time. She has no problem saying, “I’m busy right now” when interrupted, but the only thing that gets her to stop talking is to get up and walk away. Some people are clueless.

    1. Sunflower*

      I have a coworker that I actually DREAD when I have to call or ask her for something because I fear it will turn into a 20 minute tirade of useless information. I always make it a note to ask her about things when I’m on my way to somewhere else ‘Sorry I’m running late for a meeting but wanted to ask you about x before I went in’

      1. Ruffingit*

        I have people in my life like this – relatives and friends. Sometimes I call them and say “I’ve just got a few minutes before I have to go to the store/go to a meeting/pray for your death…”

        There are some people who just don’t understand that you cannot talk for 30 minutes to an hour every time you call. I wish I had that kind of time, but I just don’t. Although tbf, I do have that kind of time for people who do not ramble on and on without asking me anything at all about my life. So I guess it depends on the person.

        1. Jamie*

          And if you take the call in the car (handsfree) you can always go through a “drop zone” lose connection and then once you’re home (or where ever) and no longer driving shoot an email or text about being sorry for the disconnect and it was so great talking to you…in a way that gives closure to the conversation so they don’t call you back.

          Or calling just as leaving somewhere and having to go because you need to drive and have to hang up now. It’s legal to talk handsfree where I live, but I don’t talk at all in the car.

          I hate the phone and I’m not going to taint my car with stress – she’s my happy place.

          1. louise*

            I one time–and only once–carefully muted and then hung up on someone while I was in the middle of a sentence to make it sound like we just lost connection. I was working at a dental office at the time and the business we had attended to was complete, but the caller would NOT let me end the conversation.

            I’m not proud.

            But I’d totally do it again as a last resort. :)

            1. Jamie*

              I’m not admitting to ever having done such a thing. Just that I think it’s a good idea.

              Ahem. :)

    2. AdGal*

      I had a coworker like this too! I started getting up and leaving my desk to end the conversation. It worked for awhile. But then she started staying in my office even after I left. I eventually had to leave for 10+ minutes at a time. :(

    3. The Other Dawn*

      Yeah, I think it’s interesting how these people can interrupt as as many times as they want for as long as they want, but when I interrupt for something, it’s all business and they don’t want to be bothered.

      1. bullyfree*

        Ugg. This is similar to the problem I had. However, no one wanted to interrupt HER because she would either be too busy and/or snap at any one who stopped by her office. She demanded an audience when she wanted one though and would not take any of of the normal polite cues, (“I have a deadline” “This is due by 5pm” etc.” It seemed the heavier my work load and more looming deadlines I had, the more severe the interruptions” Once my manager told her to leave me alone, she started doing it to another person who had payroll deadlines. It drove the payroll lady crazy because the interruptions caused payroll lady to work later and later to meet her deadlines. She complained and the manager told her to close her door and post a message on her door to not interrupt the payroll person. Some days it worked, others the needy audience demanding coworker still interrupted.

  2. Celeste*

    I put a stop to that by leaving items sitting on the visitor chair in my cube. Nobody will move them to sit down. Having to stand keeps it shorter. If it goes on too long, then I will extract myself for a bathroom break. This is for the clueless. Most people are easily handled, though.

    1. Sascha*

      The bathroom break was the only way I could get this one guy to leave me alone. He would stand in my doorway, even after I said, I can’t talk right now. He’d just stand in silence. I’d like to add that this was after he told me that I should always be direct with them and let him know when he was being annoying or intrusive. And yet, whenever I was direct with him, he wouldn’t go away.

      This guy also came into my office and shook my chair while I was sitting in it. He only did that once…I had words. And I rearranged my office so it was more difficult to get around my desk.

        1. De Minimis*

          Yeah the guy in my workplace had no respect for boundaries or personal space, he would walk around to your desk and start messing with things there while you were sitting and working. I had to get short with him at one point and after that he stopped.

      1. BadPlanning*

        Chair shaking induces rage! I had an office mate who did that a couple times. Fortunately, when I told him I did not like it and after a few reminders, he stopped doing it. I think it was an extension of his nervous energy so he tended to do it without thinking.

      2. Cath in Canada*

        Ugh, I once had someone get my attention after approaching me from behind by grabbing my chair and yanking it back. I was NOT happy… and now I have a mirror on my monitor! It’s also stopped my colleague (who’s a friend) from sneaking up behind me to trigger my apparently hilarious startle reflex for fun…

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I thought of putting up a mirror after someone scared the living hell out of me (my back is to my cube entrance). I put up a sign with the door of Moria on it that says “Speak friend and enter.” People have been knocking, but I’m not sure if the sign actually worked or if it puzzles them so much that they don’t bother.

          I wish this office weren’t so quiet. I would put up my Star Trek motion detector that makes the *swooosh!* door noise when people walk by it.

        2. Vicki*

          I’ve used a mirror on the monitor and another on the cube wall just in front and to the side for years. (I prefer to have my desk face away from the cube doorway.)

          It surprises people when they walk past behind me and I say “Hi, Wakeen!”

      3. The Real Ash*

        When I first started where I am now (and was shy and a bit reserved because I didn’t know the culture yet) I had a guy who wouldn’t leave my office until I very obivously played with my wedding ring. It was weird and awkward and he had to be spoken to after that.

      4. Clever Name*

        Hrm. Sounds like he needed even more direct. Like, “I can’t talk right now, so I need you to go away”.

        I will admit that I don’t always notice subtle signals, but I’m getting better. I’ve been known to pause for a moment in someone’s doorway after they’ve turned back to their computer because I am literally thinking to myself, “Okay, they’ve turned back to their computer, so that means this conversation is over and I need to go back to my desk.” And then I leave.

  3. De Minimis*

    We had one guy in particular who was bad about this….it was to where if he was seen roaming around people would all of a sudden decide it was time for a bathroom break or some other errand to where they could leave the vicinity.

    1. HM in Atlanta*

      I alternately am afraid I am this person, and also am the person ducking into the bathroom to avoid this person in the hallway.

  4. Adam*

    I have a hard time remembering but I don’t think I’ve ever really had this problem. Makes me feel like I work in a cave.

      1. The Real Ash*

        Totally off-topic but I love your avatar! I have some prints by him, the T-rex, the great white shark, and the one-eyed cheetah. They are so cool!

      2. Clever Name*

        That’s okay, Adam. I used to be “that coworker” for some of my coworkers. I really wish someone had said something to me before it got to be a problem.

  5. LV*

    I had this problem with the mail clerk at my former job. He was a nice guy and I didn’t mind chatting with him for a few minutes when he came by with the mail, but every now and then he would just not stop talking.

    There was one 2-week period where he really drove me up the wall. He was counting down to his vacation, and every day he would tell me, “Only X sleeps until I leave for my holiday!” and then he would embark on the same spiel about where he was going, what he was going to do while he was there, the hotel he was staying at and how awesome it was, etc. The same speech, every single day. He wouldn’t pick up on the hints that I wasn’t interested, and I didn’t want to be too blunt and hurt his feelings because I did like talking to him most of the time… The only thing that saved me was a coworker coming to see me for something work-related, or the phone ringing.

    1. Blue Anne*

      Errrrgggh, my manager has been doing exactly this lately. We’re in the UK, and we sent her to a week-long conference in California, which she then tacked an American vacation on to the end of. For MONTHS, all we could hear about was “Did I mention I’m going to California, ha ha ha”.

      She thought it was funny, but it was just fecking annoying.

    2. MaggietheCat*

      Admins (not sure if this is you) can totally be a captive audience, to vendors and employees. I feel like sometimes people kill time chatting with (AT, lol) the admin when they don’t have enough to do. At least here, we (admins) are always working.

      1. Mallory*

        Hear, hear! I’m an admin, and I really do like to chat and catch up with my faculty. Unfortunately, there are a few of them who always stop by at almost-lunchtime and almost-quitting time to hang out and chat (or more commonly, to ask about a legitimate work thing, but then hang around and chat). If it were only one or two people doing it, it wouldn’t take so much out of the day, but I have twenty faculty members, and it’s usually about half of them on any given day who will drop in and chat.

      2. EvilQueenRegina*

        I had the other side of this, I am an admin and the other admin sat opposite me was the talker, and every time something happened to her, she would tell the story and then every time someone new walked into the room she would tell it all over again. After 11 times in the same day about the rude names her ex called her on Facebook and knowing I would get it again when anyone else walked in I had really had enough but because the ex had only just left her I didn’t feel I could kick her when she was down by saying anything.

        1. KellyK*

          Yeah, that has to be really annoying. I’d suggest headphones, but if you’re at the front desk, that’s probably not allowed, or would look bad.

          (And I love your username–Regina is awesome.)

      3. LV*

        I’m a librarian, and at the time I was in a small government library. My workstation was the reference desk, which doubled as the front desk, so a lot of people did mistake me for an admin/receptionist and I was often in that “captive audience” situation.

  6. Jamie*

    I’ve found if you get comfortable with #1 you rarely have to worry about doing #2 or #3.

    I think the best co-worker relationships are where you can say this and no one takes it personally – we’ve all been there.

    Another little trick I use for some is to always direct the conversation back to work. If you know that a couple of sentences into your weekend I’m going to ask how X is going or why don’t I have Y yet…suddenly I’m last on your go to list for non-work related chat.

    I do this mostly with people with whom I prefer to limit small talk in general – because people I do enjoy talking with (in or out of work) are all cool with knowing it’s a bad time and catching me later.

    1. Annie O*

      I agree. And thankfully, I’ve never had to go past #1!

      In a way, I think this issue is about training your co-workers to approach you in the way you prefer. If you’re direct and consistent, most employees seem to get the message. Here’s some of my favorite lines to use:

      “Hey, I’m waiting for a call. Will you email me these questions and I can respond that way?”

      “Hey, I’m swamped right now. Could we chat about your weekend at lunch instead?”

      “This really deserves more than a fly-by. Why don’t you set up a meeting so we can get on the same page?”

      “Whoa, that sounds really frustrating. I need to get back to work, but let me know if there’s any specific steps I can take to assist with [problem].”

    2. fposte*

      Oh, I love that “direct it back to work” notion, Jamie–you’re so right that it’s no longer a nice break once that happens, and that’s a very clever negative reinforcement.

  7. LJL*

    How would your advice change if it were a manager? My manager has a habit of chatting/talking that is not at all relevant to work. I have developed a few strategies for dealing with this but would love to hear others.

      1. Annie Oakley*

        Great post, AAM! The problem with my boss/job is, there’s seldom a legitimate interruption or workload problem that he’s keeping me from. I work in a very slow-paced workplace. He does this to everyone who walks into his space, whether it’s a subordinate or a higher-up (except for the Big Boss and strangely enough, one of my coworkers that he’s known for years). I’ve gotten to the point where I won’t turn around and engage in conversation. That usually stops him. Maybe he thinks I’m mad at him, but I don’t much care.

    1. Sadsack*

      My former manager knew he had a habit of extending conversations beyond their useful lives, so he told me to let him know if he was ever going on too long and keeping me from my work. I would wait for an appropriate point and quickly say, “I hate to interrupt you, but I should probably get back to this report because it is due tomorrow,” or something like that. Then he’d always let me go. Even if he had never mentioned that fact that he can really drag out a conversation, I think this is still how I’d handle it.

      1. Jamie*

        I think it’s great when people are self aware and give you the out.

        My mom could ramble and she knew this about herself. Still, she wasn’t going to have her kids rolling our eyes at her so our code was to toss in a non-sequiter about shoes (“I like your shoes, or I bought these shoes at the mall, or (usually) I need new shoes (might as well try to get something tangible out of the deal)) and she’d take the hint and either get back on track or wrap it up.

        Or, if she was going someone and not really rambling, but we were just tired of listening she would pointedly continue.

        I know it’s weird – I just thought it was cool. I miss her ‘long stories longer’ so much.

    2. MaryMary*

      I had a manager who felt obligated to stay in the office until 6pm every day. Fairly often, he’d hit a burn out point on Friday afternoon (like many of us do), but instead of cleaning up his email inbox or reading the open thread on AAM, he’d wander the office and strike up a conversation with one of us regarding an article he’d read or a conference he was thinking of attending. At 4:55. He was decent about picking up hints if someone really needed to leave at 5, but it was very awkward to interrupt your boss so you could leave at 5 on the dot.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It depends on the boss, but I have said to bosses (that can handle it) “Oh my! I have to get back to work. The boss will be mad if I do not have this done.”
      My tone was light and I smiled. Usually the boss just laughed and said “okay”.
      You have to know your boss though.

      1. Clever Name*

        This would have been perfect for my first boss, who I actually loved. But it was my first job and I was like 25, so I just dealt with it and tried not to go to his office with a question after 4. :/

  8. Cruciatus*

    I have a coworker I actually like and enjoy talking to, but she doesn’t know how to end a conversation. Most other people find that natural point where the conversation ends and people get back to work. She keeps looking at me and smiling (I promise she’s not an idiot). So I start babbling to fill the silence and come up with something else to talk about. I’ve talked to other people who have the same problem. We all like her but she doesn’t understand a conversation’s natural death point. After too many minutes I often get up to go “fill my mug with water.” I really enjoy chatting with her and it’s not the length of time that bothers me…just the fact that the conversation doesn’t stop at it’s natural stopping point so I never know what I’m committing to at the beginning. I do not have this problem with any other coworker. She does not seem socially awkward in any other way but this…

    1. Tomato Frog*

      I worry that this is me. If it is me, when the natural stopping point comes around, just give me a smile and a nod or maybe a little wave, and turn away to do your work. I promise I’ll go away.

      1. Prickly Pear*

        I’m a big ball of awkward, but I don’t take it personally if you don’t have time for my rambling.

      2. Marcy*

        I think it’s me, too, only I can’t go away because it happens in my office. People come in to say something and they are still there long after they’ve said it. I am the common denominator so it must be me but I don’t know how to “dismiss” them without being rude.

      3. Clever Name*

        Or maybe this is ME? :) For some reason it feels awkward for me to say, “Well, I gotta get back to work” or whatever when the conversation ends.

  9. Bertie*

    At FormerJob, a close co-worker friend and I would email a quick “Call me about something urgent!” message to each other when a serial talker appeared so we could use the ringing phone as an excuse to end the conversation quickly.

    1. LeighTX*

      We did this at my last job–just emailing the word “fire” would net you a quick phone call that you could use to escape. Although I had one coworker who would COME BACK after I hung up the phone to “finish” the conversation.

  10. Bend & Snap*

    I have one of these…it’s not so much the length of the conversations as her knack for interrupting me when I’m clearly busy and not taking the hint when I don’t even turn around to talk to her.

    I can see her sneaking up in my periph and I just inwardly cringe.

    1. Mallory*

      Ugh, the lurking in the periphery! I had one faculty member who, when I was meeting with my boss, stood right outside my office door and just looked at us the entire time we were meeting. Boss and I kept looking up uncomfortably at him then quickly ducking our head, lowering our voices, etc.; he just kept standing there looking back at us (he was waiting out my meeting with the boss because he wanted to talk to him afterward).

      In retrospect, I should have gotten up and closed my office door right in his face. My boss and I were meeting about confidential faculty salary decisions (how to split a 2.5% raise pool by merit among 20 people), so it was really awkward to have a faculty member standing (and standing, and standing . . . ) there.

  11. Sunflower*

    There is one person in my office who never stops talking plus is usually giving TMI about either her most recent medical illness or her boyfriend’s eating/sleeping/living habits. My boss in the office next to me and I have a thing where if she is doing it to one of us, the other will step in and say ‘sorry I need to borrow you for a minute’.

    I think it’s always best to be direct and that is how the real problem will be solved but if you’re non confrontational or know the person is sensitive, it helps to kind of have a buddy system in place

    1. Jamie*

      Is your boss her boss also? Because if it’s bothering them and they have the authority to do so they’d be doing her a favor by addressing it and not just helping others avoid it.

  12. Suzse*

    When someone is gabbing on too long, I say, “Well, I’ve got to quit having fun and get back to work.” It works every time and no one has ever gotten offended (that I know of). In fact, most of the time they say, “Yeah, I’d better get back to work, too!”

  13. JMegan*

    I was working on a data entry project a while back, and I usually put my headphones on while I was doing it, so I could concentrate.

    I actually had one co-worker interrupt me – as in, she waved her hand in front of my face – with this: “Oh, I see you’re wearing headphones! Is that so you can concentrate? I like to do that too, I hate being interrupted at work! What music do you listen to that helps you concentrate?” Etc.

    It’s not too often that I am actually speechless, but I really didn’t know what to do with that!

    1. Noelle*

      I once had a coworker who was CONSTANTLY interrupting me, and even when I said I was busy she’d just say, “Oh this will only take a minute” and then proceed to talk at me even when I was clearly working. The craziest thing was that most of her talking was complaining – about a coworker who kept coming in to her office and talking non-stop.

    2. Mallory*

      Ha! I had a coworker who did something similar to me. I was in a crunch time, so I put a note on my door that I was busy working on such-and-such deadline and pushed the door almost-closed. In our offices, a closed door means the person is busy (and, as I mentioned, I also had a sign explicitly stating that I was busy).

      So anyway, this one coworker comes quietly tiptoeing into my office to chat with me about my closed door, my “Busy” sign, and how busy I am — because apparently she was special and *knew* that the sign didn’t apply to her (!).

    3. Windchime*

      Yep, I have people like this as well. And I usually have my headphones on to block out the sound of two coworkers in the next cube over who like to giggle and flirt for hours on end. So I just get the headphones on and get settled into my groove, and then someone does the arm-waving thing to say something like, “Hey, how was your weekend?” GAHHHHH!!!!!!! LET ME WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. Vicki*

        I wear earplugs under my headphones, so it’s much more fun when people do this to me. They start talking. I raise one finger (“wait please”) and remove the headphones. They take in a breath. Finger stays up. Eyebrows raise. I remove the earplugs one at a time and say “Yes?”

        They don’t stay long.

  14. Diane*

    Have a different sort of problem here – while giving friendly hellos to coworkers and taking a minute to catch up, our manager interrupts, and then will punish each of us throughout the day for talking (it’ll be little things – like asking about an update on something piddly or making up a problem that doesn’t exist and needing to know immediately. Sometimes she will spam our emails when she knows we are talking, so we return to our desks with 30 emails from her). Its gotten to the point where we no longer feel like we can be on friendly terms with our coworkers, and its creating a morale issue. Manager has also made comments to some coworkers such as “your time is valuable and talking to coworker x is problematic”.

    1. Prickly Pear*

      Yeah, I have a manager that if they’re not the centre of the conversation, will loudly ‘direct’ us back to work (when we never stopped in the first place- hands are still moving). It’s to the point that we’ll snicker about it when they do that, because what can you do?

  15. Not an IT Guy*

    I have a coworker who does this except it’s much worse. Sometimes he’ll take up to an hour of my time just talking and complaining about people in the company. During this time I am forbidden to do anything else (check email, answer my phone, etc) because he gets angry when he gets interrupted. In this instance, how do you deal with someone who has the power to have you fired if you don’t pay attention to him?

    1. The Real Ash*

      You say he is a co-worker, but that he also has the power to get you fired? How is that possible? If he is your manager, refer to Alison’s link above about how to get your manager to stop talking to you. If he is just a regular coworker, I would talk to your mutual boss and let them know exactly what you posted—the guy takes up your time, when you try to end things gracefully he gets irate, you don’t know what to do and would appreciate their amazing, wonderful, stupendous advice because you’d hate ever so much to be rude, but you have to get back to working hard for the company!

      1. Not an IT Guy*

        It’s possible…my company has the tenancy to take rumors and assumptions as fact when it comes to their employees, so all my coworker has to do is go to management with some untrue statements about me which will put my job at risk (this has already happened to me once already, a previous manager assumed I would be happier in another department based on a “where do you see yourself in 5 years” question and kicked me out of his department). Not to mention this coworker has full access to our business software and can essentially frame anyone who rubs him the wrong way.

  16. PJ*

    We have an ex-co-worker who comes by every once in a while on Saturdays to talk to our Finance Director. You have to have a key to get into the building, so he can’t just drop in, but he’ll come by on Saturdays and bang on her office window so that she’ll let him in. Then he’ll sit in her office for, I am not kidding, hours, bringing her up to date on his life. Mind you, she comes in on Saturdays NOT because she doesn’t want to be with her family, but because she hopes to get some stuff done without interruption while it is quiet in the office. One Saturday I was there too, and after he’d been there for a veeerrrry long time I called her on the phone to ask if she’d like me to pretend she and I had a meeting so that she could break away. That finally broke him loose. Jeez!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      See, I’m going to put half the blame squarely on your coworker here, for allowing it to continue. She needs to say directly to him, “I can’t talk today, I have to get my work done and then leave.” And she needs to say that when he arrives, not let him inside.

      1. PJ*

        You are absolutely right. On the other hand, I have been on the “receiving” end of this guy’s visits and he is very hard to dislodge. But yes, she’s the one who opens the door to him.

        1. fposte*

          And she’s the one who doesn’t say “You have to go now.” That’s missing from a lot of these accounts, actually–that you actually have the power and right to say “You must leave now” and not just fiddle with headphones or fail to turn around. You can say it cheerfully, but if you want them to leave, it’s always a good option to outright tell them exactly that.

  17. Cath in Canada*

    I feel so lucky that the chattiest person I work with is so easy to deal with when it gets too much. You can say “stop talking now please”, or even “go away” (reserved for the times when he’s so very chatty that he follows you into meetings he’s not invited to, just so he can keep talking to you); his response is always to very cheerfully say “OK!”, turn, and direct his stream of consciousness at the next person he sees.

    He once admitted that he knows he talks way too much, saying “I have my best ideas while I’m talking”. Another colleague replied “that’s funny, I have my worst ideas while you’re talking”.

    1. Vicki*

      “he’s so very chatty that he follows you into meetings he’s not invited to..”

      I can’t…


  18. Anon*

    OMG YES!!! I had a former coworker like this! He was the most annoying person ever. I tried every subtle trick I could think of. When that didn’t work, I tried walking away. Even walking away didn’t work with him, he’d literally follow me and keep talking. I tried being direct and asking him if he needed something and that I was busy, and he’d just bowl over it and keep talking. It got to the point where I had to be super direct to the point of almost being rude, and even that wasn’t always successful. He was super nice, but just liked to tell LONG winded stories over and over again about his past jobs and stuff. I had to work with him and it was painful. Honestly I ended up quitting that job because it was dysfunctional all around and he was definitely a contributor.

  19. Beth*

    Aaargh I am probably this person. And I sit next to someone I get on rillyrilly well with. And we talk TOO DAMN MUCH. And I drive myself mad, because I only work half days and that’s not long to get everything done. She’s in in the afternoons too, so has peaceful time to get things finished. How do you stop YOURSELF from being this person?!

    1. Prickly Pear*

      This! I freely admit that there are people that I work with where we can keep a conversation going forever, and if all of us are around each other it can devolve into a free-for-all. I try really hard to just make myself just *focus* on what’s in front of me during those times.

    2. Lady Sybil*

      How about scheduling blocks of time to complete specific tasks and reward yourself with a chat break? Build it into your day as something to look forward to and sync break time with her so you can chat guilt-free over coffee or lunch. You need more resolve to do this than she does because she is finishing her work and you are not. Good luck!

  20. J*

    I have this happen to me during my free time. I like the one coworker that’s guilty of always wanting to converse, but she just doesn’t know when enough is enough. I’ll be doing some studying on my break and she’ll try to engage in chit chat.

    Or worse, during work, while I’m trying to understand or find a solution to something, she’ll tell me what she did or “knows” and 99% of the time it’s not the answer I need, but will be fairly persistent (but friendly) about the matter.

    I’m a bit of an introvert, so it can be very draining.

  21. Typo in the article*

    Alison, thought you’d want to know that there’s a typo in the post on AOL. “3. Decide if it’s worth ta-L-king to your…”

  22. Supposed 2BEstimating*

    I have a co-worker who talks WAY TOO MUCH.

    Most everyone at my company is Chinese. This one guy “Bird” talks as fast as an auctioneer, but in Mandarin. Imagine trying to concentrate with an auctioneer going on… in Mandarin!! No kidding he speaks 500 words per minute, and he does it for minimum of 6 hours every day. That’s about 100,000 to 130,000 words of Mandarin per day I am bombarded with.

    Other people talking in Mandarin doesn’t bother me, because they talk normally. But his tsunami of syllables knocks every thought out of my head, at least 20 to 50 times a day.

    Thing is, “Bird” is the supervisor and the workers only speak Mandarin even though they’ve lived in Canada for 15 to 20 years.

    I’ve talked to the boss on several occasions but nothing will ever be done about it.

  23. Lizz*

    I’m very quiet, and I have an office-mate who is exactly the opposite. It drives me crazy when she gets up, and walks over to my desk and announces that the XYZ thing she is working on is really boring, or she doesn’t have anything to work on right now, and she just NEEDS to chat.
    Never mind that I’m obviously working on something right now. I just smile and nod while not giving any eye contact, and keep working.

  24. Bart*

    I am highly empathic person. I get along with most people I meet. There is one guy at work who is a total energy vampire. He gives NOTHING back in a conversation. Every time he speaks to me, it is to rant about the job, the bosses, the company… and we work at a GREAT company. Our pay for our role is 2.5x the average for the city we live in. WHAT?! How can you whine about THAT? Well, he does. Three times, I pulled him aside and explained that when my headphones are in, it means DO NOT DISTURB. Three times he promised he’d leave me alone. Three times he broke that promise. Look, I don’t care if I “work” with the guy. What is an office except some other place on the planet you stand around people. Why should other rules apply in a workplace that don’t apply everywhere else? If you were on the street, listening to music or studying in a cafe and some jackoff wouldn’t shut up about his fears about the world, contents of his lunch, or other inane useless garbage, you would jack him up, verbally if you are like most of us, physically if you are a MMA fighter. Some people should have “social outcast” tattooed on their forehead and then put in camps that are just big halls with treadmills. They run on the treadmills all day to power generators that help run the city. That’s their penance of being complete and total ass-donkeys with no clue how to interact with other adults. Why is it so hard for so many people to realize that there is a segment of the population who goes to work to WORK, COLLECT A CHECK, AND GO HOME. We don’t want to listen to your rambling garbage. There is enough of that online. Introverts of the world – unite! Stand up against the moronic onslaught of the “babble-fish” that swim all around us in the office. If this is you “blah blah blah justin beiber’s ass blah blah blah I ate a taco blah blah blah I hate this job” you may want to look into ritual suicide.

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