When A Co-worker Talks Too Much
Here’s another great question from a Twitter follower. I asked @Dustin_Nichols if it would be ok to use his question for a post, and if he cared if I shared his name or not. Obviously he was ok with both. Feel free to send any questions that you would like answered. I can use them for a post and credit you or not. It’s up to you.
If you’re anything like Dustin, you’ve worked with the person who couldn’t stop talking. They drive those around them crazy with constant chatter about stuff that is usually not relevant to what’s happening at the time. They can’t wait for you to walk in the door so they can tell you just how cute fluffy was last night playing Chopin on the PLAYSKOOL piano. It baffles you that they won’t let you get to your chair and turn your computer on before they’re discussing what happened last night on Big Brother.
While I’m no expert on the psychology of the over talker, I believe there are a ton of reasons for this persons inability to respect your personal ear space. Some are:
- They have nobody at home to talk to.
- They do have someone at home, but they don’t get the attention they need.
- Their personality style is such that they are a mega people person, but very immature in their growth.
Whatever the situation, you have to remember that they are a person with feelings and needs just like the rest of us. While we all need acceptance and attention, some need it more than others. So how you handle it matters. Getting mad is only going to hurt their feelings and make you feel like a dork. Instead, come at it from the side of Grace.
How would you want to be treated? Or, better yet, how would you want someone to treat your son or daughter if they were the one with the problem? You have to understand that it is imperative you use kid gloves when handling a situation like this. My suggestion is you take them out of the cubicle/office setting and have a calm discussion with them. One where you use the “sandwich” technique.
Start by telling them a few of the things that you appreciate about them most. Seriously, come up with some good stuff. Then gently tell them you have a concern that may make them feel defensive but you hope that it doesn’t. Share that there are some things they are doing that are causing some distractions to team members.
List out the items and let them know that it is perfectly fine for them to have discussion times at lunch, breaks, off hours, but during work hours they need to be cognizant of distracting other team members. It’s important that everybody focuses the time they spend during paid hours doing work. Otherwise it’s stealing from the company. Then follow-up with how great of a job they do and how much you appreciate their work.
None of this will be easy, and it has the potential to upset the over talker, but it’s something that needs to happen. Again, treat them the way you would want your child to be treated.
Question: How would you handle an over talker?