INT 087: How to Handle the Overly Chatty Co-Worker

Whether you’re a full-time in-person professional or a fully remote employee working exclusively from the comfort of your couch, you still might encounter that chatty coworker who prevents you from getting everything you need done. So how do you interact with those people, maintain relationships, and create healthy boundaries? In today’s episode of IntHerrupt, guest Jaime Russ discusses how she handles chatty coworkers and sets those limits.

Stopping a chatty coworker can be awkward and frustrating. How do you deal with it?

  • Remember, we’re dealing with humans, and everyone is slightly different. 
  • There are neurodivergent people, people dealing with external or internal issues, and other factors that might influence the best response.
  • In general, set a healthy boundary and enforce it.
  • Have a sense of self-awareness and compassion for the people you work alongside.
  • Allow space for everyone while protecting your own.

Boundaries depend on the work environment (both physical and political.)

  • Team rules might dictate the best action – respect blocked-off schedules, avoid those wearing headphones, or whatever it is for your company. 
  • If you don’t want to break someone’s boundary, ask them out for coffee or for a later meeting to discuss the matter with them.
  • If you work virtually, explain exactly when you need the privacy and isolation necessary for your work.
  • Visual cues can be difficult to determine through virtual meetings, so rely on verbal cues.
  • Use the tools available on your platform of choice, whether Zoom, Meet, or Slack, to show when you’re available for interruptions and meetings.

Why do people get overly chatty at the workplace?

  • Going from working full-time in an office to remote, Jaime realizes she has extra social capital when she stays at home. 
  • We are social creatures; even introverts like Jaime enjoy interacting with others.
  • Having time to connect with others is something everyone enjoys (though at varying levels.)
  • Sometimes we can’t see a solution until we have a coworker or another person listen to the ideas and the conversation.
  • When in team meetings, Jaime prefaces that she likes to talk and is welcome to say they don’t have time. It gives people space to feel comfortable.

Discouraging the chatter:

  • Pay attention to the mannerisms of those around you.
  • Be direct if you’ve communicated and reminded someone of your boundaries and they ignore them. Explain that you’re under time pressure and set a time in the future exclusively for you and that person to engage. 
  • Escalate the firmness if needed to carve space for yourself. When you start dictating those spaces, people pick up on those cues.

For more content and information from Jaime, connect with her on LinkedIn. Do you have stories to tell? Connect with Linda to share them. This podcast is produced by TSE Studios. Check out other podcasts by TSE Studios, including this episode’s sponsor, The Sales Evangelist, helping new and struggling sellers close more deals and achieve their sales goals. Subscribe to the IntHERrupt Podcast so you won’t miss a single show. Find us on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, and Stitcher. Audio created by Ryan Rasmussen Productions.

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