You are in a zone while working on a project; laser focused.
Then there is a knock at the door. And, no, it is not a quick little interruption. It is that colleague of yours who can mercilessly chat away large chunks of time. And your focus is gone.
What do you do about a chatty coworker?
A recent article in Harvard Business Review has the following suggestions:
*Set a Boundary. At the beginning of any interaction, especially with talkative people, say something like: “Rob, happy to chat. But I only have ten minutes right now.”
*Drive to a Close. Some people are great at turning a one-hour meeting into ninety minutes. At the 45-minute mark, say “Okay everyone, we have a hard stop in 15 minutes.” And stick to it. Otherwise, you are training people that they can go on and on.
*Interrupt Firmly, yet Politely. Sometimes it is hard to get a word in with a chatty person. Try using hand gestures – like gently holding your hand or finger up. Or say something like “I’d like to jump in here.”
*Own Your Perspective; Use “I” Language. Instead of “You always show up at the most inopportune time” try “I’m on a deadline and cannot chat right now.”
*Swiftly Redirect to a New, Specific Time. For example: “I am slammed right now, but could meet for thirty minutes some time Thursday afternoon. What time would work for you?”
*Consider a Big Picture Intervention. If your chatty colleague is totally out of control, you cannot let them be the person who makes time disappear regularly for your entire team. The supervisor needs to schedule a meeting and reset expectations. Specific guidelines need to be communicated and reinforced.
Some people are naturally more chatty than others. You don’t want to rob them of their personality, but you cannot let their talkativeness derail you or your team from your work flow. Use these ideas to moderate the problem and intervene more firmly if necessary.
*Ideas for this blog taken from: Wilding, W. “How to Set Boundaries with a Chatty Colleague,” Harvard Business Review online, November 19, 2021.