The Talkative Co-Worker (Could this be you?)

The Talkative Co-Worker

We’ve all got at least one that we work with – the talkative coworker – the one who just never stops talking. They always seem to have something to say, usually in the most long and drawn out way, with every single detail explained unnecessarily. You know the one? The co-worker you secretly avoid because you know they will unhelpfully take your time and curb your effectiveness. Or, perhaps you don’t know this person? Is it possible YOU could be this person??

This post came about as a result of me sitting in a café this morning for 46 minutes. The reason I know it was 46 minutes is because the lady sitting with her friend at the table next to me talked for the entire time (all bar about 40 seconds). And I’m not exaggerating. You wouldn’t have known it just by listening, but she was actually with someone who had to listen to her talk for 46 minutes. Non-stop. In fact, when I left the café, she was STILL talking.

Halfway through this 46 minute talking marathon, I discovered this lady was a teacher. Oh how I feel for her coworkers, and also for her students! Her example has tremendous influence.

And here’s the thing: this lady lacked awareness on every level. And this lack of awareness probably means that she doesn’t realize that she talks so much. That’s what this post is all about. To help you identify if you might be one of these always-talking-never-listening people.

Here’s 4 ways to figure out if you are that talkative coworker, and what you can do about it.

1. Be self aware

In your next interaction with a co-worker, be self aware of how much you are talking and how much you are listening. If you find that you’ve done all the talking, then stop talking and start listening.

2. Be other-person aware

Is the person you’re talking to actually listening? What is their body language saying? Are they actually engaged in what you’re saying? Do they even seem to care about what you’re talking about? Look at their eyes and their face – is it engaged with you and your words? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then perhaps you are talking too much. Stop talking and start listening.

3. Be environmentally aware

A talkative person always lacks environmental awareness. They are so focused on what they are saying that they miss all the ‘cues’ around them that might help them to realize that they are talking too much. In the café this morning, the talking lady wasn’t even aware that I was staring at her (I was trying not to but I just couldn’t help it because she did not stop talking). She wasn’t aware of people trying to get past her or of anything that was happening around her. She just kept talking. By being environmentally aware you might just help yourself to realize that you ARE that talkative co-worker and that you DO need to do something about it. Stop talking and start listening. Being curious is a great way to learn to listen.

4. Be detail aware

The talking lady this morning explained everything in intricate detail – from her acrylic nails to her son’s bedroom to her upcoming calendar of events. The amount of detail that she went into was just ridiculous, and frankly, completely lacked self discipline. Are you including too much detail when you talk to others? Do a little self-audit and take mental note of how much detail you go into when retelling stories or talking to your co-workers. Miniscule details are mostly not helpful nor do others have the time to listen. If you find that you are telling too much, then do something about it. Stop talking and start listening.

This week’s assignment:

This week, please, for your sake and for those you work with, do a self-check and identify if YOU are a TALKATIVE co-worker. If you are, then please do something about it. Stop talking and start listening. Your colleagues will be ever thankful, and you’ll notice how enjoyable it is to listen and to learn to relate to other people.

Enjoy the journey,

And more importantly,

Enjoy the moments.

🙂

Megan

QUESTION: Do you work with a talkative person? What’s most frustrating for you? Leave your comments here.

(I’m going to write about how to deal with The Talkative Co-Worker, so I would appreciate you sharing your frustrations).

Comments

  1. I have a family member and a close friend who do exactly this. (I do a lot of listening.) I have learnt, particularly from my family member, that they honestly can’t help it. For my family member it is the way her brain works. It is the way she processes life and it is a definite need that she has. I allow her some time but then I divert her or tell her straight out “Not now”. I am often accused of being rude but I figure the real rudeness is not taking the hints. The truth, of course, is that she in incapable of noting the hints. She is not ignorant or selfish but is truly incapable of understanding these hints. The interesting thing I have noted over the years is how she gravitates to similar people and they actually get on together really well. They have a great time discussing all the infinite details together and they actually appreciate the detail. Thank God for the infinite range of people on Earth. Of course, if everyone was like me life would be easier ……but then again it would also be very boring and I have learnt that every coin has two sides. Her ability to chat has opened up friendships and she gets answers to questions that I would never ask. I have learnt to appreciate the good and handle the bad – and I hope she has learnt the same with me.

    • Christine, your thoughts are so insightful and so helpful for all of us. I love how you have found the positive in the situation – this is something we can all learn from and what you have shared has already helped me, and it will help me to write my post about the talkative coworker – thank you.

  2. Deb Richards says

    Hi Megan. I know all about the talkative teacher. He is a self proclaimed hyperactive CRT. He works with an agency and I’ve “met” him many times. He takes over anyone’s conversation, butt’s in no matter how private and monopolizes the staff room with his presence. He is loud, talks fast and is suffocating when in the room. I have not seen him teach, but can imagine the atmosphere. My question… How do you deal with people like this? He cannot take hints or read body language. Deb.

    • Thanks Deb, and your question is something I plan to write about soon. Just how do we deal with the talkative co-worker? And often they, as you so wisely pointed out, don’t get body language messages or subtle hints. A starting point and short term solution, I suggest either following Karen’s advice above – physically move away – or use your words and kindly but firmly say to him ‘Thanks for your thoughts, but I really need to focus on my work right now’. Or,’Thanks for coming over to talk but we’re actually engaged in a private conversation at the moment.’ Thanks again Deb, your comment has helped me shape my post about how to deal with talkative co-workers.

  3. The talker who is also an expert on EVERYTHING from dogs to dreadlocks drives people mad. Another really irritating behaviour is the ” oh yes that happened to me/my husband/ my daughter/ son/ grandson/neighbour/ dog and then they take over all conversation with a long boring retell. Best way to manage this is ….. sit at the opposite end of the staffroom. 🙂 PS Love your work!

    • Karen, we can all relate to what you are saying. I love how you’ve got a strategy for dealing with it – walk away. Sometimes this is the only way. Thanks for your comments and your kind words 🙂

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