Are you guilty of talking too much at work?
Talking too much at work can range from a bit of harmless chit-chat to mildly annoying behavior, to a productivity issue and possibly even losing your job (this one is more based on what you are talking about more than talking too much).
Just to be clear, for the purpose of this post I’m aiming at talking too much about our personal lives at work. I’ll do a separate post regarding talking about work-related matters.
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Let’s look at how people are talking too much at work.
The stroll from friend to friend talker
Do you work in an office? If you do, I bet you know at least one person who always seems to be leaning on a friends desk having a chat. Then you’ll see them walk to another friend for a chat, then another, then another.
Some people will walk from friend to friend chatting up a storm. I’ve seen people do this every day, for quite a chunk of their day and then have to work back to catch up.
You are definitely talking too much at work if it’s interfering with your productivity and output for the day. If you find yourself working back because of too much chit-chat you definitely need to rethink your socializing strategy and work schedule.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not saying you shouldn’t talk to people at work. I’m not trying to be a social buzz kill! In fact, social interaction can be one of the highlights of our work lives.
Social interaction strengthens relationships, builds friendships and instills trust which all positively affect the work environment.
The industry that you work in will definitely have an impact on how much talking at work is too much. Some industries are much more socially interactive than others!
If you are talking too much at work, organize to meet your co-workers after work to catch up either over a meal, drink, coffee or an event. Chatting less during the day, whilst having plans for after work hours is more likely to keep you on track and give you an incentive not to be at your desk in the evening.
One thing to watch for is a manager that goes from friend to friend. Come to think of it, the manager may not be doing the strolling, their friends will most likely be coming directly to them.
I once worked with a female manager who would constantly chat with her work friends about her personal life during the day but then run out of time to get her work done. Instead of working back herself, she would farm out her workload to her staff at the last minute and get them to take up the slack, which as you can imagine infuriated them no end!
Need help with your productivity and time management read – Eat The Frog! 21 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
More work-related content –
- Are You Reliable at Work?
- Are You Too Reliable at Work?
- How to be Happy at Work
- The Importance of Hitting Deadlines
- Why Do You Go to Work?
The stroll around the office talker
As you can see this one is closely related to the stroll from friend to friend talker accept this one is slightly different because they don’t necessarily just talk to friends.
This person will stroll around talking to anyone!
If you are highly introverted you probably can’t even imagine doing this but if you are highly extroverted you will have a completely different take on things (as in you’re probably the one doing it).
The strolling around talking to anyone phenomenon may be caused by a couple of different factors. It could be a form of stress relief, a brainstorming exercise (talking to people gets ideas pumping), a way to avoid doing a work task they don’t like or don’t want to deal with or plain old boredom. I’m sure there are plenty of other reasons but these spring to mind.
It can of course also be a valuable networking exercise. Walking the office is a good way of the manager mingling with their team – particularly if they are on a different floor or even at a different location to most of their staff.
Related post – The 12 Types of People You Will Talk to about Work
The wasting other people’s time talker
Having a chat with a friend is one thing.
What about if someone keeps insisting on talking to you when you are flat-out and they have no idea that they are wasting your time?
On top of that, they just keep coming back for more.
This one can be tricky. Obviously, you need to find a way to let them politely and respectfully know you need to get back to work.
This can happen with co-workers who are friends as well as work acquaintances. With close friends, it’s a lot easier to let them know you need to get back to work.
What about the people you don’t know as well? It’s all about being respectful and polite. You don’t need to be rude about it and you don’t need to make up some long explanation. Be polite, to the point and get back to work.
Of course, the time waster could very well be your boss or direct manager. Definitely a bit trickier! You may be required to spend a bit more time on this one. In the end, it will come down to the person involved, the industry you work in and exactly how urgent your pending task is. It goes without saying, that sometimes you need to give people your time.
If you need to be more focused at work read – Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
The too much information talker
Do you know one of these at work? They tend to be massive over-sharers.
They might talk about their sex lives, wild weekends, drunken exploits, kids, spouses, homes (renovations anyone!), health problems and even pets. I confess I talked about my cat at work so I’m probably guilty of this one myself. Hey, we all do it at some point whether we realize it or not!
Over-sharers will either dispense too much information in a one on one setting or in a group situation. Either way, it can be awkward.
There is another type of over-sharer. They are the negative Nellies. They can find something negative about everything and they have no problem going into great detail letting you know all about it. They complain a LOT!
If you recognize yourself in the above, you might want to tone it down a little. Look into ways to be more positive (especially at work) or find people outside of work that you can talk to.
Related post – How to Deal with Negative People
The spread rumors talker
The spread rumors talker just loves to gossip! They talk about people and love to spread rumors (I don’t think it really matters if they are true or not).
They often take pride in being the first person to know and share information (oops that should have read share gossip!)
For the love of all things holy, do not tell your secrets to these people because they will not be secrets for long!
Do a quick audit of your work environment and have a think about who are the gossips. This will either be an extremely easy exercise or a difficult one. Some gossips can be quite subtle about it.
Another thing to remember managers and senior staff fall into this category as well (I know they shouldn’t, but they do) so keep that in mind.If you are a gossip at work, it's time to stop. It's unproductive and hurtful to people and their careers.Click To Tweet
The criticizing another staff member talker
I think most of us have done this from time to time (or at least wanted to). Heads up though – it’s a bad idea.
I know we all need to vent at times but my suggestion is go home and vent to your family, spouse or friends. Do not vent to someone at work about someone else at work.
There are a lot of reasons criticizing other people at work isn’t a good idea. Firstly you might get a reputation for being difficult or a whinger.
Secondly, what you said might get back to the person you said it about which could lead to a big old HR mess. Definitely, something you want to avoid.
The thing that a lot of people forget about is that people are friends with a diverse range of their co-workers. Just because you don’t see them together at work, doesn’t mean they are not best buds out of the office. So while you are bitching to the person next to you about an incompetent staff member on level 7, the person on level 7 and the person you are bitching to are catching up for lunch once a week (and guess what – possibly sharing stories about you).
Of course, this gets more complicated if you get caught bad-mouthing your boss. Your job could be in jeopardy. Don’t do it. Whinge to someone outside of work. The more removed from work the better.
Related post – How Would Your Work Colleagues Describe You?
The ‘this company sucks’ talker
These are no doubt the most toxic for a company or business.
These people either hate their companies, their bosses (this one is common) or their jobs. Sometimes they hate all three.
Of course, management is guilty of this as well. Again not a good idea since the managers are meant to be leading their staff by example, not cultivating a toxic workplace.
One particular time to watch for this sort of behavior is during a company restructure (or whatever they are calling them nowadays to avoid the word restructure). Restructures understandably make people nervous. People worry they might not have an income in the not too distant future.
Restructures are the quickest way to bring out the ‘this company sucks’ talkers, so be on guard.
Related post – Are You Struggling from Corporate Restructure Fatigue?
The email talker
We do a lot more than just talking in person. A lot of our daily interactions are done via email.
Sometimes personal emails during work time can get out of control.
Some companies will frown on sending too many personal emails (particularly if you are charging by the hour or some other time bracket) whilst others will be more flexible.
Make sure you know your company’s rules regarding personal emails before you go too crazy.
The text message/phone talker
Your main form of communication might be texting. I think it’s safe to say you are not alone!
Of course, it’s not just texting on our mobiles at work, a lot of companies also have some sort of internal instant message service. Whilst these can be great for quick confirmations and making arrangements again they should not be overused.
I nearly forget to mention the humble telephone for a moment there! Yep, we still use the telephone, though long personal calls at work are a lot harder to hide in open plan offices.
The Facebook talker
People might do all of the above (or at least a few of the above) and then get back to their desks and jump on Facebook for a while.
As you imagine all of the above can affect our productivity. When it all comes down to it you are at work to work so it’s best to not go overboard with any of the above.
Check if help is available
If you have problems at work or even just need someone to talk to about work, check to see if your company offers a free counseling service. I’ve worked for a few companies that offer this confidential service free of charge to their employees.
These services can be a great comfort if you are dealing with a restructure, having problems at home or health issues in the family that is affecting your work.
If your company offers these services, by all means, take them up on the offer.
Related post – 10 Ways to Unwind after a Stressful Day at Work
Are you guilty of talking too much at work? Do you know people who fit into the above categories?
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