Too Much Talk at Work: Coping Tips

Reviewed Feb 17, 2016

Close

E-mail Article

Complete form to e-mail article…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

Separate multiple recipients with a comma

Close

Sign-Up For Newsletters

Complete this form to sign-up for newsletters…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

Summary

  • Don’t allow the interruption; convey that you have work to do.
  • With a regular “visitor,” discuss the issue.
  • Is it you? Practice your listening skills.

Have you heard the song “You Talk Too Much”? There are at least a half dozen songs with that title performed by artists ranging from Cheap Trick to George Thorogood to Run DMZ. One song even laments, “If You Talk Too Much (My Head Will Explode).”

Get the message? Too much talking annoys people. It especially annoys people when they’re trying to work.

Yet every office has one. The person who divulges TMI (too much information). The person who dominates meetings with endless tangents. The person who tells you in excruciating detail about her latest ailment or last night’s “Lost” episode. They don’t respond to eyes glazing over or to people turning away. They just keep talking, completely unaware of the effect they have on others. 

When talking distracts from work

There’s a difference between someone who’s friendly and occasionally chatty and someone who is a compulsive talker. Compulsive talkers don’t care who they’re talking to. They’re not engaged in real conversations. If you walked away, they’d turn to the next person to fill the void. Some talkers are simply inconsiderate or self-absorbed, others are lonely and needy.

Most of us want to be friendly and maintain good relationships. We certainly don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, but neither do we want to be continually distracted from our work and bored. So how do you tactfully handle a co-worker who talks too much?

Short-term solutions

  • If you’re trapped at your desk by a talker, avoid eye contact and keep working. Or, glance at your phone or watch and say, “Sorry, I’m expecting a call and I’ve got to prepare” or “I’d like to hear about it, but I can’t talk right now, I’ve got a deadline.” Say this often enough, and they’ll find another victim.
  • If the talker catches you on the move—walking down the hallway or to your car—keep moving. Whatever you do, don’t stop. Walk backward and talk if you have to but keep moving. Glance at your watch and use the “deadline,” “phone call” or “meeting” excuse.
  • Borrow a strategy from frequent fliers and wear an iPod, if that’s an option.
  • Don’t start conversations with a talker—especially open-ended ones like, “How are you doing?”
  • Don’t feel too bad about avoiding or misleading this person—they don’t feel bad (or don’t notice) that they’re wasting your time or boring you.

More mature, long-term solutions

If the talker is someone you work with daily, then you’ll have to sit down with him and address it sooner or later.

  • Use “I” statements and soften the blow by saying something like, “During the workday, especially when I’m really busy, I need a certain amount of quiet time to focus and be productive. Can we save our personal talks for the lunch hour or a coffee break?”
  • If you’re still having trouble with too much talking in the office, you might confide in your supervisor and have her tackle the issue as an overall office policy so that no individual feels singled out.
  • If the problem happens in meetings, print out information on how to conduct an efficient meeting and pass it out to everyone.

Do you talk too much?

Every group needs someone who can get the conversational ball rolling. But there is a big difference between someone who is a good conversationalist and someone who is an annoying bore. Good conversationalists are very aware of their listeners. They include others in the conversation and respond appropriately. Most importantly, they know when to stop talking.

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you might want to work on your listening and conversational skills.

  • Do people kid you often about talking too much?
  • Do you tend to dominate conversations?
  • Do you talk for more than a minute without giving other people a chance to talk? If so, that’s a problem. Studies have shown that people begin to get impatient after 30 seconds.
  • Do you get caught up in too many details when talking?
  • Do you go off on tangents?
  • Do you think out loud as you process events or try to make decisions?
  • Do you waste time verbally trying to recall a detail while in the middle of a story?
  • Are you thinking about what you want to say next while the other person is speaking?
  • Do you react with an appropriate response to the other speaker’s comments or do you merely use them as a jumping off point to get on your own roll again?
  • Do others seem to look elsewhere when you’re talking to them?
  • Do others start multi-tasking and generally ignore you when you’re speaking?
  • Do you find that you interrupt people? If so, this is a major no-no because many people are very offended when they’re interrupted.
  • Do you find people avoiding you and making excuses or not answering your calls?
  • Do you tell co-workers too much personal information?

Take action

  • Read up on listening skills and practice them. This is the most important step.
  • If you tend to interrupt people, break this habit first because you may be offending others unintentionally.
  • Learn to read body language.
  • Take time to be silent. Get comfortable with it.
  • Make eye contact and try to assess the other person’s level of interest. If he’s looking away, he’s not interested.
  • Talk about interesting topics that concern others, not the chores and irritations of everyday life, and make sure conversations are dialogues and not monologues.
  • Ask questions of the other person to get her involved. Don’t just talk about yourself.
  • Prepare for meetings, write down clear and concise points, and bring the list to the meeting. Make your point and then stop talking. Limit the time you will speak in advance and practice against the clock. Savvy business people practice the “elevator pitch,” communicating the important points in 30 seconds or less.
  • Join a group to discuss your hobbies or particular interests with like-minded people.
  • If you’re still having trouble with compulsive talking, see a therapist or counselor. Your social life will improve, and you’ll have more friends to talk to if you learn how to temper your urge to talk too much.
By Amy Fries
Source: BusinessListening.com, www.businesslistening.com/stop_rambling.php; “Do You Talk Too Much?” by Marty Nemko. Kiplinger. www.kiplinger.com/magazine/archives/2007/04/nemko.html; Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia: Obsessive-compulsive disorder: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000929.htm

Summary

  • Don’t allow the interruption; convey that you have work to do.
  • With a regular “visitor,” discuss the issue.
  • Is it you? Practice your listening skills.

Have you heard the song “You Talk Too Much”? There are at least a half dozen songs with that title performed by artists ranging from Cheap Trick to George Thorogood to Run DMZ. One song even laments, “If You Talk Too Much (My Head Will Explode).”

Get the message? Too much talking annoys people. It especially annoys people when they’re trying to work.

Yet every office has one. The person who divulges TMI (too much information). The person who dominates meetings with endless tangents. The person who tells you in excruciating detail about her latest ailment or last night’s “Lost” episode. They don’t respond to eyes glazing over or to people turning away. They just keep talking, completely unaware of the effect they have on others. 

When talking distracts from work

There’s a difference between someone who’s friendly and occasionally chatty and someone who is a compulsive talker. Compulsive talkers don’t care who they’re talking to. They’re not engaged in real conversations. If you walked away, they’d turn to the next person to fill the void. Some talkers are simply inconsiderate or self-absorbed, others are lonely and needy.

Most of us want to be friendly and maintain good relationships. We certainly don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, but neither do we want to be continually distracted from our work and bored. So how do you tactfully handle a co-worker who talks too much?

Short-term solutions

  • If you’re trapped at your desk by a talker, avoid eye contact and keep working. Or, glance at your phone or watch and say, “Sorry, I’m expecting a call and I’ve got to prepare” or “I’d like to hear about it, but I can’t talk right now, I’ve got a deadline.” Say this often enough, and they’ll find another victim.
  • If the talker catches you on the move—walking down the hallway or to your car—keep moving. Whatever you do, don’t stop. Walk backward and talk if you have to but keep moving. Glance at your watch and use the “deadline,” “phone call” or “meeting” excuse.
  • Borrow a strategy from frequent fliers and wear an iPod, if that’s an option.
  • Don’t start conversations with a talker—especially open-ended ones like, “How are you doing?”
  • Don’t feel too bad about avoiding or misleading this person—they don’t feel bad (or don’t notice) that they’re wasting your time or boring you.

More mature, long-term solutions

If the talker is someone you work with daily, then you’ll have to sit down with him and address it sooner or later.

  • Use “I” statements and soften the blow by saying something like, “During the workday, especially when I’m really busy, I need a certain amount of quiet time to focus and be productive. Can we save our personal talks for the lunch hour or a coffee break?”
  • If you’re still having trouble with too much talking in the office, you might confide in your supervisor and have her tackle the issue as an overall office policy so that no individual feels singled out.
  • If the problem happens in meetings, print out information on how to conduct an efficient meeting and pass it out to everyone.

Do you talk too much?

Every group needs someone who can get the conversational ball rolling. But there is a big difference between someone who is a good conversationalist and someone who is an annoying bore. Good conversationalists are very aware of their listeners. They include others in the conversation and respond appropriately. Most importantly, they know when to stop talking.

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you might want to work on your listening and conversational skills.

  • Do people kid you often about talking too much?
  • Do you tend to dominate conversations?
  • Do you talk for more than a minute without giving other people a chance to talk? If so, that’s a problem. Studies have shown that people begin to get impatient after 30 seconds.
  • Do you get caught up in too many details when talking?
  • Do you go off on tangents?
  • Do you think out loud as you process events or try to make decisions?
  • Do you waste time verbally trying to recall a detail while in the middle of a story?
  • Are you thinking about what you want to say next while the other person is speaking?
  • Do you react with an appropriate response to the other speaker’s comments or do you merely use them as a jumping off point to get on your own roll again?
  • Do others seem to look elsewhere when you’re talking to them?
  • Do others start multi-tasking and generally ignore you when you’re speaking?
  • Do you find that you interrupt people? If so, this is a major no-no because many people are very offended when they’re interrupted.
  • Do you find people avoiding you and making excuses or not answering your calls?
  • Do you tell co-workers too much personal information?

Take action

  • Read up on listening skills and practice them. This is the most important step.
  • If you tend to interrupt people, break this habit first because you may be offending others unintentionally.
  • Learn to read body language.
  • Take time to be silent. Get comfortable with it.
  • Make eye contact and try to assess the other person’s level of interest. If he’s looking away, he’s not interested.
  • Talk about interesting topics that concern others, not the chores and irritations of everyday life, and make sure conversations are dialogues and not monologues.
  • Ask questions of the other person to get her involved. Don’t just talk about yourself.
  • Prepare for meetings, write down clear and concise points, and bring the list to the meeting. Make your point and then stop talking. Limit the time you will speak in advance and practice against the clock. Savvy business people practice the “elevator pitch,” communicating the important points in 30 seconds or less.
  • Join a group to discuss your hobbies or particular interests with like-minded people.
  • If you’re still having trouble with compulsive talking, see a therapist or counselor. Your social life will improve, and you’ll have more friends to talk to if you learn how to temper your urge to talk too much.
By Amy Fries
Source: BusinessListening.com, www.businesslistening.com/stop_rambling.php; “Do You Talk Too Much?” by Marty Nemko. Kiplinger. www.kiplinger.com/magazine/archives/2007/04/nemko.html; Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia: Obsessive-compulsive disorder: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000929.htm

Summary

  • Don’t allow the interruption; convey that you have work to do.
  • With a regular “visitor,” discuss the issue.
  • Is it you? Practice your listening skills.

Have you heard the song “You Talk Too Much”? There are at least a half dozen songs with that title performed by artists ranging from Cheap Trick to George Thorogood to Run DMZ. One song even laments, “If You Talk Too Much (My Head Will Explode).”

Get the message? Too much talking annoys people. It especially annoys people when they’re trying to work.

Yet every office has one. The person who divulges TMI (too much information). The person who dominates meetings with endless tangents. The person who tells you in excruciating detail about her latest ailment or last night’s “Lost” episode. They don’t respond to eyes glazing over or to people turning away. They just keep talking, completely unaware of the effect they have on others. 

When talking distracts from work

There’s a difference between someone who’s friendly and occasionally chatty and someone who is a compulsive talker. Compulsive talkers don’t care who they’re talking to. They’re not engaged in real conversations. If you walked away, they’d turn to the next person to fill the void. Some talkers are simply inconsiderate or self-absorbed, others are lonely and needy.

Most of us want to be friendly and maintain good relationships. We certainly don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, but neither do we want to be continually distracted from our work and bored. So how do you tactfully handle a co-worker who talks too much?

Short-term solutions

  • If you’re trapped at your desk by a talker, avoid eye contact and keep working. Or, glance at your phone or watch and say, “Sorry, I’m expecting a call and I’ve got to prepare” or “I’d like to hear about it, but I can’t talk right now, I’ve got a deadline.” Say this often enough, and they’ll find another victim.
  • If the talker catches you on the move—walking down the hallway or to your car—keep moving. Whatever you do, don’t stop. Walk backward and talk if you have to but keep moving. Glance at your watch and use the “deadline,” “phone call” or “meeting” excuse.
  • Borrow a strategy from frequent fliers and wear an iPod, if that’s an option.
  • Don’t start conversations with a talker—especially open-ended ones like, “How are you doing?”
  • Don’t feel too bad about avoiding or misleading this person—they don’t feel bad (or don’t notice) that they’re wasting your time or boring you.

More mature, long-term solutions

If the talker is someone you work with daily, then you’ll have to sit down with him and address it sooner or later.

  • Use “I” statements and soften the blow by saying something like, “During the workday, especially when I’m really busy, I need a certain amount of quiet time to focus and be productive. Can we save our personal talks for the lunch hour or a coffee break?”
  • If you’re still having trouble with too much talking in the office, you might confide in your supervisor and have her tackle the issue as an overall office policy so that no individual feels singled out.
  • If the problem happens in meetings, print out information on how to conduct an efficient meeting and pass it out to everyone.

Do you talk too much?

Every group needs someone who can get the conversational ball rolling. But there is a big difference between someone who is a good conversationalist and someone who is an annoying bore. Good conversationalists are very aware of their listeners. They include others in the conversation and respond appropriately. Most importantly, they know when to stop talking.

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you might want to work on your listening and conversational skills.

  • Do people kid you often about talking too much?
  • Do you tend to dominate conversations?
  • Do you talk for more than a minute without giving other people a chance to talk? If so, that’s a problem. Studies have shown that people begin to get impatient after 30 seconds.
  • Do you get caught up in too many details when talking?
  • Do you go off on tangents?
  • Do you think out loud as you process events or try to make decisions?
  • Do you waste time verbally trying to recall a detail while in the middle of a story?
  • Are you thinking about what you want to say next while the other person is speaking?
  • Do you react with an appropriate response to the other speaker’s comments or do you merely use them as a jumping off point to get on your own roll again?
  • Do others seem to look elsewhere when you’re talking to them?
  • Do others start multi-tasking and generally ignore you when you’re speaking?
  • Do you find that you interrupt people? If so, this is a major no-no because many people are very offended when they’re interrupted.
  • Do you find people avoiding you and making excuses or not answering your calls?
  • Do you tell co-workers too much personal information?

Take action

  • Read up on listening skills and practice them. This is the most important step.
  • If you tend to interrupt people, break this habit first because you may be offending others unintentionally.
  • Learn to read body language.
  • Take time to be silent. Get comfortable with it.
  • Make eye contact and try to assess the other person’s level of interest. If he’s looking away, he’s not interested.
  • Talk about interesting topics that concern others, not the chores and irritations of everyday life, and make sure conversations are dialogues and not monologues.
  • Ask questions of the other person to get her involved. Don’t just talk about yourself.
  • Prepare for meetings, write down clear and concise points, and bring the list to the meeting. Make your point and then stop talking. Limit the time you will speak in advance and practice against the clock. Savvy business people practice the “elevator pitch,” communicating the important points in 30 seconds or less.
  • Join a group to discuss your hobbies or particular interests with like-minded people.
  • If you’re still having trouble with compulsive talking, see a therapist or counselor. Your social life will improve, and you’ll have more friends to talk to if you learn how to temper your urge to talk too much.
By Amy Fries
Source: BusinessListening.com, www.businesslistening.com/stop_rambling.php; “Do You Talk Too Much?” by Marty Nemko. Kiplinger. www.kiplinger.com/magazine/archives/2007/04/nemko.html; Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia: Obsessive-compulsive disorder: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000929.htm

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as behavioral health care or management advice. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have questions related to workplace issues, please consider contacting your human resources department. ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

Close

  • Useful Tools

    Select a tool below

© 2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.