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More of a WWYD - My colleague won't shut up!

(40 Posts)
Tinytillytot Wed 23-Dec-15 13:21:35

My job is incredibly busy, I am currently doing around 30 hours overtime a month just to complete the minimum required tasks (which is a separate issue). Its really high pressure and I am stressed a lot of the time as are many of my colleagues.

My colleague who sits at the desk next to me is lovely, I like her as a person very much and she is genuinely lovely. But, she doesn't shut up...ever. I am genuinely scared of getting into conversations with her as she will invariably talk at me for a really long time and its often quite boring. I have tried saying politely that I really need to get on with work to which she says something along the lines of "Let me tell you this then i'll stop bothering you" followed by 10 minutes of monologue. I have tried just turning back to my laptop and typing (rude, I know) but this doesn't stop her. I have snapped a few times and then felt bad about it later however when I then apologise for being irritable the apology acceptance is a 15 minute monologue. I can't deal with it!

For instance, I went to get a sandwich yesterday and then sat at my desk to eat it. I refuse to work while I eat (there is no canteen) and so will take out my book and read. Colleague asks where my sandwich is from then tells me for 15 minutes where the best sandwiches can be found including really, really detailed directions to the shop. I was only taking 15 minutes to eat so I was actually getting more and more upset that I didn't get that 15 minutes downtime. This happens all the time. I know my colleague can read my body language because she often starts with a disclaimer "I know you are busy but i'll just tell you this one thing" etc

I don't want to be rude but I am genuinely starting to get angry about this - I feel like I'm being invaded all the time. Unfortunately I don't have the option of moving desks as I logistically need to sit around certain people. I just don't know how I can approach this?

Its a small first world problem I know but just looking for some advice?

OurBlanche Wed 23-Dec-15 13:28:15


A STOP sign?

A traffic light system of cards:
green card on desk = talk if you want
orange card on desk = work related questions only
red card on desk = book a time or ask your question via email, I am busy

Or just shut "SHUT UP" and then burst into tears, thus pre-empting her emotional reaction smile

catfordbetty Wed 23-Dec-15 13:37:10

I think you may have to lose your temper. Make it memorable.

catfordbetty Wed 23-Dec-15 13:37:41

Also, dob her in for slacking.

m0therofdragons Wed 23-Dec-15 13:39:08

Head phones. You don't even need to have music, just pretend.

ilovesooty Wed 23-Dec-15 13:54:10

I think you'll have to sit her down and tell her exactly how she's interfering with your work. She's evidently too thick skinned to respond to anything but direct action.

DropYourSword Wed 23-Dec-15 13:58:28

I have this too, except she goes on and on and ON about her hobby that I really couldn't give two shits about
I try to be polite but I have sometimes just turned around, started typing and on occasion have even admitted "I'm sorry, I'm not really listening, I have to concentrate on this".

BarbarianMum Wed 23-Dec-15 14:00:50

Are you prepared to talk to her at all? If so, when? You say she's lovely but really you don't want to talk at lunch and you don't want to talk during work so you need to tell her that you have no time to chat EVER. Yes, you will have to spell it out.

On a separate note, Can you address the issue of your work load before it breaks you? How come she's got lots of time to talk and you have none?

knobblyknee Wed 23-Dec-15 14:06:32

When she says 'But I'll just tell you this one thing' you put your hand up and say 'No. I dont have time, sorry'. Do it nicely but firmly.
Then just get on with whatever you need to do and ignore her. She has some sort of compulsive disorder. Its sad but you are not getting paid to babysit another adult.

Notrevealingmyidentity Wed 23-Dec-15 14:06:39

"X I am trying to eat."

If she says "oh I will just tell you this"

"No x I am busy and turn your back and ignore her"

Then put headphones in and ignore.

mintoil Wed 23-Dec-15 14:07:06

So sorry OP but there is only one way to deal with this and that is to sit down and have a really serious conversation with her.

It does sound as though you have tried all soft methods and she is selfishly ignoring your needs (to work) in favour of her own (to yabber)

Ask to see her for a coffee if possible, or if not, you'll have to do it in the office. Tell her you really cannot cope with the level of chatter and it is stressing you and affecting your work. Explain that you like her, but that it has to stop. Tell her you will have to escalate it to your manager if she doesn't STFU.

Happy Christmas!

OnlyLovers Wed 23-Dec-15 14:15:11

I agree with a hand up and a polite but firm 'No. I must get on.' Repeat as needed.

lorelei9 Wed 23-Dec-15 14:24:51

how do you define "rude"? I don't think you need to be rude.

I think with the lunchtime example, you need to say "I am having my quiet lunchtime and reading, please don't talk to me" - and that's perfectly polite. You have nowhere to go at lunch. It's obvious if someone is eating while reading their book that they are trying to have lunch in peace.

ditto the work - say "I'm getting on with my work now" and don't engage. If she will actually carry on talking in the face of that, I think you're entitled to talk to a manager or whoever.

I also had a system in one job where we would ring each other if we saw the resident chatterbox lurking!! but I was a lot younger then - now I would just say "I am not talking to you now, I've got to concentrate on this" much more firmly. If you do it with a stroppy face rather than a smile, that should help.

KakiFruit Wed 23-Dec-15 14:27:31

I've had this situation. I gave up trying to be tactful and was openly rude - getting on with my work and letting her talk at me. Turned out she didn't need the other person to actually be listening in order to have a conversation.

She was happy, I was happy, win-win.

KakiFruit Wed 23-Dec-15 14:28:00

I think with the lunchtime example, you need to say "I am having my quiet lunchtime and reading, please don't talk to me" - and that's perfectly polite.

In what planet is that perfectly polite??? "Please don't talk to me" good god.

FlatOnTheHill Wed 23-Dec-15 14:28:50

Agree headphones

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Wed 23-Dec-15 14:30:24

Headphones. She can talk to herself then. grin

Mintoil's suggestion is the best though.

TwoInTheMourning Wed 23-Dec-15 14:30:33

I have this too except it's not with a colleague, it's with my boss, and she's not lovely, she's horrid; oh and she doesn't talk about non work related stuff, she talks about her work, what she's doing, non stop, all day long. She interrupts my train of though all the time, constantly. I can't think, I can't relax, I have her constant ranting background all the time, non stop. The headache is constant. Sometimes I feel like crying.

TwoInTheMourning Wed 23-Dec-15 14:32:00

Sorry OP that was very "me me me"

angelos02 Wed 23-Dec-15 14:44:42

You have my sympathy OP. Some people just can't read body language. If my colleague talked to me when I was trying to eat my lunch, I would literally stop eating, making it clear I was waiting for her to finish talking before I would continue my lunch and she still didn't get the message!

Littleredhouse Wed 23-Dec-15 15:09:05

I've had similar. I just started going out to so I could eat my lunch in peace. I would also engage in a brief chat each time so as not to appear rude, then say I had an urgent email to deal with and physically turn away.

Tinytillytot Wed 23-Dec-15 15:16:17

Sorry for the delay - my colleague also reads my screen so updating quickly while she is out having a smoke.

Thanks everyone for all of the advice. Re using headphones - I do wear headphones for most of the day anyway but but she just gets my attention and then starts talking so I feel I have no choice but to take them out.

I really have also done the "I'm really busy - I need to work" but her answer to that is "I'll just quickly tell you about X or Y" Its infuriating.

I think I will ask her for coffee and have a serious conversation as PP advises above. Then if there is no improvement I guess I will have to speak to a manager. Its just so awkward! I hate that kind of serious action. I have noticed that I've recently started obsessively scratching my knee out of frustration when she talks to me, its like a distraction method. I must look a bit weird ha!

angels and twoin you have my sympathy – its comforting to know you feel my pain though 

Queenbean Wed 23-Dec-15 15:20:11

I've had the exact same and dealt with it by:

Step one: saying "sorry, I'm just right in the middle of something" and then turning back to my desk, not engaging at all if she keeps talking
Step two: pretend that you don't realise she's talking to you, so just literally do your work, make phone calls, turn away and make notes in your book etc. If you make eye contact, repeat step one smile

Tinytillytot Wed 23-Dec-15 15:21:01

littlered how do you ensure you can keep the chat "brief" ? Any tips?

hellsbellsmelons Wed 23-Dec-15 15:21:58

'Blimey love, how is it you have so much time to talk? I don't even have time to think at the moment I'm so feckin' busy. If you have some spare time I can certainly give you some bits and pieces to do but I really need to get on with everything or I'll be doing more overtime this month. We can have a chat at the end of my shift.'

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