Some Advice for When You Have a Coworker Who Doesn't Stop Talking

Some Advice for When You Have a Coworker Who Doesn't Stop Talking

"Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah."

By Marianne Garvey

This woman’s ears are bleeding.

She calls her coworker “insane” and says she talks non-stop, “you know how if a shark stops moving they will die? Well that’s my coworker, but with talking.” She describes their cubicles are right across from each other and she can’t work because of her coworker's mouth. She’s purchased noise-canceling headphones. She’s stared ahead blankly. She's said she’s busy.

Nothing works.

Ask a Manager founder Alison Green gives some advice on how to deal with ‘ol motor mouth.

“This sounds horrible,” Green says. You’re probably hoping for a way to get her to leave you alone that doesn’t (a) require you having to be rude or (b) end in her hating you.

“If you want to get her to stop, you’re going to have to say and do things that are going to feel rude to you. That’s not your fault — it’s hers, for putting you in a position where that’s the only thing that will work … Here are your strategies going forward: Be very, very blunt with like when you snapped at her. That doesn’t mean yelling at her — you still need to be reasonably professional — but you can absolutely say ‘I need you to stop talking and leave my cubicle.’ Keep wearing your giant headphones. If she knocks on your desk or waves her in front of your face, say to her, ‘I’m working and cannot talk’ and turn back to your work. If she keeps trying, say, ‘Please email me. I am busy right now.’ If you do all this and she keeps talking, stand up, look her directly in the eye, and say, ‘I told you I am working and I need you to leave. Please go now.’ This is the rudest advice I’ve ever given, and it’s making me uncomfortable! But you’ve tried everything else, and so your choices really are to take this approach or to live with what’s happening.”

Green adds that she really needs to commit to cutting her coworker off every time after that, because otherwise she’ll think that you don’t really mean it. “Also, this is bad enough that you should be talking to your boss about it,” she adds.

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