A chat with the person at the next desk makes the day go by more easily in the office. But chattering that becomes a constant background hum and ceaseless interruptions have now been proven to adversely affect productivity and workplace harmony. In these cases, don’t wait. Here are a few ways to deal with it.
Tackling a chatterbox with his or her weapon of choice, words, might seem risky. In reality showing that you’re determined to tackle the problem head on will give weight to your argument. Start off with a little flattery: “I enjoy talking to you. But I need to concentrate on my work during the day”.
Turn criticism into a “positive”
Rather than complaining about the constant chattering, pitch the idea of the benefits of a little silence to your colleague. The opportunity might present when the chatterbox has been away for a while: “You know, I noticed that these past few days I’ve been able to concentrate and get my work done on time. So I’ve been thinking that we should perhaps make the effort to have more time with no talking going on”.
Negotiate some “quiet time”
If you manage to schedule some set times, the chatterbox will be encouraged to comply with your requests. You could for example say that you need to totally focus on work in the morning and so you’d rather have complete silence for that time. Over time you could gradually extend the window of quiet, maybe using a period with a heavy workload as a pretext.
Set up a meeting
If the focus of the conversation is work issues, suggest tackling the matter in a special meeting. Defining the issues in a set place and at a set time will limit interruptions and prevent digression.
Kit yourself out with some headphones
Even if they aren’t connected, they’ll act as a deterrent to the chatterbox’s attempts to engage in chat.
Create a physical barrier
Another way to discourage chat is to place a plant in a strategic position. Foliage that obstructs visual contact will reduce the temptation to start a conversation.
If you’ve got several chatty colleagues, blocking out the background noise without extra help may be a challenge. The first counter-offensive is changing desk positions. Being positioned out of the way will also remove you from the crossfire of voices.
If none of these strategies works, alert your superiors or HR officer to the problem. Together, you could come up with a solution like moving desks or having a smart working day once a week. In the interest of both parties, don’t be afraid to put forward your requests. Having a pleasant environment is a right for employees and an obligation for employers.