How do you stop co-workers from talking to you?

While most of us don’t want to be completely socially isolated at work, at the end of the day, we are there to work. Some people can test the limits of our patience by persistently engaging, so how do you stop coworkers from talking to you?

The best way to stop co-workers from talking to you is to tell them you have deadlines and need to focus. Then they won’t be offended and should leave you alone. If not, subtly ignore them and continue to work, don’t turn your body to engage with them, and you can put on large over ear headphones.

For most of us, we don’t want to appear rude even to the most annoying of our co-workers. But in a work environment you have no way to simply get away from the other person to avoid conversation—you need to be firm.

How do you deal with a coworker that won’t stop talking?

The best way to deal with a coworker who won’t stop talking is to make their interactions with you less-rewarding by giving only short, low-effort responses to her questions. “Yes” and “no”.

If that doesn’t work and your co-worker doesn’t stop talking to you, just tell them directly that you really need to get your work done and can’t talk. After that, simply ignore them and continue with your work. Most people will soon get the message and stop engaging you.

There are other things you can try, though to get stop coworkers from talking to you, although this will more likely stop the whole office from talking to you. Wearing headphones is a great way of discouraging people from talking to you, especially large, over ear headphones. You don’t even have to be listening to anything!

For those who just won’t get the message, though, there’s not much to be done other than a firm and clear explanation that you don’t want to be bothered while working. Keep reading to find out more strategies on how to deal with a talkative coworker!

How do you politely ignore a co-worker?

how to manage a talkative co-worker

The best way to politely ignore a co-worker is simply don’t turn your full body to engage with them, try to not smile and react to their story and don’t offer any input to their story or ask them any questions. As soon as there is a gap in the talking, change the subject, for example; “Oh sorry, I just realised I have to do something, and then turn back to your computer.”

To maintain politeness, soften this interaction with a smile. Don’t look grumpy, and remember to apologise that you can’t keep talking.

If they continue to talk, when you do look at them, give them the impression that you are itching to get back to something pressing that you have do and say “I am so sorry, but I really don’t have time to talk”.

If it is an ongoing issue… which I assume it is as you are reading this. Wearing headphones at your desk is a great trick to stop people engaging you in the first place. If they persist, just tell them firmly you don’t want to be bothered while working. Unfortunately wearing headphones may have some inadvertent consequences, as it potentially puts off people you need or want to be accessible to. But this might be a big price to pay just to avoid someone who doesn’t know how to respect your time. But headphones as a pretty polite way to ignore a coworker.

How do you set boundaries with a chatty coworker?

The best way of setting boundaries with a chatty co-worker is to let them know that when you are at your desk you can only talk about work. Let them know that you can talk during breaks, but while you are at your desk you work the best just focussing on work.

During breaks it can be good idea to make yourself scarce, as the more they engage with you, the more you learn about them and they about you, the more they will open up and become more chatty! So, you could make sure you spend lunch breaks alone on walks, and even turn down invitations to chat with co-workers at a local restaurant or in the break room.

If you do want to talk with your coworker, but just want to reduce the amount of chat maybe consider a strategy to get your coworker to stop talking so much. Let your colleague know that to assist with your own productivity you have set times that you wear headphones. That way people are not scared to approach you for work concerns all day, but you can have a 2 hour block in the morning and a 2 hour block in the afternoon where you wear your headphones to avoid any distractions.

Setting boundaries are a proactive – rather than reactive – way to pre-empt and avoid situations that get overly chatty and to deal with a coworker that won’t stop talking.

Even though it can be difficult setting boundaries, it is showing others that you are committed to your work and you will stand up for your own needs. Every time you assert a limit you show that your style of working in also important and should be valued. If you show how you set boundaries with a chatty coworker, it can also show to your boss your ability to deal with difficult situations and set up strategies for dealing with it in a productive way that fosters the team as a whole.

How do you politely tell a coworker they talk too much?

Where a co-worker doesn’t respond from your strategies of distancing and being uninterested, you are going to have to be direct and tell them they talk too much to you. But it is hard to tell a coworker not to talk to you as you don’t want to upset them- and you have to continue to work with them after all! But how can you politely stop co-workers from talking to you? How do you deal with a talkative coworker?

The politest way of telling a coworker that they talk too much is not to embarrass them in front of others. You also don’t want to get their back up, and the best way is to make it about YOU not THEM. But you might be asking how do I tell them?

What to say to a coworker who talks too much?

Below is an example polite email of what you can say to a coworker who talks to much. The great thing is that by making the message about YOU and NOT THEM, you are less likely to get their back up. This is important, as you don’t want unhappiness in the workplace.

So check out our email template below on how to politely tell a coworker they talk too much:

“Hey <insert co-workers name>,

I am really sorry if I seem distant, it’s just that I really need to focus on my work and I just don’t feel like I have enough time in the day to get all my work done!

I actually find it hard to re-concentrate on what I was doing after I get distracted so I really can’t have these quick chats during work time. This job is really important to me and I really want to do well in it. I hope you understand. Happy to chat during break times.

Bob”

Even though you said you are happy to chat during break times, you can just make yourself scarce. It is just a softener, to maintain being polite, and is a good way for setting boundaries with a chatty coworker. That way you can politely tell your coworker to stop talking to you, and it hopefully will be effective and also not upset your colleague. If you have any other ideas on how to politely tell a coworker to stop talking, let us know in the comments below!

When is it ok for a coworker to talk to you?

You can’t stop co-workers from talking to you all the time, it is ok for co-workers to talk to you about work related topics. In fact, it is actually a necessary part of work to communicate effectively with your co-workers.

How do you set boundaries with a chatty coworker

While you might prefer to work in complete silence, sometimes others need to know what you are doing to make sure what they are doing is complementing your tasks. It might be annoying if a co-worker keeps asking questions, but this is often just part of the learning process and the questions will ease up as they become more confident in their job.

If a co-worker is seriously impacting your productivity with their questions, you may have to raise it with your supervisor. If it isn’t your role to teach them, they may need to pair the colleague with someone else. But if you are the one who knows the information, then your supervisor may need to reconsider your work deadlines to compensate for the extra time spent talking to this colleague. Another strategy might be to designate a specific time, or a couple of specific times, when you are able to stop for questions, discussions and troubleshooting. That way you get some good continuous stretches of work in between. 

Just remember – It goes both ways

It is often best to make sure that you are more subtle in getting people not to talk to you how to deal with a talkative coworker. It would not look that great if you were to shut a conversation down bluntly and then the next day be caught chatting yourself to another co-worker. You probably need to reflect on your own conversational habits first. A good way to offend your co-workers and to create a tense work environment is to shut them up if they talk to you, but talk to others during work hours about non-related things.