Use Effective Strategies to Nip the Problem in the Bud

Research shows that most of us churn out roughly 16,000 words per day. While it’s every supervisor’s dream to lead a team that gets along well, it can rapidly turn into a nightmare if excessive talking is disrupting workloads and productivity. Talkative colleagues are listed as one of the biggest annoyances at work and it’s important to tackle the problem in the right way and at the right time.

When Excessive Talking at Work Becomes a Problem

Chatting is a healthy way of communicating in the office. An occasional catch-up by the coffee machine or in someone’s cubicle can trigger an exchange of ideas and enhance workplace relationships. Having your team talking and sharing stories helps them better bond and collaborate. There is however a limit to these benefits, a great deal of conversation not related to work can cause disruption and teamwork actually suffers as a result.

An increasing number of workplaces in Australia are focusing their time and effort controlling office distractions which can cost thousands of dollars in losses. Moreover, with an increasing number of offices being built open-plan, there is much more opportunity and therefore likelihood of conversations beginning easily. The chance of disturbing colleagues is also far greater with the open doors and fewer walls that these floor plans favour.

Talkative bosses may be frustrating their team with long, irrelevant stories or wasting valuable time during an important meeting. After all, no-one wants to listen to lengthy monologues. In small businesses or teams, even one talkative employee can derail performances and affect work output. While some level of socializing and bonding is necessary for a healthy work culture, excessive levels of pointless chatter will be irritating and distracting to others.

It pays for employees to be more self-aware and perceptive of how others respond to them. Excessive chatter can rapidly transform into gossip with unsuitable topics making an appearance. An individual may begin to discuss their own personal issues or even more inappropriately, the private lives of their colleagues. While talking encourages healthy relationships and keeps the workplace cheerful, it’s very important to know where to draw the line.

Why People Talk More Than They Should

People tend to talk excessively for various reasons. You may often come across team members who like to blow their own trumpet or flaunt their knowledge of a subject. They tend to dominate discussions and interrupt when others would like to express their own opinions. This kind of chattiness can, and often does, derail useful discussions as not everyone will have an equal chance to speak. Talkative employees also don’t realise when they’re disrupting someone’s focus. They may even be interrupting a colleague’s well-deserved breaktime with unwanted chatter.

Many people speak simply to fill in silences and overcompensate for awkwardness. Others are conversational narcissists who force the discussion to focus on themselves. These need to occupy centre-stage and have short attention spans when others speak.

For some, talking becomes so much of a habit that they continue speaking almost on autopilot without realising that they’re no longer sharing useful information. Excessive talking also has the extremely negative fallout of potentially revealing sensitive information. For example, discussing the confidential transfer or dismissal of a co-worker may result in acrimony, disciplinary action and seriously impact the morale of the team.

Address the Problem and Speak to Offenders

It’s important to remember that a courteous conversation or two is more than enough for a team to bond during a busy workday and there is no benefit to indulging in longwinded chatter during workhours.

Managing your team effectively involves speaking to the employee in private and calmly explaining how his or her behaviour is affecting work. Before addressing the issue document instances and examples in order to approach the subject in a clear and unbiased manner. If there is more than one employee, speak to them individually – avoid meeting them as a group. You may also consider encouraging personal communication to take place during coffee and lunch breaks in order to add momentum to the working day.

Look out for our upcoming blog discussing the surprising link between overly talkative individuals and hoarding behaviours.

Our trusted team at ESN specialises in identifying, evaluating and offering effective solutions for your needs. Our team of experts leverage our extensive knowledge and experience for your benefit. We offer consistent and high quality support to organisations looking to create congenial and productive workspaces.