Workplace Trends

Workforce Trends

Don’t Let Talk Talk Take Up Too Much Tic Toc

By James Greenway on May 8, 2014

Humans are social creatures. Our success as a species depends on our ability to communicate and cooperate. No one, least of all managers, should discount the productive benefits of even the most idle water cooler chit-chat. Chit-chat is the way we get to know and trust each other. And if you think knowing and trusting are of no account, just try brainstorming ideas with a complete stranger.

But, as with most benefits, a willingness to socialize can be too much of a good thing. A recent LHH survey of nearly 600 US employees found that talkative coworkers rank first among disruptions or distractions in the workplace. In the disruption/distraction derby, in fact, the talkers are in front not just by a nose but by a country mile. While nearly half of all respondents (47%) identified talkative coworkers as the greatest distractions, only 14% pointed to emails, 10% odors, 8% phone calls, 7% ambient noise and so on. Yakking, clearly, takes the cake.

Maybe we each need to take greater care that we’re not part of the yakking brigade. Could the talkative coworker be you?  If you are that talkative coworker, you do want to do something about it. Here’s where a little self-awareness can make a difference. Pay attention to non-verbal and environmental cues.  Don’t wait for colleagues to start tapping their fingers, looking at their watches or redecorating their workspaces. Make an objective assessment. Evaluate the amount of time you spend talking every day. Resist any inclination to express every detail and get to the point.  Stop talking and start listening.


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