I need to rant. And I need Doper input.

There’s this girl who works down the hall from me who was an old school mate of mine. When I first found out she was working for my agency, I was moderately happy because from what I could remember about her, she seemed cool and interesting. I expected that we would become good friends.

Now I’m not so sure.

First off, the reason why I’m starting this thread is because I’m not a people-person. I’m flexible and adaptable, but some personality types I can only tolerate in low, short doses. Talkative people who seem to have a biological mandate to vocalize all the time and who usually spend most of their time talking either directly or indirectly about themselves make the top of my intolerance list. Not everyone shares my aversion to this trait, though, and I understand that it very well might be just my own personal pet peeve. I can’t imagine not feeling the way I do, but I can accept that self-absorbed talkers have their admirers.

Which brings us to my friend-but-not-quite-because-I-want-to-strangle-her-all-the-time. It doesn’t matter how busy I am, how many things I got going on, she invites herself into my office everyday to regale me with the latest goings-on in her life. So she tells me about how the handy man came to replace her moldy kitchen cabinets. And she tells about her how she and her fuck buddy are having problems. And she tells me about how she has to go to so many meetings. And she tells me about all the things she’s going to do so that she can be a senior executive. Blah blah blah into infinity.

And all the while I’m trying to work! One day I was having a semi-serious meeting with my supervisor and another co-worker, but did that stop the Clueless Blunder from walking right into my office and grabbing a chair so that she can sit amidst a discussion that had nothing to do with her or her job? No. Did she even think to ask if it would be all right to do that? No. She didn’t even seem to consider that we might have been discussing confidental and/or sensitive issues that she shouldn’t be privy to. No, because that would have meant considering the possibility that the world does not revolve around her.

But that infraction is not what has prompted this thread. Today, the camel’s back almost broke. For the past two days my life has been in overdrive. Firstly, I was the only one working in my department because my two colleagues were out on vacation, which tripled my normal workload. Secondly, this is a new job so there are some things I’m still learning, and my boss was not around to give much guidance, so that was a big stress to me. But all of that is 2% low fat milk compared with my other stress: closing on a condo. The last two days have completely drained my adrenal glands, the stress has been so high. And I’m pretty sure its obvious to anyone who has seen me and knows what I look like normally.

But this doesn’t deter Ms. Talker McTalkerson from assailing me with her drivel. Here I am, working my little black ass off, firing off emails, calling people, faxing stuff, typing up documents, calling more people, and guess who comes to visit but my friend-but-not-quite-because-I-want-to-strangle-her-all-the-time. And she wants to talk about her insomnia last night and how an old boyfriend sent her an IM, and blah blah blah. I started tuning her out at that point so I don’t know what else she said.

To me, its blatant that I’m not interested in any of this blather. I’m not returning the dialogue, I’m directing all my attention to the computer screen, I occasional go “uh huh” but I don’t ask her any questions. So why in the HELL is she TALKING to ME? And why don’t I have the balls to ask her to shut up and go away? whimper

Do any of you guys have any experience in telling someone to shut up or go away tactfully, without bruising any egos and making any enemies? I need advice seriously. Like some step-by-step instructions on how to handle this.

“hey, sorry. I can’t talk now. I have to concentrate on this project/email/spreadsheet.”

Lather rinse repeat.

If there is a kitchen: “hey, walk with me. I need to get some water/coffee.” Let her walk with you and talk. Then, get your water/tea/coffee/whatever. When you have it, “Hey, good talking to you. I needed the break, but now I’ve got to back to it. I’ll check in with you later.” Under no circumstances permit her to accompany you back to your office.

Also, the straightforward: “I’ve got to get this out the door – they’re breathing down my neck on the deadline. Give me an hour or so and I’ll swing by to see you.” If she continues talking, “Sorry. I really need to concentrate on this. Can I come by and chat in like an hour when this is done?”

If she persists (saying that it will only take a minute), be firm. “Sorry. I really don’t have a minute. I’ll come see you later. Thanks.” Then, whatever you do, don’t look up again. Just work.

Of these, my best is the water walk one. So far, it’s worked every time.

If you want to be graded on the rant, I give it a full 9.0 ! It’s got a great beat and you can dance to it. The lyrics ring true and the melody moved me.

As far as suggestions go however, maybe what Green Bean said?

The kitchen walk idea sounds good, Campion, except that it is right in front of my office. So it would make for only a short walk, and I fret that that won’t tide the Jabberwacki over. If the kitchen was five miles away, it wouldn’t be enough. Your other suggestions were great, too.

Greenbean, I know that’s what I should say. sigh She doesn’t make it easy to do that, though. Most people I know, myself included, when dropping by a friend or acquaintance’s office will give a light door knock and ask “Are you busy?” If the answer is yes then they will proceed to leave or will quickly say whatever they wanted to say. And then they go away. They don’t just waltz right in, sit down, and start letting the words flow in stream-of-consciousness format.

But I will try to be more straightforward with her. On Monday when I was at the height of my stress and she was rambling about something so stupid that I can’t even remember what it was, I did tell her that I was working. Maybe simply saying “I’m working, Jabber” was not enough, though. I was kind of hoping she would infer from that statement that she should let me work in peace. But maybe “I’m working, Jabber” is just a little too cryptic, a little too vague, for her to understand that it really means “Shut the fuck up and walk away.”

Thanks for letting me rant about it.

Hell, let management take a hit here! You must have some specimen of that flavor who’s above both of you, right? Go to them and tell them that you fear her interference and blabbering will hurt your productivity/sanity/her/whatever and ask could they handle it discreetly, please? Part of management’s job is to be the designated bad guy. My company actually discourages personal confrontations and asks that employees let their overlords deal w/ issues like these when they pop up in the workplace.
For eaxmple, there’s one lady in the office who smells very bad all the time for various reasons. She’s only ever been confronted about this by a supervisor, I can assure you. (She claims not to fit in her shower.)

tough situation… it is unlikely that you wil be able to lead her to the discovery of her self-centered blathering ways, and the process will be painful for you both. unfortunately, not nipping this in the bud has created a situation where she feels comfortable coming into your office and dumping her mundane happenings.

that said, you can be cordial about it and avoid confrontation, and the “water cooler” technique seems like a good one. of course, you can simply ask her to stop talking, say “i don’t recall my asking.”

Have to agree with the others. Just be honest and when she can’t come over and talk tell her, “Sorry, but I can’t talk right now.” But when she can come over and talk, let her.

A further suggestion would be that when you do talk to her, talk.
While she may be an idiot, from her perspective she is probably just trying to be sociable. And that she only talks about herself probably has more to do with you having said nothing about yourself or the two of you discussing things enough to find a mutual base of interesting topics that she is, indeed, left with nothing to talk with you about except herself. So, unless you would rather not be friends, this is probably a good chance to practice meaningless chatting (which is oddly useful.)

Can you close your office door and require people to say a password to gain entrance? :slight_smile:

I know how you feel. When I was in grad school, there was this super sweet woman who worked in my lab who could talk endlessly, usually about boring stuff. As much as I liked her, her presence would often induce headaches and irritability. So I know how stressful this situation is. (I even made a pit thread about it but I’m too lazy to dig it up).

Maybe you can say, “Girl, you know what? I’ve been distracted lately and I realize I need to catch up on a lot of work. You want to have lunch later? Because I can’t visit right now.” If you do this enough, maybe she’ll get the hint. If that doesn’t work, maybe you can pick up the telephone the second she enters the office and pretend you’re having an important phone conversation.

I don’t understand people like this, although I can see how maybe sometimes I might ramble on like a babble-monkey.

Saying “I’m working” isn’t enough, because to Miss Jabberwacky, “working” and “chatting” aren’t mutually exclusive.

Therefore, you should give a reason why you can’t chat. Even if that reason is sort of BS. At least it will explain to Miss J. why you could “chat” before, but not now.

But when it comes right down to it, as Ann Landers used to say, nobody can take advantage of you without your permission.

So, don’t just continue working and let her jabber. Using ever stronger statements and body language, let her know that she must stop and leave.

Miss J: (walks in) blah blah blah…
YWTF: (turns to her and smiles) Oh, hi! Listen, I’m sorry I can’t talk now, but I have to concentrate on this project. (Turns back to work)
Miss J: Blah blah blah
YWTF: (Staring at the computer screen, but still friendly voice) I’ve gotta finish this. Can I talk to you later?
Miss J: Blah blah blah
YWTF: (Staring at the screen) Please! I can’t concentrate and listen to you at the same time!
Miss J: Blah blah blah.
YWTF: (Turns away from the computer, stands up, and looks at Miss J.)

This should surprise her enough to break her narrative. If she still doesn’t leave, say in a bone-weary voice “What am I going to have to to do get you to leave me in peace so I can get some work done?”

She’ll probably get her nose out of joint at that last one. Oh well. You can’t make an omelet without breaking an egg. You have an unassailable position to fall back on–“I told you three times that I couldn’t talk to you. What am I supposed to do?”

But she’ll probably respond with “well, how am I supposed to know when you can’t talk?” ( :smack: )

I had been prepared with a lot of "Yeah, what he/she said"s, but I’m going to have to request a hijack for the details on this one. :slight_smile:

Every time she comes over, give her work to do. It doesn’t have to be important work. Give her a long, boring academic paper and ask her to type you up a summary. ASAP. Or check a long article for spelling errors. Better yet, give her a really long article and ske her to type it into the computer and email it to you. If she asks why she should do this, tell her that you’re too busy and she obviously has free time.

Politely put, she’s 5’ 2" and pushing 450#+ in my estimation, and the attendant rolls may account for the yeasty stench emanating therewith. It follows her quite a distance, you can tell when she’s been through somewhere for a couple minutes at least. You should have seen the horror on the faces of passersby when she sat on her desk in a skirt which hiked itself up quite indecently. She then made comments along the lines of “I hope I don’t get the guys around here too hot and bothered.”

“Holy cow, but I’m swamped, and I’m just learning this process. Do you know how to [insert name of something she doesn’t know how to do, and isn’t in her job description]?”

“No? Well, you want to help me figure out how to do it?”

She’ll probably leave burn marks in the rug leaving your cube, she’ll leave so fast.

Yeah, she probably DOESN’T fit in the shower. Or, she fits, but hasn’t had the brains to buy a long-handled brush for the parts of her body she can’t reach anymore. Or she doesn’t dry herself properly, or she sweats after she dries herself (horrifyingly enough, the existence of rolls does lend itself to the growth of fungal infections). This is a woman who NEEDS to have her lbathroom modified (actually, she needs gastric bypass. Badly. But at the least, she should look into having her bathroom modified.]

Re: the OP. I’m with the crowd that says just be straight with the talker. “I’m sorry, I have to work now and I need you to leave me alone for the rest of the day” is really not such a bad thing to say. I’m a fairly compulsive babbler myself, and I need the occasional reminder. As long as it isn’t said in a nasty way, I can take it well, and I do listen. And apologize. And leave.

An idea: get a telephone headset. It allows you to work hands-free when you need to talk and type or whatever, and even if you’re not on the phone, you can be “on the phone” if Miss Flappylips or anyone else comes in.

As with most situations, Strong Bad has the answer. (Link opens a flash cartoon.)

The point isn’t to give her enough time to talk to you; the point is to physically move her out of your office, then go back to your office without her. Frankly, if you try hard enough, you ought to be able to do the kitchen walk successfully even if the kitchen is too feet from your office. You just need to be firm with her. (But if you want to try it with a longer walk, is there a copier or printer or supply room or something? It’s all a pretext, so just find a suitable location you need to walk to.)

I hear your pain, though. I used to have a coworker who came by my office like clockwork every day at 10 and 4. No amount of nothing would get him out before he’d told his obligatory joke or made his obligatory comment about the world. And he was such a nice guy that I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. So when I heard him coming I faked a phone call.

Well, I bet bothered was a pretty accrurate description of the effect…

This always worked for me:

When she walks into your office, makes herself at home and starts yapping, NEVER EVER turn/face her and give her any eye contact whatsoever, in fact, better to turn your back to her and keep yourself busy (looking at a screen, reading, look through your files in drawer, etc)… even when she says “goodbye” … just raise your hand to the side, again NO eye contact and say, “bye.”

After a short while, even YOU will be able to tune her entire presence out, and multi-task your way till Happy Hour! :slight_smile: