I work in an office full of chatty coworkers. We’re a lively bunch. But it really doesn’t bother me. The gentle rumble of voices (and the occasional whooping laugh) is kind of soothing to me. I went to a client meeting yesterday, and their office was so quiet that I felt vaguely uncomfortable.

But even if you enjoy chatting with your coworkers, there are always times when you’re really trying to focus on your work and it’s just not a good time to talk. So what should you do in those situations? How can you end a conversation (or prevent one from happening) without hurting your coworkers’ feelings? Try these steps:

  1. Stop the conversation before it even begins – Use visual signals to let your coworkers know that you’re really busy. If you have an office door, you could close it. If you don’t have an office door, you could put headphones on. These signals will let your coworkers know that you just don’t have the time to talk.
  2. Be honest – If your coworker walks into your office and starts telling you all about his fabulous weekend, be honest about the fact that you’re slammed with work. But soften the blow by telling him that you’d love to hear more about his amazing weekend adventures, and asking him if it would be OK if you stopped by his office later to hear all the details.
  3. Try to end it quickly – If you’re having a conversation and you want to make it end quickly, try giving short answers and not asking any follow-up questions. Your chatty coworker will probably pick up on the fact that you’re not really up for a big discussion. But if that doesn’t work, see step two.

And remember, there will also be times when your coworkers really need to focus on work. So pay attention to the signals that they’re sending, and don’t take it personally if they tell you they’re too busy to talk.


Gawronski, S. (n.d.). How to politely shut down conversations when you’re really busy and just don’t have the time. The Muse. Retrieved from https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-politely-shut-down-conversations-when-youre-really-busy-and-just-dont-have-the-time?ref=carousel-slide-1