Q: Hi Jill. I sit pretty close to someone at work who just doesn’t know when to stop talking. She’s a really nice person but she just doesn’t seem to get the hint when I try to ignore her long-winded stories. What should I do? I’m obviously not trying to hurt her feelings but at the same time she can really be rather distracting at work. Thanks Jill.
A: I remember having similar experiences while doing my undergrad where I’d be sitting in the lecture next to the kindest soul who just didn’t know when to stop talking and start listening to the professor. It seemed that regardless of how I’d try, nothing seemed to work. Now, many years later, I’d sooner just be honest with the person because anything else just takes way too much energy and in the end if the person isn’t getting the hint then you are still at square one. You need to express to your colleague that while you appreciate her personality, the talking gets in the way of you being able to focus. Just be upfront and honest about it because I guarantee you if you think she talks too much I’m sure there are five other colleagues who feel the same way, too. Essentially, by nipping this in the bud now you might be sparing her from someone else who might not address her as kindly as you will. It’s not like you’re suggesting you don’t want to talk to her and, of course, that’s not the tone you should project. Instead you just want to highlight breaks as the best times for small talk. Take the upfront road rather than pulling out the headphones.
Q: Jill, I suspect I’ve been overlooked for a promotion and I’m fuming. I’m thinking of asking for a meeting with my supervisor but I just need to calm down first. What should I tell her?
A: Nothing feels worse than knowing that you’ve put in above and beyond your job requirements but somehow your talents remain invisible. This invisibility can be further compounded when less achieved colleagues seem to receive all the praise. You’re doing the best thing for your case right now through calming down. Speaking to your supervisor upset definitely isn’t in your best interests and will only serve their case to further illustrate why you weren’t selected for the promotion. Right now, while you work to get your frustrations under control, take this time to review your current job requirements, your performance reviews, update your resumé, etc., and compare these with the other position you had hoped to get. By the time you schedule a meeting with your supervisor I’d like you to go into this with concrete justifications on why you feel your work was overlooked. Your personal feelings of anger and betrayal will not have much currency in the workplace. You want to be specific in keeping your arguments based exclusively on what your performance would bring to this new position. Not knowing how long you’ve worked in your position, your experience history or that of the person who got the position, limits me on the feedback I can give but I believe I’ve provided you with some good first steps.