Rather than letting your cubicle-mate launch into a meandering story about her weekend glamping trip, the psychologist recommends establishing right off the bat that you have priorities—and none of them include nodding with a fake smile for the next 30 minutes. "It may be tempting to wait for an opening or to engage for a few minutes so you don’t feel rude, but if you know exactly what’s happening when Kevin [or whatever coworker won't STFU] rolls his chair into your cube, it’s okay to interrupt before he even sits down," advises Dr. Hendriksen on a recent episode of the podcast. "You can even raise your hand in a 'stop' gesture."
Then, say something like, "I'm all ears, but today I need to stick with my TDL. I’ll catch up with you tomorrow, okay?” or "Can we talk later? I'm trying to finish _______ right now." At first, it will feel a little unnatural to reclaim your schedule from this chatty Kathy, but Dr. Hendriksen assures, it will get easier. "Let me validate: It can be hard to push back, especially if you haven’t had much practice, but consider it an experiment," she says.
Just think, though: If you succeed in rerouting the distraction, you might be productive enough to—*gasp*—actually take your long forgotten lunch break.
Now, let's talk about nosy people—because there are ways to side-step them, too. And if you're a non-chatty Type B, here's how to succeed at work.
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