March 21, 2011 § 2 Comments
There is a woman at my job that I’ll call Marie. She is an extreme talker and the majority of what comes out of her mouth is absolute non-sense. If given the chance, she would talk to you for hours and you wouldn’t be able to get any work done. Since I’m aware of Marie’s personality, I’ve set boundaries with her on how we interact. I did this for two reasons: 1) I have daily, weekly, and monthly deadlines that I have to meet therefore I don’t have time to sit around and randomly chit-chat with people. 2) I don’t want to waste any time listening to someone speak a bunch of incoherent non-sense. I exchange the normal pleasantries with Marie such a good morning or have a good day. I also answer work related questions and I help her out in any way that I can. However, I will not engage her in personal conversation. Whenever she starts going on and on with her gibberish, I politely tell her that I’m busy with a deadline and that I don’t have time to talk.
Recently, another co-worker came to me and started complaining about Marie and how she was always interrupting this co-worker when she was busy and would talk for long periods of time. I told her about how I only interact with Marie on work related issues and that I politely tell her I have a deadline whenever she starts trying to talk my ear off. I suggested that maybe she could use the same strategy whenever Marie was bothering her when she was busy. My co-worker immediately dismissed my suggestion and told me that “she didn’t want to mean to Marie”.
I was surprised that my co-worker thought my suggestion was mean and it made me think about boundaries. I feel that people think of setting boundaries with another person as something negative or mean but I feel it a positive part of any relationship. Maybe it’s because I’m more introverted and I need to manage my energy levels, but I’ve always had boundaries when it comes to dealing with my family, friends, and the people I work with. I need a lot of alone time and I’m very clear with people about that. They know that I’m not the type of person that you can just randomly show up to my apartment and that I don’t always answer my phone. In this situation, I needed to establish a way for Marie and I to be able to communicate effectively as co-workers but it needed to be in a way in which I wasn’t constantly being interrupted with her needless chatter.
In the end, I feel like I’m handling the situation the best way I can. Marie knows that she can approach me for work matters but she also knows that I don’t have time for personal chit-chat. I’m able to maintain a positive relationship with her and I’m able to get my work done and meet my deadlines. As for my co-worker that complained…she’s still being constantly interrupted by Marie.