I work in an office of about 30 people. All of us have a child or two (or more). We mention our children in conversation from time to time. There is a young lady that has a four-year-old son. She talks about her son ALL DAY! I try to change the conversation, but it always goes BACK to her talking about her son. When I see her in the morning, she speaks and the next thing she’s telling me is what her son wore to school, what he had for breakfast, showing me pictures of him, etc. I am about to go bananas! Honestly, every time that she mentions her son’s name, I get an instant headache! How can I stop this and not be rude? I have heard more than ENOUGH about her child! This is an everyday thing.
Dear Going Bonkers:
I think we have all had a coworker or two that has driven us up the wall with their batty behavior! Even when there is no ill intended and that behavior is seemingly innocent, it can still be annoying. It sounds like your coworker doesn’t have a lot going on in her life and her son plays a major role in her world. Or maybe she is just trying too hard to fit in and appear normal and interesting. Then again, this is her first child. As a parent, you remember how it is with your first child, everything is cute and important. Nonetheless, the best way to deal with a situation like this is to be completely honest. Let your coworker know that oversharing details about her son is just TMI! It is okay to swap stories every now and then, but too much information is just plain annoying.
Continue to try to steer the conversation in other directions and let her know you are interested in more than hearing about her toddler’s eating habits. And stop giving her “false interest.” You are egging her on when you continue to listen to her stories. You could have nipped this in the bud a long time ago by being honest. While you have a headache, she is more than willing to keep sharing details, especially since you keep listening! If she keeps going back to her son, “disengage” from the conversation. Not everyone is keen to reading body language, but she will definitely get the hint if no one is listening or paying her any attention!
While having a frank and honest conversation, you do not have to come off rude or turn the situation into a negative experience. Setting boundaries for your work relationships and how you communicate with coworkers is very beneficial. Establishing what type of conversation and content is inappropriate for work or off limits keeps everyone on the same page and keeps working relationships in tack.