How To Escape the Office Gab-Master

Plan your retreat route before you’re cornered.

How To Escape the Office Gab-Master

Plan your retreat route before you’re cornered.

Like the workplace equivalent of a drive-by shooting, a talker can materialize at your door with some lengthy tale about his son’s T-ball league and zap your productivity. One technique for defusing this well-meaning time-waster is to establish yourself as a man of action.

“If you’re always e-mailing, writing, walking, and making things happen, the very aura of busyness brings only busy people to you, and others will cower in fear,” says business tactician Seth Godin, author of We Are All Weird: The Rise of Tribes and the End of Normal.

If emitting an I’m-on-a-mission-from-God vibe doesn’t work, Guy Kawasaki, author of The Art of Social Media, advises using guilt. For example, say, “I’d love to talk, but I’m on deadline. Can we talk at lunch or after work?” This establishes a good guy/compassionate coworker image and keeps the talker from being offended. (You never know when you’ll need an ally.)

If he’s still jawing, John Hoover, PhD, author of How to Work for an Idiot, opts for laying down some boundaries. When the talker first appears and asks, “Do you have a minute?” say, “No, I have 3 minutes to catch up with you before I have to get back to this project.” Invite the talker to sit. Nod and be attentive for the 3 minutes. At 1 minute, look at your watch. At 2 minutes, look at your watch again. This reminds the talker that time is short. At 3 minutes, stand up. Thank the talker for stopping by and do not sit until the talker is out of your office.