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Health care workers won’t shut up

Article

If your name is Kathy, Beth, Kyle, or Sam, you are more likely to annoy your co-workers

If you feel like your co-workers in the health care industry talk a lot, you might be right.

A study by Preply found that 95% of employees say they have a co-worker who talks too much, and health care ranked as the chattiest of all industries.

On average, chatty co-workers spend 90 minutes of the workday talking, and Americans say the worst time to encounter them is when they are trying to finish up and go home. A talkative co-worker has prevented 71% of those surveyed from getting work done.

If you don’t like working with these types of people, you are not alone, with 62% saying they don’t enjoy working with chatty people. Unfortunately, 64% of people report having had a chatty boss.

What do these talkers commonly babble about that annoys people the most? Tops was company gossip at 26%, followed closely by politics at 22%. Other annoying topics include kids, spouse, dating, and pets.

The question then becomes: what can you do about this annoying person? Survey respondents listed a host of strategies they use, with the top choice (74%) being “listen a bit, then tell them they have something they have to do.” Other options include avoid crossing paths (44%), directly say they can’t talk (31%), listen for as long as their co-worker talks (26%), hide in headphones (26%), and ignore them (21%). To try to get them to stop talking, respondents listed keeping responses short/one-worded, multitask while they are talking, avoid eye contact, pretending to get a call/need to make a call, and ignoring them as strategies.

These talkative people aren’t just annoying, they can also directly affect performance, with 36% saying a chatty colleague has impacted their job performance, and 71% say they are bad for an office’s environment. Of those who said a chatty co-worker has impacted their workload, 26% had to work longer hours, 24% had to do some or all of the chatty worker’s work, and 22% had to work after hours.

Thanks to technology, experiencing a chatty co-worker isn’t limited to in-person positions, with 51% saying chatty colleagues use messaging apps like Slack. Whether it’s an instant message, invitation to join a call, or some other form of online communication, 52% have a co-worker who is chatty on messaging apps. The digital strategy to avoid this is to put up a busy message or pause alerts, which 46% said they have done to avoid chatty workers, and 63% said they have ignored a message from a co-worker, hoping to send the message they don’t want to talk to them.

The study also found that certain names were likely to be associated with being chatty. If your name is Kathy, Beth, Kyle, or Sam, then you are more likely to be chatty – at least as viewed by your co-workers. Health care was found to be the chattiest industry, and when it comes to age, Boomers (35%) were the chattiest, while Gen Z (16%) were the least talkative.

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Jennifer N. Lee, MD, FAAFP
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health