EPISODES 6, CHIT CHAT CHUKA - how constant gabbing may do you harm


Today’s podcast is on stopping a stream of constant chit-chat at work undermining your productivity.

Whether face to face or virtual, casual chats during working hours can sabotage your success to be known as someone responsible.

Chuck what I call the Chit-Chat habit. It may seem friendly, even quite pleasant, having a bit of gossip.

But it comes at the expense of performance, and then productivity almost always dives.

If you find yourself talking about non-work-related matters while supposedly at work, take it as a warning sign that something needs to change.

It’s best to do it during your breaks rather than wasting your productive hours doing something that adds little to what’s expected.

The simple office chat we’re talking about here has a less familiar name: office politics. This form of communication will seldom put you in a good light.

If you're smart enough to complete your assigned tasks, help others achieve theirs rather than interrupt them when they're busy.

If you want to keep your image clean--chuck the chat. But suppose someone comes over to you and starts chatting?

For example, some people are smart enough to complete their work and then feel free to go up to someone else and start talking to them even when they are busy.

Or, on a virtual call, you find people start diverging from the purpose by offering gossip or diverting into seemingly harmless sharing of non-relevant information.

Your best response to these situations is to invite them to help you with your work. That way, you politely get the focus back on what counts—which is your work performance.

When you and others get over social at work, it may contribute to a peaceful atmosphere. Yet this is almost certainly outweighed by the adverse impact on productivity.

So how do you get the balance right between excessive talking at work and lost productivity?

First, do you know what the biggest timewasters are at work? Can you guess how those precious minutes of chat …

Impact everyone’s performance? Do you know what to do about these performance killers?

First, let me tell you about the main ones causing the damage. They include:

  • smartphones and texting

  • messing with the internet

  • gossip

  • social media

  • unexpected emails

  • and co-workers dropping by

Each of these has a different impact. But let’s not get distracted by detail. It’s enough that all of them usually involve… excessive talking.

Second, when the social butterflies come winging your way, for example, respond tactfully by suggesting that they might visit and help someone else with their work.

Or you could propose that they might organise some much-needed training or briefing on some current office issue.

When deadlines and goals are explicit chit chat can be destructive. So, it’s right for you to use these to help focus on essentials. It’s also true that a healthy dose of socialisation supports teamwork and helps with group cohesiveness.

Much of the urge to indulge in chit chat comes from boredom. If you are on the receiving end of these forces, you may need to take evasive action, such as wearing headphones to avoid being disturbed at work with wasted chit chat.

Headphones and earbuds deter people from interrupting. Research shows that colleagues will usually pass by without saying a word when walking by someone wearing headphones.

To promote creativity and better communications, some organisations encourage an easy culture. In such places, unscheduled chats occur all the time. But even there, the conversation is usually carefully confined to work boundaries and current goals.


  • First, give chit chat situations at work a wide birth.

  • Explain to chatty visitors that you need to focus on work right now.

  • If the conversation starts to be about an absent person at once, respond that you don't like talking about someone behind their back.


So, what you can take away from this is to make the best use of your time at work? The main message from today’s podcast is to avoid squandering it on overly social or irrelevant chit chat.