We love to do it. Women do it better than men. Women don’t understand why men don’t do it like them. What am I talking about?…. Chatting!! We love to talk (well I do anyway), and we do it well. We share our feelings, emotions, ideas, frustrations and it makes us feel better.

But how does this affect our colleagues at work? Are they listening intently or are they politely nodding but really wishing that you would just ‘shut up!’.

According to a global poll by recruitment specialists Robert Walters – the most common distraction for office workers is talkative co-workers. In fact 48% of those polled said ‘talkative colleagues’ was their most time consuming distraction, followed by personal e-mail and internet browsing, social networking sites and smoking breaks.

NZ ranked higher than Hong Kong and Ireland for talkative colleagues being the most distracting.

I think we do this out of politeness. We don’t know how to tell someone that we are busy because we are afraid we are going to offend them. I mean, you have to work with these people – we don’t want to upset the apple cart!

But by ignoring this distraction and not dealing with it, we are getting more frustrated, achieving less and ultimately some people can end up feeling reluctant to go to work.

What can make things worse is the ‘open plan’ office – because it’s easier for the talkative colleague to get your attention and it is also easier to be distracted by overhearing other conversations.

What’s the answer? I have heard several ideas suggested – such as a red / green sign on your desk. Red means your working, do not approach, do not start talking. Go means you are open to discussions.

Personally, I would prefer either a ‘mute’ button or off channel – but then that suggests we could be remotely controlled …. now that’s an idea!