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Is it my fault co-workers come to me to vent?

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Question: “Because I used to work in human resources, co-workers often come to me to vent. Now my manager says someone has complained about the amount of time that people spend chatting in my office. He said that he doesn't blame me for this and that it isn’t hurting my work. However, he has asked me to start telling people 'my boss wants us to stop chatting.'  I don’t feel that it’s my place to deliver this message, especially since my job performance isn’t suffering. Shouldn’t the other managers tell their employees to talk less?” —Not My Fault

Answer: Perhaps those managers should address the issue, but apparently they aren’t doing so. However, your own boss has made a reasonable request that you need to honor.  

Although he’s presenting the issue gently, your manager may actually be concerned about your productivity. And even if your work is unaffected, these prolonged conversations could be distracting to others in the vicinity.  

You may not be initiating these chats, but since people keep “coming to vent,” you are somehow rewarding this behavior. Simply listening to their complaints is a form of encouragement.  

To curtail the discussions, you don’t have to be rude. Simply say "You know I love to talk, but our boss has asked us to spend less time chatting, so I have to get back to work." Then arrange to continue the conversation during breaks or lunch.

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