Talk about a problem! Introverts vs. extroverts

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in Your Office Coach

Question: "I supervise a group of women who are simply supposed to sit and enter data. No matter what I do, several of them talk nonstop, which disturbs some of their co-workers. How do you get grown women to just work quietly?"  Frustrated Supervisor

Marie's Answer: Talking is a common cause of co-worker conflict. Quieter people often are annoyed by chatterboxes, while sociable folks may find silence absolutely maddening. Differences in hearing can also play a role. Some people automatically screen out background noise, while others hear every sound in the room.

To manage this issue in your group, consider the following suggestions:

•    Expecting complete silence is probably unrealistic, because conversation makes boring and repetitive work more bearable. If you kill the chatter completely, some people may leave.

•    If possible, allow employees to wear headphones and listen to music. This will not only help to mask the noise for quiet folks, but may also provide a substitute source of sound for the chatterers.   

•    To reduce conflict, engage everyone in a discussion about how to accommodate these differences. Help each group understand the other point of view, and then establish some clear conversational guidelines. 

•    In the future, let the talkers know immediately when they become too loud. Ongoing feedback will help them learn to adjust their volume. 

With a little guidance and supervision, these two groups should be able to coexist peacefully.  For an assessment of your own talkative tendencies, check out our Office Coach Quick Quiz: Are You More Extroverted or Introverted?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

LynS April 21, 2010 at 2:41 pm

If you opt for headphones and music, be prepared. You may have a worker who just loves to sing along! She hears the music while, because of the headphones, everyone else gets the a cappella version. May end up being worse than the chatting.

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Karen in CA January 14, 2009 at 4:44 pm

You may not believe it, but extroverts and introverts need each other. Can you imagine a room of introverts? You could probably hear a pin drop.

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Bee January 14, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Is there a way to separate the talkers from the non-talkers? Let each person choose which group they would like to be with. I tend to be an extrovert and chat easily with others but I do know how to keep quiet as well.

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