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Dear Wow: How Do I Handle a Jabbering Coworker?

Dear Wow,

How do I handle our department's assistant, who answers even the simplest of questions in ten sentences or more? Instead of answering in one or two sentences, she extends the conversation far too long and just jabbers on and offers way more assistance than is required. Please help!


Dear Ann,

First of all, do try to have a little compassion. Your Chatty Kathy means well and, no doubt, thinks she is helping by providing such a thorough account of how she ceremoniously fixed the printer feed. Still, her verbosity is driving you crazy--and probably others in your office. Assuming you are her superior, it’s worth having a frank conversation to explain the merits of keeping it short. Be specific: “Emails should be more no more than ten lines”; “Please answer my questions in two sentences or less.” If she doesn’t report to you, mention your concerns to her boss at her next review. Consider it a learning opportunity for a colleague--not a punishment for poor (and jabbery) behavior.

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