Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How to deal with annoying coworkers | Oversharers and eager beavers

In part 2 of the annoying coworkers series, we're going to tackle oversharers and eager beavers.

The Oversharer
  • Offers unsolicited personal information
  • Inappropriate conversation or behavior (often sexual or flirtatious)
  • Sometimes also a downer
  • Spends a lot of time talking rather than working
Why someone might be an oversharer: People overshare for many reasons, but one thing is for sure: oversharers misjudge how close they are to others and how others perceive them. While this can be true of many relationships outside of the workplace, it presents the biggest pickle in the workplace. 

How to deal with an oversharer: Oversharers aren't good at social cues (see above) so a simple look or facial expression may not get through to them. I usually stick with a simple, "Whoa, TMI!" (in a somewhat jokey manner) but another thing you could try is noting times where you don't feel the conversation would be appropriate for you to continue: "...but I shouldn't say any's a bit inappropriate for the workplace." Passive aggressive, maybe, but it shows you see boundaries without directly attacking them.

What if you're the oversharer? If you hesitate on sharing something, just don't. Let the other person lead the conversation, and keep your discussion within their preferred scope. If a joke isn't appropriate to tell your spouse's grandmother, then it's probably not appropriate for work (a sliding scale, I know, but you get where I'm headed).

The Eager Beaver
  • Overly enthusiastic
  • Moves and speaks quickly (sometimes too quickly) and loudly
  • May take on too much
  • Often speaks and acts before they think
  • Finishes work before the deadline

Why someone might be an eager beaver: Eager beaver behavior often comes with inexperience. These people mean well and desperately want to do a good job and be liked. They're just trying to make a good impression, and don't realize that they may be stepping on toes or shattering eardrums in the process.

How to deal with an eager beaver: Offer some (but not too much) praise and recognition. Give them research-based projects to use their abundance of energy. Encourage deeper thinking and let them in on your thought process or strategy session so they see what goes into certain actions or decisions.

What if you're the eager beaver? Cut back on the caffeine and sugar (don't cut it out, it's good for you). If you find yourself finishing up your work way ahead of the deadline, lay it aside for a few hours and come back to it later to consider how you could hone it more or add more to the finished product. Read up on industry practices or strategy to inform your may be surprised at what you may learn.

Of all the personality types (including the upcoming ones), eager beaver hits closest to home. I'm pretty high-energy even without coffee, and I'm sure I've annoyed others with my enthusiastic and optimistic take on life. I've mellowed out a lot as I've racked up some experience behind me, so I can speak firsthand to how I've become less crazed rodent and more savvy Sally (but still optimistic).

Missed last week's installment? Check out the downer and the bulldozer.

Do you have an oversharer or eager beaver at work? Or are you one? Any tips to add?


  1. I think I sometimes fall into the oversharer category when I have non-business conversations with other co-workers. I never say anything overly personal or gross but I do wander into some awkward moments. I just try to avoid having those conversations on non-standard topics and it helps a lot. I don't usually enter into more than polite conversations either unless I know the person some from outside of the office. The tips you have up are helpful.

  2. Appreciate the over sharer tips... As a private person until I know someone I am occasionally horrified at the comments made by some oversharing colleagues.
    Will try the whoa TMI comment!
    Thanks for your great blog as always!

  3. Man, I'm the eager beaver type! I'm always super enthusiastic, and I walk and talk fast ALL. THE. TIME. My tip is to generally think of a reasonable timeframe for someone to expect work or to expect a response from someone, and then sit on my hands if I have to. I've also found that reading some industry magazines helps me direct some of my energy until I am able to move forward with my projects. Great series, Angeline!

  4. While I don't say inappropriate things, I do talk a lot. I'm really close with my coworker. I've been trying to work more and talk less. It is hard though.

  5. Oh, I've encountered both types. With over-sharers, I listen, but don't offer back in kind. And pretty promptly, they quit sharing. Sometimes gets ticklish though working with students.

  6. Oh yeah, I work with Mrs. Eager Beaver. What makes it worse is that we work for a government agency so there's a very distinct pace to business, and she's constantly frustrated that she's always 'running out of work' so she asks for more work, which is not always available. (We don't produce our own work, we process what comes in from other departments, and she just Does. Not. Get it.)

    Personally, I think she'll mellow out a bit after 30, but I don't want to stick around for the next four years to find out. She exhausts our boss, and by volunteering for *everything* as soon as she can, she's actually pissed off others in the office who would have liked to volunteer for a new project or task. She's kind of a poacher that way.

    I try not to take her behavior personally, but she's stepped on so many toes and conducted herself poorly (when a new position opened up, she campaigned for it to the point that the boss gave it to her just to shut her up) - she's alienated everyone in the office and the rest of us just stay out of her way.

  7. @ Ashley - I'm with you...when I'm "on" at work it's hard to stop me! Waiting is hard for me, too.

    @ Terri - Love your tips!

    @ Anonymous - Yikes...Yes, it is often frustrating when there is not so much work, but it is also an opportunity to come up with new ideas and pursue other things. I like to think of new things I can do to improve current work flow or make my work better. I'm sorry to hear that she's burned bridges in your department (and even got a promotion out of it!) but hopefully she'll mellow out or perhaps find an industry better suited to her personality type. :/

  8. I have a huge oversharer in the office; we will be eating lunch and she brings up her daughter being sick and going into detail. I personally do not like her to begin with so it makes it really difficult not to say "NOBODY CARES"!!! She cant seem to sit in silence for any length of time at all! It is very irratating. . End Rant

  9. I have an eager beaver colleague who annoys the hell out of me. She cc the boss in every single email, every smallest darn thing! She offers unsolicited comments about kids when she has NONE herself. She listens in to every conversation around her and gives comments even when we weren't even talking to her! She works late everyday and here's the worst part......although she has irritated peers, the boss likes her. GARH!


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