Working in an open space exposes
you to a large number of people. You will discover both the pleasure and the
challenge of interacting with such a diverse crowd. Prepare to discover different personalities
and work styles: some will be loud, others quiet as mouse, and inevitably some
will be nosy. So it’s probably a safe bet you’ll run into this challenging
species in your career too if you haven’t already. Fortunately, most of the
time, a nosy colleague isn’t anything more than an annoyance. Every once in a
while, you will come across an overly curious colleague who crosses a line.
And, if you don't handle the situation carefully, it could cause issues for
your career. If you are in search for a Nosy Colleague repellent, use these 6
1. 1. Look busy
Whether they lurk behind you or a chat window pops-up all
of a sudden, one thing is certain: your intrusive, nosy colleagues won’t miss
the opportunity to check on you. Be careful, they will find lots of creative
ways to ask you things, so when you feel them coming, just act busy.
How to deal: you
can start writing an e-mail or you can try looking very concentrated while
reading an important document. It is very likely they won’t feel discouraged by
this, so start complaining about how much work you have to finish by the end of
the day. If after all these subtle signs they still don’t get it, go for
extreme measures and pretend you are on the phone.
2. 2. Change the subject
Chatting with your colleagues during breaks can be very
relaxing. You disconnect from your work tasks and learn more about how your
colleagues are outside the office. But there’s always that one colleague who won’t
feel satisfied until he finds out everything about you.
How to deal: set
conversion limits. When things get too private, just walk away from the subject
and start talking about something else. If your nosy colleague doesn’t give up
and still tries to get something juicy from you, be honest and tell him/her you
don’t feel comfortable talking about private matters.
3. 3. Switch roles
Nosy people love gossip. They have no limits and they will
try to absorb like a sponge everything you say, and in order to make you talk
they will use tricky questions.
How to deal:
give them a taste of their own medicine. If you feel a certain question has
crossed the line, give an evasive answer and switch roles by asking him back
something very private. This will make him feel uncomfortable and will most
likely understand how annoying and inappropriate is to discuss very private
4. 4. Bore them
The main reason nosy people are so intrusive is because
they hope to find interesting things about you from your stories. To get them to
stop poking around in your business, you need to prove them wrong.
How to deal:
bore them to tears. Paint your life in the most boring way one can image and appease
their thirst for the interesting details of your life. If they decide that
you’re the biggest bore ever, they will likely pay less attention to you and
fish for information from others instead. Be careful, this strategy isn’t going
to work if they frequently see you out having a good time, but it will work if
the nosy person isn’t already very familiar with you. Keep it plausible.
5. 5. Keep your personal things personal
Nosy people have a talent for noticing everything in
another person’s environment, including small, inconspicuous things that
wouldn’t show up on the average person’s radar. While you’re talking to them, a
nosy colleague likely will be trying to read the papers on your desk, or
craning their neck in order to glance over your shoulder and inspect the
pictures on your cubicle wall.
How to deal: Keep
personal pictures and documents in a wallet, purse, or closed drawer instead,
and if you really want to show them to someone, just pop them out temporarily.
Of course, if one of your colleagues is being nosy about a work-related
document, and it’s something that everyone’s allowed to see, give them a brief
glimpse – this may even quench their thirst for knowledge for the time being.
6. 6. Limit Social Media access
If colleagues are nosy in the office, be careful as to how
many social networking platforms you add them to. People’s personalities
outside of work usually aren’t that different from the ones they present there,
so there’s a good chance that your colleague will, at some point, be going
through your Facebook and Twitter pages and looking at your YouTube history
during their off time.
How to deal: you
don’t have to ignore their friend request on social media channels, but if a
particular person seems to be overly curious, limit the information they have
access to. Most social media platforms offer this privacy setting.
If you can keep these six strategies to deal with nosy
colleagues in mind, you can continue to play nice with them without running the
risk of them finding out about your sister’s best friend’s boyfriend’s mother’s
Photo credit: http://images.bwbx.io
Alexa Anghel is a copywriter and social media passionate who truly believes in the power of words. She sees herself as a word stylist, creating beautiful stories for brands and companies. Today she’s the word master for Oracle’s Brand Recruitment department, where she continues to experiment with social media and improve content strategy. Her specialties include content writing, online marketing, public relations, branding and social media. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.