I have a senior friend (colleague) who keeps talking to me about her experience even something it costs me a lot of time (one or two hours per time) unnecessarily. She may want me to be better or else but I do not want to listen to too many things at once.

She mentioned mainly about life experience while in the office, rarely relevant to works. It is just too overwhelming for me to listen to too many things at once, and I can't digest it and she just keeps talking and she thinks that it will benefit me in the future.

Because she was too close to me so sometimes it is hard for me to open my mouth to talk to her directly. And actually, we sometimes already said that we should not talk about that much. However, she still keeps talking to me a couple of days afterward. She just makes the mistake of keep talking and I am tired of reminding her about that. I mean, whenever I want to tell her to stop, I just think that she wants the good things for me, which deters me from asking her to stop and it is quite rude from my point of view as well.

I've reminded her a few times about this, but she sometimes had a grumpy face after being reminded. I am wondering if there is any solution that I can talk about it without upsetting her?

  • 2
    Is that a workplace issue because you mention "colleague"? Then better post it in the workplace forum because here you are likely to get closed.
    – puck
    Aug 12, 2021 at 4:27
  • 7
    @puck : being on-topic at TWP doesn't make this post off-topic here, it can be answered either here or there :)
    – OldPadawan
    Aug 12, 2021 at 5:05
  • 4
    The question is on-topic here, but for it to work, it should include more details. Like puck asked, are these conversations at work? What 'experience' is she talking about, are those things relevant to work or more general life experiences like in the title? Why do you not want to listen to too many things at once, and would you be willing to tell her this reason? Why do you need our help telling her all this, without upsetting her? Have you done something to upset her before? What would you do in this case that you think might upset her, why can't you tell her the way you told this site?
    – Tinkeringbell
    Aug 12, 2021 at 6:45
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    Thank you for editing! Most of the clarifications are good, but I still struggle to understand why you need our help telling her to stop talking without upsetting her. From what you've written here, it doesn't seem she's been very upset so far, even when you told her not to talk this much? She just seems to be ignoring that though?
    – Tinkeringbell
    Aug 12, 2021 at 11:20
  • 2
    Do you ever get together outside of work?
    – DaveG
    Aug 13, 2021 at 2:42

1 Answer 1


According to your last comment, it seems that you already have the perfect motive - you don't want to waste time at work.

As the literal youngest employee in my current job (and I'm 32, so you can do the math...), I'm surrounded by seniors who want to share their life experiences and, let's be honest, sometimes they just want attention - they can also be quite long-winded most days even though they come from a culture that's known for being very direct.

What works for me mostly is to blame the job. Everyone is at work, and everyone knows that it can get busy. It is a small white lie, but it will help with conditioning them to ask if you have the time to talk. Which you can interpret to yourself from "do I have some time to listen to them talk?" to "am I emotionally available to listen to them talk?"

Cutting off the talk based on the fact that you have a job to do does a few things:

  1. Remind them that you're both at work and should be doing something else besides talking
  2. Condition them to ask before rattling off
  3. Shifts the blame away from them, minimizing the chances of them feeling offended

I use the following formula:

  • Choose a convenient moment, usually at the start or during a suitable lull in conversation;
  • Optional but can help depending on the setting: have your phone on you and look at it (looking at the time, or at a notification);
  • Brief expression of politeness: "I'm sorry for interrupting", "Excuse me";
  • Acknowledgement of their will to help: "What you're saying is interesting / important", "I appreciate you sharing your experience with me";
  • Your work-related excuse: "but I need to do this and this urgently", "I really need to finish this thing for my boss / so-and-so person";
  • Expression of regret: "I'm really sorry for cutting you off / not being able to talk right now";
  • Optional - offer to continue the conversation in another opportunity: "Let's continue this at lunch / break / later" (you mention that you also get together outside of work, so you can mention your next outing as an opportunity)

Honestly, I never had anyone feel offended by doing this, but I'm quite certain that if they do manage to feel offended, they will come across as being unreasonable

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