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I like a little social interaction with my colleagues. I've spoken 1-1 for quite a while in order to get to know my colleagues at my new desk job.

There is a particular colleague who is obsessed with exercising. I talked to him about his hobbies and his interests. And now he won't stop talking about exercising. He chats with me from time to time. But I dread every time I see him coming because I know he's going to start talking about exercising.

The topic is interesting by itself. It's the way he talks about it. He talks about his own successes, how everyone else should exercise, how it's the right way to live. He's created his own course (free online) and he keeps ranting on and on about what his course teaches, how bad the other courses are, how everyone should learn from his course, how people have thanked him for making this course, and back to the kind of exercises he does and how he benefits from them. Initially this feels friendly. But after 40-45 minutes of listening to him day after day and especially it being a one-sided conversation it gets irritating.

When I talk about my own experiences (failures in exercising) he lacks any empathy or interest about my experience and insists that I must exercise the way he does it. Or he starts repeating things he's already spoken about or acts like he's trying to fix me. Before going into monologues once again.

Since I'm new at the company, I don't want to put him off directly. I've tried telling him that I'll try different forms of exercising and then we can chat in more details - for now, let's not. Also tried telling him that unfortunately, I don't feel like talking about exercising right now. In response he puts a long pause staring at me and then talks about it anyway, insisting that if I tried the same exercises that he does and the same way that he does then I would get into it.

The only time he stops the topic is when I agree to try exercising his way or if I acknowledge that he's taught me something important.

It's difficult to interrupt when he's talking about his experiences and it would be rude to interrupt him then. When I do try changing topics he brings it back to exercising anyway. Obviously, exercising is pretty important to him.

How do I get him to stop talking about it or change the topic?

Or more generally, how do I change topics when someone is quite passionately talking about something they like for an hour and I would like to change it to anything else?

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  • Is this question of any help? Seems related to me, just let us know...
    – OldPadawan
    May 17, 2022 at 14:22
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    @OldPadawan Not really. She had the opposite views on the subject. I don't. I'm okay listening to him but my problem is the 1 way communication and the excessiveness. She had a cousin with whom she was close. I'm dealing with office colleagues or distant acquaintances who I think will pull the plug of acquaintanceship at the slightest hurt. That too at a phase when I'm new in the company.
    – Mugen
    May 18, 2022 at 2:21
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    I have no experience with this situation, but it seems like an intersting topic though :) so I perormed a quick search and started reading. Here are some links you may like (still studying them AFAIC). If they help, you may create your own answer maybe? 1. 2. 3. 4.
    – OldPadawan
    May 18, 2022 at 16:02
  • I was thinking of writing an answer along the lines of being more clear about the boundary "I will not sign up to your course", being sure to re-affirm that boundary every time there is another sales pitch. But I'm stuck at the "i don't feel like talking" -> them continuing talking section. It seems a bit ridiculous, can you go into a bit more detail? My instinct is that you maybe gave a lot of cushion words to soften the blow, rather than being explicitly clear with your boundary and they took that as a sign that its okay to continue. Can you clarify/elaborate?
    – Jesse
    May 25, 2022 at 6:13

2 Answers 2

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Because it is a co-worker, you have an easier out than if it were a social situation. For a co-worker, you might have to interrupt, but then say "I'm sorry, but I really need to get back to work."

You are being paid to work, not to listen to your co-worker preach about exercise. So use that to cut him off after a few minutes. It's the responsible thing to do, and it saves you from listening to a monologue.

There are multiple answers at Ask A Manager like this one: Chatty Co-worker and Co-worker talks about God, which isn't about exercise, but is still monopolizing a conversation. Alison at AskAManager.org has good language for how to set boundaries in work conversations, and why that is important.

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  • Hi there. As it stands, your post doesn't fit IPS requirements. Answers should be more than just thoughts or opinions or comments. It lacks backup, and should explain why it did/would work (based on data or personal experience). Please consider reading about our citation expectations. It'll probably help you improve your post and attract UV too.
    – OldPadawan
    Jun 9, 2022 at 12:59
  • Thanks for the links and backup. FWIW: dv isn't mine btw...
    – OldPadawan
    Jun 9, 2022 at 18:43
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I think the most direct way of resolving the issue is to just tell him: "I'm just not into exercise".

I worked in a company for almost 20 years. I traveled everywhere and spent time in different locations for the company. One thing they all had in common was there was always someone who loved muscle cars.

Personally, I love my VW Passat. Cracked windshield and all. Faded blue with rust spots. To get away from the inevitable conservation list who knows everything about classic cars I simply say "Sorry, but I just don't give a damn." Walk away and enjoy my freedom. Sorry to say this but you co worker will not stop until you avoid him or correct him.

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    Perhaps you could phrase that more politely? That is certainly not the way colleagues talk to each other here.
    – RedSonja
    May 25, 2022 at 9:52

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