Limiting Inappropriate Socializing at Work

There is a fine line between whether your unscheduled or informal conversation with colleagues is a part of networking or socializing. Many people by nature are sociable, but understanding when this becomes a distraction and disrupts their own productivity or that of their co-workers is often difficult.

The distinction between socializing and networking usually comes down to the topic of the conversation. Generally, if it is work related then it's networking, if it isn't, then it's socializing. The latter conversations are best conducted in your own time - for example, breaks, lunch times, or after work. Networking interruptions, which relate to work or career issues need to be focused and mindful of time constraints.

Networking and socializing

If these 'socializing' interruptions that come from other workers and colleagues are impacting on your effectiveness, then you must develop your own strategies for limiting their number and length. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is through your body language.

If you are working at your desk then just glance up with your eyes and say something like, 'Sorry give me a minute I must just sort this out.' Carry on working for a few seconds and then say 'I'm right in the middle of something, can I catch up with you later, say lunchtime?' This can feel awkward but you will find that you only need to do it two or three times with each person before they take the hint that you don't have the time to socialize during working hours.
Time management controlling socializing

If you feel that this may lead to alienating yourself from your co-workers, then you can prepare them by telling them that you have tight deadlines approaching and that you really need to use every minute of the working day to achieve them. It can also help to make a 'social round' during your lunch break and have a quick chat with people on your team or other co-workers.

The fact is that people very quickly become accepting of others' working habits. Provided that you are diplomatic, you can be seen as someone who is friendly and approachable but is simply too busy to socialize during the working day.

You may also be interested in:
Handling Interruptions | Controlling Interruptions | Identifying Interruptions | Techniques to Minimize Interruptions | Managing Phone Interruptions | Cold Call Elimination | Managing Your Outbound Calls | How to Stop Constantly Checking Emails.

Key Points

  • Learn to distinguish between socializing and networking.
  • Try to avoid socializing during core working hours.
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