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Article posted Wednesday, August 7, 2013 1:52pm

Dear Miss Manners,

I can’t stand one of my coworkers. She’s always blabbering on about the perils of her life, which if I’m being completely honest are not that perilous! She faces the same problems that the rest of us do (boyfriend troubles, money stuff, health concerns) but she’s the only one who seems to complain about it relentlessly! All I want to do is go in to work and work, not try to help her solve her next crisis. It’s gotten to the point where I’m going to snap, telling her to zip it! Advice?

I’m Not Your Shrink

Sturgeon Bay, WI

Dear I’m Not Your Shrink,

Since we live in a small community that could never be described as overly corporate, the workplace and it’s regular boundaries can become relaxed. In your case, it seems to be far too relaxed. Apart from not picking up on social cues (i.e, you not reciprocating in the bearing of your soul over the water cooler), your co-worker isn’t making her work a priority. I’m sure the boss can’t be happy with that and since she’s keeping you from your work too, it’s a double offense. Luckily for you, this is your perfect excuse to shut her down. Instead of saying: “Hey! What makes you think I care about you and all your drama as you talk at me nonstop!??!?!??!” You can simply say: “I know you’ve got stories to tell me about your weekend, but I’m really buried and need to get my work done. If your desk is anything like mine, I’m sure you’ve got lots of stuff to do too. We’ll catch up later.”

I can’t promise that she’ll stop talking to you all together, but maybe if you stop her before she gets started she’ll start to get the hint. If it continues to be an issue, you’ll have to bring it up tactfully to your boss. You don’t have to totally sell her out, but maybe if you mention to your boss that Chatty Patty seems to be a little distracted lately, that should be enough to shift the situation in the NOT MY PROBLEM column and you can get back to working in peace.

Good luck,

Mary Pat