My coworker constantly inserts herself, help!

My coworker constantly inserts herself, help!

We’ve moved to a cubicle setup in our new space. My neighbor is constantly inserting herself into my conversations. I can’t go more than an hour without having a “prairie dog pop up” over our shared wall. She’s not a bad person but she’s making me crazy. How should I handle this? K.T., New York, NY

Since it’s a new setup, you have an opportunity to talk with your neighbor about the best way to deal with the open concept. Get out of your cubicle area before you bring it up. Ask her to coffee or lunch. Or eat together in the break room. You need some privacy but you don’t want it to seem “formal.”

This is a conversation where you need to come totally from the “I” perspective, e.g., “I am having trouble concentrating…” or “I am finding this new open concept hard to adapt to…” You want her to understand your request as something you need in order to be successful in your job.

It could sound like something like this: “I am really having trouble staying focused in this new setup. I never realized how easily I get distracted. When I jump into your conversations or pop up over the wall will you point it out to me? Just give me a wink and I’ll get the message. I’d really appreciate it.” Then make sure you do it a few times. By making her aware of what you need, it will increase her awareness of what she’s doing. Good luck!

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