Recently, I’ve been wondering (probably more frequently than is healthy) how to seek reparations from whoever it was who invented or coined the term“watercooler talk”. With all due respect to you, Sir or Madam: just what kind of fresh hell were you hoping to create with this brilliant concept?
Now – I don’t know about you, but when I stroll into the office on a Monday morning (or any weekday for that matter), I have one goal and one goal only; and that’s to get shit DONE. Professional shit, that is. I don’t wake up in the morning and think to myself: “Hmmm, who can I unload my never-ending stream of conscious thoughts on, today?” No. I go to work TO WORK. Yet, it seems as though this may be a foreign concept or a lost art to many, many people... So, to all office-oversharers, here’s the thing:
I wish I cared. No. Wait... That’s a lie. I wish I could authentically simulate the actions and emotions of someone who cares about what goes on in your personal life, but I can’t. I won’t do it. So find another ear to bend or break, because mine are busy trying to focus on anything…. literally anything but the sounds that are coming out of your mouth, unless it’s work-related.
Am I purposely aiming to be the office bitch or to give off a snobbish vibe? Absolutely not! And, I actually doubt that anyone thinks of me that way, because for all intents and purposes – I generally have a pretty chill and pleasant disposition. My aim is to, at the very least, be cordial and respectful of everyone I work with. However, what this does NOT give you... is a free pass to accost me with incessant trivial anecdotes about your life while I’m focusing on getting some work done. What I am NOT going to do is give you any semblance of interest in: ‘what you’re doing this weekend’, ‘your detailed account of the two weeks you were off on vacation’, ‘your awesome trip to Costco and the itemized list of things you bought on sale’, ‘what you and your significant other are doing for *(insert literally any holiday here)*.
Sir or Madam – I just don’t have the time nor the energy to get sucked into the minute details of your life. Clearly, you see me working. Focused. So why do you a) feel the need to call me out by name in the middle of your rant for me to partake in unsolicited chatter OR b) feel the need to speak at full volume and have said chat without me but still openly and loudly across the room, while other people (including myself!) are trying to work? WHY?
Now, to the inventors of the earbuds and online streaming services such as Spotify or Soundcloud: a slow and steady respective clap to you, friends. You’ll never know just how many unwanted “watercooler convos” you’ve saved me from with just a simple placement of the earbud(s) into my ears. This gesture, for the most part, seems to ward off anyone who has the itch to start small-talk with me as I work away at my desk.
Over-sharers,please understand that I’m not deliberately trying to be rude when I tune you out. I just really have no desire to go back and forth with you on personal issues, while I have professional shit to do. At this point, and after many years of practice, I've come to master the art of the “zone out” (aka selective hearing). Even without the earbuds, I can hear the chatter and might sometimes even hear my name in said chatter, but I don’t take the distraction bait. I just keep it moving with my work because that’s what I’m there for. If I wanted to give or get gossip, I’d probably prefer it in the form of an email. That way, I'd have the option of filing it away and referring to it when I actually have the time and/or desire to pay attention.
Man, I don’t know y’all. Office life can be a struggle. If you happen to be reading this and you fall on the other side of this opinion piece (i.e. YOU are the office over-sharer), then please just take this rant with a grain of salt. It’s not that you’re doing anything wrong, per sé. I just honestly don’t have it in me to engage with you on that level, and you’re just going to have to try to respect my disinterest without taking it personally.
I know. I know. It doesn’t seem right or fair, but hey… at least you’re still getting paid for 'work', right?
So, yeah. Sorry that I legitimately look more forward to the soothing hum of the white noise machine in the office than I do the sound of your voice.
That was sarcasm. I’m not really sorry. Like... at all. (... I've got to work on my delivery.)
Please, just kindly respect the (ear)bud. That’s all.