“Ask a Priest: What If a Co-worker Is a Chatterbox and Lies?”

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Q: I work with a difficult co-worker who can talk constantly about frivolous things, is overly dramatic, nosy and lies. I find it a struggle to deal with her. Most of the time, I remain silent when she is talking. She repeats the same stories all day long. My job can be intense — I give cancer patients’ their radiation treatment so I do need to focus. I have a hard time because I feel I have nothing to say back to her regarding her stories. Am I sinning if I remain silent? I notice I can be gloomy around her because her constant chatter bothers me. Any advice for me? – D.D.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: People who chatter constantly and lie a lot probably have deep-rooted problems.

It’s a reminder that the people who suffer the most aren’t always people in hospital beds. She probably has things she is wrestling with.

In that sense she probably needs a lot of help. Perhaps the best thing is to pray for her. And if keeping silent with her helps you, fine.

Then again, when you see an opportune moment to raise the level of conversation, you might do so. “Yes, that is interesting … that reminds me of something I read in the Gospel this morning. Jesus says such-and-such … don’t you agree?” Do that often enough, and it might either help to raise her level of conversation, or keep her at arm’s length.

If her chatter distracts you during your work, you might want to speak with a supervisor. The constant chatter could put patients at risk if it is distracting you in the middle of work.

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