Written by Geraldine Muteka


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22 Aug, 2021

Most of us love a good conversation and we define good conversations differently. For some it is the length, for others it is the depth and many just appreciate that they can learn or share during a conversation. 

Conversations can be a double-edged sword in the workplace. Conversations can contribute to growth and success, or it can destroy and cause harm. 

There is a third effect of conversations, which is predominantly viewed as harmless, but in the workplace this action is a thief. The action I am referring to is when we spend time speaking about matters that are not related to our work. 

In normal circumstances these talks may be wholesome to some degrees, but in the workplace, we are paid to spend our time at work contributing towards the purpose, mission, and goals of the business. A harmless conversation about how we spend the previous evening for 10 minutes every morning, may seem like a small matter. However, when you multiply the daily 10 minutes by 21.67 working days (the average working days in a month) it gives you 216.70 minutes which is more than 3 and a half hours a month. Do you now understand why your boss makes such a big deal about these harmless conversations? 

The impact on the business resources is certainly not the only point to consider. Think about your recent non-work-related conversation at work with a colleague. I am confident that the effect of the conversation stayed with you long afterwards. It maybe got you thinking about a desire you have or a grudge you bear. Or it got you browsing social media. Or it had you question your decisions, whether big or small.

These thoughts may seem random and with minimal effect, but it uses mental resources, and this will impact your productivity. It can even drain your energy and can most certainly contribute to you watching the clock to see when it is time to go home or telling your colleague that you have an unexplained feeling of exhaustion. 

Does this mean you should no longer have any non-work-related conversations at work? Absolutely not. Connecting with your colleagues on a personal level has great value and aids in relationship building and experiencing a sense of community and belonging at work. 

The magic lies in teaching yourself to differentiate between the time-consuming, energy draining, habitual conversations and the now and again, genuine moments of connection that leaves you inspired and encouraged to do your work. If you are used to spending a lot of time in non-work-related conversations with colleagues, it may be difficult to see this distinction at first. However, you can start by simply reducing your conversations and observing the impact it has on you. Your catching up moments will become highlights of the week and you may even score brownie points with the boss for getting work done. ? 

Share in the comments how you balance your conversations at work.

Stay committed to your growth.

Till the next post.


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