Most managers acknowledge that (social) conversation in the workplace is natural and, in fact, desirable in fostering stronger ties among employees and fostering better teamwork throughout the company. And, let’s face it -- sometimes it is just nice to take an unscheduled break. If you want to concentrate on work; however, and your designated “uninterrupted time signal” is not working well, here are some additional suggestions for minimizing in-person social interruptions.
1. Put your briefcase or bag in the empty chair near your desk. This reinforces the idea that you are unavailable momentarily to talk -- and certainly discourages anyone from sitting down and “getting comfortable!”
2. Stand up when someone enters your office and that person will be less inclined to sit down and more inclined to communicate directly.
3. Make scheduled appointments for employees who need your guidance. You will be better able to listen and they will have time to organize their thoughts.
4. When interrupted, ask yourself, “Is this interruption a priority?” If it is not, and you would like to encourage the communication, simply say, “I’d love to hear about it, let me finish what I’m doing and then I’ll get right back to you.” Alternatively, you can respond to an interruption with the following questions, “Is this a priority for you right now? Could we discuss it later?”