Overall I believe I have some of the characteristics associated with a good employee. But one area I have always struggled with encompasses a lot of what falls outside one's hard job duties, such as forging strong relationships with coworkers and superiors, building a network, etc. At the moment I'm no longer pursuing my old career path and have to work on starting anew, so this seems like a good point to ask questions and reevaluate my usual way of doing things.

One thing has always made me feel quite stressed when I arrive to work: the early morning "chitchat" amongst colleagues. The stress factor comes from wanting to review my email to see if anything urgent requires attention and also the feeling that a superior who notices too much chitchatting will think poorly of me.

At the same time colleagues who are "rebuffed" in the morning frequently end up with the incorrect impression that I do not want to get to know them or that I am just plain surly.

My question is: How do you handle this issue? How much time do you spend doing "social calls" with colleagues in the morning? And do you think the value of it outweighs getting straight to work?

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    If you are able to, try checking email in the morning from home, then you won't feel as much of a need to check it when you first come in. – Robert Dundon Dec 14 '17 at 15:28
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    "At the same time colleagues who are "rebuffed" in the morning frequently end up ..huffy." They will end up as minimum-wage employees. You will end up as a successful professional. Feel sorry for their future, and get on with your work. – Fattie Dec 14 '17 at 18:07
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    @Fattie, that is ridiculous. People who choose to create good relationships are far more likely to be retained than those who do not. That is because they have people pulling for them because they like them in those meetings where they decide who to lay off for instance. Office politics is all about relationships. And it does depend on the profession how critical it is is. A sales person who is not chatty will not remain in sales very long. And a good salesperson can make more than anyone in the company, so the crack about they will be minimum wages workers is just plain wrong. – HLGEM Dec 14 '17 at 19:56
  • There is a great irony with your question as posted on this site which would be lost on the majority of high sticker count frequenters of this platform. This platform although effective for certain outcomes is policed by a group-think steel will to never deviate from the rules... ie: robotic culture. To state things inside the group-think mechanism: the question is incongruous to the climate in which you place it, thus the answer will be suspect, certainly disingenuous. – Ootagu Dec 15 '17 at 3:20
  • not-duplicate-but-highly-related: Why is it important to gain “visibility” in the workplace? – AakashM Dec 15 '17 at 8:42

How do you handle this issue?

Well, you can always "multi-tasking" as soon as you notice something urgent on your E-mail came up you can say: "Sorry guys, I need to do this..."

If not just do a little of chit-chat, as soon it doesn't take a whole day...

The fact you're talking doesn't mean that you can't check your E-mail.

How much time do you spend doing "social calls" with colleagues in the morning?

This is mainly depends on the culture of your place, but taking more than 10 minutes would be seeing as a waste of time, I guess.

And do you think the value of it outweighs getting straight to work?

Get to know your coworkers is always nice and doesn't make any harm.


I had a boss who struggled with social niceties like this. It just sort of didn't click with him. I didn't think about it much because he always seemed great at hobnobbing and building real (albeit professional) relationships with people. Then, we had a team member from a big client whom I just couldn't stand. He was obnoxious, boorish, inappropriate... you get the picture. Constantly walking around our office telling appalling stories and, mostly, racist or sexually explicit jokes. I just broke out in a sweat every time he came around and dreaded the thought. I asked my boss for his professional advice, and he said, "[guy]? I love [guy]!" And it struck me, he practiced. Every kind of professional social interaction, he had a mental script for, and he practiced and polished it every day. I realized that deep down, he would never be that kind of guy, but he understood the benefits of contributing to a pro-social workplace, and he considered it part of his job. My animus towards that client just evaporated, and after that, I "loved" it when he came around, too. He was never going to stop saying things that we all knew (and discussed privately) were wholly unacceptable on every level, but if I built a professional relationship with him, then we had things to talk about, and that was something I did have influence over. My stress was gone and I was able to go on to work with him on things.

In your case, I'd consider coming up with a few stock phrases--how was your weekend, that commute was something else this morning, that sort of thing. Then, especially for the biggest talkers, try to remember one innocuous personal detail about them that you can ask about in a pinch, like a pet (species only), something specific about a family member (son's upcoming wedding, niece's new job--name is preferable here if you can remember it), or a hobby project in the works. And here's the other part of it. If you have good non-verbal communication, like you look them in the eye, smile, and have a pleasant tone in your voice, then you can get away with jumping on the end of a sentence if they're starting to launch into a story. You smile a little extra, give a little wave, and while you start to walk away, you say, "That sounds so nice! Well, I'll see you later!" and keep going to your desk.


Don't be too stressed about getting to your email regardless of whatever else you could be doing. It's not healthy. As a bit of a compromise, stop and say hello to everyone. Pick a few days where you excuse yourself because you want to check your email. Ask if there is another time to chat. Make lunch plans. Plan on taking a quick break.

Discuss this with your immediate supervisor and find out how are these interactions perceived. Some people may abuse the time away from work. I would voice my opinion on the benefits of mingling with your fellow workers. I think it builds bonds and relationships. I don't want to be a: job title, role, or some kind of void. I'm a person. Not a cog in the machine. Being perceived as a human is very important when there's trouble. People need to know that there is a person on the other end of the phone/email with feelings and really wants to do a good job. I want the benefit of the doubt.

Take is slow. Don't go cold-turkey on the email.

  • Also, for employees who work directly with clients/customers there will always be some chitchat, so practice it at work. – user8365 Dec 14 '17 at 23:53

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