One of my co-workers, who is sitting next to me, is also working with me on the same project that I'm working on. The leadership people from the client's team are chatting with me about the project and the team's performance.

When ever I'm chatting with the clients, most of the time my co-worker moves his chair to my desk and looks at my chat history. Mostly it relates to sprint estimation and planning, so I don't mind it. But sometimes I need to share about the team mate's performance.

I don't want him to see my chat details, so now some days when I'm chatting with the clients, if he moves to my desk I will minimize my chat window, though he will understand that situation and won't do it again. But he keeps repeating the same again.

Sometimes it's very frustrating and I don't want to show my anger to him. Is there a polite way to inform him that he should not look at my chat details?

  • 4
    Why are you discussing your team mates performance with a client? Are you his manager? Even then this seems fishy. I would not want my manager to discuss my performance with a client. If there's something to be discussed, it surely is between said manager and me.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 11:31
  • Your colleague's behaviour is absolutely and unacceptable rude. So you shouldn't ask for a polite way to tell him but for a way that works.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 11:41
  • Does the co-worker need to be involved in discussions with the client for non-performance conversations? Or are they just inserting themselves in the conversation by moving over to your desk?
    – cdkMoose
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 15:56
  • 1
    @nvoigt - You expect your manager to always go through you and never directly get feedback from a client about your performance? That should be part of every manager's job in all lines of work.
    – user8365
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 18:52
  • 1
    @JeffO No. "I need to share about the team mate's performance" to me means he shares his opinion with the client, not the other way round. And that should never happen. A client giving feedback is fine. A manager talking to a client about my performance before talking with me? That's bull.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 9:27

5 Answers 5


You need to speak to him and state that it's a confidential conversation. You don't need to state it's about his performance, just that it's confidential and not sprint related.

  • 3
    To me "private (chat)" seems ambgiuous, I suggest rephrasing this to "confidential" (chat). So it is clear that this is work related chatting with clients, which contains confidential information not to be read by team members.
    – Nras
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 8:29

Handle the chat the same way you would handle a phone call from the client. You would politely ask your co-worker to step out of the office for a few minutes while you discuss a confidential topic. In the case of a confidential chat you would ask them to politely step back from your machine.

I do see two issues with your situation.

But sometimes I need to share about the team mate's performance.

If you are in a position to comment on co-workers performance to the client, then they are not your co-worker. That means you are their supervisor/manager.

The second issue is: if the need to have this level of conversation with the client is a significant portion of your day, then the office needs to be rearranged to allow you to have those chats in private. If your employee can see the chats, then you need a better arrangement.


Sometimes it's very frustrating and I don't want to show my anger to him. Is there a polite way to inform him that he should not look at my chat details?

Be direct. Just tell him that you don't want him watching.

Next time minimize the chat window and say something like "Look , it's important that I chat with the client and I really don't like people watching while I do it."

If appropriate, you could add that you'll talk with him after the chat to discuss anything relevant that comes up.


It's your computer, you should be the only one driving it

You're letting your co-worker use your computer while you're otherwise engaged. The behaviour should really cease. What happens if he inadvertently does something wrong and something gets deleted or trashed and only discovered later - you're the one taking responsibility for that because it happened through your computer using your login.

In my office (and most other places I've worked at), it's policy to lock your screen whenever you leave your computer unattended.

If you need to share information with your colleague, email it, share it, configure your chat program to put it's logs in a shared folder.

Don't let your computer be abused by other people - anything that happens on it is your responsibility.


Most answers are correct in telling you to inform your coworker about the confidentiality of the conversation. It's pretty straight-forward.

I also think you may want to consider asking the client if your coworker can join the chat when there is information he may need to know. This way, everything is upfront. Hopefully you can have some control over the chat agenda. You don't want to be going back and forth with project discussion and employee evaluations.

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