I work alone at home now, which is glorious. Before I did; however, I worked in an office like most people, and like most people, I had coworkers that I would prefer to not have elongated conversations with.
One coworker, in particular, used to come over to my desk regularly to chat about, well, pretty much anything. She was obviously trying to avoid the work she needed to do, or perhaps had finished already, and so she decided to fill that time beside my desk telling me about her latest vacation, what she had for lunch, and how that guy that works across the hall is “so annoying.”
You know who was annoying? Her.
I definitely don’t mind chatting with coworkers and did my fair share of it myself, but she always managed to come by at the worst moments possible, not take the hint she was interrupting something, and then stay a lot longer than she was welcome.
After regaling this tale to another friend she made a great suggestion: try standing up.
When you stand up, the person visiting your desk presumes you have something to do, and hopefully, will decide to wrap the conversation up and leave.
Depending on the setup of your office, your mileage may vary. For me, I would use minute two of her visits to decide to refill my coffee or make a few copies. Yes, sometimes you run the risk of this person following you, but other times it’s a great way to end the conversation.
Standing up in and of itself sends the message that you’re about to head somewhere. Depending on where your desk is, you might even be able to stand up, have that person go on their way, and then just sit right back down.
Of course, for every 10 people this works on, one person is going to not take the hint and follow you wherever you go. In that case, it might be time for a stern conversation and maybe a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.