How Do You Tell An Employee They Talk Too Much?

  1. Ask to speak in private.
  2. Use the B.I.G. methodology (Behavior, Impact, and Get Agreement)
  3. Outline the behavior without judgment (“I’ve noticed that you talk a lot during meetings and have long chats with your coworkers.”)
  4. Detail the impact that behavior can have on the team or company (“I worry that this will give the impression that you don’t care for your coworkers’ time.”)
  5. Get agreement on how to move forward (“Is this something you’re aware of?”)

It’s great when our direct reports get along. Even better if they’re swapping stories and bonding. After all, camaraderie is what makes any office fun!

Yet, as with anything, too much of a good thing can quickly go wrong.

Whether it’s an employee who talks too much, chats too loudly, or always interrupts, there is a right and wrong way to approach the issue.

employee talks too much
Photo: Pixabay/ Geralt

Always Consider Context For Behaviors

There’s a healthy margin for compassion in some situations. If it’s a relatively new employee, they might be feeling the pressure to make a good impression. This anxiety can manifest differently in everyone; some get quiet before they feel safe enough to crack a joke, others feel the need to overcompensate with incessant talking.

All this to say that the constant chatter may not be a permanent state for your over-talker.

That being said, if the interrupting (or talking loudly, or gossiping) has become an established pattern, it’s time to nip it in the bud.

As a leader, you do have to create honest and consistent communication with your direct reports. This is a great opportunity to set a strong rhythm for your professional relationship.

By engaging with them on this delicate issue, you can set up a pattern where you’re always honest, fair, and supportive of their progress.

When it comes to a noisy or disruptive employee, the finesse lies in making it not seem like a big deal.

Giving Tough Feedback In 3 Easy Steps

Utilize the think B.I.G. (Behavior, Impact, Get Agreement) system, and avoid cutting corners.

First, ask for a quick moment to speak with the direct report privately.

Then, without judgment, outline their behavior in clear language. The key here is to make sure they don’t feel attacked, despite the personal nature of the feedback. To do this you have to talk about the behavior without assuming it’s a personal trait or failing.

Next, describe the impact this behavior can have on the team or company. This brings home the ripple-effect certain behaviors can have in the workplace.

And finally, get agreement on how to proceed going forward.

Sample Dialogue; Employee Talks Too Much

Here’s how you can start the dialogue:

“Tyler, I’ve noticed that you talk a lot during meetings and have long chats with your coworkers. I worry this will give the impression that you don’t care for your coworkers’ time, or for maximizing your own productivity. Is this something you’re aware of?”

By confronting the issue directly, without “sandwiching” the negative feedback with positive comments, the issue feels less like a huge problem. Now your direct report has the opportunity to discuss the issue and address the underlying behavior head-on.

The important part is to set clear expectations on how things will be going forward.

Chances are they may eventually start talking too much and interrupting again in the future. If so, that’s ok, the point is to engage with feedback regularly so that behaviors change over time. This is an ongoing process, so patience is key.

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