Advice: "My coworker keeps messaging me about nonsense during the workday. How can I make him stop?"

Antonio Guillem/

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Dear Quota Team,

I’m an inside sales rep at a large company and have been in sales for well over a decade. Our company went remote for the pandemic but now makes those of us who are within driving distance of an office come in at least three days a week. Some people were upset about the change but it doesn’t really bother me. 

What does bother me is one of my coworkers. He is a sales rep like me, and started here about two years ago if I remember correctly. I made the mistake of being friendly with him in the office, and over the last six months, he basically won’t leave me alone, to the point where it’s making me dread dealing with him.

He messages me every day throughout the day, and if I don’t respond, he’ll just keep on sending me stuff. Articles, memes, questions, random conversations, anything and everything. And when we’re in the office, he’ll come up to my desk at least three times a day but sometimes way more often, and try talking to me, barely ever taking the hint that I’m trying to focus on work.

This is not a person who has trouble communicating. He is sociable and friendly, he just seems to have developed a fixation for me. I really don’t want to hurt his feelings, but he is incapable of taking a hint. I’ve even considered looking for another job because that’s how much his behavior bothers me now, but there’s no way I would do that on account of one person. Is there any way I can politely get this guy off my back? It’s becoming unbearable. 

Bothered in New York


Dear Bothered,

It’s time to put on your big boy (or big girl) pants and do something that most people hate doing: being direct! 

Listen [insert name here]. I have some really ambitious sales goals I want to hit this year, so I want to make sure I’m using my time at work effectively, which means less chatting and more working. I hope you understand. 

If that doesn’t get the message across, then this person probably has some issues, in which case you’ll have to go to your manager and ask them to (discreetly) step in. 

If you keep indulging this obnoxious behavior, it’s never going to stop, so stop trying to please everybody and stand up for yourself. 

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