Is it ever appropriate to just tell someone to shut up? I often wished I lived in a sitcom where I could have a team of writers tell me the perfect thing to say without any consequences, but alas. I am a nurse, a professional. And looking a coworker in their dead little eyes and telling them to just stop talking is frowned upon.
If it was not for this social consequence, I would have lost my shit today. I am working with a woman who is brand new to the job, just hired a few days ago. She is orienting and actually quite skilled, but my sweet christ she is a talker. Within minutes, I knew that my day was going to suck. She came in and proceeded to tell me her life story — where she worked, who she was married to, where she lives now, her favorite type of surgery, her personal philosophy on drinking. Six. Minutes. SIX MINUTES of her just babbling on. I timed it, because I was curious as to when she would realize that 1) she has a job she should be doing, and 2) no one was listening to her. It took her six whole minutes.
As the case progressed (an eight hour case, by the way), she, having just moved to Seattle, decided to ask the surgeon about places to eat, walk, breathe, drink, visit, see and hear. Maybe it is because I was projecting, but I am pretty sure anyone without Autism could tell that the surgeon was gracious…but irritated. The delay in answering questions, asking her to repeat questions because he was not listening, the slight sigh he gave every time she opened her mouth. I mean, the surgeon did have better things to do…like surgery, but oh well.
After about hour four, I was amazed that her voice did not just give out or that she would just run out of questions that the universe would allow without opening up a black hole. Just when I thought that, she asked me, “Chelsea, when I am at a restaurant, and they ask me if the food is good, what do I say?” I did not reply so then she asked, ” When going out to eat, how should I prepare so I don’t embarrass myself?” Still, I feigned business until she asked, “What is one thing I can do for waiters other than tip really well?” Really? I could not even think of a polite answer so I just said, “these are questions you should ask your mommy,” in the most sardonic baby-talk voice I could muster. The whole room laughed and so did she.
Thankfully, that worked just as well as saying “shut up” and the next 3 hours sailed by in [mostly] silence. I guess that is the sign of a true professional — knowing how to communicate in a way that will (probably) not get you sent to HR.