IT’s Serena Thule was minding her own business as she prepared to head home, shutting down her computer, loading personal items into her purse and putting on her jacket and scarf. Upon observing these actions, most people would think, “Serena is leaving for the day. Unless I have an urgent need, I’ll talk to her tomorrow.” Her colleague Eric Bronstein saw the same scene and thought, “Serena is leaving for the day. This is the perfect time to engage her in a pointless conversation.”
Serena had one foot out the door when Eric blocked the exit and began talking at his departing coworker. Serena froze like a deer in headlights. After a few minutes, somewhere between Eric’s thoughts on condiments and a relative’s health problems, Serena made a bold move. She used the “hey, look over there!” trick and hurried out while Eric was distracted.
Eric felt no remorse for his conversational assault: “If I didn’t approach Serena, and she died before work started the next day, she’d never have known how I feel about various hot sauces, celebrity breakups, and my mother-in-law’s decidedly irritable bowels. I’m not ok with that.”
As a courtesy reminder, many of your colleagues have trains to catch, where they will also hope to avoid unnecessary conversation, to say nothing of the families they won’t want to talk to when they get home.