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How do I ask my chatty co-workers to shut up?

I work in a large office with the dreaded open-seating plan. Several co-workers regularly eat lunch at their desks and socialize as though they’re at a restaurant. The noise levels, personal conversations and overall chatter is distracting to those of us who are continuing to do our work. Would it be appropriate to ask them to consider dining together elsewhere? Isn’t the whole point of eating lunch at your desk to be productive and to get more work done?

I admire your work ethic. Eating lunch at your desk to get more work done may be necessary from time to time, but as a regular practice, it will be better, healthier and more productive in the long run for everyone to take a little break midday. And, maybe, consider joining in with your colleagues once in a while. It makes it easier for you to influence them to take it elsewhere when you can’t join in. Otherwise, you run the risk of being “that person” — the one who never socializes and others consider a bit of a curmudgeon. But if that crowd just isn’t your scene, you can politely and professionally ask if they can take their conversation elsewhere, explaining that you have a lot of work to do, and it is difficult to concentrate.

I work side-by-side with my buddy as interns at the same company. I was just notified that I was invited back next year, and he wasn’t. We had made plans to travel to the same city again next summer. He thinks I should turn it down or put in a good word for him to try to get them to reconsider. What do you think?

I think your buddy isn’t being a good buddy if he’s expecting you to turn down an internship just because he didn’t get invited back. What kind of friend expects that? You accept or reject the offer based on what’s in your best interest, not his. If you have an opportunity to put in a good word, there’s no harm in that, but I doubt it’s going to do anything. If it’s more important for you guys to be the bros version of Thelma and Louise, well then, there’s your answer, but you’re not being a bad friend if you want the job and take it.

Gregory Giangrande is a chief human resources and communications officer in the media industry. Email your career questions to [email protected] Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande. His “Go to Greg” podcast series is available on iTunes.

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