Yes. They are both helpful and distracting.
The idea of building relationships is that there has to be a balance between what I get from someone and what I give to someone and that middle ground is where trust and shared experiences lie. The cost of relationships is a loss of personal time and sometimes choice, but we often agree it is worth it in the long run.
In a work context this balance is also important. You want to accomplish great things but you need others to do so. What comes with that is distraction is an opportunity to leverage your coworkers experience, skill, knowledge and capabilities to create something better than you can do on your own.
If you were to plot each of these interactions along an axis (see chart below) each of them would lie somewhere along a line where some interactions were more distracting than productive and vice versa but more often than not a good work relationship allows each of you to be more productive than distracting and finding this balance is key.
Also, what can masquerade as distraction can also be the creative process. Who knows how many of those conversations become the next product or process breakthrough? I find that oftentimes what starts out as a disruptive conversation can lead to tips on how to be more productive with my own time. Small ways to use the technology or tools that I use each day a bit more productively.
Bottom line, learn to embrace a little of the distracting for the hope of being more productive and more satisfied with your work. Most research indicates that strong relationships at work are a key to being engaged in your work.
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