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My co-worker's laugh is disruptive

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Question: How do you address an issue with a co-worker who speaks and laughs very loudly in ongoing conversations at work, which is very disruptive when you're doing your work?

The problem is that no one seems to say anything to this person, even though everyone -- especially her supervisor -- knows that this is a problem.

How can this situation be remedied? Help!  -- Virginia


I had a situation somewhat similar to yours. We had a temp in the office covering for someone on maternity leave. This woman was loud, crude, know-it-all, and stubborn. Our office is very professional as we work with the President, VP' and physicians. We three assistants have worked well together until the temp came in and she was SO distracting and rude that I asked for permission from her VP and the Assistant to the CEO to talk to her when no one else was in the office. So I did, several times and it did help a little. She kept her voice down and watched her language when the VP's/President were in but there were times when it was just us two and she went back to the same loud, crude manner. I finally had enough one day and in a friendly/coworker manner and told her that I didn't want to hear her language, if she could keep her voice down, as she talked and grumbled to herself continually, and really stressed that she need to pay attention to her environment. Since she was a temp and wanted to continue to temp for our company in other departments she needed to "observe" her environment and try to fit in. Before she left she seemed to understand what I was trying to get across to her. You might ask for permission to speak to her in private and "coach" her a bit as to how she needs to "fit in". If you choose your words carefully it shouldn't hurt to try.

I used to be the person in the office who continually grumbled and talked to myself. Unfortunately, until someone brought it to my attention, I had no clue how much I was doing it, let alone how it made other people feel. I think you should talk to her directly. She may not even realize that she is doing it - I didn't.

Another way to do it would be to have a meeting with all people involved in this situation. The meeting would be to discuss work issues: how to be more productive, how to improve the office environment, and then this issue could be brought up in that context so it wouldn't be looked upon as a personal attack. It may be that Katie is right: the person doesn't know how loud she is. Another possibility is that she has a hearing problem: people who don't hear well often are loud because they can't hear.

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