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Is Your Office Like "The Jerry Springer Show"?

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in Your Office Coach

Question: “Recently, my team moved from a quiet part of the building to a very noisy location. This has made it hard to concentrate and lowered my productivity. Managers’ offices and employee cubes are only about 10 feet apart. When managers and employees want to talk, they just yell back and forth.  One manager is constantly on the speakerphone with his door open. To top it off, I sit next to a drama queen who deals with one personal crisis after another on the phone.  It’s like working in the middle of "The Jerry Springer Show." I’ve talked with my manager, but so far he’s been no help. How do I get these loud people to shut up?!” — Ready to Scream

Marie's Answer: Noise in the office is a common complaint.  Negotiating a solution can be tricky, but here are a few suggestions. 

•    When discussing the problem, don’t rant and rave about your raucous co-workers. Just focus on the business problem. Example: "Since we moved to this area, I find it very hard to concentrate because of the noise.  I know that I would be more productive in quieter surroundings."

•    Changing your location may be easier than changing their behavior.  Background noise bothers some people more than others, so a less distractible co-worker might be willing to swap. Or your manager may be able to engineer a trade.

•    If relocation is not an option, ask your boss to talk with the other department heads about toning down the yelling and speakerphones. These are habits that can be changed. As for the drama queen, politely request that she lower her voice.

If all else fails, try to preserve your sanity by using an iPod, headphones or a white-noise machine to screen out the chaos. 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie October 8, 2008 at 2:18 pm

I have a co-worker that constantly sings, whistles or beats on her desk to EVERY song on the radio. We are in a small office so I am unable to relocate. I found the website (on the advise of my supervisor) and can play any type of music (for free) that I enjoy. I put the headphones on when I get to work and take them off when I leave. I make sure that I am aware of who is approaching my desk so I can easily take the headphones off and give them my undivided attention and when they go, I put the headphones back on. I can say this has changed my whole personality and relationships with my co-workers, not to mention the fact that I can get my job done in peace.


Patti October 8, 2008 at 2:14 pm

I had the same problem when I moved into a cube farm at my new job. It really was one person, but that’s all it took. I put up a “Please Quiet: Work Zone” sign outside my cube. It know it was a passive-aggressive move, but it seemed to help.


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