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Your Office Coach

Why you might want to give an annoyingly loud co-worker a pass

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Q: “’Paula’, one of our team members, talks so loudly that we can hear every word of her phone conversations and discussions with other co-workers. The constant sound of her voice is both distracting and annoying. I personally believe this is just Paula's pathetic attempt to show us how busy and important she is.

"Everyone walks on eggshells around Paula, including our team leader, because she is very defensive and can be downright mean if someone rubs her the wrong way. To make it worse, Paula is good friends with the human resources manager, so no one is willing to complain about her. What can we do about this?”

A: Politically intelligent people know how to raise issues diplomatically without sharing all their feelings. Instead of attributing questionable motives to your vociferous colleague, try taking the slightly more charitable view that Paula might be experiencing a hearing loss. Making this reasonable assumption will allow you to approach the HR manager in a spirit of helpfulness.

For example: "We've noticed that Paula seems to talk quite loudly almost all the time. This is very distracting for the rest of us, and we're beginning to think she might have a hearing problem. We're not comfortable bringing up such a delicate subject, but since you seem to have a good relationship with Paula, we thought you might be able to ask about it."

After that, having done all you can do, you just need to let it go. If you're lucky, the HR manager will take steps to resolve the problem. And who knows, perhaps Paula really does need a hearing aid.

Co-workers often have different preferences about talking. This quiz may provide some insight: Quick Quiz: Are You More Extroverted or Introverted?.

© Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Tom July 17, 2017 at 2:01 pm

I’m an introvert, and so is my boss. We have offices directly across from each other. My boss is a loud talker and we often carry on loud conversations with each other while sitting at our desks. I find these conversations stimulating, and I think if others would listen to our conversations, they would probably learn a great deal about management’s philosophy and they’d learn about what’s going on. On the other hand, there are staff nearby that practically whisper everything they say to each other. Our loud conversations bother them, and their whispered conversations bug the heck out of me. Speak your mind and get into the game folks. We can all learn and motivate each other by speaking in a way that can be heard/over-heard (unless it needs to be a closed door discussion).


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