When “Just Shut Up” Isn’t an Option

Expert advice for dealing with noisy neighbors in the office



Someone speaking too loudly on the phone or cranking the music? Coworkers laughing near your cubicle? In today’s open-plan offices, noise pollution can be one of the most annoying workplace distractions. How to deal with a raucous office neighbor? Luba Sydor, founder and CEO of Person2PersonLLC, a White Plains human-resources consulting and recruiting firm, offers these suggestions: 

 

1. Initiate a friendly conversation. 

First, try talking with your colleague in a kind and friendly way. Start with, “Can I get your advice? I know it can be challenging working in such close quarters. Is there anything I can do to help you as we work so close to each other?” Then, mention that you are sensitive to noise and find it difficult to concentrate with it and ask for their suggestions. 

 

2. Don’t single anyone out. 

With management’s okay, bring up the issue with the entire office so that no one feels singled out. Ask if you can put the issue of noise in the work environment on a staff-meeting agenda. A group brainstorm is a safe way to gently remind everyone of basic office etiquette.

 

3. Create quiet times and spaces. 

Ask your boss about the possibility of designating official quiet zones — say, an empty conference room — places for conversations and/or times when phone calls and talking are discouraged. 

 

4.  Enlist higher-ups. 

If the behavior persists, address the issue with management. Or, ask if you can move your desk to a quieter place, without naming names.

And if all that fails,there are always theselife-saving products… 


Tools of the Trade

A few nifty items to help you finally get a little peace and quiet in the workplace

< Silence Is Golden

Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless  Noise-Canceling Headphones 
($349; Bose Showcase Store,The Westchester, White Plains) 

White Noise to the Rescue >

Marpac Dohm-DS All-Natural White Noise Sound Machine, black
($49.97; www.marpac.com; online only)

< Foam Missile, Launched

Dream Cheeky iLaunch Thunder Missile Launcher for iPods/ iPhones/iPads
($24.99; www.newegg.com; online only)

 

 

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