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Posts tagged "loud talkative coworkers"

If you work in an open office environment, it’s inevitable that you’ll eventually have to deal with the excessive noise factor. One of the most annoying elements of office noise pollution is music being played too loudly by coworkers.

Sometimes it plays via desktop radio or mobile phone speakers, or it might even seep through earbuds that don’t contain enough sound. That can sometimes be worse because all you hear is tinny percussion or the music’s bass line.

A recent study by Oxford Economics showed that noisy open offices negatively affect employee retention. It also determined that only one percent of employees are successfully able to block out noise and other distractions on their own, without taking additional measures. 

coworker who plays music too loud

Here are some solutions, ranging from the simple to the more complex. Hopefully one will work for you, so you can focus appropriately on your work and keep your productivity up.

Problem Solve With Your Noisy Coworker

The first step is to talk to your fellow employee. They might not even realize their music is as loud as it is. Maybe you can ask them to turn it down or to limit playing music to morning coffee times and the end of the day. If you both like some musical artists in common, perhaps you can agree on a playlist.

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In recent years, workplace culture has shifted away from the ‘traditional’ format of employees being segregated into cubicles and discrete spaces for purposes of focus and control, to an experimentation with more open formats that attempt to foster collaboration. Now there's the more hybridized concept of the so-called 'agile' workspace.  

Working agile respects an employee’s individual need to operate solo or in groups, depending on the moment. It also respects a ‘flatter’ corporate hierarchy, one in which open commentary and input are welcomed to ensure the benefits of creative diversity are captured. 

However, a more open working culture also requires a certain sensitivity to the needs of others; the respect to let them work as they need to without interruption or diversion. It’s the cultural ‘software’ that goes with the territory.

It doesn’t give free license to create noise, disrespect colleagues. So, when an employee displays overly talkative, loud behavior, how can managers confront them effectively? 

When Confronting Talkative Coworkers, Define The Default Setting

First, define what the accepted ‘norm’ is for your working environment. 

Although outright silence isn’t a prerequisite for workplace productivity, given the choice between ‘more noise’ and ‘more quiet’, a quieter environment prevails because it caters to the needs of the majority. If music is required, it can be collectively chosen or selectively listened to via personal headphones. 

Excessive talking doesn’t come with a volume control. It infringes upon the ‘default setting’ of workplace calm, breaking up concentration and flow. When talking oversteps the common boundary of acceptance it may be one of several things in play; a ‘cry for help’ in gaining attention when that employee feels pressured, a form of ‘presenteeism’ by making an auditory statement to conceal the fact that work isn’t being done, or the employee in question may be used to different conditions.

Either way, handling that employee requires a few key steps to align their understanding of what the ‘default setting’ needs to be, and those steps also require a certain level of diplomacy and tact on the part of HR or management.

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No matter how well you get along with people, there's usually one coworker that you simply can't stand. If you're a full-time employee, you could spend 40 hours per week with them. It's like a prison sentence where your cellmate is Dwight from The Office. 

Fear not, these nine tips for dealing with annoying, distracting coworkers can help. (Sorry, we don't include vengeful, hilarious office pranks to get even.)


1. Develop a Solid Exit Strategy 

Every time your coworker starts on one of their soul crushing dialogues, have an exit strategy in place. This will help to limit the time you spend with them each day.

It could be something as simple as saying that you have to make an important phone call, complete an urgent report or work on a project that's due immediately. When your coworker realizes that you're not listening to them or entertaining their negativity, they usually give up. 


2. Keep Your 'Tude Positive 

If you're having a problem with a coworker being obnoxious, chances are other coworkers are having similar issues. It's important that you keep your attitude upbeat no matter how frustrated you get.

People naturally gravitate to those who keep a positive attitude, and this can discourage your negative colleagues from hanging around.

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Sometimes it feels like the office is your home away from home. Just as you don't choose your family, you usually don't have a say as to which coworkers are situated close to you. If one or more of these coworkers are loud and disruptive, not only could it detrimentally affect your productivity, it can create stress and tension between you and your fellow employees. 

Here are a few approaches you can take to work toward a solution.

(1) Try to Mitigate from Your End

    See if this loud, disruptive coworker is something that seems to only bother you. Some people are more sensitive to regular noise than others, and there's nothing wrong with that. You could try a pair of earplugs or decent quality noise canceling headphones, and maybe ask your work for a headset extension for your phone. 

    If you are allowed to listen to music while you work, remember to wear earbuds or headphones so your music doesn't disrupt other people. Also, remember to take them out of your ears before speaking so you don't end up inadvertently raising your voice when you talk. After all, fair is fair.

    (2) Request Quiet From Loud Coworkers When You Need It

    If you are about to take an important phone call or meeting at your desk, people are usually good about hushing a little if you politely ask those around you if they would mind keeping it down for a few moments (and explain why). Another option is to make a sign (here's where a sense of humor will help a lot ) which you can put in a visible space to signal that you need some quiet. Try something like, "Do Not Disturb - I'm disturbed enough and on an important call!" 

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    Employees who are overly social may be costing your business more than you realize. But how exactly can you establish a link between lost productivity and excessively socializing employees? 

    According to CareerBuilder, there are a few big productivity killers that can be present in the workplace, based on a survey of more than 3000 employees and 2000 hiring managers.

    Here are some of the most common ones:

    • Internet browsing
    • social media posting
    • texting and cell phone use
    • smoke breaks
    • noisy co-workers
    • gossip
    • co-workers dropping by cubicles and private offices

    excessive talkative coworkers

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    You know the feeling. You're busy at work, trying to focus, when a co-worker distracts you with a long-winded story--one of the many anecdotes you'll hear that day. You nod politely and smile, praying they stop talking so you can get back to work. But they don't take the hint. 

    How do you get a co-worker to quiet down without causing offense? Here's some advice for handling this delicate, all too common scenario. 

    They probably don't realize they're annoying you

    Maybe your colleague gets anxious and talking distracts them, or perhaps they simply want to be liked by everyone. Chances are that talkative co-worker has no idea they're distracting you. Remember they're not trying to irritate you, and it will be easier mentally for you to deal with them. 

    Set boundaries for your loud, overly talkative coworker

    It's so simple, but most of us are afraid to say we're too busy to talk. If you're on a deadline or concentrating on a complex task--just say so! You can then walk away or get on with your job assuming they've heard and understood you. Too often we assume we're going to hurt someone's feelings. You won't - there's no social law against communicating your feelings politely.

    It's possible to be diplomatic and assertive at the same time. Don't be afraid to repeat the message if they keep talking--and if you like your co-worker, you can always arrange an alternative time to catch up, for example over lunch.

    Provide examples and be specific about how they're excessive talking affects you 

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    We have all been behind the noisiest person on a plane, bus, or long line and have sighed in relief when they left. Some of us have had the misfortune to have the person sit right next to us in an office, five days a week, 50 weeks a year.

    The Zenbooth solution provides the welcome break from loud talkers in the office with its innovative office pods​ that deliver a private, quiet space to work​.

    Studies of employee satisfaction have shown that 58% of high-performance staff members feel that they need more quiet at work. Open offices have created significant costs from the loss of privacy, but building in some quiet space is a highly cost-effective investment.

    Reducing stress & office noise

    Work is often stressful, and anything that can be done to lower it is welcome. Working in a highly charged atmosphere with constant simulation can be very draining. An undivided office creates many potential interruptions and distractions as employees are often so close that they are not able to switch off from the group environment and focus on their own work.

    To get the best out of a team, a working environment must strike a balance between group work and individual focus. When staff members feel uncomfortable, they are less likely to be able to act naturally and perform to their optimum level. 

    Prioritize staff well-being with an office phone booth

    Studies have shown that staff in open offices take up to 62 percent more sick days per year. Companies that don't prioritize staff well-being often suffer low staff morale, regularly resulting in increased staff turnover.

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    Working at a company with insensitive coworkers can be a daily nightmare, especially in an open office. There can feel like no place to hide from the constant interruptions and distractions. Concentration is vital in any job, which is why Zenbooth offers office pods that can be built into any work space to maximize privacy and quiet.

    It feels good to exchange ideas with employees at your company and work closely together to achieve something. But there are many days when time apart can be hugely beneficial. Not all co-workers are considerate, and even the most sensitive employee can be a distraction without knowing it.

    An Office Phone Booth​ to Avoid Your Noisy Colleague 

    Unfortunately, in an office without adequate noise control, the least respectful person is the main voice that consistently penetrates your privacy. This is a common problem at offices, with studies highlighting that 54% of high-performance employees consider their workplace too distracting. 

    For co-workers who need to make or receive calls, it can become much harder to maintain the focus and privacy that is required to stay productive and on task.

    Improve Levels of Turnover With a Zenbooth Office Pod

    Stress from unsatisfactory working conditions and poor performance go hand in hand. Happy employees put in more hours, are more efficient for those hours, stay with the company for longer and exceed expectations. In the wrong conditions, with an obnoxious, loud co-worker on staff, the office's discontentment causes people to leave, and that, in turn, creates a negative atmosphere.

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