How to Stop the Noise of an Annoying Co-Worker

Julie Shenkman
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Administrative professionals often work in close proximity to colleagues, creating a lack of personal space. A noisy and annoying co-worker can damage your productivity by making it difficult to concentrate on work. Dealing with the situation in a professional and sensitive manner can help create a more pleasant working environment for everyone in the office.

When dealing with an annoying co-worker, it is important to act as soon as possible. Letting your frustration build over time can lead to an angry outburst that ruins your professional image and damages your relationship. Since administrative professionals often collaborate on projects or work together to deal with office logistics, a fight can be detrimental to productivity. Maintain your relationship by approaching the situation calmly and professionally.

When you notice your annoying co-worker making noise, take time to assess the situation. Is it something the person can control, such as loud phone conversations or constant personal chats? Or, is it something of which your colleague is unaware, such as loud typing or constant throat-clearing? A calm assessment can help diffuse your anger enough to help you proceed with grace.

A conversation is often the best way to stop your annoying co-worker from making noises that are in his control. Wait until the person begins to make a racket to broach the subject. If loud phone calls make it impossible to focus on your filing, wait until he hangs up the phone. Then, politely explain that his call volume is distracting you from work, and request a lower voice in the future. Ensure that your mannerisms and tone of voice match your respectful words. Don't be surprised if he reacts defensively; it's embarrassing to be called out for bad behavior. If the person is respectful of your space, he will make an effort to be quieter.

If you don't feel comfortable asking your co-worker to be quiet, try blocking the noise. Download a brown-noise app on your computer or smart phone. Brown noise is softer and less shrill that white noise, so it can mask background sounds without detracting from your work. This is also a non-confrontational way to block out the noises that your co-worker cannot control, such as a cough.

Dealing with an annoying co-worker becomes more difficult and sensitive when the person holds a more senior position. Whether you're dealing with a senior administrator or the leader of your administrative team, asking for silence can come off as impertinent. Avoid the appearance of insubordination by going to the person at the next level of seniority. Emphasize that the noise is impeding your ability to concentrate, and ask that the manager intervene without mentioning names. Doing so can preserve everyone's dignity and allow you to go on working together in harmony.

Frustration with an annoying co-worker can build quickly, particularly for administrators that work in close quarters. Act early and with respect to preserve your relationship and enable future collaboration.


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    I went though this frustration as an executive assistant. I had a team of 11 plus a President and VP. Needless to say, the noise level at times was totally over the stop. I would have to go down through the cubes and politely ask them to keep it down. Usually it was because they were on phone calls and didn't realize just how loud they really are. I think that if you ask them, politely, to tone it down, they will listen. Sometimes they will just need a reminder!



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