Steps You Can Take for a Noisy Co-Worker

John Krautzel
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For many people, noisy co-workers are the most annoying distraction. Also, if the noise levels in your workplace get too loud, it could create a toxic work environment. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to quiet them without offending anyone. But if you can't get your work done, because your colleagues are too loud, it's probably time for you to act — tactfully.

Make Sure You Aren't the Problem

Before approaching your noisy work neighbors, take some time to assess the situation. Is it possible that you're over-reacting? Everyone has different noise tolerance levels. It's possible that you're just overly sensitive to the clatter surrounding you. If you think that may be the case, consider buying a pair of earbuds or disposable ear plugs to wear while you work. Try using them for a week or two, and then, if the noise level is still bothering you, think about discussing the noise level with those around you.

Bring the Problem Up in a Group Atmosphere

It's a good idea to discuss the noise level as a group at first. This way, it doesn't seem like you're accusing any one person of being loud and disruptive. Your noisy co-workers probably already know that their voices carry — they just don't realize they're speaking loudly. So chances are, during the group discussion, they'll still get the hint and quite down.

Confront Your Noisy Co-Workers Directly

If the noise level in your workplaces is still a major issue after your group discussion, you might need to confront your noisy co-workers. Anytime you need to discuss an issue with a colleague, you should do it in a way that's assertive, but not pushy. Ideally, you want to get your point across and work to resolve the issue without creating unnecessary conflict — the last thing you want to do is create a toxic work environment.

It's a good idea to approach the topic by first praising the person, and then, telling them how you feel. For example, you might say something like, "You know, the stories you tell are amazing, but sometimes when you talk, your voice carries. Would you trying to speak a bit quieter when you talk?"

You can't predict how noisy co-workers may react when you confront them, but after you bring the subject up, consider suggesting a compromise. To do this, you might ask your colleagues to use ear buds when listening to music or limit the non-work-related conversations during specific hours.

Consider Relocating

If all else fails, you could see if there's a way to relocate your workstation. If you work in an office, your boss might let you move to a cubicle at the end of the row. That way, you aren't completely surrounded by noisy co-workers. Or, you could see if there's a conference room available to use when you really need to stay focused on the task at hand.

Noisy co-workers can be difficult to deal with, but if the excessive noise bothers you, it's probably bothering others, too. They just might not have the courage to speak up. Instead of ignoring the situation, hoping it will fix itself, confront the problem head-on, and work with you co-workers to resolve the situation as fast as possible.

Photo courtesy of imagerymajestic at


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  • Angelica D.
    Angelica D.

    how to handle a clinic manager(medical assistant) who dropped F-bombs to a new employee (RN) during the first 30days because she was angry at the family practice doctor? turning the other cheek was not a good idea. no longer work there either. there were deeper issues than I wanted to learn about overall.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Karen B. thanks for your comment. Glad that you were able to retire and not have to deal with that. It's so terrible, the way people talk today. Starting with our President and on down. I wouldn't keep a person like that in my office. He would receive a warning and a reprimand. If he continued, he would be gone. The office is no place for vulgar language like that. Actually, there's no place for that type of language. Thanks again for sharing.

  • Karen B.
    Karen B.

    I just retired and do not miss my office mate. He is the loudest , most obnoxious person you will ever meet bathe boss finally put an end to every other word starting with F. But at least once a week someone had to tell him to be quiet because there were Important people in the area.


    I have tried everything except approach the coworkers. I have discovered that it does bother other coworkers and they are afraid to say something to the noisy coworkers. It appears the managers are afraid too or they just don’t care because the managers want to have a friendship relationship with these employees.

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