Headphones Etiquette

It's one thing to pop in your headphones for some "me time," but it's another to rudely tune out the entire world. Check out Modern Manners Guy's tips for headphones etiquette.

Richie Frieman
4-minute read
Episode #299

I worked with a guy who popped his headphones on at 7am and didn’t come back to earth until 4pm when he left for the day. Granted, he was in contracts and spent his day reading, but still – he became a ghost. He alienated everyone around him because he preferred to zone out rather than join the team. Not even just small talk about the weather or TV, nothing.

Yes, he was productive and yes, he minded his own business, but he lacked the necessary interpersonal skills to be productive as a coworker. He refused to engage with people, which although not a prerequisite, it incredibly important for professional growth.  

So whenever you're working with your headphones on, be sure to acknowledge and interact with the team around you from time to time. Tune in, but make sure you don’t tune everyone else out permanently.

Tip #3: The Office Bathroom (Yes, That's Right, the Bathroom)

Let me start off by saying that in the hierarchy of disgusting bathrooms, the office bathroom holds a high level position. Not quite the World Reigning Champion of Nastiness, like the gas station bathroom, but still a top competitor.  The one reason it’s so bad is that people treat the workplace bathroom like it offended them or something. They throw trash, they leave water around the sink, and don’t get me started on the toilet…um...residue. Ugh!

One of the oddest things that I've witnessed in the office bathroom is someone using headphones while doing their business and you hear the muffled sounds of whatever they’re watching.  Not because of what they’re watching - I don’t care what that is - but just that they are doing it. I mean, how long do you plan to be in there that you need to bring headphones? What are you watching that is so important anyway?

See also: How to Use Your Cell Phone in the Bathroom


Using the office bathroom like it’s your own personal space is bad enough, but bringing headphones that go on your face into that germ factory is just plain gross.  So think about it: Is that ESPN highlights reel so important that it can't wait 10 minutes? I doubt it. 

As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.

Do you have any recent graduates in your circle, or perhaps someone who is looking to start a new career, check out my new book, Reply All…And Other Ways to Tank Your Career for great tips and advice on job success. It's available now!

Young woman listening to headphones image courtesy of Shutterstock.