How to Deal with Annoying Coworkers

Don’t allow a bad cubicle mate to put a grind on your work day. Fight back their annoying habits with these three tips.

Richie Frieman
4-minute read
Episode #147

Tip #2: How to Deal with LOUD Coworkers

To me, music is more than therapy; it’s right up there with coffee and breathing (yes, I did just link coffee to breathing--both equally essential). Many people love to have music playing in their cubes, but what happens when the lack of manners becomes the soundtrack of the day? When that happens, you need to act fast before Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” gets stuck in your head for the tenth time this week. (How many of you are singing that song right now, after reading this? Catchy right?)

So, when Emily in the cube next to you, starts blasting her “Spring Break 1999!” mix CD so loud it sounds as if you are at an Indigo Girls concert, you can handle this in two ways. You can politely ask the person to turn down their music, or suggest they switch to headphones.
Headphones have come a long way over the years and they are more comfortable than ever.

And how can you make sure your own music isn’t too loud and therefore unmannerly? Some of the people I spoke with said their rule is that if you can hear it outside of your cube or office, then it’s too loud.  Sound fair to me. I mean I sit a foot away from my computer-- how loud does it really have to be?

Tip #3: How to Deal with Coworkers Who Make Loud Calls

Last week, Shawn and Gretchen broke up. Gretchen begged Shawn not to leave her but Shawn, who works on Wall Street trading energy stocks, whose family is from Connecticut but went to school in Florida, has decided to move on. My one friend learned about this only because Gretchen has chatted with and cried for Shawn every day--over the phone--for two months. And he still won’t commit? What is he thinking? One day last week their phone fight could be heard seven rows away, where my other friend was sitting. Now, I get that you might have to have personal phone conversations during the day, but just remember that your sneeze can often be heard rows away. If you don’t have an office door you can close, try to take your personal calls into a more private area, like the coffee shop downstairs or the stairwell.

And  if you’re the one having to listen to someone is yelling, crying, or loudly telling their best friend about the new person they are dating gets too loud, you need to nip this one in the bud quickly. I say this because it can affect not just your productivity, but your reputation as well—if you’re on a business call and the person on the other end can hear Gretchen weeping about being on a break with Shawn, that’s never good for business.

For this, there is only one answer, which I advised my friend to do with Gretchen. You need to take that person aside and let them know they are speaking way too loudly and even becoming an embarrassment. If it takes you having to be their shoulder to cry on for the moment, do it for the sake of your fellow coworkers. They’ll appreciate it. Plus, someone had to tell Gretchen that Shawn has also been seeing Abby in marketing for the past three weeks anyway.

Do you have a great story about how you witness rather improper cubical etiquette? Post them on my Modern Manners Guy Facebook page so we can all hear the details. As always, if you have another manners question, I’m look forward to hearing from you so drop me a line at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. As well, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT. And of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips. 


Image courtesy of Shutterstock