Q: I work next to a man who is loud and obnoxious. I don’t think
he realizes how loud he gets. He wears ear buds and may not be able to
hear himself. He swears and groans at events throughout the day. The
rest of us do our best to ignore him. He also lets the world know when
someone has ticked him off. How do we convey the message to him that he
is annoying and creepy?
A: Ah the joys of a loud co-worker! It is no easy task putting up with another person’s grunts and groans.
I have a few suggestions though. First, when folks sit in an open
environment (which I am assuming is your situation), it is helpful to
discuss and post ground rules. Some common ground rules might be – 1. no
eating at your desk, 2. no grooming at your desk, 3. noises above a
normal talking volume are frowned upon. These guidelines may seem silly
to you but I think I have heard every complaint about open work
environments, from nail clipping to the odor of fish. I remember when I
was pregnant, odors really affected me and would truly make me nauseous.
Another option is to leave a copy of this column on his desk. Your
co-worker will “get it” then. He might be offended initially but then
curtail his behavior. Hopefully he is mature enough to be able to accept
I can empathize with your colleague since I am a loud person. I chomp
ice loudly (or so my friend Kim says). I talk loudly, especially when
on the phone (or so my husband says). Us loud folks sometimes don’t know
when we are annoying. We just get lost in the moment!
In short, few people truly intend to offend. However, that doesn’t mean that their behavior is acceptable.
Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.