What Does Tech Think: Would You Confront a Noisy Co-Worker?

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The Situation: A co-worker sitting near you regularly takes personal phone calls at her desk and doesn’t seem to know what an “inside voice” is. The situation is beginning to drive you nuts. What would you do?The Response: “I would talk to the individual — but avoid making it feel like a personal attack,” said Chandra Duncan-Scott, administrative professional in Health Promotions.If the problem continued, Duncan-Scott would make another attempt to speak with the person, reminding the individual that the noise was distracting. The next step would be to speak with the person’s supervisor. Both Cathy Dreger, secretary to the vice president for Student Affairs, and Deborah Milliner, development assistant in Electrical and Chemical Engineering, would also approach the co-worker before going to that person’s supervisor. Sandra Duplessis agrees that approaching the person first is necessary, given people are often unaware of how loudly they are speaking. If that didn’t work, she’d go to the person’s supervisor. “Co-workers should remember that it is essential to extend the same courtesy to an employee as they would expect to be extended to them,” said Duplessis, executive assistant to the vice president for Institute Diversity.Pearl Alexander, senior director of employee relations in the Office of Human Resources, suggests that you approach the co-worker and clearly identify the situation that occurred and describe how it affected you.  “Lastly, the two employees should discuss possible resolutions,” she added. “You might say, ‘Paul, many times I can overhear your personal conversations. This morning when you were talking with your wife, I felt uncomfortable hearing details of your personal life and was not able to focus on my work. It affects my concentration and productivity. How can we work together so you are able to make calls as needed without it affecting my performance?’”



  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Amelia Pavlik
  • Created: 03/05/2012
  • Modified By: Fletcher Moore
  • Modified: 10/07/2016

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