Cubicle Etiquette: Loud and Annoying!

Careerbuilder recently published a Cubicle Etiquette Q&A. Miss Mentor takes issue with a few of their pronouncements, but all in all, a decent cube etiquette guideline. Here is a favorite:

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Q: Is it possible my co-workers don’t realize they are loud and annoying?

A: “We’re rarely aware of behaviors that irritate others — unless we’re malicious or retaliatory and are doing it on purpose — which is often imputed but infrequently true,” says Francie Dalton, president of Dalton Alliances, Inc., a Maryland-based executive coaching firm. “Explain that much of your work requires concentration, and that you’d be much more productive if they could find it in their hearts to soften their voices a bit.”
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TOTALLY AGREE. Rarely is your neighbor really trying to irritate you. On occasion your neighbor is trying to play with you. But mostly, your cube neighbor is oblivious. Kind of like the large, pasty old man who still mows his lawn without a shirt . . . I don’t want to see it; you don’t want to see it, but he still thinks he looks as good as he did at 16 when he was a lifeguard. Right. Oblivious.

So don’t pull a passive-aggressive with your cube neighbor, take the initiative to duck your head in and say, “Hey, thanks for sharing the Metallica concert. I am working on a huge project and need some serious concentration. Would you please turn down the music? It is just too tempting for me to sing along. ” Then get out of there before said neighbor engages you in a either A. a sing along or B. asks you to recount your favorite Metallica concert. 

Also good to note, this is one of the most frequent questions we get at Miss Mentor Headquarters. Reason? We often feel like we are being attacked, harassed, bothered when we really are not. Now, of course your situation is totally different . . . but is it really? Some of us spend soooo much time and energy gearing up for the “battles” that we get ourselves off course. Try this out for a few days: let it roll off your back. 

Just look at your fellow cubicle nation mate and see him/her as that old fella mowing his yard.

 Q: Does this change if it is my BOSS who is being loud?

A: No. It is even more important that you avoid passive-aggressiveness with your boss. Don’t assume good or bad intentions, just ask for what you need – quiet.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

t May 12, 2008 at 1:41 pm

I love my job, even if I do have to work in a cubicle, except for one thing…or rather, one person. The woman 2 cubicles away has several-times-daily telephone conversations with her on-the-road husband, each lasting up to 2 hours. (I am not exaggerating.) She has them in her “outside voice,” and I have gone the entire route from listening to music as loud as I can bear it with earbuds to massive over-the-ear headphones trying to block her out, to no avail. It might be okay if she talked about anything interesting, to make my inadvertent eavesdropping worthwhile, but her topics have ranged from explaining how to knit (I swear to God!) to lessons on Spanish grammar rules to therapy sessions on anger management (I need that thanks to her!) to childlike sing song-y recitations of their daughter’s latest toilet training efforts. I am not the only one who has a problem with this, everyone in this area of the office can hear her and complains to each other about it, but my supervisor is apparently and conveniently deaf to all of this. AAAAAAGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

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