Quiet in the cube please

Q. I work in a shared office with six employees. Each day some office personnel have lengthy work and even non-work conversations in our cubicle area. People in nearby cubicles are distracted by the conversations. I believe the work environment should be friendly but these are long distracting conversations. How do I get the point across without hurting feelings or creating an unhappy non-cooperative work environment?
D. R., Troutdale Oregon

A. It’s really not a matter of if you’re going to do something to change their behavior; it’s more a matter of how you’re going to go about it. One option is to talk with them right then and there. The key is to be non-confrontational and non-accusatory in tone. Make it about you and not about them: “Hey guys, would you mind taking your conversation to the conference room? I’ve got a report due in an hour.”
Alternatively, you can bring this problem up in a staff meeting. As a group, you might brainstorm other ideas. When everyone is aware how the group is affected, you have a better chance of raising awareness and coming up with a solution that works for everyone.

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