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 the feedback.
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.