How to Tactfully Deal with a Noisy Co-worker so They Don’t Rain over Your Productivity (infographic)

I have been at my job for a month and a half. I find it downright exasperating when my co-worker plays really loud music at her desk. Even though she always has headphones on, I can still make out every tune, beat, and word, and this makes it so hard to concentrate on anything else.

I have a co-worker who could talk like there’s no tomorrow. Somebody says “water” and he can suddenly reminisce something his great-aunt mentioned about some Chinese water therapy. He sees you asking for salt, and suddenly he can recall 20 countries that don’t use salt. He barges in on every conversation unsolicited, and every time he does that to me, I just want to scream.

I have a co-worker who’s always munching away at work. I mean he can gobble all he wants, but the constant rustle of wrappers and the chomping, crunching sounds make me cringe. Can’t he eat something less crunchy and perhaps out of a box. It’s so hard to focus on much with the constant backdrop sounds.

If you have ever worked in a cube farm or an open office, there's a very good chance you've dealt with a noisy neighbor at least once in your life.

"Loud and talkative coworkers can be one of the most annoying distractions on earth — and, unfortunately, they're a pretty common nuisance in today's workplace," says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of, "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job."

Sometimes, the noise reaches a crescendo where it feels like it's all you can hear. You want nothing better than for it to stop, for your co-worker to turn it down, take their calls outside, eat in the lunchroom, don’t exact revenge on the keyboard, fix their leaky headphones; but telling your coworker to put a sock in it seems uncouth.


Dealing with issues like these can be very awkward. Depending on your relationship with your co-worker, you don’t want to sow discord or come off as insolent; yet when you're dealing with a protracted situation that threatens your productivity and livelihood — for instance, when a coworker keeps rounding you up for small talk every time you take your headphones off or when a neighbor's voice carries into your client phone call; you know the line's been crossed and you must take action.

Nobody likes conflict, as it's natural to want to be liked by all your colleagues and become one with them, and to not be seen as a whiner or high maintenance, so the general opinion is to grit your teeth and put up with it. However, dealing with a noisy coworker tactfully doesn’t have to end in fists. 101productivity has put together a guide to help you identify your obnoxious co-worker and make them stop without offending them.

Invest in a pair of Noise Cancellation Headphones

Be it a babbling coworker's voice, his blasting of heavy metal music, or his chewing of gum, a nice pair of headphones can block out most nuisances without seeming rude.

Go for a Stroll

Sometimes, all you need is a little peace and quiet. Eventually, you’ll have to jump back into the fray, but once you have breathed it out, you’ll be in a much better state of mind and better able to tune it out on your own. So, every time your colleagues start getting all rambunctious, take a quick trip to the kitchen, the washroom, or outside.

Use an Empty Breakroom

Have an important meeting with the client? Got a presentation you need to complete before you can go home? Don’t let noisy coworkers get in your way. Use an empty breakroom or meeting room to find a quiet place to work.

Point them to the Lunchroom

Weary of a raucous eater who makes sure you hear every slurp, munch and crumble? Next time they are wolfing down a bag of chips, innocently point out if they would be more comfortable eating in the lunchroom, they might get the hint. If they don’t, try fabricating a story about someone you know who chews oh so loudly, making audible, lip-smacking sounds as he tears through every morsel, and how it makes you cringe. Be sure to work in specifics so they might feel embarrassed.

Have an Excuse Ready

If they engage you in conversation, have an excuse ready:

“I’m going to grab a glass of water”

“I am going to the toilet”

“Just going out to take a stroll…phew is it hot in here?”

“I just remember, I forgot my keys in the rest room…gotta run

Talk to yourself

Can’t seem to tune out the overly garrulous duo sitting at the back? Start thinking out loud to hint at the lack of sound-proof walls and the need to rise above all the clutter. Oh, and keep sighing loudly, making sure to look all baffled.


Pretend to Eavesdrop on Private conversations

Got a co-worker who can’t help attending calls at their desk every few minutes? Even worst, with the speakers on? Pretend to be interested and ask personal questions once they are done. I am sure, they will be a bit more careful in the future.

Ask them if they need Lozenges

Got a loud throat clearer and a frequent cougher? Offer lozenges everytime they do so. Got a co-worker who can blow through walls when they sneeze? Jump loudly every time and say “bless me” loudly.

Walk away from “Chatty Kathy”

See that colleague who is always ready to start talking? Change course every time you see them approaching. You can come back later for that cup of coffee.

Be a Telltale

If all else fails, tell on them to your HR and if possible, ask to be relocated.

We have got a whole lot of other ideas when it comes to dealing with noisy coworkers. Check out the infographic below to find out.

How to Deal with a Noisy Coworker so They Don’t Rain Over your Productivity! [Infographic]

Read next: How to have a professional argument in the workplace (infographic)

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