Ask Kari: What should I do if a loud colleague distracts me at work?

Dear Kari,

My colleague at work whom I share a wall with talks loudly on the phone all day. He frequently uses the speakerphone, which makes it that much worse. Closing the door doesn’t help. I have asked him to speak at a lower volume, but that only lasts for a hour or so before he starts up again. It is making my work day miserable; I can barely get my work done anymore because I cannot concentrate. What do you suggest?

Tuned Out

Dear Tuned Out,

You have tried some reasonable adjustments. Now, I would either ask that his office be moved or you volunteer to move. Invite you manager to sit in your office for an hour or so and take in what you have to listen to. Hopefully, they will support a change for you. Additionally, I would consider playing soft music in your office to cut down on the outside noise. Try playing jazz or something instrumental and see if that helps overall with your ability to focus. Good luck.


As published in the April 2015 issue of Connections.


About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a licensed independent clinical social worker and a resident of Issaquah Highlands.

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