Always a touchy subject, I know, but I don’t know how far etiquette goes in this instance.
My workplace is about 95% awesome. My coworkers and I all have private offices with doors. We frequently must consult each other about our jobs; we do complex tasks and each of us has different areas of expertise. This is expected. Most of us also either listen to music, the radio, podcasts, etc while we do our work. I use headphones but not everyone does. Typically it isn’t a noise issue.
I have one coworker who is intelligent and personable, and is always happy to answer my questions when I have them. My problem is that when I go to his office to ask him a question, he is often listening to radio broadcasts talking about political views that I find very objectionable, even upsetting. I stand there and grit my teeth and focus on the question I am asking and the answer he’s giving me and pretend I don’t hear what’s coming over his radio, and get out as fast as I can.
It’s his office and his radio. He can listen to whatever he likes. Am I within the bounds of office etiquette to ask him to turn it down while I’m talking to him? Or because I am coming into his space, should I just do what I’ve been doing and ignore it…and try to find others who can answer my questions before I have to go to him for help? 0807-12
So, it isn’t the noise level that disturbs you but rather the content of what you are hearing. You can ask him to please turn down the volume of his radio while you and he are engaged in the business of working together under the premise that the radio distracts you from concentrating on the problem at hand. Here’s your quandary, in my opinion. To be consistent, I believe you must ask ALL your co-workers to turn down the volume of whatever they are listening to whenever you and they engage in work related interactions. Otherwise you simply look intolerant.
I think one reason why being tolerant is a challenge for many people is that they see an opposing opinion as being the entire sum total of the personality and character of the person(s) who embraces that opinion. Considerable weight is given to that one area of a person’s life so that it completely confines them into a narrow definition or even stereotype. It’s like having tunnel vision and only seeing that one thing and not noticing that there is a whole lot of others areas of our lives where we have a lot more in common than we think. Sometimes it takes a shared tragedy to bring about an awareness of the commonality we have with others.
In my extended family there are polar opposite politics and lifestyles but while we all know where each other stands on particular issues, those get “boxed” neatly away in the mind and the focus is on common areas we share like memories, love of certain relatives, children, vacation destinations, food, similar sense of humor and jokes, shared work ethics,health problems, money, and on and on. Every once in a blue moon, the “politics box” gets taken off the mental shelf, dusted off and we debate the issues civilly but once the debate is exhausted, the box goes right back on the mental shelf for another day and we go right back to working to love each other for the things we do share in common.
So OP,unless your co-worker is listening to radio instructions on how to make bombs and destroy a specific group of people, I think you would foolish to continue to focus on your affable co-worker’s choice of listening material and lose sight of the fact that he appears to be a decent person who cheerfully and consistently helps you succeed in your job. 0807-12