Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => All In A Day's Work => Topic started by: MOM21SON on March 03, 2013, 03:23:09 PM

Title: Being startled at work.
Post by: MOM21SON on March 03, 2013, 03:23:09 PM
I am often startled, sometimes on occasion it will cause my eyes to well up and my chin quiver.  Please don't laugh, I am serious.

I have worked with my coworkers for a long time, some for 10 plus years.  I have been startled many times over the years.  99% remember I startle easily because my outburst and jumping has startled them.

The one woman is a supervisor, she is no longer my direct supervisor but she was for 10 years.  She knows of this issue.

One day a week I am assigned to a special project.  To do this project I am in a small office with my back to the door.  When I am in this office, most of my coworkers announce that they are on their way.  Usually with stomping their feet and saying, "mom, here I come!"  All is well.

The supervisor walks very softly and just starts talking when she is behind me.  After the third time of her startling me today and me startling her, she yelled at me.  "STOP DOING THAT!  IT DRIVES ME NUTS! NOONE HERE IS A KILLER!"  Since my heart was racing so fast I was only able to mumble a "sorry."

When she was my supervisor we had several disagreements.  Now that she is no longer my direct sup, we get along very well.  I would like us to keep getting along very well.

Any advice on how I can address this with her without rocking the boat?

TIA!
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Zizi-K on March 03, 2013, 04:12:38 PM
Perhaps you can write her an email gently explaining that your startle response is involuntary. You could try to "get her on your side" by "asking for her help" in the matter. You could say, "I realize that my startle response is more sensitive than most other people, but there isn't anything I can do about it. I would if I could, because it is quite upsetting and unpleasant to have one's heart race (and whatever over symptoms) every time someone surprises me. Believe me, it is not personal. Would you help me by making a bit of noise when you approach me from behind?"
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Tilt Fairy on March 03, 2013, 06:38:58 PM
Could you rearrange your office desk so your back is not facing the door? If you have this hyper sensitive startle response to other people's normal behaviour in the office even when they accommodate your requests to soften the startle but don't do it quite according to how you want, I think the onus is on you to make sure you give yourself as less a chance as possible to be startled. Something like rearranging your desk so you can see who's coming into your office; or perhaps having the office door shut so people have to knock first; or maybe even asking if you can move your whole office or just your desk somewhere else in on the floor where your back is to the wall so you have a full line of vision of what's in front of you if your startle response is as strong as you describe.

The thing is, it's very difficult for your co-workers to curb their normal behaviour for this. It's not practical or realistic that people can accommodate this or remember to accommodate this all the time. Offices are busy places full of hustle and bustle and people might sometimes have to call out to other people. fetch someone in a hurry, raise their voice quickly, move rapidly, drop things, burst out laughing occasionally. I'm sure nobody means to startle you or upset you on purpose knowing how you react, but it's very difficult to walk on eggshells all the time and even more difficult to always remember to do this around you as the default.

I hope you work out a solution.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: cross_patch on March 03, 2013, 06:45:57 PM
I must agree that the onus is on you rather than your coworker to change behaviour- your reaction seems very extreme, and it does sound like your coworkers are fairly accommodating. I must say I would find that irritating, so I am not surprised that she snapped- perhaps not the politest, but understandable. I think Tilt Fairy has some very good suggestions. I hope you are able to resolve the issue.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: SamiHami on March 03, 2013, 07:11:52 PM
POD to the previous posts, and I also suggest that perhaps therapy would be a good idea.  Some behavioral therapy sessions might help you learn to regulate your startle reactions so they aren't so extreme.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: MOM21SON on March 03, 2013, 07:41:31 PM
Thank you for the responses.  I do agree that it is my problem.  It is not possible to rearrange the room.  However I did hear today that "my area" would be moved at the end of the month due to corporate changes.  I will still have my area but in a unknown area of the building.  Do you think it is ok to suggest an area?

SamiHami, therapy has helped.  It really is much better than it used to be.  I know this stems from my past and I am really doing better.  Most of the time I can laugh about it when it happens.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Dazi on March 03, 2013, 07:46:45 PM
As one who also startles easily (hearing issues), I have a super easy solution for you.


Get a mirror.  Place it on the desk, or wall, or even better, get a convex mirror and place just above your head.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: MOM21SON on March 03, 2013, 08:00:29 PM
As one who also startles easily (hearing issues), I have a super easy solution for you.


Get a mirror.  Place it on the desk, or wall, or even better, get a convex mirror and place just above your head.

Great idea!  thanks!
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Dazi on March 03, 2013, 08:05:48 PM
You're welcome.  A cw suggested it years ago.  It was the best idea ever.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: random numbers on March 03, 2013, 10:23:25 PM
I bought a small convex mirror and stuck it to my monitor.

http://www.amazon.com/CIPA-49104-Convex-Adjustable-Mirror/dp/B000CIONQW
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: YummyMummy66 on March 04, 2013, 05:46:20 AM
I think you need to talk with her and not email and state, that you are sorry, you simply cannot stop doing what you do when SHE startles you.  It is something that you have dealt with for years and you are trying, but your body is not going to change overnight.

However, since SHE knows how you can react to being startled, SHE can stop what she is doing by making some small amount of noise before she approaches you so that you know someone is approaching, as your other co-workers do.

And after actually reading all posts now, you can then also state that you received the suggestion of trying a mirror, which you will do, but that does not mean it will be 100% effective, but maybe with her helping also by making noise and using the mirror, we can work on this situation.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Margo on March 04, 2013, 07:34:47 AM
I see others have beaten me to it with the suggestion of a mirror - I would also suggest closing the door, if you can - you can ask people to knock and enter, and even if they don't, the sound of the door opening will give you a bit of warning. (if the  door is very quiet, and if you can do it without driving you co-workers nuts, you could maybe hang something on the inside door handle which would make a bit of noise when the door is opened.)
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: bopper on March 04, 2013, 09:26:47 AM
The OP says she doesn't like being startled and most people try to accommodate that...but the former supervisor is the one who says that it is wrong to try to accommodate her! 
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Sophia on March 04, 2013, 09:37:34 AM
I can relate.  I have that problem too.  I have noticed that being startled makes me jittery and more likely to be startled in the future.  At the moment, I am not jittery and it is great.

I've never had someone intentionally startle me ... at least more than once.  My reaction is a loud scream and hands flying in the air.  I seem to remember whacking someone in the nose once. 

Once I even scared myself.  I was very jittery then.  I was in a public building going down those wide stairs that public buildings sometimes have.  But the stairs changed directions with landings.  I was with my best friend and was feeling no fear.  Then a guy coming up the stairs startled me.  I don't know why.  The only thing I can think of was that our footfalls were noisy and he had rubber-soled shoes, and I didn't hear him come up.  Anyway, I was startled and I screamed.  Then the echo of my scream startled me and I screamed again (half volume)
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Firecat on March 04, 2013, 10:30:02 AM
The mirror really does help. I have one at my desk, too. But I've also asked my coworkers (and mostly, they remember) to knock on the end of my desk or say my name if they need my attention. That generally works pretty well for everyone involved.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: BeagleMommy on March 04, 2013, 11:23:36 AM
I like the mirror idea.  Maybe you can buy this supervisor a jingly bracelet.  :)

Mom, I am one of those people who has a very soft step.  It came from many years in theater where we had to walk softly backstage so we wouldn't disrupt the action onstage.  I've startled many people in several offices and I've always apologized because it is my doing.  I often joke that I need to put a bell around my neck.

Hopefully, the mirror helps.  I do think the supervisor was rude in her reaction particularly if she knew about your response to being startled.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: TootsNYC on March 04, 2013, 11:46:41 AM
As one who also startles easily (hearing issues), I have a super easy solution for you.


Get a mirror.  Place it on the desk, or wall, or even better, get a convex mirror and place just above your head.

Great idea!  thanks!

Get a roll of kraft paper. Lay a piece over the floor in the door of your office and write "please make noise--step here" on it. Then they'll crinkle the paper when they arrive. Since you bought a roll of it, you can put down a new piece every day.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: oceanus on March 04, 2013, 12:00:21 PM
Quote
The supervisor walks very softly and just starts talking when she is behind me.  After the third time of her startling me today and me startling her, she yelled at me.  "STOP DOING THAT!  IT DRIVES ME NUTS! NOONE HERE IS A KILLER!"  Since my heart was racing so fast I was only able to mumble a "sorry."

Not exactly a nice reaction, but I understand the supervisor’s point.

OP, is this something that only happens at work?  Or do you also get startled and have outbursts in the aisle of a store and other places?

Interacting with and being approached by people is a part of everyday life.  Your extreme reaction not only affects you but also those who have to be around you.  I don't see mirrors as a solution.  I also don't really see it as an etiquette issue.

Have you ever seen a doctor/other professional to try to get to the reason for your fear/anxiety, and to get some help?


Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Lynn2000 on March 04, 2013, 12:23:50 PM
Love the mirror idea. I have one on my desk at work, although in my case it's so I can see who just came in the door without turning around in my chair.

Although the onus is on the OP for this (as she acknowledged), I do think it's telling that everyone else in the office is able to adapt and accommodate it, and only this one person refuses to--even though that one person is bothered by the OP's startle reflex, and notices she does it often. If I were the supervisor in this case I think I would first try modifying my own behavior in a minor way, as the other employees have done, rather than yelling at my worker to stop it.

I mean, yeah, some people do the "OH! You startled me! I am so sensitive!" thing to get attention, but after a few events I think it becomes apparent if that's their motivation, or some other eye-rolling situation. For example I had a co-worker who startled easily because she zoned out when she should have been paying attention. Once we were working side-by-side on a project and we had to wait for something to finish, so we just sat there silently for about a minute. When it was done I started to speak and she JUMPED and was like, "Oh, you scared me!" Um, I've been sitting here the whole time talking to you!

But I would think it would be obvious after a while that the OP was genuinely startled and upset by that, so I don't see what's to be gained by yelling at her. But, obviously, one can't really change the supervisor's behavior, so I would go with the mirror, making people open the door, something jingly on the door, a sign asking people to make noise as they approach, etc.. If you have any say at all in where your new work area would be, I would try to find a better setup, at least where you don't have your back to the door. I think it wouldn't hurt to politely ask if this was possible, anyway. If your supervisor has anything to do with assigning work areas, that might be a good way to broach the subject with her--"As you've noticed, I startle easily, and I know that's annoying to people. Is there any way I could get a work area where I'm facing the door, so I can see people coming?"
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: onyonryngs on March 04, 2013, 12:34:35 PM
I startle very easily.  I'll normally let out a little screech and jump, but it's my issue, no one elses.  I know I'm in no danger and I just let it go.   It's one of those things I've learned to live with. 
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Sophia on March 04, 2013, 12:58:05 PM
...OP, is this something that only happens at work?  Or do you also get startled and have outbursts in the aisle of a store and other places?...

I am not the OP, but for me it is a matter of being extremely focused and then someone entering my personal bubble.  So, I wouldn't be startled while driving or grocery shopping because my focus is over a wide area.  But, for example, I once pulled over on the highway to make a call.  I was typing the phone number on my PDA when a cop knocked on my window.  I about had a heart attack.  Because of the focus, it was as if he appeared out of nowhere right next to me by magic.  The cop was being nice and saw my hazard lights on and was seeing if I needed assistance. 

The worst was when I had a cubicle right off a hallway.  People were walking by all day, so I learned to tune them out.  Then when someone wanted to talk to me, by the time it was obvious they wanted to talk to me, they were already in my personal bubble.  When I changed departments and therefore cubes, no one complained when I claimed the cube at the end of short hallway.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Margo on March 04, 2013, 02:13:50 PM
The OP says she doesn't like being startled and most people try to accommodate that...but the former supervisor is the one who says that it is wrong to try to accommodate her!
Sure. But sometimes making a general request is perceived as less antagonistic than asking just one person.

I think it is as much  the supervisors issue that she is apparently so irritated by this, but not prepared to make any accommodation, as it is OP's issue that she startles easily.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: RebeccainGA on March 04, 2013, 02:25:25 PM
I have the same issue (accidentally sneaky boss, and startle easily). I am also on a major walking path in the area, so I have a lot of sound to tune out.

I have a mirror, I have my phone turned a certain way to reflect movement, and I keep a drawer open so they can't stand right next to me without bumping into it (and me hearing them). It's taken a couple of years to get to that point, but it helps.

Good luck finding your own solution!
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: perpetua on March 04, 2013, 02:36:28 PM
I think it is as much  the supervisors issue that she is apparently so irritated by this, but not prepared to make any accommodation, as it is OP's issue that she startles easily.

I don't think it is at all. I would be irritated by this too. Adults should be able to control their reactions in a professional setting and if they can't to the degree that they quiver at something as normal as someone walking near them, then they should be taking steps to solve the problem. It's so extreme that I can't see how it's on anyone else to make accommodations for something like this.

OP, good luck in finding a solution, but I think it's on you.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: cross_patch on March 04, 2013, 02:46:47 PM
I think it is as much  the supervisors issue that she is apparently so irritated by this, but not prepared to make any accommodation, as it is OP's issue that she startles easily.

I don't think it is at all. I would be irritated by this too. Adults should be able to control their reactions in a professional setting and if they can't to the degree that they quiver at something as normal as someone walking near them, then they should be taking steps to solve the problem. It's so extreme that I can't see how it's on anyone else to make accommodations for something like this.

OP, good luck in finding a solution, but I think it's on you.

This sums up the issue perfectly, I think.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Tilt Fairy on March 04, 2013, 02:49:03 PM
^ I also agree with this.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Docslady21 on March 04, 2013, 03:49:39 PM
I am often startled, sometimes on occasion it will cause my eyes to well up and my chin quiver.  Please don't laugh, I am serious.

I have worked with my coworkers for a long time, some for 10 plus years.  I have been startled many times over the years.  99% remember I startle easily because my outburst and jumping has startled them.

The one woman is a supervisor, she is no longer my direct supervisor but she was for 10 years.  She knows of this issue.

One day a week I am assigned to a special project.  To do this project I am in a small office with my back to the door.  When I am in this office, most of my coworkers announce that they are on their way.  Usually with stomping their feet and saying, "mom, here I come!"  All is well.

The supervisor walks very softly and just starts talking when she is behind me.  After the third time of her startling me today and me startling her, she yelled at me.  "STOP DOING THAT!  IT DRIVES ME NUTS! NOONE HERE IS A KILLER!"  Since my heart was racing so fast I was only able to mumble a "sorry."

When she was my supervisor we had several disagreements.  Now that she is no longer my direct sup, we get along very well.  I would like us to keep getting along very well.

Any advice on how I can address this with her without rocking the boat?

TIA!

First, her reaction, as someone in a supervisory position, is extremely unprofessional.

When I am concentrating extremely hard, I will not notice people in my space. Add to that, my area can be approached from 2 sides. I'm really not understanding how I could go to therapy to be trained not to jump when I am surprised as people have advised. Isn't that a natural reaction? Yes. Instinct, in fact. It doesn't matter that you are "safe" and that no one is a killer. It's an inborn response to the unexpected entering into your space while you are vulnerable--even in the office.

Also, don't most people lightly tap on the door and stand back a few feet and call out the other person's name? That's what I do when I approach another person in the office. I never wait until I am right behind them to start speaking because I don't want to startle them. It's just polite to do your best not to scare the crackers out of your coworkers while their back is turned or they are concentrating. 
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: LeveeWoman on March 04, 2013, 03:52:10 PM
I think it is as much  the supervisors issue that she is apparently so irritated by this, but not prepared to make any accommodation, as it is OP's issue that she startles easily.

I don't think it is at all. I would be irritated by this too. Adults should be able to control their reactions in a professional setting and if they can't to the degree that they quiver at something as normal as someone walking near them, then they should be taking steps to solve the problem. It's so extreme that I can't see how it's on anyone else to make accommodations for something like this.

OP, good luck in finding a solution, but I think it's on you.

Small clarification: it's not just walking that startles her. It's when the woman talks before making her presence known.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: perpetua on March 04, 2013, 03:54:57 PM
She said that the supervisor walks quietly then talks, and that her other co-workers (who presumably accommodate) stomp loudly and announce 'here I come'. That's *way* above and beyond the call of duty. Someone should not have to change the way they walk because a co-worker can't control their startle reflex. I'm sorry, but this is terribly unprofessional.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: LeveeWoman on March 04, 2013, 03:55:46 PM
She said that the supervisor walks quietly then talks, and that her other co-workers (who presumably accommodate) stomp loudly and announce 'here I come'. That's *way* above and beyond the call of duty. Someone should not have to change the way they walk because a co-worker can't control their startle reflex. I'm sorry, but this is terribly unprofessional.

And that's why she's here, asking for advice.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Ms_Cellany on March 04, 2013, 03:59:23 PM
Someone should not have to change the way they walk because a co-worker can't control their startle reflex. I'm sorry, but this is terribly unprofessional.

Like so much in life, a little courtesy goes a long way. I have a *very* strong startle reflex. I put a sign outside my cubicle that says "Warning: Easily startled inhabitant / Please make noise before entering."

My coworkers all oblige. Some knock, some say, "knock knock" or "hello," (my boss's tactic, saying "noise" as a word, is funniest).  Everyone is happy. It's not onerous for anyone.

ETA that actually, treating it as a shared joke makes it fun.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: WillyNilly on March 04, 2013, 04:16:48 PM
I am often startled, sometimes on occasion it will cause my eyes to well up and my chin quiver.  Please don't laugh, I am serious.

I have worked with my coworkers for a long time, some for 10 plus years.  I have been startled many times over the years.  99% remember I startle easily because my outburst and jumping has startled them.

The one woman is a supervisor, she is no longer my direct supervisor but she was for 10 years.  She knows of this issue.

One day a week I am assigned to a special project.  To do this project I am in a small office with my back to the door.  When I am in this office, most of my coworkers announce that they are on their way.  Usually with stomping their feet and saying, "mom, here I come!"  All is well.

The supervisor walks very softly and just starts talking when she is behind me.  After the third time of her startling me today and me startling her, she yelled at me.  "STOP DOING THAT!  IT DRIVES ME NUTS! NOONE HERE IS A KILLER!"  Since my heart was racing so fast I was only able to mumble a "sorry."

When she was my supervisor we had several disagreements.  Now that she is no longer my direct sup, we get along very well.  I would like us to keep getting along very well.

Any advice on how I can address this with her without rocking the boat?

TIA!

First, her reaction, as someone in a supervisory position, is extremely unprofessional.

When I am concentrating extremely hard, I will not notice people in my space. Add to that, my area can be approached from 2 sides. I'm really not understanding how I could go to therapy to be trained not to jump when I am surprised as people have advised. Isn't that a natural reaction? Yes. Instinct, in fact. It doesn't matter that you are "safe" and that no one is a killer. It's an inborn response to the unexpected entering into your space while you are vulnerable--even in the office.

Also, don't most people lightly tap on the door and stand back a few feet and call out the other person's name? That's what I do when I approach another person in the office. I never wait until I am right behind them to start speaking because I don't want to startle them. It's just polite to do your best not to scare the crackers out of your coworkers while their back is turned or they are concentrating.

One shouldn't hope to be trained from jumping a bit when startled, it is a natural response, and for good reason.  But that's not what the OP does.  She has an "outburst and jumping" that is so extreme it in turn startles the approacher right back, and it "causes [her] eyes to well up and [her] chin quiver." Anyone can be startled occasionally, but if she's often near tears over it, it is unprofessional and its something she is solely responsible for and something she might consider getting medical help over, or something that might mean she is simply not suited for her job. At the very least the mirror and perhaps even a sign "please knock" are steps she can take to alleviate the issue.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: MOM21SON on March 04, 2013, 04:33:52 PM
OP here.

I hope I can clarify things.  First, I did not ask anyone to stomp loud or yell out, they do it on their own after they were  startled when I reacted to being startled.  We actually have laughed about the overreacting that some do, they are laughing and it makes me laugh.

Sometimes I am startled at home by DH or DS.  DS apologizes for sneaking up on me and DH says, "well who did you think it was?"  I have a exfriend that used to do it to me at a activity and thought it was hysterical.  That is not a problem anymore because I don't do the activity anymore.

I have stated that I know this is my issue,  However, I don't really think it is polite to just quietly walk in and stand directly behind me and start talking. 

I am very focused at my job and often deep into reading something.

And today I was entering the rest room and sup was walking out and I startled her and we both laughed.

Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Judah on March 04, 2013, 04:39:28 PM

I have stated that I know this is my issue,  However, I don't really think it is polite to just quietly walk in and stand directly behind me and start talking. 

I am very focused at my job and often deep into reading something.

And today I was entering the rest room and sup was walking out and I startled her and we both laughed.

But it's not impolite to quietly walk in and stand behind someone and start talking. The bathroom situation was handled fine. We all get startled sometimes, but you just laugh it off and move on.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: oceanus on March 04, 2013, 04:40:35 PM
I think it is as much  the supervisors issue that she is apparently so irritated by this, but not prepared to make any accommodation, as it is OP's issue that she startles easily.

I don't think it is at all. I would be irritated by this too. Adults should be able to control their reactions in a professional setting and if they can't to the degree that they quiver at something as normal as someone walking near them, then they should be taking steps to solve the problem. It's so extreme that I can't see how it's on anyone else to make accommodations for something like this.

[snip]


Exactly.

And I fail to see how mirrors would solve the problem.  She can't look at mirrors all day; she's supposed to be doing a job.

If she is quivering, welling up in tears, and having outbursts there is something seriously wrong.  The only responsibility that the supervisor *might* have would be to refer her to the Employee Assistance Program or a medical professional.

I don't think co-workers have any responsibility to accommodate her, aside from normal courtesies they would extend to everyonbe else.

(Still curious if OP has those extreme reactions in other places – stores, parking lots, walking down the street, etc.  But even if she doesn’t, there is something seriously wrong and I hope OP gets help.)
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Moray on March 04, 2013, 04:44:44 PM
I'm curious what you'd like to see happen. Making undue noise seems rude to the other coworkers, and if just speaking normally, not jumping into your cube and going "BLAAAAH", causes that much of a fright, I don't know what the solution is. It would be reasonable to ask your coworkers to knock before entering your cube, but that seems likely to startle you, too, and they may or may not remember to do it.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Docslady21 on March 04, 2013, 04:45:00 PM
OP here.

I hope I can clarify things.  First, I did not ask anyone to stomp loud or yell out, they do it on their own after they were  startled when I reacted to being startled.  We actually have laughed about the overreacting that some do, they are laughing and it makes me laugh.

Sometimes I am startled at home by DH or DS.  DS apologizes for sneaking up on me and DH says, "well who did you think it was?"  I have a exfriend that used to do it to me at a activity and thought it was hysterical.  That is not a problem anymore because I don't do the activity anymore.

I have stated that I know this is my issue,  However, I don't really think it is polite to just quietly walk in and stand directly behind me and start talking. 

I am very focused at my job and often deep into reading something.

And today I was entering the rest room and sup was walking out and I startled her and we both laughed.

That's the part that makes me feel like it's not all your issue. It's common courtesy to announce yourself--especially when in a quiet environment where people are intensely focused. At my office, it's just not done. You don't go up to someone without announcing yourself. Most of us wear headphones, so we knock on the desk as we approach from the side. They feel it and don't jump out of their skin. Any time I am reading or writing intently and someone "sneaks" up to my desk, I'm going to jump. Maybe a huge jump, maybe a little flutter. But it's going to happen. Sometimes with an utterance of some sort. Maybe I scare them right back, but honestly, that's what you get for sneaking up like Rambo on someone whose job is reading for a living. I'm in Word Land. You've gotta call me back to earth, not just show up in my little word room unannounced. I can't remember which poster said it about the police officer, but that's an apt description of it feeling as if someone has apparated into your cubicle from another realm like Harry freakin' Potter. (In case no one can tell, I hate being stealth cubicled.)
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Docslady21 on March 04, 2013, 04:49:32 PM

I have stated that I know this is my issue,  However, I don't really think it is polite to just quietly walk in and stand directly behind me and start talking. 

I am very focused at my job and often deep into reading something.

And today I was entering the rest room and sup was walking out and I startled her and we both laughed.

But it's not impolite to quietly walk in and stand behind someone and start talking. The bathroom situation was handled fine. We all get startled sometimes, but you just laugh it off and move on.

I actually think it is impolite to walk into someone's space without announcing it first. You (general) are interrupting someone working. The polite thing would be to ensure you are even welcome to make such an interruption. A cubicle is an office, it just has open sides. You should really knock on the wall and announce yourself, not just go right up in someone's space and begin chatting like they are expecting you.

OP, do you startle if someone knocks first?
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: bansidhe on March 04, 2013, 04:53:38 PM
I actually think it is impolite to walk into someone's space without announcing it first. You (general) are interrupting someone working. The polite thing would be to ensure you are even welcome to make such an interruption. A cubicle is an office, it just has open sides. You should really knock on the wall and announce yourself, not just go right up in someone's space and begin chatting like they are expecting you.

This. Where I work, people usually knock on the metal edge of the cube divider. It's not cool to creep up on people.

I don't have that much of a startle reflex, but I apparently walk really quietly and have accidentally startled others in the past. I learned not to do that, as it's rude.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Judah on March 04, 2013, 04:58:45 PM
I actually think it is impolite to walk into someone's space without announcing it first. You (general) are interrupting someone working. The polite thing would be to ensure you are even welcome to make such an interruption. A cubicle is an office, it just has open sides. You should really knock on the wall and announce yourself, not just go right up in someone's space and begin chatting like they are expecting you.

This. Where I work, people usually knock on the metal edge of the cube divider. It's not cool to creep up on people.

I don't have that much of a startle reflex, but I apparently walk really quietly and have accidentally startled others in the past. I learned not to do that, as it's rude.

This hasn't been typical behavior anywhere I've worked. What is typical is to walk into the cubicle and say, "excuse me", "hi" or say their name. But that's still walking in and starting to talk and I don't see it as rude at all. And from the OP says, that would still startle her. 

We don't even knock on office doors unless they're closed.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: MOM21SON on March 04, 2013, 05:00:57 PM
A knock would not startle me.  And I said on occassion my eyes have welled up and my chin quivered.  I am not some mouse afraid of my own shadow.  Heck, there are even times I am not startled. 

I am not startled while out and about shopping, talking, laughing, eating.  I sure didn't mean to come across as a scared person that has some drastic overreaction every waking moment.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Moray on March 04, 2013, 05:05:27 PM
Sounds like the best thing is to ask your coworkers to knock. Nothing major, just "Hey, could you knock when you enter my cube? Thanks!"

Hmm, I wonder why it is that a knock in your immediate vicinity would be ok, but someone's voice would startle you. Something to think about, for sure!
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Ms_Cellany on March 04, 2013, 05:07:46 PM

Hmm, I wonder why it is that a knock in your immediate vicinity would be ok, but someone's voice would startle you.

I'm going to guess that a knock is a neutral, background-ish sort of sound. A voice is "CARP!  I've been snuck up on!"
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: MOM21SON on March 04, 2013, 05:08:00 PM
Sounds like the best thing is to ask your coworkers to knock. Nothing major, just "Hey, could you knock when you enter my cube? Thanks!"

Hmm, I wonder why it is that a knock in your immediate vicinity would be ok, but someone's voice would startle you. Something to think about, for sure!

A knock before entering is very different that standing 2 inches behind me and starting to talk.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Tilt Fairy on March 04, 2013, 05:12:40 PM
I actually think it is impolite to walk into someone's space without announcing it first. You (general) are interrupting someone working. The polite thing would be to ensure you are even welcome to make such an interruption. A cubicle is an office, it just has open sides. You should really knock on the wall and announce yourself, not just go right up in someone's space and begin chatting like they are expecting you.

This. Where I work, people usually knock on the metal edge of the cube divider. It's not cool to creep up on people.

I don't have that much of a startle reflex, but I apparently walk really quietly and have accidentally startled others in the past. I learned not to do that, as it's rude.

This hasn't been typical behavior anywhere I've worked. What is typical is to walk into the cubicle and say, "excuse me", "hi" or say their name. But that's still walking in and starting to talk and I don't see it as rude at all. And from the OP says, that would still startle her. 

We don't even knock on office doors unless they're closed.

This. I was also thinking that. Don't most people who come up to you (general you) in a place of work (bar knocking and bar being in an enclosed office) sort of walk up to you and start talking at the same time? I've never known any normal interaction where someone goes "hi I'm here!" in front of you before they start talking. Normally if someones needs to talk to someone who's back is turned, they'd either say their name to get them to turn around or walk around to their side so they're standing next to them, lean their head forward so the persons face is in their eyeline whilst they begin to start talking. Or gently tap them on the shoulder or arm to get them to turn around.

You say that you are startled when they are behind you and suddenly start talking but wouldn't you be just as startled by their announcement that they are about to come close to you as well? Wouldn't you be just as startled by them making their presence known to you before they started talking? Is it the case that you want people who are far away from you to announce to you that they are about to come near you to talk to you?
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Moray on March 04, 2013, 05:14:16 PM
Sounds like the best thing is to ask your coworkers to knock. Nothing major, just "Hey, could you knock when you enter my cube? Thanks!"

Hmm, I wonder why it is that a knock in your immediate vicinity would be ok, but someone's voice would startle you. Something to think about, for sure!

A knock before entering is very different that standing 2 inches behind me and starting to talk.

2 inches is a bit close.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Docslady21 on March 04, 2013, 05:15:34 PM
Sounds like the best thing is to ask your coworkers to knock. Nothing major, just "Hey, could you knock when you enter my cube? Thanks!"

Hmm, I wonder why it is that a knock in your immediate vicinity would be ok, but someone's voice would startle you. Something to think about, for sure!

One is a gentle sound that snags your attention, peripheral noise. The other is another human being immediately behind you when you thought the space was completely empty. A knock at my front door, even unexpected, does not startle me. Finding someone in my kitchen when I walk in, or having someone speak behind me in my previously-thought-empty house? Yeah. Going to jump.

I'll use my dog as an example. If someone knocks, she barks excitedly. If someone just walks in the front door that's not me or the kids? Woe betide them. One is a sound you are conditioned to expect as an announcement. The other is triggering the instinctual reaction built into the human body to flip out at an unexpected presence behind you. Google "startle response." It's rather fascinating.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Tilt Fairy on March 04, 2013, 05:15:51 PM
Sounds like the best thing is to ask your coworkers to knock. Nothing major, just "Hey, could you knock when you enter my cube? Thanks!"

Hmm, I wonder why it is that a knock in your immediate vicinity would be ok, but someone's voice would startle you. Something to think about, for sure!

A knock before entering is very different that standing 2 inches behind me and starting to talk.

If you're ok with a knocking noise out of the blue over a human voice out of the blue, then maybe the best course of action would be to always keep the door shut with a polite sign asking people to knock before they enter. Problem solved!
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: TootsNYC on March 04, 2013, 05:24:19 PM
Sounds like the best thing is to ask your coworkers to knock. Nothing major, just "Hey, could you knock when you enter my cube? Thanks!"

Hmm, I wonder why it is that a knock in your immediate vicinity would be ok, but someone's voice would startle you. Something to think about, for sure!

A knock before entering is very different that standing 2 inches behind me and starting to talk.

If you're ok with a knocking noise out of the blue over a human voice out of the blue, then maybe the best course of action would be to always keep the door shut with a polite sign asking people to knock before they enter. Problem solved!

Of course, first you have to have a door...
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Tilt Fairy on March 04, 2013, 05:27:08 PM
Sounds like the best thing is to ask your coworkers to knock. Nothing major, just "Hey, could you knock when you enter my cube? Thanks!"

Hmm, I wonder why it is that a knock in your immediate vicinity would be ok, but someone's voice would startle you. Something to think about, for sure!

A knock before entering is very different that standing 2 inches behind me and starting to talk.

If you're ok with a knocking noise out of the blue over a human voice out of the blue, then maybe the best course of action would be to always keep the door shut with a polite sign asking people to knock before they enter. Problem solved!

Of course, first you have to have a door...

Oh. In her post, the OP said she works "in a small office with her back to the door" so I assumed she had a door.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: oceanus on March 04, 2013, 05:43:16 PM
Quote
always keep the door shut with a polite sign asking people to knock before they enter.

Unless a person works with payroll/confidential material, many bosses would not allow that.

What are you doing that you don’t want anyone to see?

People in a work setting should be approachable.

Rearranging desk/chair so that she is facing the door (vs back to the door) might help.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: squeakers on March 04, 2013, 06:20:01 PM
How about a pressure sensitive doormat? http://www.ubergizmo.com/2011/07/wireless-doormat-doubles-up-as-an-alarm-and-doorbell/ You'd probably have to lock it up at night if you have a cleaning company.  And hopefully the sound part can be set high enough to alert you but low enough to not disturb others.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Firecat on March 04, 2013, 06:28:24 PM
Quote
always keep the door shut with a polite sign asking people to knock before they enter.

Unless a person works with payroll/confidential material, many bosses would not allow that.

What are you doing that you donít want anyone to see?

People in a work setting should be approachable.

Rearranging desk/chair so that she is facing the door (vs back to the door) might help.

Oceanus, you seem pretty dismissive of the OP.

For the record, the mirror helps because I can catch motion in the mirror and get a glimpse of someone approaching before the person startles me by talking or (in my case, at least) worse, touching me unexpectedly from behind. (Seriously...knock on the desk, say my name, wave your hand in my peripheral vision...but DON'T tap or touch me from behind unexpectedly.)

OP, is there a space people could tap or knock to get your attention?
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: cross_patch on March 04, 2013, 06:43:32 PM
Quote
always keep the door shut with a polite sign asking people to knock before they enter.

Unless a person works with payroll/confidential material, many bosses would not allow that.

What are you doing that you donít want anyone to see?

People in a work setting should be approachable.

Rearranging desk/chair so that she is facing the door (vs back to the door) might help.

Oceanus, you seem pretty dismissive of the OP.

For the record, the mirror helps because I can catch motion in the mirror and get a glimpse of someone approaching before the person startles me by talking or (in my case, at least) worse, touching me unexpectedly from behind. (Seriously...knock on the desk, say my name, wave your hand in my peripheral vision...but DON'T tap or touch me from behind unexpectedly.)

OP, is there a space people could tap or knock to get your attention?

People in the OP are only talking normally, not touching her.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Firecat on March 04, 2013, 06:53:19 PM
Quote
always keep the door shut with a polite sign asking people to knock before they enter.

Unless a person works with payroll/confidential material, many bosses would not allow that.

What are you doing that you donít want anyone to see?

People in a work setting should be approachable.

Rearranging desk/chair so that she is facing the door (vs back to the door) might help.

Oceanus, you seem pretty dismissive of the OP.

For the record, the mirror helps because I can catch motion in the mirror and get a glimpse of someone approaching before the person startles me by talking or (in my case, at least) worse, touching me unexpectedly from behind. (Seriously...knock on the desk, say my name, wave your hand in my peripheral vision...but DON'T tap or touch me from behind unexpectedly.)

OP, is there a space people could tap or knock to get your attention?

People in the OP are only talking normally, not touching her.

Someone just starting talking right behind me would startle me, too, if that was the first I knew they were there. Just not as badly as an unexpected touch. Which is why I have the mirror at my desk, and tell new coworkers "hey, if you have any questions, just say my name or knock on the end of my desk." It helps that I'm usually involved in training them in some way, so it's easy to work that into the conversation.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: citadelle on March 04, 2013, 07:55:22 PM
Quote
always keep the door shut with a polite sign asking people to knock before they enter.

Unless a person works with payroll/confidential material, many bosses would not allow that.

What are you doing that you donít want anyone to see?

People in a work setting should be approachable.

Rearranging desk/chair so that she is facing the door (vs back to the door) might help.

Oceanus, you seem pretty dismissive of the OP.

Snipped the rest

I don't see dismissiveness. Lack of sympathy is not necessarily a dismissal.

I startle easily. I usually end up telling the shocked person that I will jump when my own mother says my name. We laugh about it.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: perpetua on March 05, 2013, 04:57:28 AM
I don't see dismissiveness either; I see people telling the OP that this kind of behaviour is not something that one's co-workers should have to make accommodations for if she can't control it in a professional setting, because it is unprofessional. Lots of people who aren't pouring out sympathy have also made suggestions as to how the OP can minimise it, while saying the onus is on her, not her co-workers.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: LeveeWoman on March 05, 2013, 06:50:32 AM
I don't see dismissiveness either; I see people telling the OP that this kind of behaviour is not something that one's co-workers should have to make accommodations for if she can't control it in a professional setting, because it is unprofessional. Lots of people who aren't pouring out sympathy have also made suggestions as to how the OP can minimise it, while saying the onus is on her, not her co-workers.

She knows it is her responsiblity to figure out what to do. That's why she is here.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: NyaChan on March 05, 2013, 07:40:10 AM
I saw her question as being more centered around getting the supervisor to accommodate her the way her other coworkers do.  Regardless, she posted, and some posters are giving their opinion that she should take more responsibility than she currently does. That's the hazard of posting - people aren't necessarily going to go in the direction you want or expect.

I feel some sympathy for her, but I agree that it is better for her to do something to minimize the problem than to expect everyone else to adjust.  For one thing, it will be easier to control than it would be to rely on an office of people to remember how to manage this quirk.  I think the supervisor was a bit harsh in her response to having startled the OP.  Presumably she was just fed up with the startled reaction, but I still think it was unnecessary.  Mirrors probably would be a good way to deal with this problem - I like having those as well as it can make me uncomfortable to have my back to everyone, even though I don't have the same strength of reaction to being startled.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Queen of Clubs on March 05, 2013, 08:07:37 AM
The supervisor walks very softly and just starts talking when she is behind me.  After the third time of her startling me today and me startling her, she yelled at me.  "STOP DOING THAT!  IT DRIVES ME NUTS! NOONE HERE IS A KILLER!"  Since my heart was racing so fast I was only able to mumble a "sorry."

When she was my supervisor we had several disagreements.  Now that she is no longer my direct sup, we get along very well.  I would like us to keep getting along very well.

I think your ex-supervisor was rude.  She knows you have a startle reflex, but she walks very softly behind you then suddenly starts talking.  I think most people would jump if someone suddenly appeared behind them with no warning.  And to yell at you like that?

I also think it's interesting that she is the only person who does this.  No one else has a problem making enough noise that you'll hear them.

If you can put up a mirror so that you can catch movement behind you, then I think this is your best option.  Either that or something that makes a noise when someone enters the doorway.  Your ex-supervisor doesn't seem interested in not scaring you, so I think you're stuck finding a way to detect her before she gets to you.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: oceanus on March 05, 2013, 09:14:51 AM
I don't see dismissiveness either; I see people telling the OP that this kind of behaviour is not something that one's co-workers should have to make accommodations for if she can't control it in a professional setting, because it is unprofessional. Lots of people who aren't pouring out sympathy have also made suggestions as to how the OP can minimise it, while saying the onus is on her, not her co-workers.

She knows it is her responsiblity to figure out what to do. That's why she is here.

Okay, most of us get it - that she/OP knows it's her responsibility to figure out what to do.  We also know that's why she started the thread - to get advice and suggestions.  There is no need to tell everyone 'why she is here'  OP has done a good job of speaking for herself.

(However, some other people have said that people at the worksite should modify their behavior.)
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: LeveeWoman on March 05, 2013, 09:32:24 AM
I don't see dismissiveness either; I see people telling the OP that this kind of behaviour is not something that one's co-workers should have to make accommodations for if she can't control it in a professional setting, because it is unprofessional. Lots of people who aren't pouring out sympathy have also made suggestions as to how the OP can minimise it, while saying the onus is on her, not her co-workers.

She knows it is her responsiblity to figure out what to do. That's why she is here.

Okay, most of us get it - that she/OP knows it's her responsibility to figure out what to do.  We also know that's why she started the thread - to get advice and suggestions.  There is no need to tell everyone 'why she is here'  OP has done a good job of speaking for herself.

(However, some other people have said that people at the worksite should modify their behavior.)

Was the snark necessary?
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: oceanus on March 05, 2013, 09:40:50 AM
I don't see dismissiveness either; I see people telling the OP that this kind of behaviour is not something that one's co-workers should have to make accommodations for if she can't control it in a professional setting, because it is unprofessional. Lots of people who aren't pouring out sympathy have also made suggestions as to how the OP can minimise it, while saying the onus is on her, not her co-workers.

She knows it is her responsiblity to figure out what to do. That's why she is here.

Okay, most of us get it - that she/OP knows it's her responsibility to figure out what to do.  We also know that's why she started the thread - to get advice and suggestions.  There is no need to tell everyone 'why she is here'  OP has done a good job of speaking for herself.

(However, some other people have said that people at the worksite should modify their behavior.)

Was the snark necessary?
I don't think I was snarky.  But I can't help noticing how you've admonished people several times in this thread.  Please . . . .that's not helping the OP and it adds nothing to the discussion.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: WillyNilly on March 05, 2013, 10:08:28 AM
I don't see dismissiveness either; I see people telling the OP that this kind of behaviour is not something that one's co-workers should have to make accommodations for if she can't control it in a professional setting, because it is unprofessional. Lots of people who aren't pouring out sympathy have also made suggestions as to how the OP can minimise it, while saying the onus is on her, not her co-workers.

She knows it is her responsiblity to figure out what to do. That's why she is here.

Okay, most of us get it - that she/OP knows it's her responsibility to figure out what to do.  We also know that's why she started the thread - to get advice and suggestions.  There is no need to tell everyone 'why she is here'  OP has done a good job of speaking for herself.

(However, some other people have said that people at the worksite should modify their behavior.)

Was the snark necessary?

I don't think oceanus is being snarky, or dismissive. I think many are letting Mom21son's popularity cloud their honest opinions.


Ok for me, I struggled with commenting on this thread.  I read it when it was posted but waited a few days and until about 3 pages of posts to join in.  why?  Because I like Mom21son.  Shes a regular poster, shes smart and insightful and helpful.  I didn't want to come out and post my initial reaction, because it was, in my head, pretty harsh.  So I didn't post anything. That plus the mirror solution was suggested pretty early on, and I think that will help a lot.

So of course because many posters like the OP they want to naturally 'take her side' against the mean ol' supervisor who lost her patience.  But... that doesn't mean the person who needs to change is the mean ol' supervisor.  The OP's reaction is inappropriate for her setting.  The supervisor should to have to approach loudly. She shouldn't sneak up on tip toes carefully avoiding the creaky spot in the floor like a kid playing a trick, but she should not have to announce her approach.  Its really actually not reasonable.  Its cool (and weird, quite frankly) that other co-workers do, but its not really anyone's issue but the OP's.  And its really possible the co-workers aren't making noise for OP's sake, they might being doing it for their own sake because they too have lost patience with the OP's startle response and its either make noise or yell at her themselves and they just don't want to deal with it.

We have had over the years countless threads about loud co-workers.  And for that matter loud walkers in other areas of life.  Its generally universally agreed adults should not stomp or make unnecessary noise, that learning to navigate life more quietly is the better way to be.  Its not fair to now, simply because we like the OP, to do an about-face on that stance and start in with "well yeah its totally those quiet people, who are considerate of 99% of the other employees in the workspace who are at fault, people should bug all their other co-workers with unnecessary noise to accommodate you Mom! Buncha meanies!"
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: LeveeWoman on March 05, 2013, 10:12:23 AM
Please, don't presume to speak to my motives.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Ms_Cellany on March 05, 2013, 10:18:10 AM
"well yeah its totally those quiet people, who are considerate of 99% of the other employees in the workspace who are at fault, people should bug all their other co-workers with unnecessary noise to accommodate you Mom! Buncha meanies!"

Quite a straw man you constructed there, WN.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Docslady21 on March 05, 2013, 10:30:39 AM
I don't see dismissiveness either; I see people telling the OP that this kind of behaviour is not something that one's co-workers should have to make accommodations for if she can't control it in a professional setting, because it is unprofessional. Lots of people who aren't pouring out sympathy have also made suggestions as to how the OP can minimise it, while saying the onus is on her, not her co-workers.

She knows it is her responsiblity to figure out what to do. That's why she is here.

Okay, most of us get it - that she/OP knows it's her responsibility to figure out what to do.  We also know that's why she started the thread - to get advice and suggestions.  There is no need to tell everyone 'why she is here'  OP has done a good job of speaking for herself.

(However, some other people have said that people at the worksite should modify their behavior.)

Was the snark necessary?

I don't think oceanus is being snarky, or dismissive. I think many are letting Mom21son's popularity cloud their honest opinions.


Ok for me, I struggled with commenting on this thread.  I read it when it was posted but waited a few days and until about 3 pages of posts to join in.  why?  Because I like Mom21son.  Shes a regular poster, shes smart and insightful and helpful.  I didn't want to come out and post my initial reaction, because it was, in my head, pretty harsh.  So I didn't post anything. That plus the mirror solution was suggested pretty early on, and I think that will help a lot.

So of course because many posters like the OP they want to naturally 'take her side' against the mean ol' supervisor who lost her patience.  But... that doesn't mean the person who needs to change is the mean ol' supervisor.  The OP's reaction is inappropriate for her setting.  The supervisor should to have to approach loudly. She shouldn't sneak up on tip toes carefully avoiding the creaky spot in the floor like a kid playing a trick, but she should not have to announce her approach.  Its really actually not reasonable.  Its cool (and weird, quite frankly) that other co-workers do, but its not really anyone's issue but the OP's.  And its really possible the co-workers aren't making noise for OP's sake, they might being doing it for their own sake because they too have lost patience with the OP's startle response and its either make noise or yell at her themselves and they just don't want to deal with it.

We have had over the years countless threads about loud co-workers.  And for that matter loud walkers in other areas of life.  Its generally universally agreed adults should not stomp or make unnecessary noise, that learning to navigate life more quietly is the better way to be.  Its not fair to now, simply because we like the OP, to do an about-face on that stance and start in with "well yeah its totally those quiet people, who are considerate of 99% of the other employees in the workspace who are at fault, people should bug all their other co-workers with unnecessary noise to accommodate you Mom! Buncha meanies!"

Actually, I don't know her. I don't appreciate you discounting my advice as if it were skewed my opinion about the OP. Who I don't know, at all, even from seeing her occasional post.

What I know, is that I hate being imposed upon, startled, or any number of things while I am working in a job that requires intense concentration. I like people to knock, clear their throat, tap my desk--any of those things. My cubicle is my office. And just because I don't have a door, doesn't mean you can just barge in and start talking at my back as if anything you need is more important than me providing error free copy to our clients. It's not. Alerting is courtesy. Period. A reaction to surprise is natural. Being yelled at for a natural reaction is rude. That is all I am saying without any bias toward the OP and plenty of personal experience fro which to create an opinion.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Lynn2000 on March 05, 2013, 10:34:48 AM
If you have an actual door (as opposed to just an empty doorway), could you close it partially? Not all the way closed to invite suspicion, but closed enough that people have to push on it to get in. Then you might hear the squeak of the door, or you could even put a jangly thing on the doorknob that would make noise when someone pushed the door open. Like those Christmas doorknob decorations with a jingle bell.

I do actually think it's more polite to get someone's attention before launching into what you want to say, especially in a work setting where people are, presumably, concentrating on their work. I think one should make sure one isn't interrupting a critical task, for example. This could be achieved through knocking; but it could also be achieved through clearing one's throat or saying something like, "Hi, got a minute?" Some of those things might unfortunately trigger startle reflexes, while others don't; but I think asking for the initial noise isn't rude. So, I don't think a "please knock" sign would be rude, for example.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: oceanus on March 05, 2013, 10:40:00 AM
Saying "Excuse me Bob" or "Hi Mary, got a sec?" is definitely appropriate and imo the thing to do - even if the person is facing me.

However,
Quote
A reaction to surprise is natural.

But quivering, welling up in tears, having ourbursts just because someone came to talk to you and you didn't see them coming..............?   hmmm.  That doesn't sound "natural".
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: WillyNilly on March 05, 2013, 10:41:42 AM
I don't see dismissiveness either; I see people telling the OP that this kind of behaviour is not something that one's co-workers should have to make accommodations for if she can't control it in a professional setting, because it is unprofessional. Lots of people who aren't pouring out sympathy have also made suggestions as to how the OP can minimise it, while saying the onus is on her, not her co-workers.

She knows it is her responsiblity to figure out what to do. That's why she is here.

Okay, most of us get it - that she/OP knows it's her responsibility to figure out what to do.  We also know that's why she started the thread - to get advice and suggestions.  There is no need to tell everyone 'why she is here'  OP has done a good job of speaking for herself.

(However, some other people have said that people at the worksite should modify their behavior.)

Was the snark necessary?

I don't think oceanus is being snarky, or dismissive. I think many are letting Mom21son's popularity cloud their honest opinions.


Ok for me, I struggled with commenting on this thread.  I read it when it was posted but waited a few days and until about 3 pages of posts to join in.  why?  Because I like Mom21son.  Shes a regular poster, shes smart and insightful and helpful.  I didn't want to come out and post my initial reaction, because it was, in my head, pretty harsh.  So I didn't post anything. That plus the mirror solution was suggested pretty early on, and I think that will help a lot.

So of course because many posters like the OP they want to naturally 'take her side' against the mean ol' supervisor who lost her patience.  But... that doesn't mean the person who needs to change is the mean ol' supervisor.  The OP's reaction is inappropriate for her setting.  The supervisor should to have to approach loudly. She shouldn't sneak up on tip toes carefully avoiding the creaky spot in the floor like a kid playing a trick, but she should not have to announce her approach.  Its really actually not reasonable.  Its cool (and weird, quite frankly) that other co-workers do, but its not really anyone's issue but the OP's.  And its really possible the co-workers aren't making noise for OP's sake, they might being doing it for their own sake because they too have lost patience with the OP's startle response and its either make noise or yell at her themselves and they just don't want to deal with it.

We have had over the years countless threads about loud co-workers.  And for that matter loud walkers in other areas of life.  Its generally universally agreed adults should not stomp or make unnecessary noise, that learning to navigate life more quietly is the better way to be.  Its not fair to now, simply because we like the OP, to do an about-face on that stance and start in with "well yeah its totally those quiet people, who are considerate of 99% of the other employees in the workspace who are at fault, people should bug all their other co-workers with unnecessary noise to accommodate you Mom! Buncha meanies!"

Actually, I don't know her. I don't appreciate you discounting my advice as if it were skewed my opinion about the OP. Who I don't know, at all, even from seeing her occasional post.

What I know, is that I hate being imposed upon, startled, or any number of things while I am working in a job that requires intense concentration. I like people to knock, clear their throat, tap my desk--any of those things. My cubicle is my office. And just because I don't have a door, doesn't mean you can just barge in and start talking at my back as if anything you need is more important than me providing error free copy to our clients. It's not. Alerting is courtesy. Period. A reaction to surprise is natural. Being yelled at for a natural reaction is rude. That is all I am saying without any bias toward the OP and plenty of personal experience fro which to create an opinion.

But the OP does not have a "natural reaction", by her own admission she has an extreme reaction. She is near tears over it.  And apparently this has been on-going for years and never once did she think to put up a mirror? Or printout a sign that says "please knock"?

She has not taken the most basic steps towards alleviating her own distress, instead has allowed this problem to continue, merely relying on everyone else around to make accommodations.  And when someone doesn't make those changes and accommodations for her, they have to deal with her screaming in fear and facing her near crying, and after dealing with this numerous times they yell back at her, they are suddenly the bad guy?  No, just no.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Docslady21 on March 05, 2013, 12:05:37 PM


But the OP does not have a "natural reaction", by her own admission she has an extreme reaction. She is near tears over it.  And apparently this has been on-going for years and never once did she think to put up a mirror? Or printout a sign that says "please knock"?

She has not taken the most basic steps towards alleviating her own distress, instead has allowed this problem to continue, merely relying on everyone else around to make accommodations.  And when someone doesn't make those changes and accommodations for her, they have to deal with her screaming in fear and facing her near crying, and after dealing with this numerous times they yell back at her, they are suddenly the bad guy?  No, just no.
[/quote]

Nowhere in this entire thread did she say she screamed. Can we please not resort to hyperbole?

"I have worked with my coworkers for a long time, some for 10 plus years.  I have been startled many times over the years.  99% remember I startle easily because my outburst and jumping has startled them."
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: bah12 on March 05, 2013, 12:13:08 PM
I have struggled with how to respond to this post and don't know how well I can convey what I'm thinking.

Of course the OP's reaction is unexpected.  Especially in the work force.  Of course she also seems to realize that most of the onus is on her to solve the problem.  I don't startle easily and I still hate to sit with my back to the door.  Having a desk with facing away from a doorway is just not good design.  But assuming that there is no opportunity to move it, the mirror is an excellent idea.

Here's where I stand:  I don't necessarily think that coworkers should have to approach the OP in an 'other than normal' manner.  They shouldn't have to stomp, bang on walls, etc.   BUT, I also don't think it's polite (in any situation) to just walk up behind someone and start talking.  Knocking, clearing the throat, and trying to get their attention is some way is just good practice...and I think, even expected.  Whether someone startles easily or not, I think it's rude to start a conversation before you are even sure if you have thier attention.

As for the OP's reaction to being startled.  Yes, it's out there.  But, she obviously doesn't do it on purpose.  It's an involuntary reaction that is more extreme than how most of us react in the same situation.  It's not like she's using this as some sort of punishment against those that surprise her or "don't make accommodation for her".  She can't help it.  And I think yelling at her in response is rude.

Of all the suggestions on this thread, the mirror is the best.  OP, try that.  I think your former supervisor should at least knock when she enters your office, but it's unlikely you'll be successful in getting her to do that.  The mirror may be your best bet.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: oceanus on March 05, 2013, 12:21:00 PM
Quote
Can we please not resort to hyperbole?

???

An outburst is a sudden, violent display or emotion.  An outburst is also inappropaiate workplace conduct.

It can be a shreik, scream, moan, groan, wail, sucking in breath, ......any number of things.  Since OP was not specific about what her "outburst" consists of (and I don't think she needs to be), it's reasonable to conclude that it might be a scream.

Yet, she complains about supervisor yelling at her.

Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: LeveeWoman on March 05, 2013, 12:27:08 PM
A knock would not startle me.  And I said on occassion my eyes have welled up and my chin quivered.  I am not some mouse afraid of my own shadow.  Heck, there are even times I am not startled. 


This is from yesterday, No. 40. She does not react that way all the time, and if we're to take her at her word, she doesn't scream. 

From her first post, the only one who raised her voice was the former supervisor.

The supervisor walks very softly and just starts talking when she is behind me.  After the third time of her startling me today and me startling her, she yelled at me.  "STOP DOING THAT!  IT DRIVES ME NUTS! NOONE HERE IS A KILLER!"  Since my heart was racing so fast I was only able to mumble a "sorry."



Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: breny on March 05, 2013, 12:28:06 PM
I am befuddled by some of the responses on this thread. I don't understand the hostility toward the OP for having a reflexive response to stimuli. People are different, we have quirks. If you don't startle easily, good for you! OP does. She's working on the best way to handle it.

As an aside, I don't understand how a reflex can be unprofessional. Is closing my eyes while sneezing unprofessional? Is blinking because I have something in my eye unprofessional? Personally, I find the supervisor's anger unprofessional. She knows this is an issue with the OP, yet she persists in aggravating the OP. Is it really a big imposition to give a little knock before entering someone's office (cube, work area, whatever)?

Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: RingTailedLemur on March 05, 2013, 12:50:13 PM
I am befuddled by some of the responses on this thread. I don't understand the hostility toward the OP for having a reflexive response to stimuli. People are different, we have quirks. If you don't startle easily, good for you! OP does. She's working on the best way to handle it.

As an aside, I don't understand how a reflex can be unprofessional. Is closing my eyes while sneezing unprofessional? Is blinking because I have something in my eye unprofessional? Personally, I find the supervisor's anger unprofessional. She knows this is an issue with the OP, yet she persists in aggravating the OP. Is it really a big imposition to give a little knock before entering someone's office (cube, work area, whatever)?

I completely agree.  I think the word "unprofessional" is thrown about too much here.  We are all human.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: RebeccainGA on March 05, 2013, 12:55:22 PM
I am befuddled by some of the responses on this thread. I don't understand the hostility toward the OP for having a reflexive response to stimuli. People are different, we have quirks. If you don't startle easily, good for you! OP does. She's working on the best way to handle it.

As an aside, I don't understand how a reflex can be unprofessional. Is closing my eyes while sneezing unprofessional? Is blinking because I have something in my eye unprofessional? Personally, I find the supervisor's anger unprofessional. She knows this is an issue with the OP, yet she persists in aggravating the OP. Is it really a big imposition to give a little knock before entering someone's office (cube, work area, whatever)?

Parking a big ol' POD here. I totally don't get the animosity that some folks are showing here - glass houses, anyone? We're here for civility.

And no, an unconscious reflex isn't rude. We don't think it's rude if someone passes gas unexpectedly (gross, maybe, embarrassing, yes, but not rude unless they're fanning and whooping) or coughs, are we? This is the same kind of thing. Most people would startle if someone came up behind them suddenly and started talking - a polite person realizes this and mitigates it by announcing their presence (saying something, a polite clearing of the throat, a knock) before they are right behind someone.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: camlan on March 05, 2013, 01:04:53 PM
I have struggled with how to respond to this post and don't know how well I can convey what I'm thinking.

Of course the OP's reaction is unexpected.  Especially in the work force.  Of course she also seems to realize that most of the onus is on her to solve the problem.  I don't startle easily and I still hate to sit with my back to the door.  Having a desk with facing away from a doorway is just not good design.  But assuming that there is no opportunity to move it, the mirror is an excellent idea.

Here's where I stand:  I don't necessarily think that coworkers should have to approach the OP in an 'other than normal' manner.  They shouldn't have to stomp, bang on walls, etc.   BUT, I also don't think it's polite (in any situation) to just walk up behind someone and start talking.  Knocking, clearing the throat, and trying to get their attention is some way is just good practice...and I think, even expected.  Whether someone startles easily or not, I think it's rude to start a conversation before you are even sure if you have thier attention.

As for the OP's reaction to being startled.  Yes, it's out there.  But, she obviously doesn't do it on purpose.  It's an involuntary reaction that is more extreme than how most of us react in the same situation.  It's not like she's using this as some sort of punishment against those that surprise her or "don't make accommodation for her".  She can't help it.  And I think yelling at her in response is rude.

Of all the suggestions on this thread, the mirror is the best.  OP, try that.  I think your former supervisor should at least knock when she enters your office, but it's unlikely you'll be successful in getting her to do that.  The mirror may be your best bet.

I've struggled with this question as well. I agree with everything bah has said.

A startle reflex can only be controlled so much. And anyone can be startled. If I'm really concentrating on something, people walking up to my desk can startle me.

I've always knocked on office doors, or the hard edge of a cube wall, or announced myself when I was still several feet away from the person I'm approaching--even if they are facing me as I approach, because they might not be looking at me. That has always just seemed like good manners to me. You are entering someone's space; you let them know you are coming.

Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Tabby Uprising on March 05, 2013, 01:25:31 PM
Reflecting back on my own experiences, I can say that knocking hasn't been an absolute office norm for me.  By and large, if someone softly tapped on my open door to announce themselves, it was usually a co-worker or a subordinate.  Supervisors typically walked right in.  I don't startle anymore than the average person and never gave either approach much thought.  Every office has their own norms that evolve from the culture of the business. 

And more often than not, when a supervisor was coming into my office and immediately began to speak, it was due to the fact there was a pressing issue that needed to be addressed.  Tabby, can you pull up the notes for the Smith case for me?  I have a call with their attorney in 10 minutes.    Stuff like that.  The intention wasn't to be rude, they just needed something.  It's a business.  A lot of interactions are need based. It wasn't a norm that every dialogue we had needed to be prefaced by a quick social nicety. Again, that doesn't mean we can be deliberately rude to one another, but the emphasis is on getting something done so we can move on to the other 100 fires needing to be put out.

Essentially, work is going to be a place where people have a lot running through their minds.  I don't perceive the supervisor to be willfully unkind.  I just figure as she approaches Mom21Son, her inner dialogue may be along the lines of, "Got to grab the budget numbers for the conference call at noon.  Bob can't make the 3:30 meeting and I have to pick up the files from Jill.  If we don't get approval on this contract, Big Boss may have to let some people go..."

If people remember to knock or make a bit of noise, that's fine.  I'd do it if I knew I'd temporarily terrify someone otherwise.  And I have a soft step too!  Office ninja and all  ;)
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Wordgeek on March 05, 2013, 03:14:05 PM
Those of you who do not wish to be constructive may take yourselves elsewhere.

Everyone else, carry on.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Docslady21 on March 05, 2013, 04:18:03 PM
My suggestions are the following:

Mirror.

A request for visitors to knock. And I wouldn't say "knock or you'll scare me," I would say "please knock because I am deep in concentration, thank you."

Move your desk or chair.

I also think there is nothing wrong, in the future if you are scolded, with saying, "I know you're not a serial killer. (smile) I just get very focused in my work. If you don't want me to jump, please don't just walk in without knocking or saying hello from the doorway."

Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Tabby Uprising on March 05, 2013, 04:22:08 PM
Thank you for the responses.  I do agree that it is my problem.  It is not possible to rearrange the room.  However I did hear today that "my area" would be moved at the end of the month due to corporate changes.  I will still have my area but in a unknown area of the building.  Do you think it is ok to suggest an area?

SamiHami, therapy has helped.  It really is much better than it used to be.  I know this stems from my past and I am really doing better.  Most of the time I can laugh about it when it happens.

I definitely think it's fine to suggest an area. Especially if your main request would be a set-up that allows you to face toward the door.  I would think that should be easy enough to accommodate. 
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Cutenoob on March 05, 2013, 06:54:27 PM
OP: the problem I see here is that if you are startled you make more noise/reaction than average people. That behavior causes some rough spots with other people. You have done your best to modify this but are still easily startled. You are asking for ideas on how to help.

My thoughts: mirror; has been thought of. Cheap one? Back side of a CD. The kraft paper is a great idea. Others have worked with this issue of noise by making graduated noises to alert you. What about knocking; it's been said but, hang a slab of wood (4" x 4"), decorated, text "Please Knock". This might be a sound 'different' than office noise, so you would hear it and acknowledge it easier. I do suggest some more personal behavior modification, but that may not be possible at this time. These suggestions above might be more immediate, and work enough for you to learn them.

My experience: Something happened to me with my neck. After that, for about a year, if someone put their hands on my neck or shoulders (normally personal friends!) I would react by punching them, or whacking their face. Of course, after I whacked them, I explained, and they knew about my neck reflex. I STILL twitch a bit when someone puts their hands around my neck - playing around, wrestling, just having fun - but the reflex has died down so much that they don't get a black eye :).

Good luck, and I hope these ideas help.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: ladyknight1 on March 05, 2013, 07:19:44 PM

I have stated that I know this is my issue,  However, I don't really think it is polite to just quietly walk in and stand directly behind me and start talking. 

I am very focused at my job and often deep into reading something.

And today I was entering the rest room and sup was walking out and I startled her and we both laughed.

But it's not impolite to quietly walk in and stand behind someone and start talking. The bathroom situation was handled fine. We all get startled sometimes, but you just laugh it off and move on.

I actually think it is impolite to walk into someone's space without announcing it first. You (general) are interrupting someone working. The polite thing would be to ensure you are even welcome to make such an interruption. A cubicle is an office, it just has open sides. You should really knock on the wall and announce yourself, not just go right up in someone's space and begin chatting like they are expecting you.

OP, do you startle if someone knocks first?

To enter someone's space without knocking or speaking to them is a major issue at my office. The quickest way to make waves is to enter someone's office without being invited in.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Outdoor Girl on March 05, 2013, 07:27:39 PM
I work in cubeville.  Most people knock on the wood part of the dividers when they come to the door opening, even though there is no door or walls.  I think it is impolite to walk into someone's workspace quietly and then start talking to them.

I've been startled a few times; I tend to jump in my seat.  Occasionally, I will squeak, too, but usually I just jump.  Every one of my coworkers has immediately apologized for startling me when it has happened.  (With one exception - they were trying to scare me out of the hiccups I couldn't get rid of.  It worked!)

OP, I think your x-supervisor is being rude.

If your next workspace is a full office, I have an out there suggestion, if it is allowed.  Hang a beaded curtain over your doorway.  You'll hear it when someone walks through.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Gyburc on March 06, 2013, 05:42:17 AM
I think that some of the previous posts have been a bit too harsh. After all, Mom21son is not saying that she jumps out of her seat every time someone knocks on her office door or calls her name.

The specific situation is this: her former supervisor walks quietly into Mom's office, then right up behind her, and then just starts speaking from within arm's reach of her. I don't have an excessive startle reflex, but that would make me jump out of my chair! Not to mention the security problems that could arise if Mom were working on something sensitive, and ex-supervisor didn't give her the chance to log out/minimize the window. I say the former supervisor is behaving rudely.

I like the suggestion of the beaded curtain, by the way - or would it be possible to put something on the office door that would make a noise whenever the door moved?
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: wyliefool on March 07, 2013, 04:04:52 PM
If you have an actual door (as opposed to just an empty doorway), could you close it partially? Not all the way closed to invite suspicion, but closed enough that people have to push on it to get in. Then you might hear the squeak of the door, or you could even put a jangly thing on the doorknob that would make noise when someone pushed the door open. Like those Christmas doorknob decorations with a jingle bell.

I do actually think it's more polite to get someone's attention before launching into what you want to say, especially in a work setting where people are, presumably, concentrating on their work. I think one should make sure one isn't interrupting a critical task, for example. This could be achieved through knocking; but it could also be achieved through clearing one's throat or saying something like, "Hi, got a minute?" Some of those things might unfortunately trigger startle reflexes, while others don't; but I think asking for the initial noise isn't rude. So, I don't think a "please knock" sign would be rude, for example.

This. There's one guy here who walks up behind me and just starts talking. By the time I've become aware he's there, taken out my headphones, and turned to face him he's halfway thru and I have to ask him to start over. If I'm really concentrating on something, I can get startled.

It's basic office etiquette, IME, to knock and get someone's attention before you start talking at them. Don't do so and you may not convey all the information you intend because it may take them a moment to focus on you.

If the mirror doesn't help, how about one of those thingies that makes a noise when it detects movement? They sell them at holiday times--Santa hohoho's, for example--and there's always the Billy Bass that used to be all over the junk stores--but less obnoxious ones probably exist.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: DistantStar on March 08, 2013, 12:02:03 PM
My coworkers learned how easily startled I can be when I was on the phone with a customer and a supervisor snuck up on me and I shrieked into the phone - apologies ensued on multiple fronts (mine to the customer, hers to me) and it's not happened again.  Ever since I have tried to pay more attention to what's behind me, so it's not happened again, but I don't consider it unprofessional of me as she really scared me (by accident!).

My back is to my cubicle door, unfortunately, but my peripheral vision isn't bad...if I'm paying attention.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: mbbored on March 09, 2013, 09:51:24 AM
Someone should not have to change the way they walk because a co-worker can't control their startle reflex. I'm sorry, but this is terribly unprofessional.

Like so much in life, a little courtesy goes a long way. I have a *very* strong startle reflex. I put a sign outside my cubicle that says "Warning: Easily startled inhabitant / Please make noise before entering."

My coworkers all oblige. Some knock, some say, "knock knock" or "hello," (my boss's tactic, saying "noise" as a word, is funniest).  Everyone is happy. It's not onerous for anyone.

ETA that actually, treating it as a shared joke makes it fun.

I think this is a great idea in combination with the mirror. I understand that MOM21SOn has a large startle reflex but sometimes it's so hard to remember every single person's quirks. If I saw a coworker with a sign, I would make more of an effort to knock or clear my throat or something every time.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: dharmaexpress on March 09, 2013, 09:58:20 AM
This is an interesting thread, because it reminds me of something that happened last week.  I saw my coworker at the airport - it's loud, bustling, and he was sitting and reading, thoroughly absorbed and tuning out the noise around him (though he didn't have headphones on).  As I got closer, I realized he wasn't aware that I was approaching him, and then I felt like I was getting so close, I was going to startle him when he did realize, so I said his name kind of loudly, and his head jerked in my direction.  He was still mildly startled, but I knew I'd really scare him if I didn't warn him, and he was holding coffee.

It was no problem.  But it puts me in mind that I think it's kind of rude to not be aware that you are actually sneaking up on someone who is utterly unaware of your approach.  I would clear my throat, rustle papers, something...before I would just be less than a foot away from someone and start talking.

Not rude, that's not the right word, inconsiderate. Slightly oblivious - which is *going* to happen in an office where people are focused on tasks.

Anyway, the mirror.  I've always had one because my startle response makes me irate and no one needs that at work.   ;D
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: misha412 on March 09, 2013, 07:01:58 PM
Ok, I just came across this thread.

Having worked in cubeville for many years, knocking has long been the norm in my experience. Unless you see someone make eye contact with you or somehow indicate they know you are there, you cannot assume they know you are there. I have never had a problem with supervisors doing it, let alone co-workers and subordinates.

And to walk up and just start talking inches behind someone when they have not indicated they know you are there...that is inconsiderate and borderline rude, IMO. You do not know what you are interrupting.

Since the supervisor did it THREE times in a single day and got the same reaction from the OP, you might think she would think before she did it the third time. It shows she has no consideration of the situation. Her way is to walk into another person's work space and expect them to give immediate 100% attention in an instant. That is rude and unrealistic in many situations.

A simple knock, or "Hey OP, got a minute?" would solve the problem. That is not bending over backwards to accommodate the OP's situation. It is being considerate and polite when entering a colleague's work space to talk with them.

We do not turn off our emotions and natural reactions when we walk through the company door. We are still human beings. Being polite and considerate would make our work lives so much easier.
Title: Re: Being startled at work.
Post by: Starchasm on March 10, 2013, 05:52:52 PM
Ok, I just came across this thread.

Having worked in cubeville for many years, knocking has long been the norm in my experience. Unless you see someone make eye contact with you or somehow indicate they know you are there, you cannot assume they know you are there. I have never had a problem with supervisors doing it, let alone co-workers and subordinates.

And to walk up and just start talking inches behind someone when they have not indicated they know you are there...that is inconsiderate and borderline rude, IMO. You do not know what you are interrupting.

Since the supervisor did it THREE times in a single day and got the same reaction from the OP, you might think she would think before she did it the third time. It shows she has no consideration of the situation. Her way is to walk into another person's work space and expect them to give immediate 100% attention in an instant. That is rude and unrealistic in many situations.

A simple knock, or "Hey OP, got a minute?" would solve the problem. That is not bending over backwards to accommodate the OP's situation. It is being considerate and polite when entering a colleague's work space to talk with them.

We do not turn off our emotions and natural reactions when we walk through the company door. We are still human beings. Being polite and considerate would make our work lives so much easier.

I agree.  I work in cubeville right now and everyone taps on the wall.  It's not just polite, it's common sense if you aren't sure you have their attention.  Even if they aren't startled you will be halfway through your request before the person registers you're there, that you're talking, possibly removed earbuds, and gets turned around and focused on you.  Then you have to repeat yourself.