Author Topic: Being startled at work.  (Read 12171 times)

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Moray

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #45 on: March 04, 2013, 06:14:16 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.
Utah

Docslady21

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #46 on: March 04, 2013, 06:15:34 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.

Tilt Fairy

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #47 on: March 04, 2013, 06:15:51 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!

TootsNYC

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #48 on: March 04, 2013, 06:24:19 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...

Tilt Fairy

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #49 on: March 04, 2013, 06:27:08 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.

oceanus

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #50 on: March 04, 2013, 06:43:16 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.

squeakers

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #51 on: March 04, 2013, 07:20:01 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.
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Firecat

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #52 on: March 04, 2013, 07:28:24 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?

cross_patch

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #53 on: March 04, 2013, 07:43:32 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.

Firecat

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #54 on: March 04, 2013, 07:53:19 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.

citadelle

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #55 on: March 04, 2013, 08:55:22 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.

perpetua

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #56 on: March 05, 2013, 05:57:28 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.

LeveeWoman

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #57 on: March 05, 2013, 07:50:32 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.

NyaChan

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #58 on: March 05, 2013, 08:40:10 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.

Queen of Clubs

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Re: Being startled at work.
« Reply #59 on: March 05, 2013, 09:07:37 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.