Author Topic: Pssst fthss phtss  (Read 4263 times)

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bansidhe

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Pssst fthss phtss
« on: October 24, 2013, 01:53:42 PM »
A while back, my department moved to a new area of the building. As a consequence, I now sit right next to a person I used to sit much farther away from and I've discovered that she has some really annoying habits I was previously unaware of. Some of them she probably can't help so I won't address them here.

The one that is driving me absolutely insane that I'm going to need to address is her whispering and talking to herself all day, constantly, day in and day out. Everything she types, she says aloud (and she types most of the day). Mostly it's in a whisper, but it is clearly audible to me and very distracting. Sometimes she talks to herself at an ordinary conversational volume. I'm not sure which is worse.

So, any ideas for a good way to address this while avoiding the defensiveness and hurt feelings that are usually the result of this type of thing?

A couple of notes:
- Moving to a different spot is not an option.
- I see headphones suggested a lot on this site. I have found that they absolutely do not work to block out voices.
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QueenfaninCA

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Re: Pssst fthss phtss
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2013, 02:15:29 PM »
Make it your boss's problem. Let him/her know that you are distracted and can't do your work.

I have found that headphones alone (even noise cancelling ones) don't drown out conversations but listening to instrumental music with them at a low volume does a reasonable job.

cicero

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Re: Pssst fthss phtss
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2013, 02:29:56 PM »
oh i see my former officemate is now working with you!

For me, depends on your work environment. I always try to start with telling the offender - "Jane, you are probably not aware but you [do this annoying thing]. I am very noise sensitive and it [makes me very nervous]. I'm going to use headphones but can i ask you to please keep the noise level down?"

Then if it doesn't work, take it to your boss

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veronaz

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Re: Pssst fthss phtss
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2013, 02:37:49 PM »
oh i see my former officemate is now working with you!

For me, depends on your work environment. I always try to start with telling the offender - "Jane, you are probably not aware but you [do this annoying thing]. I am very noise sensitive and it [makes me very nervous]. I'm going to use headphones but can i ask you to please keep the noise level down?"

Then if it doesn't work, take it to your boss

I agree with this.  I'd mention that it's distracting.

cwm

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Re: Pssst fthss phtss
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2013, 02:38:47 PM »
I would mention it to her in a friendly way. She might not be aware she's doing it. I know I mumble sometimes when I'm typing or concentrating really hard, I've caught myself doing it before, but I'm not always aware when I start. It might need to be an ongoing thing, where she won't notice when she starts, but then you say something or gently remind her and it brings it to focus so she can stop.

If that doesn't work, I think listening to quiet music could help block things out. Find something that works for you. For me, techno/house set on a low volume is best, but most people I know would be fine with classical or folk instrumental music.

If neither of these work, try talking to your boss.

BeagleMommy

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Re: Pssst fthss phtss
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2013, 03:04:40 PM »
Start by bringing it up to her politely.  Ex:  Talky, I'm not sure you realize that you tend to talk out loud while you're typing.  It's a bit distracting for me and I find it difficult to concentrate.  Please try not to talk out loud.

If it doesn't stop, go to your boss.

Lynn2000

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Re: Pssst fthss phtss
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2013, 03:19:37 PM »
I used to get very distracted by being able to hear my neighbors' conversations through the thin apartment walls--I could make out about every third word, just enough to drive me crazy. I finally got a white noise machine--looks like the model is now called a Marpac Dohm-DS Dual Speed Sound Conditioner on Amazon. <$50. It makes a "rushing air" sort of noise, as opposed to other white noise machines that play nature sounds or a repetitive recorded noise. I've had it for nearly two years and I really love it.

The thing is, it's not a magic mute button. But it dulled the noise just enough that it was much easier for me to ignore. So if you go for a sound-based method--headphones or light music or whatever--maybe think of it that way. You're not going to drown her out completely, but maybe you can get it to a level where it's easier for you to tune out.

You could, of course, try mentioning it to her, but I feel like something like this is so ingrained, it might be really difficult for her to change. A combination approach, where you're both doing something about it, might work best.
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bansidhe

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Re: Pssst fthss phtss
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2013, 03:41:59 PM »
Thanks guys! Listening to music is not an option for a couple of reasons, the primary one being that I spend a good deal of my time doing audio/video editing. Yep, the whispering penetrates even that.  ::)

I've long since realized that my boss is not going to handle this. It's going to be up to me. There is some useful verbiage in this thread that should help me get started. It could well be that she actually doesn't realize she's doing it. Come to think of it, there have been a couple of other indications that maybe her hearing isn't quite up to par, so perhaps she thinks she's being much more quiet than she actually is.

At the moment she's taking a long lunch and I'm pretty sure my blood pressure has dropped about 10 points.  :D
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MamaMootz

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Re: Pssst fthss phtss
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2013, 04:12:31 PM »
Oh Lord... I do this at my desk at work. I'd be mortified if I found out I was disturbing someone, but I would prefer that the person come and talk to me. It's a leftover reflex from when I lived alone - I used to talk to myself all the time and I do it at work. I'm trying to be more aware of it, but sometimes I forget myself.
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Arila

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Re: Pssst fthss phtss
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2013, 05:18:30 PM »
I find noise cancelling headphones to be quite effective, even for voices. Have you tried those? Maybe you could even swing that into the department budget. :D

Harriet Jones

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Re: Pssst fthss phtss
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2013, 06:15:07 PM »
Would a white noise machine (actual white noise, not thunderstorms and such) interfere with the audio/video editing?  Or a fan?

PastryGoddess

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Re: Pssst fthss phtss
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2013, 06:34:15 PM »
White noise machine or a fan might work to help break up the sounds coming from her desk.

I have an app on my phone that does white, brown, pink, and blue noise.  Maybe one of those would work for you

Oh Joy

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Re: Pssst fthss phtss
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2013, 06:55:22 PM »
Tone is key, but I would start responding to her whenever she does it.  A non-snarky 'What was that, CW?' 'Did you need something, CW?' 'Were you talking to me, CW?' for a few days might increase her awareness and initiate a change on her part.  If nothing else, she may tire of saying 'Nothing.  Just talking to myself.'

Best wishes.

bansidhe

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Re: Pssst fthss phtss
« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2013, 08:02:34 PM »
I'm not willing to cover up the problem and pretty firmly believe that I shouldn't have to change my behavior to deal with a problem she's creating and that she can control. That just doesn't sit right with me, perhaps because I am having to put up with additional annoyances that are probably outside of her control (e.g., the constant, loud snot-snorting).

After we moved to the new location, I found out that two other teammates had complained about her noisiness multiple times - not to her, but to others - and nothing ever happened. When we moved, those two people took the cubes farthest away from hers. And no, they did not provide me with any warning at all when I got the one next to hers.  ???

So she's been blithely carrying on as usual all this time because no one has had the guts to talk to her about the problem. She probably doesn't even know it is a problem and now at least three people are annoyed and resentful.

My plan is to use some of the verbiage suggested above to tell her about the issue, then remind her as necessary. If our cubes were situated differently I would use the method suggested by Oh Joy, but the layout makes that awkward (we can't see each other because of the cube dividers), plus I'd be adding yet more noise to the environment.
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PastryGoddess

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Re: Pssst fthss phtss
« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2013, 08:40:25 PM »
And what if she decides that it's not that big of a deal and doesn't want to change her behavior at all? What if this is a behavior that is so ingrained that she doesn't realize she is doing it?

Compromise is a two way street. She needs to make an effort to stop with the constant whispering, but if that's not enough for you, then you have to make an effort to mitigate what noise does come over the cube wall.