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music

Ok, I need serious helpful answers. I have been suffering with Bob Noxious' noisy music for several weeks now. I have a box of ear plugs in my desk, but it is so much nicer not wearing them. One of Bob's speakers is pointed directly at me (though the partitions).
I'm in a bad mood today and as soon as he turns it on I'm going to feel like saying things I would regret afterwards.
It's possible that I'm the only one able to hear it. I have tried listening from inside my neighbors' cubicles, and have asked them to listen from mine. They agree it's pretty loud from here. The boss's office is nearby also, but the sound might not travel in his direction. He knows I've been wearing ear plugs but has not asked why.
I already complained about smoke several months ago, so I don't feel ready to complain and make a big deal about something else. Especially if it only affects me.
On the other hand, I think it's ridiculous that I have to be subjected to distracting noise for no reason.

The Real PC
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Time for some wire snips. :)

You really do have to say something if it is effecting you work. Otherwise you look like a bad programmer rather than a distracted programmer.

And smoke in the office? I assume you are not in the US then. I'm a smoker and even I would go ape if someone was smoking while I tried to work.

Marc
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

I'm in the US. But this office is so backwards they had a smoking room until 2 years ago (the day before I started, by chance).
Then the smokers started congregating right outside the IT department door. The smoke drifted in and everyone had to breath it all day, and we had to hold our breath while going in or out. I mentioned it to 2 managers and they said yes it's terrible everyone hates it, we're working on a solution. Months later they had held several meetings about it but the smokers were still out there happily smoking.
Finally I decided to put a sign on the door. In 5 minutes it was taken down by the facilities guy. The IT director put it back up and initialed it, and spoke to the smokers. They had one more meeting, and since then there has been no smoking outside the IT door.

The Real PC
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

_buy_ him some earphones.

constructive comment
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

That might work. But I suspect his reason for not wearing them is that he prefers not to, and he has none of the normal social instincts that would make you consider what others prefer.

The Real PC
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

It is management's responsibility to provide a productive workspace.  Playing music or any kind of radio through a speaker is something that shouldn't be allowed at all, even if you have private offices.  Unfortunately, most employers don't do well at this.  In any case, you need to determine the attitude of management.  The most appropriate thing to do would be to discuss the situation with your manager.  Don't just complain that BN's music is too loud.  Instead ask about workspace noise policies and ask why they allow speakers anywhere in the office.  The only appropriate policy for speakers is the same as for smoking.

The longer term solution is to find another employer.  This is not a good time to find a new job, but it is probably a good time to start looking.  It may take quite a few months to find what you want.  The ideal employer may not exist, but there are a very small number that stand out as distinctly better than the typical cubeland employer.

mackinac
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

< evil >
When Bob's away, put his music on pause, but turn the volume up to full.
< / evil >

TheWeasel
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

"I was told that I could listen to the radio at a reasonable volume..."

Joe Blandy
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

[The longer term solution is to find another employer. ]

It's hard to imagine anyone quitting a job because of a problem like this. Another place might be annoying in some other way. And you can't tell just from having an interview.
I liked this place, and still do, because of the somewhat academic environment, which lacks the hysterical pressure of what I imagine is your typical IT department in a private company.
The lack of rigid rules leads some individuals to take advantage. Life isn't perfect, and was never meant to be.

The Real PC
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

One thing they do make, but I have never seen in an office, is speakers that hang from the ceiling, with a clear plastic hemi-sphere attached.  The sound is focused downward, with remarkably little out-of-zone bleed.  The person under the bubble doesn't need to wear headphones, nobody else is bothered.

My father-in-law is deaf-ish, hates earphones.  The dish above his TV-watching chair helped save a 40-year marriage.

But short term, I'd ask vaguely what the music policy is.  If there isn't one, try to get one going.  Or, figure out what your most productive time is, and ask Mr. Noisy to avoid playing music then. 

Sample patter: "Mr. Noisy, normally I don't mind your music, but before lunch I tend to get into a zone where it's interfering with my work.  Would you mind keeping it down in the morning."

Contrary Mary
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

I don't see why or how I could figure out my most productive time. Ideally, I would be able to concentrate at any time, not just before Bob comes in, after he leaves, or when he's at a meeting.
I was very surprised when he started playing music. Maybe it was because he was moved from an office to a cubicle -- the only reason he had an office was that he's noisy, but eventually they needed office space for managers. Maybe he's trying to teach them a lesson for taking away his private office.
But I can't imagine why I should have to settle for a peace and quiet only part of the day.
By the way, it doesn't bother me at all if I hear people talking and I don't expect perfect quiet. This music is incredibly annoying to me.

The Real PC
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Have you talked with Bob about this?  It's possible he doesn't even know that it is bothering anyone.  Personally if I were in his position and you did something like go to the manager before talking to me I'd be rather upset.

Now if you've asked him to turn off/down the music before and he hasn't done it, then it is time for more drastic action

Mike McNertney
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

I spoke to him a while ago, maybe 2 months. He didn't seem to give a darn if it bothers anyone. If you knew him you would understand. At meetings he might bang a pen rythmically on the edge of the table.
I can't imagine any IT department where anyone can play whatever music they want.
Oh, that gives me an idea. What if I start playing music? Then when people start complaining I'll say it's just to drown out Bob's music.

The Real PC
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Isn't IT wonderful? 

On one hand you've got the folks who are essentially hermits.  And on the other hand you've got the folks who would suffer than rock the boat.... ;-)

I think you just need to say something to him again.  If it doesn't work, play some music of your own at an unreasonable volume.  Your turn to be the @$$hole ;-)  It's the only way to go if diplomacy fails.

HmMm
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

> with a clear plastic hemi-sphere attached

A parabolic bowl.

www.marktaw.com
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

I told him it was bothering me and he offerred to turn it down. I said if he can hear it so can I, because I'm very close. I said I can't think when his music is on. He turned it down a bit.
Tomorrow is blue grass day! I'm bringing in my CDs!

The Real PC
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Well, you have four options:

1. You can be a grown-up and speak to him about it. Maybe get him to point the speaker into someone else's cubicle, whatever...

2. You can be a pain, and speak to his boss.

3. You can be vindictive, and play your own music until someone institutes a strict headphone policy. Perhaps Johnny Cash's version of "I won't back down" over and over again... or "Bridge Over Troubled Water"!

4. You can quietly suffer.

I'd go for #3, but that's just me. (In fact, I have gone for #3 in the past, and it worked)

Gustavo W.
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

> I'd go for #3, but that's just me.

Don't forget singing along.

Seriously though, he might not like headphones, but he really should be able to deal with headphones in the work environment. Offer to buy him a nice set of headphones if he promises to use them.

The Sony MDR-7506 is a good closed set (i.e. sound doesn't leak in or out) that sounds good and runs around $100. For a $100 pair of headphones, I'd be kind to my cubicle neighbor. Or if, as you may have said before, he's paranoid of not being able to hear around him, the Grado SR80 runs around the same price (and the SR40 and 60 are cheaper). When I put my SR80's on I hear no difference in the noise around me, no muffling whatsoever.

www.marktaw.com
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

You would really spend $100 to buy headphones for someone just because they are inconsiderate and annoying? If I'm going to spend $100 on a gift I would rather spend it on someone I like who has been nice to me.
Maybe I'm just mean.

The Real PC
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

How about $40

http://froogle.google.com/froogle?q=grado+sr40

I would consider it an act of good will.

Obviously you've all read "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People" and have taken it's lessons to heart.

www.marktaw.com
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

I'm not being inconsderate and alienating people. I'm not doing anything to bother anyone.
If I spent $100 on him do you think that would make him considerate?
Anyway he has headphones.

The Real PC
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Not you, the other posters here with the malicious ideas.

www.marktaw.com
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

I think it's malicious to play music in an office even if you know it's bothering someone. I told him it's preventing me from thinking, and then I said "but that probably doesn't matter." Either he agrees that it doesn't matter if I can think or not, or it just doesn't matter to him.
Now I have to decide if I should speak to the boss. Obviously he can't hear it or doesn't mind, or he would have done something already. If it turns out the boss doesn't care if I can think or not, then I guess I shouldn't be here anyway.
I can use ear plugs but I get tired of that all day every day.

The Real PC
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

> If I spent $100 on him do you think that would make him considerate?

There are too many variables to say definately, mostly involving your presentation & his level of paranoia. If he thinks you're doing it just to get him to stay quiet (damnit!) then he'll resent the gift.

If you can swing "Hey, I know you like music, and I heard these were good headphones. I'm hoping we can come to some sort of comprimise where you use these, which are probably better than your computer speakers, and I get to sit in quiet," then it might work.

It comes off as even less self-serving if you can do it for an event, like his birthday, or a holiday he celebrates, and his isn't the only "gift" you have, but at this point we're getting silly with the money spending.

www.marktaw.com
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Have you tried headphones of your own with some music you're not opposed to? Maybe just some pink noise type stuff like "rainforest sounds" or "ocean waves" if you can't concentrate with the music.

There's also the possibility that what's annoying you is his attitude and not the music - when you hear the music is it the music that makes you annoyed, or the fact that he's still listening to it? I.e. if a car in the street passed with the same music, would it also distract you?

www.marktaw.com
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Given that (a) you've talked to him already, (b) the problem still exists, and (c) it bothers you enough that you've brought it up on JOS twice now, it looks to me like it's well past time to involve your and/or his supervisor. Never mind that you've spoken up about the smoking before. Never mind not wanting to rock the boat or look like a complainer. It bothers you, and prevents you from doing your work (obviously, because you're posting here <grin>), so it needs to be resolved.

Martha
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

[if a car in the street passed with the same music, would it also distract you?]

Yes it would. I would be glad after the car passed, and that I didn't have to listen to it all day.
On the other hand, his attitude also bothers me. Also the fact that I can't get away from it, also the fact that no one cares, and that I hardly got any work done today.
My boss was busy with other things and didn't notice how much I did. Otherwise I could have been in trouble. And I hate it when I can't get anything done, not just because I'm afraid of getting in trouble. I hate being at work and wasting the whole day and having all the work pile up for the next day.

The Real PC
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

It's always better to be busy than to be idle.

Try asking him one more time, and then telling him you're going to go to the boss about it, and then do it.

www.marktaw.com
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

[It's always better to be busy than to be idle.]

No, not always. But it sucks to get nothing done when you're getting paid and you need the job. And it sucks to be idle when you're listening to music you hate.
There is nothing wrong with being idle when you have a chance to relax and do not have a list of things that are supposed to be finished some day. I am not here to avoid being idle -- I have no trouble finding things to do and if I didn't have to be here I would be doing something. But I have to be here (I guess) and I have to get things done and today was wasted.

The Real PC
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

1) Ask him to please keep it down or buy some headphones.
2) Ask him would he please keep his music down or buy some headphones
3) Headphones are only $15 at Best Buy - would you please go buy some?

4) Spend $8:
http://www.fogdog.com/product/index.jsp?productId=841303

I'm absolutely serious. If he's going to act like a rodent, treat him like one. Mind you, this takes some judgement on your part - will your boss and coworkers laugh? If so, go for it. And keep doing it until he gets the point.

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

What had worked for me in these situations is finding a conference room and working there.  Inevitably someone asks what I'm doing there.  The secret is that it makes me seem like I'm doing whatever it takes to get my job done, even inconveniencing myself to not make any waves.  Of course I have to explain it in a logical "What can I do?" tone.  With the teeniest hint of passive-aggressiveness.

This might not lead to change, but it sets people up to be understanding if I start complaining.  People like saying, "Well, Sammy's been putting up with it for a while I guess."  I think technical people act too discretely, when our actions should be more continuous.

sammy
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

"I told him it's preventing me from thinking, and then I said "but that probably doesn't matter.""

you told him that you had a problem and _then_ told him that it didn't matter?

for gods sakes talk to the lad and tell him that you cannot think because of his music and that it _does_ matter and that you would like him to use headphones or turn the music off please.

be polite, firm and be willing to get angry if necessary.

sometimes confrontation isn't a terrible thing....if you were one of my employees and you told me what you have told us Id tell you to grow up and deal with him yourself....if he _then_ refused to respond I might consider getting involved, but until you actually tell him you have a problem and it does matter I personally would consider you to be a helpless wimp of a person who is not worth keeping around.
if you cant handle that small level of confrontation, how would you deal with something important?  like telling me the truth about schedules, or how easy/hard it would be to implement a feature, or how long something would take or anything that you are scared I might respond badly too.

employees that are scared of confrontation waste my time and their own.....how many months and you have not yet actually told him to _stop playing music please_?

FullNameRequired
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

When I told Bob Noxious his music prevents me from thinking, but that doesn't really matter, that was supposed to be interpreted as sarcastic repressed rage.

I'm not afraid of confronting anyone. But my boss has told me I'm supposed to talk to him about problems. Since I already complained about smoke this year I was hoping I could reason with Bob and not have to bother my boss.
And although I'm not afraid of anyone I don't like working in an office where people hate me, so I try to be on good, or at least not bad, terms with everyone.

I spent the whole day trying to figure out if the music was really intolerable or was I in a less tolerant mood and easily distracted. But the feeling of relief and relaxation that comes over me the minute the music stops is a sign that it really is bad. Of course it's worse if I'm in a tired and distracted mood to begin with. But once I get started I'm usually fine -- but not today. The music -- which sounded like pots and pans banging (not loud, but very insistent) just blocked my concentration every time it got started.

The Real PC
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

"that was supposed to be interpreted as sarcastic repressed rage."

so maybe he is a person who misses sarcasm....I have known them.
Instead of being so passive-aggressive, why not try using a non-sarcastic, unrepressed direct request.
If that fails, move up to non-sarcastic, unrepressed anger.
If _that_ fails take it to your boss.

anything less than that process is a waste of everyones time and amounts to you sitting around whinging to yourself _but not telling anyone direectly that something is bothering you)

FullNameRequired
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

I agree wholeheartedly with FullNameRequired.

Except I wouldn't say "please".

By the way, you may be suprised how much respect people gain for you when you hold them to account when they've done something wrong.

For example, one guy I worked with was despised by everyone because he was very difficult to work with and he had a long history of antagonizing people. Including me.

One day he willfully messed up something I was working on, and I strode over to his cubicle and yelled a long and extremely abusive instruction to never do that again (I will not repeat it here, what with it being a family forum and all). He never, ever bothered me again - in fact it's quite possible that I was the only guy at work that he actually showed any deference to after that.

Of course, such tactics should be used sparingly and only on the thoroughly deserving.

Rob
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

I don't think he's trying to be mean, just stupid and self-centered.

I thought about sending this email to my boss tomorrow. Does it sound too angry or sarcastic?

Is there any chance that I can move? I am
closer to Bob Noxious than anyone else
and I sometimes find his music
distracting.
(He does not want to use headphones).
I didn't want to complain and have tried
ear plugs. I'm not usually bothered by
noise, but there is something about this
music that interferes with my ability
to concentrate, especially since it's on
all day every day. If I complain he
turns it down but I can hear it almost
as well as he can, because I'm so close.
Maybe there is someone who wouldn't
mind listening to Bob's music all the
time.

The Real PC
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

wow, talk about passive/aggressive.

makes me want to kick you myself :)

If I received that particular email from an employee the first thing Id ask you is whether you had approached the man directly.
Youd say yes, I implied that I was unhappy and would like him to change his habit, but he ignored me.
Id ask exactly what you said to him.
Youd tell me what you've told us.
Id tell you to approach him directly and never to imply anything again.
You wouldn't because you obviously dont have the balls.
You would go on being unhappy, and would develop an attitude problem. (because I hadn't helped you)
Id get fed up and fire you.
The entire office would breath a sigh of relief and beg me to get someone who actually says what they mean and doesn't deal in subtleties, innuendo, implications and 'complaining to the boss'

If _you_ do not care enough about this problem to attempt to deal with it directly, why should anyone else?

FullNameRequired
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

marktaw, would you be willing to buy the $100 headphones for Real PC  to give to Bob? That would be real neighborly of you.

Miss Manners
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

FullnameRequired is totally completely right. And I might say that FullNameRequired is a boss worth working for.

Real PC, stop being such a whiney wuss. Grow some testicles for goodness sake. Confronting people is just part of life. There is no reason for this to go on month after month.

Tell Bob, "Bob, the music bothers me." [Not *sometimes* bothers you, but *bothers* you. Don't be so darn wishy washy.] "Bob, I need for you to stop playing music through speakers. Use headphones if you must, but no more with the speakers. OK?"

At this point the only acceptable answer is, "Gosh PC, I didn't realize that. I will start using headphones right away." If he later 'forgets', then remind him, "Bob, you agreed not to use the speakers any more. Is there a problem?"

If at this point he won't do anything, then go to the boss: "Boss, Bob's music drives me to distraction. He needs to wear headphones, or one of us needs to get a private office or move to a different cubicle so I can concentrate on finishing project X. I told him to stop using the speakers and he point blank refused. What can you do to help me out here so I can get my work done?"

At this point, Boss will solve the problem. If he doesn't then you have these options:

1. "Boss, I switched my cubicle last night with Sue. Sue, you like music doncha?"
2. "Boss, I moved your stuff into my cubicle and I'm taking your office since you like Bob's music so much."
3. "Boss, I'm resigning and moving to greener pastures where I can get some work done."
4. "Boss, I'm filing a disability claim with the state - my psychiatrist says bob's music has driven bme into a state of endo-cerebral apoplexy and I will never be fit to work again. You'll be recieving a letter from the Law Offices of Shaftim and Howe requesting a settlement for Mental Anguish at the hands of an abusive corporation."

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

I agree with Dennis, which means I agree with FullNameRequired.

If this guy were my neighbor, I don't think it would've gotten to this point, and now I'm not going to buy Real PC $100 headphones to give to his neighbor that he's not dealing with. I think Real PC and a lot of the people posting to this thread are passive/aggressive.

www.marktaw.com
Thursday, July 03, 2003

Nobody like my idea? I don't think it's passive/aggressive...

Philo

Philo
Thursday, July 03, 2003

hi philo,


"1) Ask him to please keep it down or buy some headphones."

thats a good one :)


2) Ask him would he please keep his music down or buy some headphones

a good alternate plan, Id try this before (1) personally..

3) Headphones are only $15 at Best Buy - would you please go buy some?

this would be worth trying.....prolly, as you have suggested, after the first 2/

4) Spend $8:
http://www.fogdog.com/product/index.jsp?productId=841303

smacks of genius :)

<g> the only problem would be that the other chappie apparently has a higher noise tolerance anyway......my grandpa would have said
(if he had been living in texas instead of new zealand and had ever heard of porcupines)
"never get into an ass-kicking competition with a porcupine"

FullNameRequired
Thursday, July 03, 2003

Passive aggressive, no way! ;P

I had to go thru politics for a while, and I think I learned alot.  I absolutely Refuse to do that again, but it made me more complete, and the subject is entertaining now.  Real PC is in a very political situation and a little passive aggression is how I'd handle it because it's Useful.  I don't think it plays to his/her strengths, but it's just my opinion.

Plus, I kinda liked working in conference rooms.  Laptops, VNC, wireless...  I just sort of treated politics as another problem to solve patiently.  Now, it killed my productivity, but that's what happens.

sammy
Thursday, July 03, 2003

I'm the only one it bothers (because I am much closer than anyone else). It's outrageous for anyone to play rock music in an IT office. If my boss wants me to work efficiently (and that's the big question) he will simply tell Bob shut off the music and that will be the end of the problem.
I might be passive/aggessive, I don't know. I am extremely angry but for obvious reasons I can't have a temper tantrum at work. Why am I so angry? Because I like to feel I'm doing a good job, it's very important to me. I think my boss can sympathize with that, because he should want me to do a good job also.
What I don't understand is why my boss has not already figured this out. Although he might not hear the music inside his office he walks right past it all the time.
But people don't waste energy trying to figure out what might be bothering someone else. Why should they? That's why I think I should let him know.
I tried reasoning with Bob twice. Almost anyone on earth would have immediately stopped playing music if they even suspected it bothered anyone. Maybe I wasn't direct enough with him but I think I stated the facts. I can hear your music, even if you turn it down, and it bothers me. I don't have any authority over him so I don't see any way I can force him to do anything.
I'm not asking my boss to tell Bob to shut off the music (but I'm pretty sure he will). I'm just asking him if I can move.

The Real PC
Thursday, July 03, 2003

Either The Real PC is caught in a very nasty case of office politics, or his social skills need brushing up a bit.

A few weeks ago, our neighbours started playing loud music at 4am. I went round there and politely told them that I was trying to get some sleep. I also mentioned that I used to play loud music when I was at college, and I didn't actually mind their music per se, just the hour of day the chose to play it. They stopped.

I think your problem is you feel the only way you can express your opinion is to have an argument about it. Perhaps you're normally introverted and don't like confrontations from people, particularly since you feel more comfortable ranting on about the problems with your coworkers on this board.

Do you think Bob is smarter than you? Is he more experienced? Do you think he's the boss' pet employee? Honestly, people are not _all_ thugs - it's just a question of getting through to them on their wavelength. If you can't do it yourself, you'll need to get somebody to do it for you, and it doesn't look like there is anyone.

Have you tried asking the people around you if they're fed up with the loud music? If they are then maybe you can all club together on this issue, which will probably make it more likely for one of you to take some action. Unless you just turn into a group of introverted developers whinging, which isn't altogether impossible.

I wonder if Bob's introverted too and choses loud music as a way of closing off from the rest of the world?

Better Than Being Unemployed...
Thursday, July 03, 2003

I already explained that I am MUCH closer, geographically, to Bob's cubicle than anyone else. I will not be able to organize a group.

Bob is not smarter or more valued than I am. He is known for being loud and obnoxious, and that's why he used to have a private office (as I explained above).

I am sort of introverted. I want to be appreciated for my intelligence and hard work, not my schmooze skills. On the other hand, I'm probably known for being nice and somewhat friendly. As as for politics, I absolutely suck at it.

Why do I rant at this board? Because you don't know who I am or where I work. It's better than kicking the cat (I don't have a cat anyway).

The Real PC
Thursday, July 03, 2003

What sort of "IT" work do you? Development? Test? Repairing PCs and the phones? Clearly nothing customer facing, as nobody would tolerate loud music there?

It may be that Bob considers it perfectly normal to have loud music in his work environment, particuarly if he's just out of college. Additionally, he might be annoyed that his ruse to get an office by playing loud music all the time has now backfired because he's been kicked out and put in a cubicle, and hence is quite happy to rip anyone's head off who dares question his environment.

You'll never know for sure unless you get both of your feelings out in the open, though. You can be as nice and helpful as possible, but there's always going to be people who completely disagree with you.

Better Than Being Unemployed...
Thursday, July 03, 2003

Find help

http://www.nonoise.org/

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, July 03, 2003

Bob is in his 60s at least.
We are programmers and the department was reorganized last winter so the programmer/developers would have a quiet area. Bob was kicked out of his office to make room for a new manager. He's only been here about 5 years.

The Real PC
Thursday, July 03, 2003

Hmmm. Friendly, wants to be known for his intelligence, doesn't confront challenges immediately... You sound like me, Real PC. You have to learn to confront challenges, and ask for what you want without being so demure people don't take you seriously, that was one of the lessons I had to learn in life. People aren't going to recognize some inner quality if you keep quiet about it all the time, and people aren't going to be able to intuit what you want.

Plenty of people have said to me "I'm not psychic, how am I supposed to know what you want?" so I'm guessing that's how people feel about you too.

www.marktaw.com
Thursday, July 03, 2003

"Obviously you've all read 'How to Lose Friends and Alienate People' and have taken it's lessons to heart."

I *love* that book! A friend gave it to me for my birthday a while back.

I haven't heard from her in a while... you don't suppose there was some kind of message there, do you?

Gustavo W.
Thursday, July 03, 2003

>>> We are programmers and the department was reorganized last winter so the programmer/developers would have a quiet area. <<<

So management had a good idea at least.  Now the implementation is broken; the work area is not quiet.  You know about it, but instead of informing management of a problem, you just post to JOS to complain about it.

mackinac
Thursday, July 03, 2003

[instead of informing management of a problem, you just post to JOS to complain about it.]

No, the idea is to post to JOS to release most of the anger, and then speak to management once I have calmed down and can be rational. That's one of the ways I use forums like this -- is that ok? You can ignore my posts if you want. I spend less time boring friends with the problem, and by the time I speak to management I have thought enough about it and have heard some other opinions.

The Real PC
Friday, July 04, 2003

Real PC, sounds like you're caught in the crossfire of a battle between Bob and the manager. Your manager probably wonders how you can stand the loud music.

The problem isn't yours to solve; it's for your manager. You don't have authority to do the necessary negotiation and make the necessary changes.

What you need to do is tell your manager there's a big problem, and don't be backward about it. He knows all about it. Don't, however, blame Bob, who is getting stuffed around here too. Just say you can't do any work with all the noise. Full stop. Fix it.

With Bob, you should see him as a fellow traveller, and try to talk to him about his problem - the uppity junior manager who stole his office. Have coffee with Bob. Share his concerns about idiot managers.

Bob might even respect your proximity as a result of this, but in any case, you won't feel so put upon if Bob is a colleague, and I would say that's what he is.

Good luck, Real PC.

Must be a manager
Friday, July 04, 2003

[the uppity junior manager who stole his office. Have coffee with Bob. Share his concerns about idiot managers.]

Oh no that's not how it is at all! I do not feel any alliance with Bob against the managers.
They gave him an office originally because his neighbors couldn't stand all the noise. It was ridiculous for him to have an office while a hard-working and motivated manager who needed an office had a cubicle instead.
If I sympathized with Bob against the managers I would be lying. They were absolutely right to take his office. He shows no signs of motivation or caring about work and now I know he doesn't care much about people either.

The Real PC
Friday, July 04, 2003

From what you've said, Bob doesn't give a damn about anybody else.  Therefore, communication that leaves Bob any wiggle room whatsoever will have no effect, as you've already discovered.  Sarcasm only works on people who (a) can detect it (I often can't), and (b) care.  Otherwise, it falls on (sorry, can't resist the pun) deaf ears.  Buying him headphones also falls into this category, because he can just find something wrong with them and stick them in a drawer -- and get the added satisfaction of wasting your money in the process.  Basically, he's free to ignore the message because the way it gets delivered leaves an open question as to whether you had a message at all.

However, air horns (much as I like them, and have a rechargeable one on both of my bicycles) won't solve the problem (and will probably make things worse due to the 'splash damage' inflicted on everyone within 100 feet), nor will yelling, brandishing sticks or katanas, "growing testicles" (and thank you, whoever said that, for the lovely dose of sexism!), destroying his equipment, or generally carrying on cranky.  This kind of message also has two components:  message ("leave the speakers off") and noise ("do what I want or I'll hurt you.")  Again, Bob is free to ignore the message, but this time because you delivered it in a threatening way -- and worse, he now has further ammunition against you, which could get you in trouble with HR.

Essentially, you have to deliver the message by itself, as simply and directly as possible.  Identify the behavior, state why it causes a problem, and present a solution.  "Hi.  Your music keeps me from doing my job.  Please use headphones."  Then -- and this is the important part -- STOP TALKING. Further embellishment is not necessary.

Think of it as a continuum, and stick to the middle:
passive-aggressiveness < assertiveness < aggressiveness

If that doesn't work, deliver the same message (change the pronouns, of course) to your boss.  You could add, to your boss, that you didn't want to complain because you felt like you'd already rocked the boat with the smoking, but make sure you follow this statement with "but that didn't work, and my work is suffering because of it."  Otherwise you get sidetracked into rehashing the smoking debate, which in all likelihood, your boss has forgotten about.

Sam Livingston-Gray
Friday, July 04, 2003

Real PC, OK. It's still a problem for your manager, though. You won't be able to fix it. I think this advice needs to go to your manager.

It sounds like Bob may have enjoyed some sort of implied privilege as a result of his age and, to be honest, I don't that is wrong. I imagine it is the junior manager who has asserted a demand to that space, and that's what Bob is complaining about.

Must be a manager
Friday, July 04, 2003

[I imagine it is the junior manager who has asserted a demand to that space, and that's what Bob is complaining about.]

No, that's not what happened. When I said "new" manager I did not mean junior manager. Bob's only qualification for having an office was that he is obnoxious and noisy and inconsiderate. The new manager needed an office.

The Real PC
Friday, July 04, 2003

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