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what do you do when people talk behind you?

I'm sitting in a cubicle near the door to the hallway.  Just about everyday 2 or 3 people stop right behind me and start talking loudly.  Seldom does it have anything to do with work.  I try to make it obvious that it's very distracting, but they never notice or simply don't care.    It pisses me off, 1 that they do it and 2 that the people who do it have an office with a door not 10 steps away.  What would you do?

rich on the run
Friday, June 04, 2004

YOU DAMN IT COMPLAINER!  THERE ARE PEOPLE WORKING IN SWEATSHOPS IN ASIA!

.
Friday, June 04, 2004

Well, what do they do when people are talking behind them then? 

Sheesh.

Joe Blandy
Friday, June 04, 2004

They eat them for dinner and call it tasty, because it's the only meal they get all day AND YOU COMPLAIN ABOUT SOUR MILK YOU UNGRATEFUL BASTARD!!!!!

.
Friday, June 04, 2004

In what ways do you make it obvious?

Tut, huff and puff = not obvious

"Excuse me, could you talk somewhere else because your distracting me" = obvious.

Ged Byrne
Friday, June 04, 2004

Scream obscenities... but that's me.

_
Friday, June 04, 2004

and you know what?  they're always business people.  i hate uneducated, ignorant, rude business people.

anon
Friday, June 04, 2004

I bring in a boom mox and play annoying rap music. When I get asked to turn it down, I say 'take it up with the boss'. When boss comes by, I say 'drowning out he noise of their yakking is the only way I can get any work done, boss." At this time, boss tells them to keep it down.

Donnie G.
Friday, June 04, 2004

I had that once. I was trying to get some stuff done onsite at a client's office and was unfortunate enough to be sharing the open plan office with a couple of women who exercised their extremely loud voices and laugh all day, mostly talking about soap operas and how to cook potato wedges.

I sent an email to the project sponsors stating that it was impossible to work there and that I was going home for the day (it was only mid-morning).

Strangely, the next day I had a call to say that they had set up a nice quiet, private office for me to use.

The moral of the story is, if you don't complain to the right people, nothing will ever change. Just complaining in general makes you look like a loser.

Steve Jones (UK)
Friday, June 04, 2004

Just fart real loud.  That should do it.  Repeat if necessary.


Friday, June 04, 2004

Some interesting, albeit self-destructive, advice given here...

Is it too hard to just stand up, tell them that they are distracting you and politely ask them to take their conversation elsewhere?

Mark Hoffman
Friday, June 04, 2004

right, tutting, huffing and puffing are ineffective.  When I asked, perhaps not as politely as I could have, but not rude either. I said "This conversation doesn't really involve me and I'm trying to concentrate on something and it's really hard, can you please talk somewhere else?"  I was scolded.  "That was a deputy division director we were speaking to and that wasn't a good thing to say to him". 

rich on the run
Friday, June 04, 2004

We maintain office space at one of our (more important) client sites.

We have a couple offices with a door.  Nearly every day that we are in the office, one of our client's staff will decide to come to talk to us (in one of our offices).  Unfortunately, our offices are near the front door, and across from the board room.  Inevitably, someone on the way to or from the washroom or a meeting will see this staff member (who is already interrupting...), remember that they must speak to them right *now*, and start having a meeting in our office.

We usually say something along the lines of "please have your meeting in another room since it is very difficult to concentrate on our work while you are talking".  Which almost always ends with the original person saying: "oh, but I was coming to talk to you..."

Net Result: Complete distraction.  And said client wonders why we often have the door closed or work from another location...

I feel your pain
Friday, June 04, 2004

Nothing will help. People talk loudly so everyone can hear their keen insights and what a great job they're doing, and the more cubes around and the more crowded the area, the more likely they are to talk only there.

Cubist
Friday, June 04, 2004

Put up a sign.
Email them politely.
Ask to be moved.
Listen to music.

Record their conversations and put them on
the intranet :-)

son of parnas
Friday, June 04, 2004

Depends on your relationship/statuswith and in the company.  Personally, I just tell them that "people are trying to work around here" or (more fun) "get a room".  They generally get the hint that they are disrupting us. 

I doubt that this would work everywhere but it works for me.

O Canader
Friday, June 04, 2004

You put a mirror on the floor behind you and look up their skirts.

This never fails, though it will get you the reputation of being weird, and if caught arrested.

Alternatively, you could just ask them to go away, give you some peace, or whatever mild rebuke you think of.

There is on surefire way of not having it happen though and that's to open a thread on here asking people about it and expecting anything sensible.

Simon Lucy
Friday, June 04, 2004


"That was a deputy division director we were speaking to and that wasn't a good thing to say to him".  "

Deputy Division Director? LMAO!! Well, golly gee Yogi, looky there..It's the Deputy Division Director!

What a stupid title.

Anyway, you should have reminded Mr. Deputy Tiny Penis that while his conversation might have been important, someone such as enormously powerful as a Deputy Division Director surely has a private office where he can spin tales of fighting villians all day long.

You, on the other hand, are just a peon and you need some quiet and would like The Supreme Deputy to take his banter elsewhere.

X
Friday, June 04, 2004

>Just fart real loud.  That should do it.  Repeat if necessary.

I concur with th epersone who said the above statement. Make sure you eat boilled eggs and lots of bean ...lol..

De Napoli Le fou Hawari
Friday, June 04, 2004

Kick him right between the knees.

Kevin Kershaw
Friday, June 04, 2004

I had this problem at my last job.  There was one person in particular (the CFO, in fact), who was like a bull in a china shop.  And all her people worked down the hall from her, so they would constantly be holding conversations in common space, or worse yet, shouting down the hall at each other.

On many occasions I had to politely ask her to keep the noise level down, after her conversations had gone on for several minutes.  Once I also kindly reminded her that she had an office, with a door, whereas I and others working in the common space did not.  I spoke to my boss about the ongoing problem as well.

The end result of my efforts?  Absolutely nothing.  Except that she decided to think I just didn't like her, which created tension, which actually caused me not to like her.  In the end, I left because the work environment was so displeasing (due partially to that, but also because of other issues).  Much happier now :)

If you've tried all of the above with no success, you might try talking to your HR person.  This kind of thing (work environment issues and employee relations) is exactly what they are there for.  In my case it didn't help, because it was a very small company and the political quagmire was dumbfounding.  But it may work for you.  However, be prepared for some lashback: you'll be pegging the individuals in question as chatty and unproductive, which they won't be thanking you for ;-)

Joe
Friday, June 04, 2004

Why didn't you say so.  If it was somebody as important as the deputy division director what you should have done was make them coffee and offer to clean their shoes.

Personally I like the senior management to have their day to day meetings out in the open.  That way, when they do huddle into an office and close the door you know that redundancies are coming.

Ged Byrne
Friday, June 04, 2004

1. Mark the times of the beginning and the end of the conversation
2. Add 15 minutes (see Peopleware)
3. Multiply this with the number of employees in the same room (except those who are talking)
4. Multiply the sum with (average vage + overhead)
5. Create a huge banner: "Congratulations! The company just lost $xxxx.xx"

.
Friday, June 04, 2004

Very simple solution: Join in.

They look at you funny to start with. But after a while they'll either learn not to have conversations there or to value your input.

It's no use asking them not to. They'll have some perfectly rational explaination as to why they have to have it there. Or they'll huff themselves up and be More Important than you.

Katie Lucas
Friday, June 04, 2004

The best suggestions are Katie's, above, to join in, and Steve Jones' heading home and leaving the reason.

The first confronts the arrogance and attempt to assert power that's involved in having a meeting in someone else's work space.

It forces the participants to accept the speaker as an equal or be explicit that they're asserting power, which can't be done politely. Hence it deters them from holding meetings in that location.

The second imposes a cost on the loud talkers, since they may be held accountable for the changed work situation of the programmer. This forces them or management to explicitly claim superior status, which can't be justified just for a meeting.


Friday, June 04, 2004

If only going home and leaving a note were that easy :(  I think I'd have gotten in much worse trouble for that than the co-workers who were being inconsiderate, heh...

Joining in is a good suggestion though...

Joe
Friday, June 04, 2004

What the hell?

What is the big frickin' deal with asking (nicely) if they could shut the door, talk quieter, or move the conversation?

It's worked every time I've tried it.

People don't hold discussions in the open just out of malice; they simply aren't aware that they're bothering anyone.  So make them aware -- politely.  They'll stop.  Really they will.

Alyosha`
Friday, June 04, 2004

Thow something at them, preferably water, food, or excrement.

Sassy
Friday, June 04, 2004

Alyosha, not all workplaces contain well meaning professional people like Microsoft.


Friday, June 04, 2004


What? Alyosha`, do you work with Microsoft?

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Friday, June 04, 2004

Air horn.

Wally
Friday, June 04, 2004

"People don't hold discussions in the open just out of malice; they simply aren't aware that they're bothering anyone"

No, they DO know it, and they do it because at that moment they think their conversation and their world is very important to the business and other people in the area should be aware of it.

Cubist
Friday, June 04, 2004

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