I have a job working in an office. I have worked here for about five months.
I really like the job, except for one thing. The coworker that works in the cubicle next to mine never stops humming.
We aren’t allowed to listen to music at our desks. He hums all day. He is a good worker, and he seems to be a nice guy, although I don’t know him well.
I don’t want to come across as a jerk, but it is really getting on my nerves to hear him humming all day. It is very distracting.
I really don’t know what to do. I don’t want to be rude, and I don’t want to cause trouble in my office, especially since I am rather new here.
What do you think? Should I say something to him?
Signed, Distracted Worker
Dear Distracted Worker,
As I see it, you have three options. The first one is to tune him out. This may mean that you need to get earplugs or put cotton in your ears. Or, practice on really focusing on your work, and not letting outside noise distract you.
The second option is to confront him. You won’t sound like a jerk if you are sincere and kindly in your request. You could say something like, “I really hate to bother you with this, but sometimes when you hum, it’s distracting to me. I wonder if you could try not to hum?”
It is possible that it is a rather unconscious habit, and that he doesn’t realize he is humming so much. He may be surprised, and agree to try and curb it. Or, as you are afraid of, he may be a bit offended.
The third option is to do an end run. In other words, don’t confront him directly, but go to your supervisor and let him or her know of the situation. You may actually be speaking for other coworkers that don’t have the nerve to bring it up to the boss.
Let your supervisor know that he seems like a really good guy, and you don’t want to offend him, but that the constant humming is very distracting to you.
Ask your boss to please speak to your coworker, and to keep it confidential that you had brought this issue to him or her.
Before you decide which option to take, think of your office dynamics, and determine which one seems to have the most chance for success. Good luck!
Dear Readers, please send your questions to: Dear Marilyn c/o Garden Grove Journal, 12866 Main St. #203, Garden Grove, Ca. 92844.