Here's exactly what to say to quiet a noisy coworker -- without being rude

Worker wearing headphonesLachlan Hardy/Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0You can be assertive while still being nice.

We’re all adults here. If someone’s being so loud that you can’t concentrate on your work, tell them.

Tell them, you say? Like, go up to them and communicate my feelings instead of subtly scowling in their direction and hoping they eventually take the hint?


To help ease the anxiety around this totally normal adult behaviour, we consulted Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, an etiquette and civility expert and the author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom.”

Randall advised against saying something like, “Hey, could you keep it down?”

That phrasing, she said, sounds more like a command than a request. And unless the loud coworker is your best bud, it could be perceived as an affront.

Instead, you’ll want to walk over to their desk and say something like, “You know, I have never been able to concentrate unless it’s totally silent. And I know that’s unrealistic … but can I ask you, for the next couple hours, while I’m working on this project, would you keep it down for me? I’d really appreciate it.”

When those couple hours are up, come back and thank them.

You might also want to soften the request further by saying, “I know we work in these close quarters — if there’s anything I do that disrupts you, please feel free to tell me.”

Whatever you say, try to do it in private. If you work in an open office, your comments might be overheard by the rest of the staff and the offending coworker might wind up embarrassed.

Chances are good that your coworker will be more than happy to oblige — and you’ll have scored one more point in the grown-up professional department.

NOW WATCH: Never say these 6 things to your boss

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.