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How to Deal With a Loud Coworker

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One of the biggest frustrations of having a job is having to deal with coworkers—especially loud, brash, obnoxious and disrespectful ones. When you're trying to get your work done in peace and quiet, the last thing you need is to be around someone who could not seem to care less about your productivity and comfort. Take a stand and avoid letting a rude and noisy coworker negatively impact your work performance.

Purchase earplugs. One easy and non-confrontational way to deal with a loud coworker is by blocking out the noise. Earplugs are inexpensive and drown out unwanted sounds in the office, whether it is your babbling coworker's voice, his chewing of gum or his blasting of heavy metal music. To create even more aural distance between yourself and your loud coworker, use earbud headphones to listen to some of your favorite tunes.

Establish a "quiet time" signal. Tactfully yet firmly tell your coworker that when things are especially hectic or busy for you, you will need "quiet time" in the office. Let him know that when you need things to be really quiet, you will place a signal on your cubicle wall, such as a red "stop" sign. The sign should indicate to your noisy coworker (and others in the office) that you do not wish to receive any distractions.

Avoid giving your coworker attention. When a person constantly behaves in a loud, attention-seeking manner, what she most likely wants is to get a rise or reaction out of others around her. Extinguish your coworker's loud behavior purely by refusing to acknowledge it. If she flies past your cubicle yelling the latest gossip from the other department, keep your eyes glued to your desk in front of you. If she asks you something directly, keep all of your responses as brief as possible.

Speak with your coworker. Although talking with your coworker might feel kind of awkward, direct communication is often worth it in the end—after all, no one is a mind reader. Request to speak to your coworker privately. Talk to her in a courteous, yet firm manner. Detail to her your biggest woes when it comes to her noise level. Let her know that the loudness is seriously preventing you from being able to work well. If your issue is with her long and loud phone calls, let her know. If the problem is with her extremely loud music, tell her. Be as clear as possible. Offer a solution if you can. Say something like, "I don't mind if you talk on the phone occasionally, but I would really appreciate it if you could do so at a quieter volume."

Contact your supervisor or your company's human resources department. If your noisy coworker's behavior is truly out of hand and you see no signs of it letting up, alert your boss or an HR professional about the matter confidentially. Tell the person that you have tried everything to no avail, and that the noise level is stopping you from being able to concentrate fully on your work.


If you need some quick time away from a loud coworker, request the temporary use of a quiet and unoccupied office or conference room elsewhere. This technique can be especially beneficial if you need to finish something important before a deadline.