Can You Turn Down The Volume, Please?

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According to a survey I am conducting for an article on workplace habits, earplugs would be a welcome addition to the employee supply cabinet. One of the most frequent complaints to the question, “What three things do your co-workers do that drive you crazy?” was all about communication.

Some recent articles and media stories would have you believe that employees are mostly sequestered in their cubicles glued to their computer screens communicating over Facebook and Twitter. Or, they are transfixed on the little screen of their Smart Phones, constantly texting their friends. No so, according to my survey results. Instead, they are gathering in groups in all kinds of places, chatting and gossiping with the volume turned way up. They may be communicating with each other, but they are irritating the pants off their co-workers. Here are some of the complaints:

1. Speaking too loudly. It seems that even though people are gathered around the water cooler, the snack machines or copier, they are talking as if they were across the room from each other.
2. Talking about nothing. Some people actually go to work to WORK! Others seem to love to hear the sound of their own voice describing in detail everything they did and said from the moment they left work the day before until they arrived that morning. Not only is it a waste of time, it isn’t even interesting or instructive.
3. Interrupting. Nothing is more irritating than to have someone ask you a question and then constantly be interrupted when you are trying to give an answer. It may be a lack of ability to focus or incessant mind-wandering, but it is sure to be rude. If you come to someone asking for advice or help, give them the courtesy (and the floor) to give their opinion before chiming in with your own. If you seem to know all the answers, why did you seek them out in the first place?
4. Gossiping. Who said or did what to who isn’t of interest to everyone. Most of the office rumors or scandals aren’t even true. A comment that is passed down the office grapevine turns into vinegar more often than fine wine. By the time it is passed around, it usually has no similarity to the original message. Gossipers may get lots of attention, but they rarely get promoted.
5. Another complaint was people not responding to office pleasantries, such as “good morning.” Facebook and other social media networks spare us from interacting face-to-face using full sentences. We can always blame a lack of response to a system failure –never got the message. That won’t work when you come face-to-face with a co-worker in the hallway. Non-responders appear to be rude and aloof.

A motivational speaker posted a speech on LinkedIn that she had given to a group called, “Turn Up The Volume.” She didn’t mean put more content or exciting delivery into your presentations. She actually meant TALK LOUDER! I think I’ll send her a copy of the final survey report.

Mary Nestor-Harper, SPHR, is a consultant, blogger, motivational speaker and freelance writer for Based in Savannah, GA, her work has appeared in Training magazine, Training & Development magazine, Supervision, BiS Magazine and The Savannah Morning News. When she’s not writing, she enjoys singing Alto II with the Savannah Philharmonic Chorus and helping clients discover what they love and spend their life on it. You can read more of her blogs at and view additional job postings on Nexxt.


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