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How To Tell Cubicle Neighbors They’re Bothering You



If you work in a cubicle, you’re likely to have experienced neighbors who do things that annoy you as you’re trying to work. Here are some ideas on how to tell cubicle neighbors they’re bothering you. They range from extremely polite to somewhat confrontational.

The Polite Request

Susan, do you have a moment to speak privately? I have a polite request. When you snap your gum, it’s distracting to me. I can hear it clearly from where I’m working. Could you please not do that anymore?

This one is good for the first mention of the offensive behavior. If it works, great – you’re all set. If not, read on.

The Direct Request

Susan – me again. I’m still hearing you snapping your gum most days here in the office. I know it may not seem like a big deal but it distracts me when I’m working. Will you commit to stopping this?

workplace request

THEN: Go back to your desk and send Susan an email thanking her for both conversations regarding what’s happening and noting that you appreciate her willingness to contribute to a productive workspace. Just so you have it if you need it.

The Mimic

If you can’t be ’em, join ’em. Get yourself a big pack of bubble gum and go to town. Bubbles, snapping, loud chewing. If others notice, just say you’ve decided to enjoy your time in the office like Susan does.

tell cubicle neighbors they're bothering

OK, we don’t officially recommend this strategy but you can see how it might be effective.

Last Chance

Really disappointed Susan. What’s up with the gum snapping anyway? Is it a bad habit or are you doing this intentionally? What’s it going to take to get you to stop?

Other Measures

You can always talk to your boss, but the odds are not in your favor. Bosses are busy people and they may see your irritation and inability to reach a solution as a sign of immaturity.

a busy boss at work

You could talk to Susan’s colleagues in an attempt to find out what her pet peeves are and then create those around the office. We don’t recommend this strategy, but it’s here for consideration.

Ask if you can move to a different seat. Use caution here though because you may be moving an area of the office where even worse things are happening than what your offender is doing.

Get yourself some headphones and let Susan snap to hear heart’s content.

The Best Solution

Work on controlling your thoughts. While you need to be at work to earn a living, the workplace doesn’t define you. Use your downtime at your cubicle to learn something new, sharpen your skills, make a list of things you want to accomplish during your off-time, or just breathe in and let your thoughts take you to your favorite place.

list making

We get it, the workplace can be crowded with people who do inconsiderate things throughout the day and it’s hard to just take the high road. The workplace is a microcosm of other places in which differing personalities gather together. Think about driving to work — you are likely to encounter drivers who are aloof, rude or even unaware of certain motor vehicle laws.

tell cubicle neighbors they're bothering

Yet, you still make it work. You’ve got bigger things to focus on than a colleague who probably just wants attention. So do that!

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