I just got a new colleague. He is from another country, where it's customary to do things that we don't do in an office, and it's just too much for me.

He keeps his phone on full ringer volume, takes his personal calls at his desk and speaks super loud, flosses at his desk using his phone as a mirror, works in flip flops, without socks, and shakes your hand after massaging his bare feet, bangs on his desks and many other things that I find unbearable.

I could ask him to stop doing these things, but we are both new here and since other people don't complain (because they don't sit near him) I don't know how that would work.

There are empty seats behind me, I could sit there, but what reason to give? How to justify it?

EDIT: Why my question is different from other "loud coworker" questions: I actually have a choice about sitting somewhere else.


2 Answers 2


There are empty seats behind me, I could sit there, but what reason to give? How to justify it?

Chances are that you can just go a sit there and people will not be asking you for reasons why you did that.

In case they asked, a simple "I want to try sit here, I like the change once in a while. Hope you don't mind". No need to provide further explanation if you are taking a public seat anyone could use there.

  • 1
    Also excellent advice. Nov 15, 2017 at 16:53
  • @AnthonyDuvall thanks, seems that Mr Positive also thinks the same. If you have that public space available then there is nothing to explain about it. In fact, your coworker may start getting the hint and hopefully start to be more aware of his office habits.
    – DarkCygnus
    Nov 15, 2017 at 16:55
  • 1
    Actually I thinks this is golden - it will give him the impression that I might just come back, and it's a totally random thing. Nov 15, 2017 at 16:55
  • Good advice from DarkCygnus and Mister Positive; it might not hurt to make sure that changing desks is ok with whoever in your office is responsible for such things... but that risks having that person ask why you want to move. Nov 15, 2017 at 17:03
  • @user1008090 good suggestion. In that case, the same answer could be given effectively. Besides, there would be no "confrontation" speaking to that person in charge, given it was not the same as the coworker.
    – DarkCygnus
    Nov 15, 2017 at 17:24

There are empty seats behind me, I could sit there, but what reason to give? How to justify it?

Just do it.

If this person even bothers to ask you, just tell them "I was afraid I might be disturbing you." This way there is no confrontation, and life moves on smoothly for both of you.

Almost any other approach will risk offense, and could damage your ability to work together. Since you have a simple, workable solution, why not use it?

  • 4
    I might avoid the subject of being too loud altogether and if there are multiple free spaces just say something like "I wanted more room to spread out"...and then spread out.
    – bluegreen
    Nov 15, 2017 at 20:07
  • @bluegreen Good point, answer updated.
    – Neo
    Nov 15, 2017 at 22:38
  • upvoted for the title (and the advice obviously)
    – everyone
    Nov 16, 2017 at 15:42

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