I have had this issue for years, in several companies and with many people.

So my table is at the end of a row and all people who walk behind me and then turn (following the table corner) almost always give one annoying knock on the table.

They literally give it a small knock with one or two fingers as they are passing by, as if using the table as a pivot point. There is no intent to it. It's unconscious but quite a few people do it.

I know it is not directed at me and I have nothing against these people but it is so annoying and I am not sure how to prevent the behavior. I have asked the guy next to me not to do that but even then he sometimes forget about it. It's as if there is this invisible force that pushes people to do it.

Has anybody experienced the same thing ? Am I being over sensitive ? How do you prevent people from doing that ? Maybe by putting something on the table, because I know that telling people after the fact does not work and make me look like some sort of a pyscho...


6 Answers 6


Put something on that part of your desk that prevents people from easily knocking.

Something soft, like your jacket/sweater.

You might consider moving desks and let someone else take the "knocking desk" instead.

  • 64
    Or an ornamental cactus
    – Kilisi
    Nov 21, 2017 at 8:44

Ask management for a simple partition be be placed at the side of your desk because people going around the corner crowd your desk and it's distracting. This is a very sensible use of partitions - to create a distraction free environment (in relation to your field of view).

  • 2
    I don't think this would help much. I worked next to a partition, on the other side of which was a long corridor. Some people would tap along the partitions the whole way as they walked down the corridor. Nov 21, 2017 at 15:10
  • @MikeHarris So a partition with broken glass glued to one side, maybe razor wire ? :-) I see the possibility, but you can stick a sign on the partition asking people not to do it (if that happens if.when the OP tries it). There are options with a partition (i.e. options not requiring razor wire :-) ). Nov 21, 2017 at 17:18

Precariously balance a very expensive looking (but in reality cheap) vase or some other ornament on the corner of your desk. It is important that it looks:

  • Expensive
  • Fragile
  • Easily knocked

The trick is to give it the affordance of 'easily breakable'. Some people will notice it (consciously or otherwise) and steer clear, others will be clumsy and knock it when they do there will be a moment of fear as they see it nearly smash (or even smash) after which they will be more careful around it.

  • 1
    That's a good idea but I will probably be the first person to actually break it :D
    – klugjo
    Nov 22, 2017 at 7:05

They literally give it a small knock with one or two fingers as they are passing by, as if using the table as a pivot point.

Am I being over sensitive ? How do you prevent people from doing that ?

Yes, you are probably being overly sensitive.

But if you want to try to prevent it, put a floor plant, lamp, or additional chair at the end of the table so folks have to swing wider and won't be able to knock.


My desk is close to kitchen and people coming from there were often (unintentionally) leaving their cups/glasses at my desk because they had met somebody going to the kitchen, stopped for a short chat and then forgot about their drinks. I had to put a sign on my desk: "Please do not leave your (empty) cups/glasses on my desk, take them to the kitchen." Surprisingly it worked, nobody has left anything on my desk since then.


I would'nt try to prevent the knocking but to minimize its effects. So instead of jackets or easily breakable stuff put something dampening there, like glue a square of foamed plastic or comparable soft material to the corner. I would guess without acustic and haptic feedback the knocking looses its "attraction" and they'll stop. But even if not, the effects on you are, depending on the material, lessened or stopped.

  • I don't know of many companies that will allow you to glue something down to their desks. Nov 27, 2017 at 15:06

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