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My boss talks to himself. Sometimes even raises his voice. For much of the day. I'm not worried about his mental stability. Actually I wouldn't mind, except that his office door is four feet behind me... and he doesn't close it.

When he answers the phone he often closes the door. Sometimes he doesn't, I can get up and close his door and that's clearly fine with both of us because we can acknowledge he's committed a faux pas by answering the phone without closing the door.

But to close his door when he's talking to himself would be to acknowledge that I can hear it and it is bothering me, which would embarrass him and me.

First question: I could just start closing his door myself whenever he's talking to himself. That way we wouldn't have to acknowledge face to face that he's doing it, but it would become this unpleasant unsaid thing that I am doing it. And you know, maybe he has his door open because it's hot or whatever. Dunno if this would be the right approach?

Alternatively, I could talk to him about it before making it a habit to close his door. If you favour this approach, tell me what to say.

PS I have been trying to gather together the courage to do this for 2 years unsuccessfully so uh, maybe this is academic. Also, apart from this, he's really good and I love my job. And yes, I am British.

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You have a few problems as I see them:

  • "My boss" that's the biggest one right there. He's your boss. That means something done by a peer takes on a whole new light when done by a subordinate.
  • "I have been trying to gather together the courage to do this for 2 years" This means what he's most likely to say to anything you say to him is, "this hasn't been a problem for the last 2 years? Why are you bringing it up now?"

Whatever you do, don't close his door. That's not your door, it's his. To close someone's door (that isn't like a conference room door) is usually seen as rude and passive-aggressive.

The bottom line is that you're probably going to have to suck it up and find a way to cover the noise like headphones. You've put up with it for 2 years, the time has long passed to deal with it.

What you could do is ask to have your desk moved and cite that as a reason. At least you're not telling him to do anything and it gives an opportunity to discuss the issue. He might apologize and tell you to shut his door if it gets too bad. But don't do it on your own. At least asking to move your desk puts the burden on you, not saying the boss has to change his behavior.

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