There is this guy in the office that constantly walks around whistling loudly all day long. He doesn't seem to realize that it's distracting and that others including myself find it to be incredibly irritating. However, no one has said anything to him so far. How would you deal with a situation like this?

  • 1
    I know that when I join in with the whistling, it makes them aware of what they are doing. At the same time, their whistling is much less anoying and even becomes fun, estpecially when whistling "Whistle while you work". Commented Apr 1, 2013 at 17:43
  • 14
    Have you considered the cathartic effect of slapping? Commented Apr 1, 2013 at 17:50
  • 14
    "However, no one has said anything to him so far". Well, about time someone did, dontchathink?
    – Oded
    Commented Apr 1, 2013 at 17:58
  • 3
    Normally it's hard to notice things which annoy other people unless they tell you.
    – enderland
    Commented Apr 1, 2013 at 20:32
  • It's just terrible, that not only is the radio blaring through the roof - but he whistles on top of that .... that piercing whistle - makes you want to go deaf.
    – 3kstc
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 4:40

2 Answers 2


I don't recommend coming to him and telling him that it's been bugging you for a long time or that anyone else doesn't like it. Instead, on one particular occasion, say something like:

Bill, I'm trying to [difficult task] and that whistling is going right through my head. Can I ask you not to?

He will probably comply, then absent mindedly whistle again later. When it bothers you, you can now say something like:

I'm having another can't-hear-whistling day, Bill

Eventually he will learn that you can't stand whistling at all, or what level of it you can stand, and he may hear similar things from others and stop whistling at work at all.

Some people whistle when they're relaxed and happy. It would be sad if he felt less happy at work because people were asking him not to whistle. But it would be sadder still if he came to realize that you had been seething about it or discussing it with others. Just react in the moment as many times as you need to, until it doesn't bother you any more.

Or wear headphones.

  • 1
    Thanks Kate. I think I'll give your advice a shot. Its the matter of approaching the situation without being too confrontational that has made me hesitant. As you mention, as much as the whistling annoys me, I wouldn't want to make him feel uncomfortable either. I have been wearing headphones up until now, but would like not to have to stop what I'm working on to put them on every time I need to block out his whistling so that I can concentrate.
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 19:33
  • @THEDOCTOR did this work? What did you end up doing? Do you have any other advise?
    – 3kstc
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 4:35
  • headphones don't really work - unless you're listening at really high volume - but I doubt that would be case as one would be trying to concentrate. Just ask them not to.
    – 3kstc
    Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 0:10

Drop him a quick email saying you find his whistling distracting and ask him politely to tone it down.

If that doesn't work you can escalate it to management but 99% of the time a polite email (so he doesn't lose face) will sort everything out.

  • 17
    ... talk to him face to face on this. Email is incredibly passive aggressive.
    – enderland
    Commented Apr 1, 2013 at 20:31
  • 7
    Depends on the culture. In my work place a polite "would you mind" email would be seen as less serious than taking someone aside or talking to the in public. Commented Apr 1, 2013 at 22:38
  • @enderland I would say if someone doesn't approach you face-to-face, in private, about something, it will most likely end up with grief and senior/lead involved. Text carries/miscarries intent and emotions involved, that can turn sour over time if someone misinterprets. Been there, done that, got e-mail telling me to be quiet. Kinda felt that he would do something stupid further down. He was gone shortly after, decided it was best to e-mail the toppest of the top. After that he was asked to pack up and go. Quick chat with his team lead about concerns should have been first step in his case. Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 13:23

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .