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I'm working in my first job now for about seven months. Recently our office received some renovation work. Along this we got a new door to our neighbor office which will be always open now to lower the distances between the members of our department. Since than I could hear most conversations they have there. It's nothing secret or anything, but sometimes quite private or off-topic. (There is another office room in the middle, so exactly, there are two open doors between us.)

Recently I heard them talking about one getting a baby soon and I wanted to congratulate them. But as I am shy and hardly ever start communication with them, and when I do it's about work, I found it very creepy to respond to a conversation I was not a part of. The conversation passed and I remain silent.

What would be appropriate/professional in such situations? Should I never respond to anything - or only if it's about work and I could help - or am I overthinking this? Would it be considered as rude if I remain silent? Or should I have a talk with them and come back to the topic later?

I am not bothered to hear them, just not sure how to react.

  • 3
    You could consider asking this question on the Interpersonal SE. – Cyonis Apr 6 '18 at 6:03
  • @Belle-Sophie yeah, I considered that, but my question is just about colleagues in work-place environment. With friends, I wouldn't mind - just joining the conversation, and with strangers I would not consider to speak. – Kinaeh Apr 6 '18 at 6:33
  • You might transfer it to IPS though, if it's inappropriate for this SE. – Kinaeh Apr 6 '18 at 8:02
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    I don’t think it’s inappropriate here. You’ll probably get a different type of response on the other SE. Workplace based vs interaction based. The people on Interpersonal will also keep the location and relationships in the question in mind. – Cyonis Apr 8 '18 at 18:20
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If you want to congratulate the expectant parent about their baby, something along the lines of

Sorry, I couldn't help but hear that you're expecting a child. Congratulations, and I hope everything goes well.

This conveys your good wishes and might help break the ice for a conversation right then or in the future. Also, it lets them know that their conversations can be overheard by you and others in your room without being obnoxious or (overly) awkward, so they can adjust their volume and/or topics if they want.

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If it feels like you have gone out of your way to become part of someone's personal conversation I wouldn't, especially if the conversation is between just two people.

However if a personal statement has been said out loud, openly and to more than one person then it's the perfect opportunity to get involved!!

Don't overtink it though.. we're all human and like to talk about our lives outside of work and I think people will respond positively if you show an interest in them 😊

  • 4
    This pretty much. If you are looking for phrasing, try something like "I'm sorry, I couldn't help but overhear you're having a baby, congratulations!" – Cronax Apr 6 '18 at 9:52
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The next time they are talking, just interject.

I'm sorry, I don't know if you're aware, but people outside of your office can hear you. The conversations don't bother me , but I just wanted you to know that anyone in my office, or anyone walking by can hear you.

  • 1
    @mxyzplk feel free to provide an answer of yourself rather than just being rude in the comments. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Apr 7 '18 at 0:09

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