I have a desk next to a co-worker who has dial-in meetings all day. Often she stands up and walks around, and at times, gets very loud when getting involved in the meeting. I work in developing software, and really need to focus on what I am doing to be successful and efficient, but I find I can't. I put in headphones and listen to music, but while that drown out most of the noise, I have to turn it up loud, and doesn't help my focus at all. I'm not sure what I can do.

There are plenty of meeting rooms that she could go to, but I'm sure it is more comfortable to stay at your desk. I am sure she'd take offense at the suggestion. Not to mention I am a contractor, and she is full time. If I complain, it would well just be a ticket out the door for me.

  • 2
    See also Loud and unprofessional employee
    – David K
    Aug 13, 2018 at 16:23
  • 2
    Have you tried talking to her about the volume of her voice? I don't think this should be a problem. Depending on the office size and room availability, I do think that it makes sense that she takes calls at her desk - I find it rude when people book meeting rooms that are far too large for the number of people using the space. Unless your environment is especially toxic, I can't imagine having a respectful conversation with a colleague would be a "ticket out the door" for anyone, contractor or not. Aug 13, 2018 at 16:27
  • 1
    I would also like to point out that in many offices meeting rooms can be limited and it can be frowned upon to reserve one for a single person.
    – Joe W
    Aug 13, 2018 at 17:25
  • This isn't really an answer, but you could try listening to something other than music. There are lots of white noise Youtube channels, or nature sounds. I like to listen to the sounds of rain and thunderstorms.
    – user428517
    Aug 13, 2018 at 17:41

1 Answer 1


First thing you should try is having a reasonable conversation with your neighbor. Explain what you do, if they don't know already, and hopefully this will lead to them taking some of the calls in a conference room or at the very least not right next to you.

If your fearful of this conversation or it doesn't go well, your next option is to ask your manager and see if there is another quieter place to sit. Be honest about the situation, let them know you spoke with your colleague (if you did) and nothing changed.

The other suggestion which is Captain Obvious level, is get real noise cancelling headphones. These do not require you to play music in order to drown out background noise. They are not cheap, but they are effective.

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