What am I supposed to do with a coworker, sitting at, about, arms length from me, who keeps on humming every now and then(some song that he recently heard) the sound of which irritates and frustrates the crap out off me(nothing to do with the song itself)? Makes me think all the possible ways to vent that frustration.

Worst still, upon coming over to my desk(to discuss something)he starts humming right over my ears. I have given hints(silently looking at him when he starts doing that) but no he doesn't seem realize. I'm currently refraining from telling him outright, or in a friendly manner, because I don't want the possibility of it looking "bad". Plus nobody else seems to be having any issues with this.

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    I disagree that this is a dupe of a "loud coworker" issue. Loudness is a different form of distracting than humming, because humming holds the assertion of being "innocent." I think the matter is complicated further when it is a woman humming, consider when a coworker is pregnant, since humming seems associated with femininity. I think there are still solutions - but they aren't listed here, and this isn't a duplicate Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 14:00
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    I suggest you take it to The Workplace Meta. Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 14:12

2 Answers 2


Use your words. People aren't psychic, and even if he notices you glaring at him and stops to say "what?" - you'll still need to tell him he's humming. And don't assume that just because no one else has said anything that everyone else is appreciating the serenade.

Don't bottle it in - the more you hold onto this, the more agressive and angry you are likely to sound when you finally mention it. Nip it in the bud and the next time you hear him say "you're humming". Not "you're humming, it's super annoying and you are driving me out of my mind, I'm thinking of locking you in my basement and beating you until you stop then hiding your body in my meat locker." - just stick to "You're humming".

I don't know many people who intentionally hum in an office environment, so chances are pretty good that "You're humming" comes with the connotation "and I'd really like it if you stopped". If he's confused and not sure why you mention it - point out that it's just distracting.

Then call him on it. Every time. Not just sometimes. Make him clear on how frequent this is to get the point across that there's a habit.


You just need to communicate with him and let him know it's a distraction. It may take telling him more than once. I had a co-worker that would wear headphones and hum or sing. I just had to say "You're doing it again" (I said it in a friendly tone and we both laughed about it). She would apologize and stop. For a while. We're all human.

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