Some people I work close to but not actually with, do things on a regular basis that irritate me. I'm sure they don't know it irritates me and I'm going to talk to them about it. What I'm not sure is how to do this and what exactly to say.

Is it more important to address the issue as soon as possible or wait until the person is alone? I don't usually see these people without other people around them.

One person speaks very loudly on the phone and on web cam.
1)For all I know it may be necessary to talk this loudly to be heard. There is no harm in asking though, right?
2)On these calls the majority of the time he doesn't talk about work, so this definitely isn't necessary. For example he talks about vacations he went on and video games. It would be ok if his work is interfering with my work, that's the job, but if his non-work is interfering with my work I see this as a problem.

Should I say "By the way Joe, I'm not sure if you're aware but the calls you go on are awfully loud"?

The other person I'm planning to speak with says things I really don't want to hear. Usually she isn't talking to me but is very close and I can hear her. For example she was talking about when she first became sexually active (note this isn't related to the work we do). Should I wait until they end their discussion then walk over to her and say "Could you please have those sorts of conversations outside of the office?"?

This issue I'm not sure if I can raise. One lady walks around without anything on her feet. Not only in our office but outside our suite (to the bathroom etc.). This is disgusting.

  • 7
    I like the way you feel the need to explicitly state that sexual activity isn't related to the work you do. The idea didn't come to me until you suggested it, now i'm worried...
    – user5305
    Aug 14, 2013 at 19:17
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    on a serious note, have you talked to your manager yet? They can be a good place to start so that your concerns are atleast noted
    – user5305
    Aug 14, 2013 at 19:18
  • @RhysW my manager isn't the manager of the people I have problems with. Could you please explain why you think it's better to talk to my manager than them directly?
    – Jslam
    Aug 14, 2013 at 20:01
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is not about navigating the workplace but rather common etiquette and social skills. Aug 14, 2013 at 20:47
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    @Jslam If that is what you think your manager would say (which I agree with in this case), then I suggest you work with your manager to better understand how to get along in the workplace. If you are not comfortable talking to your manager, then talk to HR. This, and other questions of yours here, lead me to think that you could use some additional help within your company navigating its waters.
    – jcmeloni
    Aug 14, 2013 at 20:53

2 Answers 2


Having face a similar problem in the past I found it's most effective to be completely honest to whomever is the source of my irritation, me. I know that there is something in me which is triggering this irritation and that however hard I try I will not be able to change other people.

I can ask somebody once or more times, and their behaviour may change for a short while, and they will almost certainly relapse into their old behaviours repeatedly.

So I started wearing headphones.


A couple of those are discussed in the AskAManager article about dealing with co-workers (USNews) and your barefoot person might be covered by her blog on how to help a coworker be more professional (AskAManager).

But essentially, you politely speak to them alone, ask them if they can change their behavior because it is negatively affecting your job. It might work. If it doesn't, and it is affecting your job, then you need to speak to your manager, and point out how your work is being affected, and ask the manager how they would like you to deal with it. In other words, keep it on subject about your work, not about them.

If it isn't actually affecting how you do your job, and you're just annoyed or disgusted, then pretend they are on a reality show and watch and listen to them for your own entertainment and amusement.

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