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I work in a shared office space in a university. This woman sits behind me and types very aggressively on a very loud mechanical keyboard. She brought this in recently to replace the silent office keyboard issued by the university. It has been seriously distracting and I can hear her slamming keys over the music in my headphones. She also uses a gaming laptop with very loud fans in place of the office-issued computer, I already put up with this and really do not want to also put up with the mechanical keyboard.

How do I get her to use the university-issued silent keyboard instead of the mechanical one she brought?

I mean, we’re issued silent keyboards for a reason, right?

We’re under different managers and I don’t know her, or her manager, at all.

Can I just tell her politely to not use the mechanical?

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    Here is someone from the other perspective (they have the loud keyboard). It doesn't answer your question, but check it out
    – cocomac
    Feb 17, 2022 at 3:50
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    By the way, you can buy quiet mechanical keyboards. Feb 17, 2022 at 4:43
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    @user132979 Have you tried simply asking them nicely? Something like "Hello, I noticed that you recently brought in a mechanical keyboard. I find it very distracting. Would you mind not using it?" or something nice like that. Don't take this the wrong way, but this is a you problem, so phrasing it like "I find it distracting" is better than "You're distracting me". Try to avoid assigning blame to them, as unless anyone's asked them to stop, they're not in the wrong. But I'd suggest just asking nicely first, and only escalating if you really have to
    – cocomac
    Feb 17, 2022 at 4:47
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    Does this answer your question? Loud keyboards and coworkers
    – gnat
    Feb 17, 2022 at 6:39
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    Is it possible to ask your manager to let you move to a different part of the office or building so that you don't have to listen to the loud keyboard everyday ? Feb 19, 2022 at 6:20

2 Answers 2

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Ask her to stop using the keyboard.

It is really the only option. You are prevented from working optimally because the keyboard is distracting. She cannot work optimally without that keyboard presumably, but that is her problem. By using this keyboard, she now made it your problem. But unless you talk to her, she will not know that she is causing problems.

Perhaps she should've/could've known this, but she doesn't seem to know or care enough to do something about it. So what you should do is go back and make it her problem again.

Frame it from your perspective:

Hey X. I've noticed that you've been using a new keyboard. I tried to ignore it, but I am distracted by the sounds of the keys. I tried listening to music but it is noticeable through my headphones. Could you please switch to a quieter keyboard?

You notice that she is not distracting you, but you are being distracted. Non-accusatory language is usually a good starting point here.

It is of course possible that she will say no, but if you stay nice and insist it should work without escalation. If it still doesn't work, talk to your manager about how you are distracted by this, (not about how this colleague is distracting you)

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    Further negotiation advice: you don't really care what keyboard she's using, you just don't to be distracted by it. I would not directly ask her to use another keyboard, but first check if she thinks you're unreasonable, and assuming she doesn't, then ask if there's no chance the two of you can come up with a solution to your problem. Maybe she can think of something creative that hasn't come to your mind yet. (I know it's not really your problem but she might see it that way and talking about things from other people's perspective is good to enlist their cooperation.)
    – kqr
    Feb 19, 2022 at 19:02
  • I had a similar case where a coworker's computer had lots of (Windows) noises enabled, so that the entire time they were working there were bweeps and boops from menus opening and so on. No one else's computer nearby did this, so I asked them to shut off the system sounds. They seemed shocked and hadn't noticed the sounds, but for me it was as if someone had brought a parakeet in to the office - completely inappropriate noise. Mar 13 at 0:11
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    Your co-worker probably does not appreciate the problem she is causing. I was in the same situation as her. I had a noisy mechanical keyboard in our large, already noisy open office and it was weeks before a co-worker told me my typing was bothering people. I just searched for "quiet mechanical keyboard" and found one that would give me most of the feel I wanted with almost none of the sound.
    – Mark Meuer
    Mar 13 at 19:29
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You can buy a bag of o-rings meant to quieten a mechanical keyboard. I had to buy it as my employee complained to me about my keyboard distracting her.

First, there isnt really any reason not to discuss it with her. Do it politely and calmly and put your point across.

Alternatively, buy a packet of o-rings, gift it to her and explain why.

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    For the o-rings option, you'd still need to discuss this with her. I.e. "I have some spare o-rings that you can use to dampen the noise". But please don't just leave them on a colleague's desk and then expect her to come to you to ask about it or expect that she's just supposed to automatically understand what you have in mind without direct communication.
    – Brandin
    Mar 13 at 12:35

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