I work in an open space office and one of our new colleagues has a really bad nervous tic. Bad luck for me, he sits close to me. His disease includes quite loud coughs, body jolts, jumps, shacking, twitches. This is very sudden and happens with a period of 5-10 seconds. The guy is really shy and doesn't talk to anyone. I am forced to wear earphones with earplugs but I can hear his jumps even through them. I talked to a couple of colleagues who I can trust and they notices the same. The regulations in the office is such that we cannot switch our seats freely (because of PC security). What can I do? Should I talk to HR/my supervisor?

  • 1
    "jumps". Do you mean he actually stands up and jumps up and down ? or something else ? Jun 1 at 16:11
  • 1
    @Job_September_2020 jumps on his office chair. Literally.
    – user43283
    Jun 1 at 16:12
  • 1
    So he actually gets his feet planted on the chair, stands up, and jumps upward from there? (That would be a literal jump on his chair.) Jun 1 at 16:37
  • 1
    @DanielR.Collins No, he does it while sitting.
    – user43283
    Jun 1 at 16:38
  • 2
    Nervous ticks? Like the ones you get at a Lyme disease research facility?
    – Neil Meyer
    Jun 2 at 14:53

3 Answers 3


Maybe, he has a serious medical condition that makes it very difficult for him to control his movements.

If his conditions unfortunately interrupt your workflow or reduce your productivity, you can gently ask your manager about what to do. Maybe, the manager can find out a solution that works well for everyone such as moving people around the floor to quiet cubicles or offices.

Just be nice to both the manager and this coworker. Don't say anything negative about anyone.

At this early stage, perhaps, you should not contact HR, which may occasionally escalate things very quickly beyond your control.

  • 6
    Seconded. Your manager yes, if you really are unable to ignore it after your best attempts over an extended period. (We desensitize to this sort of thing over time, as our ape selves decide it's normal and harmless.) HR, no; at best they will send you back to your manager, with serious chance they'll sign you up for additional tolerance training as well
    – keshlam
    Jun 1 at 17:38
  • 4
    Diagnosed medical conditions are a protected class. You don't skip straight to HR because it is not a deliberate act, AND HR will be protecting the company from being sued, but it is something that does affect your performance, so go through the standard method of asking your manager. Going to HR simply means you don't understand the situation and it'll be a ding against you as per @keshlam.
    – Nelson
    Jun 2 at 3:43

Its a medical condition and I'm sure he is very aware of it and more than likely very sensitive about it.

Use that as your grounds for perspective before making decisions on what to do.


You should be understanding of your colleague with a disability and stop using language like you have in this question, which gives the impression you think your well-being is more important.

  • 4
    What gave you impression that I lack understanding of my colleague?
    – user43283
    Jun 1 at 16:21
  • 4
    And what do you mean by "more important"? Important than what?
    – user43283
    Jun 1 at 16:37
  • 8
    @PhilipKendall What do you mean with "understanding" then? I understand that he doesn't do this on purpose, and I feel no anger/disgust/whatever you might think I feel to this guy. Yet, there is a problem, which affects my efficiency. "Bad luck" because it happens close to me, otherwise I wouldn't care.
    – user43283
    Jun 1 at 17:09
  • 6
    @user43283, Your use of the term "bad luck" strikes me as insensitive and in bad taste. "Gosh, what terrible luck I have that my colleague has a medical condition that distracts me." - That doesn't come off in the best light. I understand that's not the way you mean it, but perhaps remove that completely from your question and stick to the crux of the issue.
    – joeqwerty
    Jun 1 at 18:23
  • 5
    -1 as this is insulting to the OP. The OP says nothing about offending or harming or even complaining about the other employee. He accepts that the employee will be this way. But the fact remains that OP is being distracted and it IS affecting his work. This is definitely something that should be brought up, not hidden away because it might make someone uncomfortable to deal with disabilities and disabled employees. Jun 2 at 8:48

You must log in to answer this question.

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