I would like to know how to tell in a polite manner to two or three people in my office that I need silence to work.

We are 8 eight in our office and unfortunately I'm the only one introverted person.

I read in this forum that some people communicate via chat inside the office. It would be ideal for me but I'm sure people will laugh when hearing this suggestion.

UPDATE: I finally end up asking the boss if could be possible going to library to write thesis. This way I will avoid modifying my colleagues habits and at the same time have the desired silence. I will also go to office in break time to talk a little bit!

  • 15
    You really need to get over this desire for no noise at all. It is unrealistic to expect any office to provide this on a day-to-day basis. You really need to learn to work when there is noise going on as it is very career limiting. People need to talk as part of their jobs. People need to type and some will type too loudly, the air conditioning will need to run, phones will ring including cell phones that people forgot to silence that morning, etc. There is a lot of noise in virtually all offices. You need to learn to cope with it.
    – HLGEM
    Mar 30, 2015 at 20:58
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    @HLGEM Yep, but they need not be in my office. The expectance of quiet working conditions is not unreasonable at all. It may even be the law. - Lack of quiet working conditions for mind workers and management ignorance about that are a good enough reason to find a new job. - That's not career limiting in itself. You'll probably do a better job elsewhere, resulting in better carreer opportunities. Mar 14, 2019 at 8:56

3 Answers 3


Been there.

  1. Accept that a lot of other people's jobs involve talking to each other, and that the majority of people find speech (even sometimes non-work-related speech) psychologically necessary during their working day. A demand for total silence is not likely to be perceived as reasonable.
  2. Get some noise-cancelling headphones.
  3. Explain to management that sometimes you need a quiet place to concentrate on your work, and ask if it's ok for you to use a vacant meeting-room occasionally.
  4. If you're in the same office as a really noisy team (e.g. sales teams tend to be particularly noisy) then ask to move to somewhere quieter, so that you can be more productive.
  • Speech is one of the things that noise-cancelling headphones are particularly bad at filtering out. While they are good for things like engine noise on planes, air con etc., they aren't really a solution for noisy colleagues. Mar 14, 2019 at 12:13
  • @JohnGowers On voices I've found that if it's a general hubbub then the headphones do reduce it, although if it's distinct speech close to me then they don't. I play music through my headphones when I need to drown out conversation. Obviously this only works if you can find a type of music that still allows you to think and work, I have a few staple choices that my brain has learned to mostly ignore.
    – A E
    Mar 27, 2019 at 9:58

If your office doesn't have a chat system you could discuss implementing one, for sharing links related to work and to allow coworkers to discuss work with other people on their project at the time. Frame it in terms of improving communication regarding projects if you are asking the boss.

Ultimately though a lot of people prefer to have some level of conversation or noise around during the day. Your workplace might not think it fair to limit the actions of 7 people for the sake of 1 person. You might be better off purchasing some earplugs or noise-blocking headphones for your desk.

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    I tell people off for trying to have lengthy e-mail or chat conversations with me. It interrupts me every minute for an hour whereas they could get up and walk for 5m and we could get the entire thing out of the way in 2 minutes. Human conversation is a very efficient method of relaying information, and I don't think replacing it is an improvement in communication.
    – Ben
    Mar 31, 2015 at 5:24
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    @Ben If a discussion could take two minutes in person but takes an hour in chat, that's not (usually) a problem with chat per se. Also, chat doesn't have to be an interruption; you could configure the software such that it doesn't interrupt you, and then check it when the mood strikes. That's how Stack Exchange does it, for one; see for example under the headings How we do it and Keep the nexus of activity online.
    – user
    Mar 31, 2015 at 9:27
  • Using a chat IM program is great for remote working etc but its a little anti social to use one over face to face conversation when their is no excuse.
    – Stormy
    Mar 31, 2015 at 20:01

There's a couple of things here. What noises are bothering you? If it's discussion - is the volume at a tolerable level and you're just being a little irritable, or are they talking at a higher tone and it's disruptive to everyone?

You've isolated the situation to 2-3 people - that leaves ~5 others that may have the same feelings as you. Have you discussed with anyone else if they have a difficult time focusing when others are having conversation? It's highly reasonable to have this talk with one of your peers, especially if it's interfering with your productivity.

Have you tried bringing headphones and listening to music (It doesn't have to be music you hear on the radio. It could be instrumental, for example)?

As for the chat piece of this discussion - there are plenty of companies that utilize this. Whether it be Pandion, or any other vendor - these are common. Do not feel shy or vulnerable for asking if people in your workplace utilize these.

At a point when you feel like you've expensed all other routes, I would discuss with your manager that your work is optimized when the atmosphere is less-noisy, and it has been hard to concentrate with constant discussion going on around you and it's at a volume which disrupts your work. Is there an option for you to be re-located? Your manager should find a way to help you with the problem while keeping a balance in the workplace.

  • Bothers me discussions (related or not to work) and the constant opening and closing of the door. The latter has no solution since the noise outside the office is also high.
    – biotech
    Mar 30, 2015 at 17:18
  • A relocation seems more fit if there are things in your immediate environment that are affecting your ability to work. Does your work involve constant discussion in a team environment that would disallow relocation?
    – Mark C.
    Mar 30, 2015 at 17:20
  • A relocation is an option but the other office is even more chatty.
    – biotech
    Mar 30, 2015 at 17:22

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