About 6 months ago the BI and IT groups of my company moved into a new office space.

Everything was nice and quite for several months, then about 2 months ago a person I don't know returned from maternity leave.

For 2 months straight she has done absolutely nothing except for chit chatting, gossiping, and taking personal phone calls. It's incredibly disruptive.

Our work requires a lot of concentration, thus group meetings are held in conference rooms and individuals either disable sound on their computers or wear headphones. With the hours of marathon non-stop blabbing this person does, carrying out actual work has become very difficult.

I don't believe she's ever done any actual work since she's been here and she apparently has no shame about having long, very personal, and at times offensive conversations. If she can't find someone to talk to for more than 5 minutes she leaves her desk and goes to the break room in search of company. I think she's some sort of secretary for someone who is in a different office location.

What's a good way to deal with this? Thus far we've been using headphones with white noise, but after several hours that becomes uncomfortable and it seems kind of ridiculous that all of the people who work have to wear headphones and listen to white noise just to cope with the world's worst employee.

Note that there's a fine difference between this and dealing with a loud coworker.

Someone who is simply loud can just lower their voice, without changing the frequency or content of their discussion. In this case the change needed is far bigger because we would like this person to talk 95% less often and reduce her personal conversations and gossip by 99%. Based on her behavior, I expect that she would find such a situation unbearable. It would also be nice if she did some work on occasion.

  • 1
    I think it's a different issue. That other one is dealing with a coworker who is not being actively offensive. This one seems to be going out of her way to be disruptive. Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 18:51
  • 3
    What has your manager said when you raised the issue with them? Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 18:53
  • The people who sit near her have different managers and none of our managers are in this building. They wouldn't want us to approach them about something like this. @JoeStrazzere I edited the question to explain why this is different than dealing with a loud coworker.
    – Hackz
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 20:32
  • @gnat Going up the ladder is not an option in my workplace's culture
    – Hackz
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 21:12
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    I know exactly what it's like. I had the same issue with a colleague; man was she loud. I would only advise you to tread lightly. When I took action she took it personally and I had to go to the managment to solve it. It did not end well. If she won't stop with your first "hint" say it loud enough in your office, making sure that the other colleagues will hear you too. Hereby I give you the triforce piece of courage, you'll need it :P
    – Sidius
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 14:16

2 Answers 2


Tell her to keep it down so you can concentrate. There is nothing wrong with effectively telling people to shut up in a polite way. Tell her you're busy when she speaks to you on non work related things.

Failing that talk to your manager, and tell the manager you can't concentrate because of the noise. It will depend on the manager and room availability if she gets moved or perhaps if you get moved or if you have to put up with it. Either way you can move forwards from that conversation.


To resolve this issue, you need to do several things. She is not making work-related noise, so this is something that can be dealt with by management.

First, politely ask her to be quiet when she is being disruptive with non-work-related conversations. Ask her every time she gets on a personal phone call to move to the break room because she is disrupting work. Document the times you have asked her, her response and how long it was until the disruption started. Get others in the group to do the same and document when they did it as well.

After two or three days of this, go to your manager with the log of what you have tried to do to resolve the problem and the evidence that shows how extensive the problem is (i.e. the number of times in a day or two that you had to ask her to not have a private or non-work-related conversation.) Ask you boss to discuss the issue with her boss and resolve the problem. If the issue is not resolved in a couple of days, you can take your log to HR and ask them to resolve the issue.

Be aware, the only way this person may shut up is if she is fired for non-performance. But by showing your boss and hers how often you have to get her off the phone on private conversations, you are actually pointing out to them that she does not apparently have enough work to do or is not doing it.

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