I have read other questions, but this is a different situation.

I've been working as a web developer in this company for more than a year. I've found that listening to music via headphones while I work helps me to concentrate, helps prevent distraction from outside noises, make my day much more enjoyable, and improves the quality of my work due to my greater energy and motivation.

However, a couple of months ago, the administrator (she handles company finances and is my boss's wife) told me not to use headphones anymore. I asked why, but she declined to give a reason other than "because headphones here are not good," and told me I could close my door if I like.

The headphones I use are small ones designed for running (where safety requires you to hear outside noises). Some of my co-workers do listen to the radio via speakers, but since the music I listen to is not enjoyed by most of my co-workers, I feel uncomfortable playing it over the speakers.

How can I convince my employer to let me listen to headphones while I code?

EDIT/UPDATE: I tried in these days to close the door, and to listen to only to one ear, so I can avoid safety issues, being concentrated (because actually lots of noise comes out the door), giving the impression I am not necessarily listening to music and do my job. But my administrator came in the room... to do nothing but leaving the door open, on purpose, because she didn't came back to do other stuff. This is getting kind of ridiculous. At least I am doing my job. But I still can't figure out how to talk to her, because I don't want to appear unprofessional (even if thanks to you I am understanding that this is not really a employee-friendly environment.

  • 4
    Use speakers, play obnoxious music, admin will relent Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 14:50
  • 4
    Based on your other questions your employer is not very friendly. How does head phone hurt anyone? They would not let you reduce a 2 hour lunch. I don't think you should need to convince them you need to. They should have a good reason not to.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 14:52
  • 4
    I have seen people with headphones, keep jammin through an active fire alarm. Do not take this as a personal preference of your boss but take it as she might be trying to get out of a liability. If listening to music through headphones is so important to you, I'd suggest finding an employer who won't mind that. Obviously, this is not the place
    – MelBurslan
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 14:52
  • 19
    "well you can close the door if you want" - you have a door? Consider yourself lucky and start using it! Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 15:38
  • 5
    I think the fact that you're being micromanaged on this level is more of a concern. I'd personally be more concerned with finding another position than figuring out how to convince this person. Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 20:19

4 Answers 4


I'm not sure what your office situation is, but in some environments seeing people with headphones on might be deemed to look a bit unprofessional. I'm really not understanding why you haven't taken your administrator up on the highly unusual offer that you can simply close your door and listen through speakers. Are you just "difficult"?

The place I'm working at has visitors (potential clients with LOTS of money) about once a week and the receptionist sends everyone an e-mail to keep their work areas ship-shape. We don't have the headphone restriction, but we don't have offices, either. I'm sharing this so maybe you can consider the bigger picture than just yourself and your own convenience.

  • I stay in a small office where and i am the only one here, and i am alone 99% of the time.
    – MarkWuji
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 6:44
  • 1
    @MarkWuji, if that's the case then I don't understand your argument that your music wouldn't be enjoyed by others.
    – Tom Bowen
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 8:10
  • @ThomasBowen that in the corridor there are other offices really close one to another and you can almost hear what's going on in the other offices
    – MarkWuji
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 12:56
  • 2
    If you are alone 99% of the time, I'm struggling to see why you can't keep your door closed for that 99%. Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 12:39
  • 1
    I dont see how OP is being "difficult" by not wanting to listen through speakers. Using speakers is totally different to headphones and may not help him concentrate as much and you cannot have them as loud. Plus he may just not like other people listening to his music and then be worrying if his music is the sort that is 'correct' for the workplace. Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 12:04

Talk to your administrator. Tell her what you explained to us, that the music helps you focus and that you perform much better with the music. Work out a solution with her that will make you both happy. As Melburslan said, it's possible that this is for insurance reasons to avoid you getting injured on the job because you missed an important sound. It might just be the headphones she's having issues with, not the music.

  • I think that her rejection is more connected on an old way of thinking that music distracts employers from their work and it's not nice to see from a customer that looks in my office, maybe. But that would've been not a good reason to tell from her.
    – MarkWuji
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 15:01

From what you explained, she has given you the way to approach this. Close the door and listen through speakers. If there are other people in the company who listen to the radio all day it should like that is the company approved method. As long as it isnt loud enough to disturb the neighbors crank it up.

  • It would be a really strange behaviour, since my door was left 99% of the times opened, and closed just when cooling system is active; the "close the door" was more an excuse since most of the noise comes from the outside (and i cannot even close the window since it's really hot these months)
    – MarkWuji
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 15:07
  • 4
    Or close the door and put your headphones on. Take them off before opening the door. Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 15:46
  • @AmyBlankenship i bet he has transparent-ish walls and people on the outside could see him with headphones. Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 19:29
  • No i have nothing about that (transparent walls); but faking the thing goes beyond my purpose of concentration since: how i could if i must stay focused if i must listen to every step outside? :)
    – MarkWuji
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 6:48

You need to use “speakers”, but do not the music to be heard by co-workers: That is not a contradiction, but could itself be doable.

A number of years ago, I toyed with the idea of putting high-quality speakers on the chair suspended at head level. This would keep the volume low enough to not be heard across the room but avoid the discomfort of audiophile-class headphones.

  • 2
    this reads more like a tangential comment, see How to Answer
    – gnat
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 8:52
  • @gnat I did: «What, specifically, is the question asking for? Make sure your answer provides that – or a viable alternative. The answer can be “don’t do that”, but it should also include “try this instead”.» I edited the post to clarify that I’m addressing what was exactly asked in the body (which is more general than the title which implies one specific solution).
    – JDługosz
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 9:19

You must log in to answer this question.

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