I enjoy whistling from time to time, and like to think that I'm pretty good at it; i.e., it's not displeasing to listen to, unless you just don't like whistling. And, if need be, I can whistle at a pretty low volume - somewhere between that of a whisper and a casual conversation.

Being in a cubicle setting office, would it be acceptable to occasionally whistle? Perhaps, while walking down the hall, or, in the break room when making a cup of coffee? How about while in my cubicle?

Also, would this kind of "chipper" attitude be ill-received over time?

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    It creates distractions, which is very counterproductive for knowledge workers. Sep 7, 2017 at 5:55
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    If you can convince your colleagues that you are a were-bird, maybe they will understand.
    – imin
    Sep 7, 2017 at 9:50
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    A question from the other side - How To Deal With a Whistler Sep 7, 2017 at 11:06
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    This is a ridiculous question. Just as well I could say, "I enjoy listening to heavy metal from time to time, and like to think that it's pretty good; it's not displeasing to listen to, unless you just don't like heavy metal." Would it be a question whether to play heavy metal at work loudly?
    – idmean
    Sep 7, 2017 at 11:34
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    Hi Charles, You already got good answers. And I don't think any edit will help you improve your question, so probably is better just move on. Unless you question is how I can make my coworker let me whistle on the office. In this case the consensus is any noise in the workplace is distracting and people doesn't like that. And my guess is just the mention of someone whisper bring bad memories from some annoying coworker and now you get the residual anger. In my case I can easily get upset when my desk neighbor finger tap on the table. Sep 7, 2017 at 15:38

2 Answers 2


Short answer: In general, no it's not appropriate in an office setting.

While you may feel that the sound of your whistling is quiet and not displeasing, it is by nature a piercing sound that can travel a lot further than you think it will. It will almost certainly annoy your co-workers if done in your cubicle.

You might get away with the occasional tune in the toilet or kitchen away from where people are trying to concentrate, or if you had your own office with a door, but otherwise it is not a good idea in an open office layout.

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    Additionally as an alternative you can approximate whistling by shaping your breaths as you breathe normally, which is no louder than a whisper. Still not at your desk - just in common areas. Works for me.
    – S. Grey
    Sep 7, 2017 at 5:42
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    Higher frequency waves (like sound waves as a result of whistling) dissipate faster, and thus travel less distance, which makes whistling no more "piercing" than say regular speech. Sep 7, 2017 at 13:31

Making noise that stands out from the ambient noise level is obnoxious. If you work in a mall, then no one will care. If you work in a library, then you will aggravate people around you. The break room at a typical office is almost certainly fine; people tend to chat and laugh there anyway. Whether it's okay in other areas (such as at your desk or in a hallway) solely depends on if it stands out from the regular noise level. A good way to judge is to see if people look your way when you start to whistle. If they do, you're exceeding the normal noise level/tones, and you should stop.

The happy attitude shouldn't be an issue. If it is, you might want to start looking for a new place to work.

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    I'd disagree that a mall or break room is fine. Whistling can stand out and be really irritating even if it isn't strictly louder than the ambient noise. A common human response is to suffer in silence and make a big deal out of it when it becomes intolerable, so I wouldn't take anyone else's response or lack of one to be a definite sign of whether it's appropriate (not to mention that you probably can't see everyone who can hear it or notice them briefly looking around). Sep 7, 2017 at 10:57
  • There is a time a place for everything, if you're keen to whistle go to the park and whistle not at the work place/mall/train/ where there a lot of people...
    – 3kstc
    Sep 7, 2018 at 0:05