Forced To Listen To Loud Music

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about loud music:

I have seen several questions dealing with people who want to listen to music in the workplace. I am stuck on the other end of that question. Two of the ladies in my office want to listen to the radio while they work. One of them says it makes her talk less–that definitely isn’t true! As a working Supervisor, I have to do some management functions and also some very difficult dicta typing. I can’t even hear myself think because of the music and talk programs on the radio. Due to space constraints, the best location I can get is on the opposite side of the office from the radio, with a small divider but no walls; the divider does nothing to block the noise. A couple of other (less-powerful) ladies in the office also dislike the radio, but their supervisor likes it, so she and the two (more-powerful) radio-players want it left as is.

I tried speaking to my supervisor about this. She is from the “7 Habits” school of management and decided the thing to do would be to have an office discussion of my desire to have it quieter, and work out a win-win solution. It was like throwing me to the wolves. Major confrontation and hostility.

The end result was that the radio is staying the same, and I am afraid to open my mouth about anything to do with my working conditions, ever again. My supervisor did suggest to the group that everyone have a personal radio at their desks, turned down low, or use earphones for radio listening. This idea was dismissed with a great deal of contempt. The general consensus was that it would be unnecessary and stupid for them to have to do that just because one person is unable to work, and why should I deny them their radio listening? What can I do?

Signed, Their Way or No Way

Dear Their Way or No Way:

Working in spaces that are close together takes working out rules that are civil and cooperative. That is the beginning of crossing over troubled waters to the land of WEGO. Those who work in high decibel environments wear earmuffs. Have you tried earplugs? The suggestion that those who wish to listen should do so with earphones shows respect for those who wish to listen to different stations and/or wish to work in quiet. Meet with your supervisor again this time to express the feeling you have resulting from being thrown to the wolves.

A wise facilitator would have helped those in the minority (in your case you say it was only you in one breath and in another that there were some others who agreed with you) to have their suggestions respectfully considered. You can express your opinion again stating that you need it quieter to do a good job. Don’t settle for being a victim. Some jobs need quiet. Others benefit from social conversation and other distractions. Working together requires respect for jobs that benefit from quiet and for distractions. Getting to WEGO requires persistence.

William Gorden