How To Handle Distractions When I’m Working

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about distractions: Did I do the right thing by walking away?

Yesterday in work, I was on the phone with someone in reference to a change in one of my duties when there was a conversation going on in my other ear. In order to hear the phone conversation better, I put my hand on the free ear. After the phone conversation, I walked away for a while and came back. Twice after that, I was not on the phone, but was concentrating on something that I was working on for my supervisor and there was a conversation going on, making me lose my concentration. Therefore, twice I walked away and came back after a while. First and second times,conversation was work related. Third time, conversation was not work related. My question is: Did I do the right thing by walking away? I might also add that my supervisor was part of all three conversations.

Signed, Don’t Want To Seem Rude

Dear┬áDon’t Want To Seem Rude:

If you walked away you had to leave your work area, so that hardly seems to be productive. In addition, you say you left AFTER the phone call, so that probably didn’t help either. But most importantly, it doesn’t prevent a problem in the future. Why not say to the caller, “Just a minute Greg, there’s some noise going on and I can’t hear you. Let me see what I can do to quiet it down.”

Then you can turn to those who are talking near you and say, “I’m sorry you guys, I’m having trouble hearing the call.” They’ll know to either move away or lower their voices. When you’re done you can find each of them and thank them briefly for helping.In the case of you doing other work and getting up to leave because of noise, I think you should have just kept trying to concentrate.

I doubt the talk would have gone on for eight hours and it nearly always looks twitty to get all upset over noise while you’re working. And, once again, how did leaving your desk help you get your work done?Most offices have a degree of noise, sometimes worse than others. But nearly always it’s limited in time. The thing that bothers me most is not that the employee can’t hear well, it’s that the caller will hear laughter or comments that aren’t appropriate. For that reason, people should be asked to lower their voices. Most of the time they just don’t realize they’re being noisy.I hope this will give you ideas for next time. Generally speaking, walking away doesn’t do much except to give you a break, which might not be a bad idea either. But, you’ll want to make sure it doesn’t look like you are leaving in a huff because your coworkers are being rude.Best wishes!

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.