Rap Music Played In The Workplace

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about rap music:

One person brings in her own radio and plays rap music. I have asked that she not play it at the times that I am in the same room, but she refuses. Rap music has an emotional reaction from me and it makes me anxious and very uncomfortable. Do I have the right to not have this person play rap music in the workplace?

Signed, Frustrated

Dear Frustrated:

In a well run business, individuals do not just decide to bring in music of any kind on their own and play it. It’s either approved by managers or not. And few managers would approve having rap sounds in the work area if anyone at all complained. But, there is also a problem here with the relationship between you and the coworker. Someone who feels like a friend or good colleague wouldn’t play something when asked not to, or would at least ask more about it and try to work out a compromise. I think you should say something to your manager or supervisor. Make the link to work effectiveness by saying how distracting it is and that it makes you anxious and uncomfortable. You are certainly not alone in feeling that way! Be direct and insistent that it is intolerable. But, also ask that the policy be that no music is played or that any music played must be agreed to by all. Otherwise, your coworker will replace rap with something not rap but equally problematic!

Some work places allow employees to wear earbuds to listen to music. The problem with that is that those people often just shut themselves off from others. They don’t communicate and they don’t respond to conversation. That can be a problem too.I don’t know what kind of work situation you are in, but perhaps others share your feelings about it. At the same time, might this is a time to start building a better work team all the way around?

You will be working with the employee whose music is being stopped, so you will need to find a way to maintain a decent working relationship. That won’t be easy, but it’s possible. A key to all of this is to avoid making it personal between you and the coworker, or limited only to the one kind of music she plays. Keep the focus on not having distracting and upsetting music of any kind in the workplace. Just in case, you may want to be prepared with a list of the kind of music you could listen to without being bothered.This is a frequent complaint and almost always has to have managerial intervention to get better. Let us know what happens, if you have the time and wish to do so. 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.