Whispering Is More Rude Than Loud Mouths

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctor about whispering: I DO NOT care what the topic of the conversation is (even if it’s me), just stop being RUDE! If there are 3 of us in the room and 2 are whispering, clearly, they are talking about the 3rd person, so take it somewhere else.

I feel you are soooooo far off the mark when it comes to whispering. Yes, we should be respectful of others and try and keep it down, but these whispering sessions (aka bird talking) are just as distracting as the loud mouths. They aren’t whispering for that purpose. They are whispering because of gossip and if they want to gossip, they need to do it over lunch, in the break room, in the conference room, in the bathroom for all I care.

I DO NOT care what the topic of the conversation is (even if it’s me), just stop being RUDE! If there are 3 of us in the room and 2 are whispering, clearly, they are talking about the 3rd person, so take it somewhere else. Also, when I these bird talkers pile work on me, then have their whispering sessions, I can’t help but think their time could be better used doing their ACTUAL work!

Signed, Stop Being Rude

Dear Stop Being Rude:

You are heard; loud and clear. I presume you have taken offense at some of our advice. And I have no argument with your opinion that often whispering can be gossip and that is rude in many work settings. Your point is made. Also I assume you are annoyed at coworkers and/or supervisors that whisper. So what have you done about your annoyance? Have you interrupted whispering to ask, “Is there something that we should keep secret? Or are you talking about me and I shouldn’t ask?”

On the other hand, there is good reason to recommend whispering and soft talk in crowded work areas, when tasks require special concentration and/or when patients are ill, etc. One of the topics rarely on a work-group’s agenda is appropriate communication. Have you ever been in a staff meeting that collaboratively spelled out do and don’t communication rules and then from time to time reviewed them? A skull session on such a topic could help minimize nosy, annoying and wasteful talk and encourage talk that makes communication more efficient and effective.

Additionally, talk about talk might surface uneven distribution of assignments, something about which you seem to be angry. Thank you for voicing your concern for good manners. May your tribe increase. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, a spirit that is not mentioned when describing your work environment.

William Gorden