Ask Denise: My Officemate is Distracting! | The Zebra Blog

Ask Denise: My Officemate is Distracting!

Q: Denise, I am spending more time in my office at the real estate office rather than being at home because I have two teenage kids who are now home for the summer. I have a hard time concentrating when they are hanging out at the house so I am going into my office more often. My challenge is I have an officemate who is on the phone all the time and when she is not on the phone, she talks to me. I am exhausted by all this noise and interruptions! What do I do?

A: Although I could spend time with you to fix your situation at home so you can be productive there, let’s take a closer look at your office dynamic because this situation needs to get fixed anyway – especially if you avoid going to the office because of it.

This is simply a problem that you need the conflict resolution formula to solve. Let’s take a look at the steps:

  1. State the facts
  2. Engage
  3. Tell the truth
  4. Offer Solutions

What are the facts? The fact is that if this person is on the phone with clients, it is her office and therefore is using her office for what she should be. But if she is on the phone constantly with family members and friends, and this is being disruptive to you, then that is a fact that you could consider bringing up.

The other fact is that you are there trying to work, so her talking to you when you are trying to work is also disruptive.

She probably doesn’t realize the impact she is having on you, so I would probably start in a very calm, rational tone that outlines the problem that needs to be solved such as,

“Judy, I would like to talk with you about our different work styles. I am someone who needs it a bit quieter to get work done and I know that you have a lot of energy on the phone with your clients which is how I know that you like to work best. I would love to figure out a way for both of us to get our best work time when we are at the office. Are you open to working on a solution to this with me?”

This way you have outlined the challenge, framed it up as a problem that both of you can solve and discuss possible solutions. I have several clients who tune out excess noise with headphones, so that might be an option for you or perhaps a sign that you put up to not be disturbed by excess conversation directed at you.

You will be amazed at how responsive someone can be when you are asking them to help solve a problem with you. Good luck!

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