My incredibly loud co-worker is driving me bonkers!

Dear Aunty B,

You know how there’s always that one person in the office who talks too loud? Well, in my office, she talks, laughs and sneezes really loudly.

Now don’t get me wrong, she is a lovely sweet girl and would never hurt a soul but she just doesn’t seem to have any internal monologue. During the course of the day, she will keep a running dialogue of the emails she receives, the articles she’s reading and the work she’s doing.

If she sneezes, she will then draw everyone’s attention to it by apologising profusely and at length (which suggests to me that she knows how loud she is being).

If she hears or reads something funny, she will give this high-pitched giggle akin to the one I imagine Barbie would give.

A lot of her job involves her talking on the phone to people and reading things to them, which she does VERY loudly. In the past, people have complained so HR set up interview rooms in our office for people to use when talking on the phone, so that they don’t distract other people. Everyone who needs to conduct an interview on the phone uses these rooms, except her!

What would you do, Aunty? She’s a very sweet girl so I don’t want to hurt her feelings but it really is quite frustrating. I’ve tried putting in headphones and blaring loud music but I can still hear her! It’s really hard to concentrate and just damn distracting.

Peace and Quiet,



Dear Peace and Quiet,

You poor thing! I know how these things get on your nerves and get on your nerves and get on your nerves until you can’t take it anymore and you find yourself writing to your dear Aunty B!

And my first instinct is to arrange to have the dear girl removed forcibly from her desk. But I warn you to be careful here. Loud people can be annoying, but they can also give an office personality. Being distracted all day is one thing, but working in a morgue is another.

I reckon your HR team has given you the solution with their interview rooms – you just need to make sure the rule is enforced. Ask HR to send out a general reminder to all staff to use the interview room.

If that doesn’t work, get the girl’s direct manager and/or HR to give her a friendly reminder that she needs to use the room. End of story.

If she doesn’t do it, she needs to get a less friendly reminder.

One final suggestion: Launch an office re-organisation and put the girl in a place where her noise is contained.

Be smart,

Aunty B

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