Lisa Parker | Executive Coach | Heads Up Coaching and ConsultingDear Coach,
I have a coworker whose voice is very loud. She has been asked by several of our more senior colleagues to please turn down the volume, but it doesn’t last long when she does. I do a lot of phone work and she drowns out the person I’m trying to hear. She is my peer in level, but has been here longer than I have. Sometimes I want to remind her to lower her voice, but is it my place to do so?

Thank you,
Bothered in Bristol

Dear Bothered,
Yes, it is. It has nothing to do with level or tenure; everyone in a shared workspace shares responsibility for maintaining a harmonious and productive environment. Loud talking made the top 3 in a survey asking which coworker habits are most “obnoxious.”

It’s not that she doesn’t care. After all, she does make the effort when reminded. Some people just aren’t aware when they are being loud, like in the old SNL skit about the loud family. What to do?

Wait for an opportune moment to have a brief chat with her using the SBI model to set up your request. Situation: Sally, we work in close quarters here and we all need to be mindful of our volume. Behavior: I’ve noticed that you do try to keep the volume down, but it’s not consistent, especially when we are busy (or whatever triggers the volume.) Impact: When your volume creeps up, I can’t hear our clients on the phone and I have to ask them to repeat themselves. That doesn’t make our team look very focused. Your request: I know you don’t do it on purpose, so is there a non-verbal signal I can give you to remind you to lower the volume? The goal is for the two of you to work together to improve the overall environment. Good luck!

Coach Lisa