David has over 15 years supervisory experience and has extensive knowledge in how to handle personnel issues across many areas.
Loud People in the Workplace
There are two types of loud people you will have to contend with in the workplace - your co-workers and your customers. Each have to be handled in different ways.
This article will give you the knowledge you need to deal with any kind of loud person in your office.
Quiet is better than loud.
— Dieter Rams
Don't be Loud Yourself
If someone else is loud, then don't be loud in return. It only makes the situation worse and won't solve the problem at all. Instead, set an example and keep a moderate tone, no matter how loud someone else may get.
How to Handle a Loud Co-Worker
Having loud co-workers in the workplace can be a monster to tackle. Customers come and go, but you could be stuck with your co-workers for years. The tips below should help you handle a loud person in the office.
- Ignore them. This should be the first step in the process. Unless it is a work related issue, just ignore them. If you don't speak to them or engage them in conversation, they may get the hint. Eventually they will get tired of having a one sided conversation and stop talking altogether.
- Talk to the entire office about it. Have a group meeting where everyone agrees to keep their voices at a subdued volume as it won't distract others, yet will still allow conversations to happen. This addresses the issue without singling one person out.
- Ask the co-worker if you are doing anything that is bothering them. This could be the easiest way to broach the subject. If they state something that you do that bothers them, you could do the same in return. Just don't get offended if they are honest with you.
- Tell your co-worker directly how loud they are. Either try to slip in some jokes about it, make a comment about it, or directly confront the employee about how loud they are. Any way you do it, it will offend the person eventually. No one likes being told something about them that isn't liked, so it'll create some tension at first.
- Turn up the music. If your workplace allows it, play some music to drown out the loud talker. If they start talking loud, turn the music up. This is a good way to get the point across that they are too loud and need to tone it down a bit. Don't make it so loud you can't focus, though.
- Distract yourself. Find ways to reduce the stress caused by your loud co-worker. Step out of the office for minute, eat your favorite snack, or fidget with something. Finding a way to reduce the stress of the situation may make it easier to handle in the long term.
- Tell your boss. If a co-worker is distracting you with how loud they are, you can go to your supervisor and advise them of the problem. The difficulty in this is that it can be hard to tell someone to be quiet. Being loud could be part of a person's personality. You can't fix or change a person's personality. Unless the employee is being purposely loud, difficult, or otherwise rude, there may not be much your boss can do for you that you haven't already tried yourself.
Very Direct Ways on Dealing with a Loud Person in the Office
Tone and Attitude Are Important
Always maintain a positive tone and attitude when dealing with your customers, regardless of how loud and obnoxious they may get. Assume they are recording you or will ask to talk to your supervisor. So you need to ensure you are always professional.
How to Handle Loud Customers
Handling loud customers is different than your co-workers. Fortunately the tips below should help address that issue.
- Loud children. In tough economic times, most parents can't afford to hire a babysitter to watch the kids. This means that the children tag along with the family - they go to the movies, out to dinner, and other social events. The young children, especially babies, are prone to be loud enough to disturb the patrons around them. It's not the business' responsibility to deal with the children, but if it disturbs other customers, they have an obligation to intervene. Ask the family to step outside to calm their children down. It may be rude to them, but it will save the aggravation of your other customers and ensure repeat business. Just ensure it's done tactfully so you don't end up in the news.
- Complaining customers. Customers complain, and most times, they do it loudly. Mostly to bring attention to their cause, but primarily because they are mad. You have to do your best to maintain a calming tone and attitude. Don't raise your voice and don't use harsh words. Just try to calm the person down. If they start to get abusive, even using offensive language, you will have to advise them you will terminate the conversation unless they stop. If they fail to stop, then you just simply walk away. In extreme cases, you have to get security involved to escort the person out. It seems harsh, but sometimes those people won't go away.
- Loud people for the sake of being loud. Some people are just naturally loud. They aren't doing anything wrong, so you will just have to grin and bear it. Just like the customer that complains, you need to remain calm and maintain a positive attitude. The sooner you help them, the sooner they will be gone. That is the best way to handle that kind of loud customer in the workplace.
Do Not Handle a Loud Person in the Office This Way
Being Loud is a Personality Trait
Being loud is a personality trait more than anything, so an employee shouldn't be punished for being loud unless it's causing that much of an issue in the office.
How Supervisors can Handle a Loud Person in the Office
If you have an employee come to you about a loud person in the office, specifically a co-worker, then there are some things you can do to address the situation.
- Address it openly in the office. I once had an employee laughing and talking loudly in the office. I said her name in a loud, stern tone that everyone reacted to. She got the hint and toned it down. Sometimes that's all it takes to correct in the issue in the short term.
- See how the loud employee could be affecting work. If it's affecting phone calls, legitimately distracting others, etc. then you can address it and advise the employee to lower their voice. If they aren't causing problems with the work, then there is nothing you can do about it.
- Offer the tips above to the employee with the complaint. If you have no reason to intervene, provide some of the tips in this article to the employee making the complaint. It might help them cope and eventually resolve the situation themselves.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: How long can workers socialize during office hours?
Answer: That's a loaded question. Office workers tend to socialize more than those in manufacturing jobs. It's up to the employer to determine that, but socializing is part of the office environment.
© 2012 David Livermore
FlourishAnyway from USA on March 06, 2014:
I cannot stand loud talking. I used to have a coworker who would randomly burst into very loud laughter and I would have a hard time hearing clients on the phone. I constantly told her to use her inside voice but it was like working with a child.
David Livermore (author) from Bakersfield, California, United States on January 31, 2013:
I deal with them on an almost daily basis. It's like nails on a chalkboard. But, sometimes telling them that they are loud is the only way.
Catherine Taylor from Canada on January 31, 2013:
Great advice here. I am not a fan of loud people at all and find it extremely stressful when I am forced to confront them. Sadly some really loud, obnoxious people are hard to ignore.
David Livermore (author) from Bakersfield, California, United States on November 11, 2012:
I ignore them as a last resort. Since you could be working with them so often, I would prefer to have open communication than to ignore one another. But sometimes, it is necessary. Thanks for your comment!
landocheese on November 11, 2012:
The best way in my experience to deal with a loud co-worker is to talk to the directly. However, they may be loud in their reply, so the ignore step may have to be used later.
David Livermore (author) from Bakersfield, California, United States on November 10, 2012:
Most often, yes, but not always. I have worked with some who just haven't cared. Still, being calm, cool, and confident is a good idea. Thanks for the comment!
Kawika Chann from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place on November 10, 2012:
Loud and abusive people are not ones that I care to spend my time with at work, unfortunately they always seem to gravitate towards me... sigh. Being calm, cool, and confident that you can fix the problem and that you understand their distress always gets them to bring their voice down. More often then not, they apologise when they see the effort you make to satisfy their unmet needs. Voted up. Peace. Kawi.
David Livermore (author) from Bakersfield, California, United States on November 08, 2012:
Thanks so much. I know we try to live in a polite society, but sometimes you just have to tell the person how it is. Thanks for your comment!
L.L. Woodard from Oklahoma City on November 08, 2012:
Your point about confronting a co-worker whose loudness is annoying is a great example of being assertive in order to reduce your own stress. I have sometimes found if I lower the volume of my own voice when someone is shouting at me achieves my intended purpose, but even if it does, it doesn't last for long.
Great hub/ voted up and Shared.
David Livermore (author) from Bakersfield, California, United States on November 07, 2012:
Hah unsure if there is anything you can do about a loud dog! Unfortunately in my work place, when someone complains they are referred to me. Thank you!
Jessica Peri from United States on November 07, 2012:
In the pet store where I work the dogs tend to be the loudest! But we do get customers who, when upset, get very loud and verbal. I usually just hand it over to a manager, or when I say I can get a manager they huff and just leave. But noise can be very distracting either way. Voted up.