Can you focus at work if people are talking?

Discussion in 'education & employment' started by RubyToogood, May 11, 2018.

  1. RubyToogood

    RubyToogood can't remember what goes here

    Because I can't but I seem to be the only one. We have a small office with no separate meeting room and nobody seems to see a problem with having meetings directly behind my head.

    I'm genuinely interested to know if I'm unusual in being unable to tune it out
  2. mrs quoad

    mrs quoad Well-Known Member


    Or typing.

    Particularly if it’s just one conversation. (I can work in a babble).

    With the benefits of hindsight, I suspect this is somewhat related to being somewhere on the autistic spectrum.
    Throbbing Angel and fishfinger like this.
  3. Poot

    Poot Everyone's a superhero, everyone's a Captain Kirk

    Depends who it is and what they're talking about. If they're quite monotonous and talking about work, yes, if they're entertaining and talking about their weekend, probably not. (I have no problem with this.)
  4. cybershot

    cybershot Well-Known Member

    I can blank them out,

    I put headphones in if I need to concentrate and want no distractions what so ever, although a good tune can be a distraction at times!

    I'd probably bring up in next team meeting/one to one that meetings should take place in a communal location, or go out to a coffee shop or something.
  5. Thimble Queen

    Thimble Queen Sparkly cat whisperer

    People talking behind my head is quite distracting. Luckily I sit in the corner with a wall and a window behind me. I have headphones though so I just pop them on if people are talking too loudly for too long. I like a chat at work so it's not something I would complain about.

    However, one of my colleagues is totally annoying and utterly incapable of using inside voice. It's particularly terrible when he's on the phone. He also has a booming laugh. And laughs at things which are not remotely funny :mad:
    farmerbarleymow likes this.
  6. cheesethief

    cheesethief Well-Known Member

    Hell no, it's intolerable. I find the noise other people make to be quite infuriating - talking, laughing, eating, breathing, it's all monstrous. I survive in the office by always having ear phones to hand, and a good Spotify playlist of background, instrumental music (can't listen to lyrics, too distracting).

    I would prefer to work in total silence...
    sojourner, Sue and Edie like this.
  7. BristolEcho

    BristolEcho Well-Known Member

    I'm definitely guilty of talking myself through every little thing. Its a bit embarrassing really.
  8. Thimble Queen

    Thimble Queen Sparkly cat whisperer

    Oh I don't mind people who mutter to themselves about what they are doing. I prefer working with my headphones on anyway... I distract myself otherwise :oops:
  9. mwgdrwg

    mwgdrwg Be a Pisces. Jam.

    Just put on my noise-cancelling headphones for this very reason. Plus I've got a migraine starting and have popped some co-codomol. STFU!!!!!!!!!
    farmerbarleymow and RubyToogood like this.
  10. Miss-Shelf

    Miss-Shelf I've looked at life from both sides now

    I always use headphones in the office
    kalidarkone and Thimble Queen like this.
  11. Edie

    Edie Well-Known Member

    My workplace is really very noisy and busy, and I have to concentrate very intensely when I’m reading to make sure I’ve grasped everything and don’t make mistakes. Some of my feedback has been that I’m difficult to interrupt for other people to tell stuff. I’ve had to take that on board but I find it difficult when I’m interrupted multiple times in ten minutes, but it’s just a skill I need to learn.
  12. Red Cat

    Red Cat Well-Known Member

    I can't, no. I work in mental health. For our admin, case discussion, we now hot desk in a portakabin with a metre between us at desks, sometimes up to 30 people in the room, people on phones, conversations all around. I end up working at home, saving drafts of letters and reports in This is a systemic cost-cutting problem, you simply can't do the complex thinking emotional work of this kind in that environment. I'm off today because my eldest is sick, I'll be using it do work I can't do in work.
    RubyToogood likes this.
  13. StoneRoad

    StoneRoad heckling from the back!

    Advice - next group meeting ; ask if non-work chatter can be quietened down and if work then suggest a coffee shop meeting.

    Depends on what is going on with the talkers, what I have to be doing at the time and the level of other background noise. I have a "supervisory" role, so I need to be at least aware of what is going on around me - so I can sort out problems before they develop, or stop someone doing something before it becomes a problem.

    Sometimes I need to work without these situations, for example, compiling tender submissions or similar. In which case I either push off into the office or work from home.

    I do find loud, tuneless whistling / singing distracting and talking about football, sex, religion and politics is not allowed "on the floor" (during breaks I don't mind, as long as the conversation is decorous, if it ain't then a ton of bricks will land - ditto for unnecessary bad / inappropriate language at anytime).

    In previous jobs, even in an open plan studio - other people yakking hasn't been too much of a problem. If too loud, they get shouted at - or told to into the separate kitchen / big meeting room. Most of the time I could tune out the chattering / music.

    I remember one time, the junior partner was holding forth about a work project (a minor problem, in fact, if he had stopped to think first) but as he had got out of the bed on the wrong side, he was swearing almost every other word and practically shouting over people. Eventually, the senior partner stood up - he was in the far corner desk, yelled "PETER, FOR F***K's SAKE, SHUT THE F**K UP - I was on the phone to XXX (another client) and he asked me who was getting murdered !!!" then sat down and called the guy back - we didn't loose the new job, luckily.
    The client - in London - was the same one who told the boss to tell me "bless you" one time when I had a couple of mega loud sneezes during another phone call, they found it funny then and I do now, in retrospect.
  14. dessiato

    dessiato Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono

    A huge part of my job is listening to multiple conversations simultaneously. I can do it, but not with full and proper attention. However, it does mean that I'm able to work when surrounded by noise.
  15. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Every man and every woman is a star

    focus? at work? when people here chat away it distracts me from my most important task of the day.

    not to mention that they really shouldn't be chatting away at all, considering the environment i work in
    tim, farmerbarleymow, Badgers and 2 others like this.
  16. existentialist

    existentialist Nearly there now; steady as she goes...

    I imagine that's when we see your Urban posting rate dropping away a bit from time to time, then? :)
    tim, farmerbarleymow, OzT and 2 others like this.
  17. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Every man and every woman is a star

    yeh when i have to shush the buggers
  18. cybershot

    cybershot Well-Known Member

    Work from home an option?
    Pickman's model likes this.
  19. Thimble Queen

    Thimble Queen Sparkly cat whisperer

    Someone is having a really loud teleconference in the meeting room with the door open. My colleague in the next office is blowing his nose as loudly as humanly possible - a different one to the loud talky one, who thankfully isn't here today :thumbs:
  20. Looby

    Looby Well-Known Member

    I like a certain level of noise and chatter and I can’t work in silence.
    It can be quite distracting when it’s fun chatter but I’m usually happy to be distracted for a bit.

    In the uni library though, it’s ridiculous. Yesterday there was a group of people having a really long and loud conversation that I could hear over loud music on my headphones. I didn’t say anything, I just glared a bit. Behind me now is a woman doing a weird sucking noise. She’s had 3 long phone conversations since 9.30 and I’d really like her to fuck off and leave me to stare at my laptop.

    ETA- now she’s tapping her pen.

    I could go and sit in the quiet zone but it’s very cramped and so quiet that you’re afraid to breathe.

    Why can’t there be a quietish zone.
  21. Geri

    Geri wasn't born to follow

    I share an office with one person, but she is very, VERY loud. She has lost her voice this week but her coughing is horrendous. Can't hear people on the phone!
  22. equationgirl

    equationgirl Respect my existence or expect my resistance

    I'm surprised you let them. Don't you at least scowl at them?
    Pickman's model likes this.
  23. equationgirl

    equationgirl Respect my existence or expect my resistance

    I have noise cancelling head phones. Some of my colleagues have loud speakerphone calls in an open plan office which can be very distracting. I also sit close to someone with no inside voice, and the office clique like to talk loudly about all the things they are organising that the rest of the office is not invited to.

    I have a low tolerance to other people, basically, listening to music stops me going postal.
    farmerbarleymow likes this.
  24. Red Cat

    Red Cat Well-Known Member

    What are good not very expensive noise cancelling headphones?

    Thing is, I don't really like the idea of sitting in a room of people not being able to hear what's going on. I'm sure I'd feel nervous.
    RubyToogood likes this.
  25. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Every man and every woman is a star

    they wouldn't notice as i constantly scowl at work
  26. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Every man and every woman is a star

    i think so but my managers differ
    Badgers likes this.
  27. souljacker

    souljacker A bit of skullduggery

    I can work with noise, no problem. In fact, I hate quiet offices and I'm usually the one who puts the radio on or starts chatting or singing.
    Poot and Thimble Queen like this.
  28. strung out

    strung out (",)

    I work in a library and can't bear it when it's silent. I need to have plenty of conversations to be happy and wouldn't be able to focus if it was silent all the time.
  29. Supine

    Supine Rough Like Badger

    My performance goes down in a busy noisy office.

    It's the companies problem :D
  30. equationgirl

    equationgirl Respect my existence or expect my resistance

    I use sennheiser in ear headphones, they're about £30.
    Pickman's model and Red Cat like this.

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