Noisy people.What are you supposed to do when you are interrupted (for the umpteenth time) by someone who talks loudly in his/her office? How can you refocus when you are not only distracted from what you were working on but also really irritated by the interruption because it is part of a continuing pattern of uncivil and selfish behavior on your colleague’s part?

Going insane and being completely stressed out by this behavior is one option…but it’s not a good one, particularly when you want, instead, to refocus, calm down, and continue working. A few tips to try include:

  1. Breathe deeply. It may seem unnecessary and like it wouldn’t help, but it does. Breathe as if you are completely filling your lungs - and do so slowly. Then, release your breath and imagine that your stress is flowing out with that breath. You have been served in at least two ways: 1) your body needs more oxygen than you are probably giving it as you sit and work at your desk and 2) you are giving yourself a moment to breathe, relax, and release.

  2. Come up with some signal about changing your frame on this. This may be difficult because an annoying and selfish colleague who disrupts you and others (and has for years) prompts a long-standing and immediate response to be irritated and upset. To start to change that response will involve some mental and physical reprogramming and you have to really want it to work.
    • When the phone rings or you hear his baritone voice saying, ‘Sure, come on in! Let’s talk,” or anything like this, breathe, say some phrase or word like, ‘I’m tunneling in on this project,’ or ‘it’s amazing how focused I am,’ or ‘like a laser,’ or something else. I don’t know what it is FOR YOU, but you can find something. It might be only one word, like ‘calm.’ Remember, you probably have YEARS of building up the resentment and anger about this guy and his antics… so it will take awhile to come back from that.

    • Sometimes objects work (not to throw, however). I have a little stone that was carved in Alaska and it’s my calming stone. Something about it is just calming. It’s small and I don’t know if it is the shape or the feel or what… but it helps. You need a focus object. You might think about athletes who have such an amazing ritual and way they go through when they are playing (e.g., tennis players) to stay calm and focused. It must work for them and maybe we can learn from that.

  3. Write down the VERY next action you were going to take. This is a tip that works well with interruptions of any kind. You want to make note of whatever the VERY next thing you were going to do, write, add, or whatever, so that after the interruption, you can get right back to it. It’s a little thing but it makes a difference.

Your purpose and intent is to get your work done in a timely manner and with the least amount of stress and hassle. When others distract us, both with their actions and with their thoughtless disregard, we have the choice to find means to stay focused and get refocused as necessary. Try one of the ideas from this article and see if it helps. Ask others what ideas they have, too. Unfortunately, colleagues who imagine that the entire office is interested in their conversations are not as unusual as we might hope.

graphic-fresh-berries-300x199Sadly, toxicity can exist in any work environment. Please access the recording “Antioxidants” for Your Toxic Work Environment so you can live, learn and earn in positive, healthy, & productive places.



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