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gladiatorqueen
06-19-2011, 04:34 AM
I work in a small office with another individual who is not my boss but a co-worker. Her phone is constantly making noises from people who are texting her. She also has angry exchanges with her exhusband once in awhile while sitting at her desk. They can last anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes. None of it is work related but on her personal cell phone.

I find this very distracting! I also think it's terribly rude to make me listen to her personal/argumentative calls and her phone's constant "texting" sounds.

I have tolerated it for quite a few months now, but have pretty much had it. I would like to have a conversation with her and could use some advice on what I might say or how I should approach the subject with her.

For what it's worth, if my phone rings (which it rarely does), I take my phone with me and leave the office to find a quiet spot where I can have a private conversation.

Am I being silly or do I have a legitimate complaint here?

numbers123
06-19-2011, 04:44 AM
Personal phone calls at work are a distraction of company time and should not occur. I know many disagree with me, but the companies I worked for had policies against personal phone calls which, if supervisor wished to enforce could be disciplined up to suspension without pay for 1 day or more.
Is it worth losing a day or two of pay?

Jot the Dot Dot
06-19-2011, 04:44 AM
Only thing you can do is take it up with your boss. If things cannot be ironed out, might need to change jobs if it is that much a distraction.

danceronice
06-19-2011, 04:45 AM
I think it's a legitimate complain. Especially regarding texting beeps and noises! I will answer my cell phone if it rings, but if the voice mail alert goes off or in the unlikely event someone texts me (there's always one who doesn't get that I don't text) I just shut it off.

Matryeshka
06-19-2011, 05:39 AM
I'd try talking to her about it in a friendly, non-confrontational manner. I've found that regarding cell phones, a lot of users simply do not realize how distracting their phone calls are, especially if they're going through trying personal times. Think about it--if you're going through something kind of heavy, your world becomes very small and almost collapses into that one issue. You might just want to politely ask her to leave her desk, or put her phone on vibrate. If it's an issue for you, chances are, it's an issue for others in your work place as well.

If that doesn't work, look up your company's policy on cell phone use, then nicely-but-firmly remind her of it. I know this sounds anal, but you need to document when you talk to her, and even how many times her phone goes off. She might not even realize how often she's on the phone. She might also look at you funny, but hey, it's a colleague, not a personal friend. If that doesn't work, go to your boss or her boss or HR.

If your company doesn't have a cell phone policy, then I'd suggest to whoever is in charge of writing policy for your office to make one. Maybe you could all do it together, if that's feasible.

FiveRinger
06-19-2011, 07:00 AM
Every company that I have worked for over the last 10 years has had a policy about using cell phones during work hours. I got used to putting my phone on vibrate a long time ago and going to a provate area to use it if necessary during work hours. My current employer sees it as a security breach because we have contracts with the government; the chief concern is the ability to take pixes and videos with the phone and dealing with peoples' personal info and records.

I agree with the nonconfrontational discussion. She may not know that it is disturbing for the office to be all up in her personal business. I have heard many one-sided conversations that I wish I hadn't!! It changes your entire perception of folks. I would tell her that her phone usage is causing a disturbance and out of consideration for her co-workers she should set her phone to vibrate if she just has to take her calls and then discreetly leave the floor to handle her issues.

gladiatorqueen
06-19-2011, 07:04 AM
Thanks everyone. I will talk to her. I just feel kind of weird because it does seem kind of anal, but on the other hand, it's kind of hard to focus on my work when she is arguing with her ex 3 steps from my desk. I have to get my administrative work done within a limited amount of time because I only work 30 hours a week (of which 15 hours are spent overseeing clinical shifts).

Aussie Willy
06-19-2011, 11:39 AM
I think anything that is a distraction to your work is valid. Years ago we had a situation with someone who was going through a divorce with her husband and she was literally yelling at him on the phone. Everyone complained because we really didn't need to hear her personal stuff.

We generally don't have a problem with cells phones, but one guy where I work has an English soccer club cheering thing on his phone. I have taken to hiding it in his top drawer to keep quiet as it usually rings when he leaves his desk.

Aceon6
06-19-2011, 12:11 PM
Most small firms struggle with the timing of formal policies, and it takes a situation like yours to get management to pay attention. Instead of speaking directly to her, and possibly setting up an uncomfortable situation for the future. Speak to the boss. Explain the situation, ask if s/he thinks it's time for a policy, then ask whether the boss or you should speak to the individual.

As a starter, ours is "Personal devices may be used as long as they do not disrupt work." We have meeting rules that say that devices must be set to silent and that meeting participants must leave the meeting room if taking a call.

Angelskates
06-19-2011, 12:16 PM
I definitely think you should talk to her before going to your boss.

Karina1974
06-19-2011, 03:15 PM
My current employer sees it as a security breach because we have contracts with the government; the chief concern is the ability to take pixes and videos with the phone and dealing with peoples' personal info and records.



They shouldn't be allowing cells in the workplace at all if that is the case. I do data entry (as a 2nd job) for the tax department for Bank of America, for IFTA, Corp. Tax, NY Sales Tax and, until this year, NYS Personal Income Tax. Cell phone usage is absolutely not allowed past the front vestibule; they used to not even allow people to bring them in, but now the policy is that they have to be off and kept put away, or they will confiscate them.


I just feel kind of weird because it does seem kind of anal, but on the other hand, it's kind of hard to focus on my work when she is arguing with her ex 3 steps from my desk.

It most definitely is not anal. People need to keep their personal business out of the workplace, and your management should be reminding her, if it has to go that far, that she is NOT being paid to sit at her desk and argue with people who don't even work for the company; also, that many people would love her job and, if she keeps it up, they will have a chance to at it in the near future.

I know if I were in your shoes, it would only take maybe 2 or 3 times before I would be saying to her "will you please shut UP?? People are trying to work here, and *I* don't want to hear your personal bullshit!!" I don't feel there is a need to be polite or subtle about things like that when someone else is creating such an obvious disturbance and, if they don't like it, tough.

Matryeshka
06-19-2011, 05:30 PM
Most small firms struggle with the timing of formal policies, and it takes a situation like yours to get management to pay attention. Instead of speaking directly to her, and possibly setting up an uncomfortable situation for the future. Speak to the boss.

I think if you go over her head first, that would cause a MORE uncomfortable situation. This is something that is an aggravation, not some huge violation of safety. I would think most bosses would say first off, "did you talk to your co-worker first?". As a boss, I would. It's a cell phone. Yes, an annoying one, but again, if you don't talk to her first (politely) you actually do run the risk of looking petty. It helps to have your bases covered so it doesn't sound like you're whining or just trying to get your coworker in trouble.

Besides it's the right thing to do. I swear, if I ever work with any of you and do something to piss you off, PLEASE talk to me first.


They shouldn't be allowing cells in the workplace at all if that is the case. I do data entry (as a 2nd job) for the tax department for Bank of America, for IFTA, Corp. Tax, NY Sales Tax and, until this year, NYS Personal Income Tax. Cell phone usage is absolutely not allowed past the front vestibule; they used to not even allow people to bring them in, but now the policy is that they have to be off and kept put away, or they will confiscate them.

I know if I were in your shoes, it would only take maybe 2 or 3 times before I would be saying to her "will you please shut UP?? People are trying to work here, and *I* don't want to hear your personal bullshit!!" I don't feel there is a need to be polite or subtle about things like that when someone else is creating such an obvious disturbance and, if they don't like it, tough.

Errrr...I don't think she works somewhere that security is that much of an issue. It sounds to me from reading between the lines this is normally a nice work environment that's small and cozy. I know sometimes rules are a little more lax in a smaller office and maybe the ultimate goal is NOT to have NO cell phone usage--after all the OP did mention her cell phone is on as well, it's just less of a distraction and she has the sense to leave her desk when it does. That's another reason why I say talk to her first, unless you want ALL cell phone privileges revoked. What I got was it was a problem of frequency and the loudness of it, not the idea of talking on a phone itself.

And, yes, there is ALWAYS a need to be polite in the workplace. You're a professional in a professional situation, and outbursts like that are not professional. If you scream at her like Karina suggests, I promise you, it WILL NOT be the cell phone user that gets in trouble. In any work-conflict situation, the goal is to diffuse before escalation. Going to the boss or yelling at the person does not do it. All it does is make you seem vengeful and petty.

VIETgrlTerifa
06-19-2011, 05:38 PM
And, yes, there is ALWAYS a need to be polite in the workplace. You're a professional in a professional situation, and outbursts like that are not professional. If you scream at her like Karina suggests, I promise you, it WILL NOT be the cell phone user that gets in trouble. In any work-conflict situation, the goal is to diffuse before escalation. Going to the boss or yelling at the person does not do it. All it does is make you seem vengeful and petty.

Word.

Aceon6
06-19-2011, 05:57 PM
I think if you go over her head first, that would cause a MORE uncomfortable situation. This is something that is an aggravation, not some huge violation of safety. I would think most bosses would say first off, "did you talk to your co-worker first?". As a boss, I would. It's a cell phone. Yes, an annoying one, but again, if you don't talk to her first (politely) you actually do run the risk of looking petty. It helps to have your bases covered so it doesn't sound like you're whining or just trying to get your coworker in trouble.


Perhaps I didn't phrase my response that clearly. I would go to the boss with "Do you think we're big enough for a cell phone policy? There have been a couple of times recently when it might have come in handy." I would not go to the boss with "Sally's cell phone use is driving me crazy."

As for the Sally's of the world, if there's on thing I've learned from being in the workforce for 45 years, it's to interact with people the first time, not the 3rd or the 10th. The one and only chance to ask nicely is the first time. Anything after that invites "it never bothered you before" or "you know that we are going through a rough time"

Karina1974
06-19-2011, 08:05 PM
and outbursts like that are not professional. If you scream at her like Karina suggests, .

I didn't suggest "screaming". Anytime you scream, it is implying fear on your part, not authority or a clear warning of consequences if the person doesn't snap to and cut out their nonsense. I learned that from my father; he (and his father) could work that "chest voice" better than anyone I've ever heard.

And if management would ever take the side of the cell phone user having distruptive, personal calls while on paid time over anyone telling her to zip it (no matter how it is phrased), I can't say that would be the kind of place where I, personally, would want to work. You don't see people yakking away on their cells where I work, unless it's the outside sales guys when they're out on the road.