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Dear Lola,

My office workplace is made up of a room with cubicles. Due to the noise level, I’ve begun to wear earplugs while concentrating on my work. I cannot concentrate without them in and sometimes I even wear them as I eat my lunch and catch up on the news. However, my coworkers have reacted as if I screamed ‘I hate you!’ to the entire office. They have stopped dropping by my desk and will frequently leave me out of lunch invites. Previously I had a cordial relationship with most of the office and went out to lunch with them once or twice each week.

How can I make my coworkers understand that I need my earplugs to focus on the job and it is nothing personal?

Sincerely,
Confused Coworker 

Dear Lola

Dear Confused Coworker,

You did scream ‘I hate you!’ to the entire office – you just did it using nonverbal messages. You obviously don’t understand the memo your earplugs are sending out, so let’s review them.

You people are too noisy.

Your office may not be as noisy as an amusement park, but you must surely think it’s a close comparison. Everyone has tasks at work that require intense thought and concentration, so there are valid times to block out noise. Using them all day, every day, means you find every single noise your coworkers make to be obnoxiously loud. Unless those coworkers are developing a louder bagpipe, take the earplugs out.

My work is very important.

It must be so, you need earplugs just to block out the world around you! Everyone else in the office is doing menial work in comparison, that’s why they don’t require the very important noise blockers. I bet Jody in human resources is just reading Wikipedia and giving herself a manicure while she waits for one worker to punch another in the face – thus giving her job a purpose. (I’m sorry Jody, I know you are killing yourself to resolve the recent personnel issues revolving around earplugs, I’m trying to help.)

Leave me alone.

Yep. You said it. As your coworkers began leaving you behind for lunch, you did not pull out your earplugs and ask to tag along. As they stopped initiating conversation, you also lost use of your vocal chords and couldn’t initiate one on your own. As you sat eating your lunch with your earplugs in… seriously, you may need to consider working at home in your pajamas! (My Mommybeast swears it is the best!)

Have you heard of noise cancelling headphones?

I bet those would go over a whole lot better with your coworkers. It’s hard to be mad at a person for not wanting to disturb everyone else with his favorite yodeling hits! Heck, your coworkers could even hope you were using them to listen to self-help books about fostering a better workplace environment.

Take out the earplugs and say hello to the other humans around you.

And pet any dogs you meet, they need attention also!

♥Lola♥

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