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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

How to Tell Your Co-workers to Turn Down Their Music (Without Being Rude)

person listening to loud music
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The one true thing about working in an open office is that everyone has headphones. How else do you drown out the noise? Even if you weren’t one to listen to music while working, well, now you are. And so is the co-worker to your left, right, and across from you.

Everyone’s listening—some of us louder than others. Your perfectly pleasant colleague, Larry, in fact, dons giant headphones every morning and turns his volume up so loud that you can actually hear all the lyrics.

How to Put an End to This as Subtly as Possible:

First, consider that Larry isn’t aware that his music’s so loud your team could start a sing-a-long. He’s probably only listening because he, too, is distracted by the noise and needs to drown everything out. If he knew that you were struggling to do your work because of him he might even be mortified.

Try this candid approach: “I love that last group you were just listening to. Who are they?”

At this point, he might recognize that the volume was not at an acceptable level and rush to turn it down. He may apologize and ask you to let him know if it’s ever disruptive again.

How to Put an End to This if He Can’t Take a Hint:

If he’s oblivious, politely ask if he could turn it down a notch. “My earbuds aren’t the best, so between your music and this office’s chaos, I can’t focus! Haha.” Sometimes, making a half-joke out of the situation and commiserating can take a potentially awkward exchange and make it feel less cringe-worthy.

If you’re struggling to get work done because your co-worker’s little habit is driving you nuts, well, you’re going to have to find a good solution to it.

So, tell me on Twitter: What is your most frustrating office issue? If a lot of people agree, I might just cover it!