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Loud and offensive music at office? Tell Human Resources

Dear Amy: My workplace recently installed broadcast music. We work in cubicles, and there are various job functions going on in the same area. I have to read heavy documents and hold discussions with vendors about products vitally important to our company.

Others in my area have lighter responsibilities and can play throughout the day. These folks like the music loud. I am thrown off by the lyrics and lose concentration, and I am upset when I hear sexual innuendo in the lyrics while I am working.

I have complained. Other types of music were tried, but my co-workers like the lyrics and I am the minority.

What can I do?

Employee at Wits' End

Dear Employee: First you need to make sure that you have complained to the right person. If you go far enough up the chain of command, someone in management is likely to understand the way this loud distraction is undermining your productivity and that of your colleagues.

Furthermore, if the lyrics are offensive, whoever is responsible for the tune selection is creating a hostile work environment. There is a likelihood that other employees also find this music offensive but haven't spoken up. This is a potentially serious matter that could leave your company open to a lawsuit.

Start with a visit to Human Resources. Emphatically make your case that the piped-in music is having a negative effect on your ability to perform your duties. HR should help you sort this out.

Dear Amy: In response to the letter from the person who wondered why everyone is so intent on confrontation these days, I wonder if perhaps the question we should be asking is, Why are so many people so thoughtless these days?

I find it hard to believe that we are all just itching for a fight. Is it possible that we're just utterly disheartened by the rude, selfish behavior we witness in strangers, family and friends alike?

Amy, it seems that 50 percent or more of your letters are from people who've been hurt or offended in some way by the behavior of those from whom they expected more.

Is it really so wrong to let people know that they've been insensitive or self-serving? As you pointed out, it may be a matter of semantics. But call it what you will – “discussion” or “confrontation” – it seems reasonable that the less we say to others about how their actions affect us, the more they will assume that they have free rein to behave as they please.

What is the harm in saying, “It really hurt me when you did such and such, and it made me feel that you don't really care about my feelings”?

Confrontation? Perhaps. But what is wrong with letting people know that we value them enough to be affected by their words or actions?

Not Looking for a Fight

Dear Not: I'm a fan of clarity.

When we let people know how we feel, we are creating an opportunity to talk, clear the air and make some changes that will improve our relationships.

Unfortunately, people seem to want to confront others over behavior that doesn't really have an impact on them. An example of this would be pointing out that a colleague is overweight and should do something about it.

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