is it rude to shut someone’s office door if they’re being loud?

A reader writes:

Is it acceptable to close the door of someone’s office if they’re being loud? I’ve done it when my coworker is in my boss’s office and they are being loud and disturbing my concentration. Of course, I just walked up to the door and pulled it closed. I didn’t slam it or anything.

The office IS a toxic work environment where the socializing employee talks very loudly about personal life with another coworker constantly; another coworker has complained about this behavior to the boss. Another coworker in the office sits at the desk and reads books for many hours during the day and our supervisors just ignore these behaviors. The socializing employee has also been caught sleeping on the job on numerous occasions by both supervisors. These two coworkers are also everybody’s favorites.

I do wear headphones to block out the notice, but sometimes it just does not work and I try not to let it irritate me that my coworkers are goofing off all the time.

Is it disrespectful that I shut the door?

It really depends on your office culture — and where you fall in the hierarchy.

In many offices, it’s totally acceptable to close someone’s door with an apologetic smile, especially if they’re a peer or you’re senior to them. In other offices, that would be considered rude, particularly if the people behind that door are senior to you.

Sometimes it helps to say, “I’m so sorry — would you mind if I closed this while you’re talking?”

But it all comes down to the norms in your office. Those are always going to be the governing force with something like this.

In your case, the real problem sounds like terrible management and bad coworkers.

{ 91 comments… read them below }

  1. quietone*

    At oldoldjob the president had an office on one side of the (very narrow) building and the VPs had offices on the other side. Plebs in the middle in a cube farm. President would call VPs on speakerphone – and everyone had their doors open. It was awful.

    1. Jaune Desprez*

      How perfectly wretched.

      I might have been tempted to tell the most approachable of the VPs how much I admired the President’s commitment to openness and transparency. “I’ve never worked in a place where everyone was privy to management’s decision-making!”

    2. lowercase holly*


      if i wasn’t allowed to wear headphones, i’d be taking a lot of bathroom breaks.

    3. Clever Name*

      Heh. Reminds me of my last job. Most people had offices, but I was in an open area. Boss used to take all his calls on speakerphone. He also took very personal calls on speakerphone that really shouldn’t have been taken in the office at all. At least for those he closed his door. I could still hear everything.

    4. AnonToday*

      My two office neighbors talk on speakerphone to each other, loudly. To hear one side of the conversation is bad enough, but to hear it all in stereo is just the worst.

  2. KT*

    In my office, it’s seen as okay only if you do the apologetic (do you mind if I shut this) thing. To go up and shut it without saying anything would be horribly rude.

  3. Sans*

    I would think it is rude if you don’t say something, like Alison suggested. Just walking up to someone’s office and shutting the door without a word can come off kind of bitchy.

    1. Receptionist Without A Cause*

      Body language might contribute a lot to the situation. There’s a difference between gently/stealthily closing the door, slamming it, and closing it with a pointed click plus a dirty look.

  4. Cat*

    My office does it without even the apologetic smile, but that’s because usually the loud people are on phone calls that (1) they got unexpectedly, so it’s normal hey didn’t get a chance to close the door themselves and no reproachment is implied; and that means (2) they aren’t necessarily in a position to make eye contact with whoever is at their office door.

    1. A Jane*

      Same here — it’s the unexpected loud phone calls that seem to warrant a door closing.

  5. Retail Lifer*

    I really thought this was where I work (toxic environment, playing favorites, someone who sleeps on the job, etc.)! But then I realized the OP is shutting someone else’s door and NOT slamming it shut dramatically, so I guess it’s not where I work.

    I would probably find it startling if someone shut my door, but since I don’t have one I’m just guessing here. That *should* be enough of a hint to get people to tone it down, but it doesn’t seem like people who behave this way have a good understanding of socail cues in the first place. The people I work with who behave this way certainly don’t.

  6. Windchime*

    I’ve found that the answer in our office is, “It depends”. Most people are OK if you say, “Sorry, do you mind if I close this?” 9 times out of 10, the office owner will say, “Oh, sorry! Yes, of course!”. But then you get that one person who feels that they have the right to carry on loud, shouty speaker-phone conversations in their private office that **has a door**, without closing that door. I think that they have the illusion that the sound doesn’t carry because they are in a room or something.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      If that’s a frequent problem, it might be worth bringing up at some point when the loud talker is not on the phone. “Hey, Bob, there’s something about the acoustics of the office that makes your voice really carry when you’re on the phone, and I have trouble concentrating on my work instead of your conversation. Could you keep your door closed when you’re on speaker phone with someone?”

      1. Windchime*

        Oh, the guy I’m thinking of knew it, he just didn’t care. He’s gone now (layoffs), so that’s good. The other guy who gets noisy sometimes is a doctor, but he just gets loud and excited and he’s fine if we go close his door. He always apologizes (but never shuts it himself next time).

  7. Koko*

    I used to have to do this sometimes when I sat right outside my boss’s door at an old job. I usually managed to make eye contact, point at the door handle, give a friendly smile and wave (a la the Driver’s Wave) and then gently shut it.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Same with my boss, when I worked at the university for him. I didn’t close it for my own sake, because it didn’t bother me to (and I could often gather information) hear him on the phone.

      However, we shared a workspace with two other department heads and their admins. The three department heads had office with doors; we three admins sat in an open (though private-to-us) shared office. So my concern was that my boss would get on the bad side of the other two departments (we had recently moved into the shared space together, having previously been in three separate campus buildings). I was helping him be a good office citizen and to not incite the extant interdepartmental rivalry on something so trivial. If he was going to raise ire, it could be over something policy or curriculum related, not his bad phone manners.

      Anyway, I would make eye contact and give a half-apologetic / half “those-people” smile, and he understood and never seemed to mind.

    2. Cath in Canada*

      I did the same in my last job, to people way more senior than me, about once a week or so. I was the only one without my own door in that half of the office, and the residents of the surrounding offices sometimes forgot that their door was my only door. They never minded when I closed the door, and sometimes apologised after their call was over.

      In my current job there are lots of us in an open space, and it actually makes the people who have their own offices a lot more aware of the need to be quiet. Not what I would have expected!

  8. Jake*

    I’m an open door kind of guy, so if somebody closed my door without asking my first reaction would be to open it.

    If somebody asked, it wouldn’t bother me, but doing it without saying anything would confuse me until I realized what just happened , then I’d be furious that I wasn’t just asked to either keep it down or if it was okay to shut the door. I’d be very receptive and apologetic to an asker, but otherwise there’d be a serious conversation to be had.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        I’d still try to make eye contact with the person on the phone if at all possible.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I like Koko’s phrase of the “driver’s wave.” I mean, if I’m so involved in a phone conversation that I don’t notice, it’s not really a problem to do it. Usually I’d either hear the footsteps or the door start closing, and then I’d look around, at which point we’d mime for a minute and then they’d close the door.

          1. A Bug*

            …if I’m so involved in a phone conversation that I don’t notice, it’s not really a problem to do it.

            This, exactly. My door wouldn’t need closing if I were being appropriately mindful one way or the other. I can’t imagine being cross with someone over it unless they did it in a needlessly disruptive way.

        2. JB (not in Houston)*

          Yeah, I agree, but I don’t think I’d be furious if someone came and quietly closed my door on my loud conversation. If they slammed the door, I’d be pretty irked. But just quietly closing it, I’d probably feel pretty bad about being loud. But it depends on the work place. Nobody here is closing a door on me unless my talking is loud or has been going on for a while time. Normal volume conversations won’t get doors shut on you.

          1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            Definitely – I think “furious” is too strong a reaction. I would feel embarrassed, though, which is why I’d make eye contact and give sort of an apologetic smile as if to say “No hard feelings; I just need it quieter.”

      2. Jake*

        Ask may not be the correct word. Acknowledge maybe? A soft knock and a drivers wave would count as an ask on my part.

    1. LQ*

      Fury seems like a lot of emotion to put into someone wanting to be able to concentrate on their work while you may have unintentionally ramped up your voice for whatever reason and were too busy looking away or on the phone to ask.

    2. katamia*

      I don’t know if I’d be furious, but I really hate it when someone closes/opens my door without asking me, too. If someone asked I’d basically always say yes, but it really feels like someone’s invading my space when they do it without asking. I don’t like it at all.

      1. Windchime*

        Look at it this way: You have a door. The rest of us don’t. We are at your mercy, so please keep that in mind when there is noisy stuff going on in your office. You have a door that you can shut for privacy, but the rest of us are just forced to listen to it, especially if we can tell that it pisses you off when we ask if we can close it.

        People with an office–close your door if you are going to have a loud conversation with someone. It’s just the courteous thing to do. The rest of us aren’t interested in being distracted by your conference call or your endless, loud calls to your kids (yes, this happens in our office).

        1. OmniPeixe*

          +1000. Exactly.

          Also, there’s a element of crossed expectations and boundaries. While colleagues with offices tend to be in superior positions to those without – and may feel subordinates are overstepping if they close their door without explicit permission – conversely, the subordinate colleague may believe it’s less disruptive or “entitled” to shut an office door wordlessly, without acknowledging the occupant’s loud conversation is a problem.

  9. JB (not in Houston)*

    I have done this once, and I’m still not sure if it was ok. It was with what I hoped was a friendly face and a “I’m just gonna close this” gesture, to someone on her second or third loud personal phone call of the day. It was with a peer, and that’s something that would generally be ok in my office, but I’m not sure if it was ok with her. It did get her to start sometimes closing her door for long personal phone calls, so something good did come from it. But I still feel kinda bad about it, even though several of my coworkers later thanked me for it.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Too late for this now, but it might have helped if the next time you saw her you said something like, “Sorry for bothering you earlier to shut the door – sometimes I have a hard time focusing when I can hear other people talking.” In other words, frame it as *your* problem with concentration so she doesn’t feel like you were scolding her.

      If you’ve interacted in a friendly way with her since then, I’m sure it’s fine even if she did happen to feel weird about it at the moment. The eye contact is I think what’s key.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        Thanks for the input! I did the eye contact thing as you said, and I have interacted with her since then, I think I just feel bad because whenever you do that, you are sending the message of “you are being too loud right now.” And even though it’s not wrong to ask her to keep it down, it’s something I always feel rude asking people to do. I don’t know why!

      2. JB (not in Houston)*

        And just to add–usually if someone is being loud, I just shut MY door, and it’s fine. But this coworker is so loud that often, even with my door shut and her door shut, I can still hear her very clearly. So if she’s being loud (and for some reason it seems to be human nature to talk louder on the phone), just shutting my door is often not enough to keep the noise down.

        You would have thought she got the hint when, consistently, within a few minutes of her getting on the phone, all the doors in the hall shut. It never seemed to sink in with her, though, until that one time I shut her door.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’d usually try to ask or gesture and smile apologetically, but I have been in the situation where a coworker has been seriously ranting on the phone in their office. I believe it involved an acrimonious divorce. Anyway, in that situation I have no qualms about shutting the door without any kind of notice or nicety. Besides, when people are in that state they’re usually too self-absorbed to notice if you do that. We also answer a lot of calls from the public, so there’s a very important business reason to close doors in this situation.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        Yeah, I think in that situation it’s totally reasonable just to close it. Ranting needs to be contained.

    3. KS*

      My lord that’s obnoxious. I have no patience for people hollering in an office surrounded by people trying to work. None. It’s so oblivious and disrespectful.

  10. Courtney*

    When I do this, I smile first and quietly say “to give you privacy to talk” and quietly close the door. The few times anyone has said anything later I’ve responded “Oh! I saw you had someone with you and didn’t want the hallway traffic to disturb you. It can get so noisy in the hallway”. I use a pleasant tone and try to use the frame of “just wanted to help you out”.

    1. shine of the times*

      Ooh, I love this idea. Not everyone would be able to pull it off – if you’re one of those people worried about developing a workplace poker face you’d probably give yourself away – but if you can convey cheerful sincerity I can see it going over super well.

  11. NJ Anon*

    I don’t have a problem with it as long as you don’t slam the door. Sometimes I don’t realize how loud I am being. I’ve done it as the “door closer” as well. Never had an issue.

  12. YandO*

    I’ve been really struggling with the idea of “rude”

    The word does not seem to have any meaning anymore. Everyone has their own definition of rude and they can accuse you of being rude just because they did not like the message you delivered, not the way you delivered it. And if they are in a position of power, their definition of rude overrules everything else.

    Once, I got feedback “you were rude that one time a month ago”. When I said I did not know what he was referring to, response was “Are you denying you were rude?”

    I can’t deny something I don’t remember. Nor can I confirm or feel remorse.

    1. Margot*

      I hear you on this.

      Etiquette can be very subjective and differs wildly from place to place. With the world quickly becoming a smaller place, it becomes even trickier to determine what can be considered rude and what’s par for the course within a given location/cultural group/socioeconomic class. And yes, misunderstandings frequently arise as a result.

      In your case, I wouldn’t worry. If they can’t give you a concrete example of your supposed ‘rudeness’, that’s not much you can do to accommodate them.

    2. JB (not in Houston)*

      That doesn’t even make sense. As you said, how can you either confirm or deny something happened if you don’t know what they are talking about?

      1. Maxwell Edison*

        YandO: You may be working for my former manager. That was exactly the sort of feedback she’d give.

        1. YandO*

          possibly, there is a reason they go through employees faster than I go through boxes of kleenex during allergy season.

    3. Jennifer*

      Seconded. I think “rude” boils down to “You didn’t give me what I wanted” a lot these days.

  13. mess*

    I have a loud voice that sometimes gets away from me, and am sometimes asked to pipe down in our open office. I’m the one who feels like I need to apologize! People are on the phone and trying to work.

    1. A Bug*

      I’m with you here. If I’m in an office having a conversation and someone shuts the door for me, then that means I should have already shut it myself. I kind of lost the right to be very picky about how my door gets closed when I failed to show consideration for the people outside it. As long as the person is obviously trying to do it politely, then it doesn’t matter to me if they made eye contact or asked me explicitly or apologized afterward – in fact, I’d feel like the person who should be apologizing.

      If there’s someone who runs around shutting doors at the slightest noise, then that’s a separate issue. But generally, the way I figure it, if I want to get territorial about my office door, then I need to be mindful that nobody’s ever placed in a position where they feel the need to close it for me.

      Of course, it’s obvious from the comments here that not everybody feels the same way about the topic, and reasonable levels of courtesy can’t really be assumed in a workplace with unreasonable people (this blog likely wouldn’t exist otherwise).

      It’s also not clear to me from the OP’s letter what response these coworkers are actually giving. I certainly don’t think it’s reasonable to shut someone else’s door because they’re reading or having a nap (unless clients walk past that room, or something), because I don’t really understand how either could interfere with your own ability to get your work done.

  14. Haddie*

    How is a sleeping coworker and reading coworker toxic? I can see annoying, but don’t really get the toxic connection here.

    Try to speak to the office-owner at a time when they’re not busy/talking. Just nicely go up to them and ask them if it’s ok to shut their office door when they’re talking and the noise makes it hard for them to concentrate. That will clear out this issue for you in the future as well instead of having every door-shutting experience be awkward or uncertain.

  15. Jamie*

    I’m firmly in the camp of making sure you make eye-contact and a gesture or something otherwise it’s rude. If it’s impossible to make eye contact a quick one line email about how you were being helpful would work, as long as it’s genuinely nice and not snotty.

    I’m a really quiet office dweller except for when I have to use speaker because I’ve got some tech support on speaker while I’m across the room at the data center, but I will always shut my own door when this happens. If I forgot I would feel terrible if someone was distracted because they didn’t want to offend me – so I’d be mouthing an apology if someone had to do it for me.

    My problem in this instance is this:

    I do wear headphones to block out the notice, but sometimes it just does not work and I try not to let it irritate me that my coworkers are goofing off all the time.

    Emotionally, I get it. I really do. But since the source of the irritation isn’t just the noise, it’s resentment over bad management it’s very hard to come off pleasant and neutral in that interaction. If the OP is like most people the resentment will show even if they try to mask it. It’s not a good idea to be visibly irritated with people who out rank you. Even when they are noisy bad managers who suck – it’s just not the hill you want to die on.

      1. Jamie*

        Like the befouled souls who insist copiers should fall under the purview of IT – I’m never really gone. Just dormant for periods of time. And few things drag me back from the chaos of work right now like loud co-workers the lack of doors for everyone.

          1. Fact & Fiction*

            I’m mostly a lurker, but I sure did. Got excited at the reappearance of the Hello Kitty. =)

    1. OP*

      Thank you for taking the time to respond to my question and the feedback from readers. Seeing that my behavior has only increased the tension in our office, the best solution seems to keep wearing headphones and block it out as best I can. Others in the office are doing the same. (And I did not disclose the reasons for this being a toxic workplace.) Does anyone have any other tips for how to make it through the day at such a workplace? The best thing to do is concentrate on my job and my reputation!

  16. Sandy*

    I feel like this is one of those times that the power dynamic in the office matters a lot.

    If I were to walk up to my coworker’s office and shut the door, that would be one thing. Odd, and we’d probably have a conversation about it afterward, but not a huge deal.

    If my boss was being loud and I went and closed THEIR door? Without asking? In my office, that would be a firing offence.

    If it’s really that bad, you suck it up for that one phone call, then approach the boss afterwards and mention that the call was loud and you aren’t sure if the contents of the call should be heard by the whole office. Then the ball is in their court on whether to close their own door next time or not.

    1. Windchime*

      Wow, I’m glad I don’t have your boss. My boss probably wouldn’t even look up if I quietly closed his door. He’s really good about closing it for private/loud conversations. I think most of the time, noise gets away from people and they would be sorry to know that they are distracting people. People who don’t care that they are distracting others with their noise are jerks–just my opinion.

  17. Zahra*

    Yeah, chalk it up to office politics. Here, you’d hear people complaining loudly about the volume of the music or the conversation before I got up (because I’m closest to the doors and I’m bothered by the noise too) and closed the door. However, if people are on the phone or having a private conversation, they usually close the door or ask the caller to hold on for a minute while they go close the door.

  18. TalleySueNYC*

    I struggle with volume when I’m on the phone. I wouldn’t mind the wave.

    But one time someone did it to me when I had my back to the door, so she couldn’t catch my eye, and she didn’t knock and wave; she just pulled the glass door of my office closed. I got up after the phone call and walked into it.

    I put a sign on my phone that said “DBSDL” and a sticker in the middle of the glass door, just in case there was a next time.

    It felt a little rude to me, esp. since there was no communication ever about it, not a mention before of an ongoing problem and setting up the convention (“sometimes you’re a little loud on the phone, is it OK if I pull your door closed when that happens?”) or mentioning it afterward (an email that said, “Sorry to close your door–that phone call was a little loud and I was having trouble concentrating”). I think it needs some acknowledgment to not be really presumptous.

    I tried to talk myself out of feeling affronted, because I -was- a little loud; it’s hard to be insulted when the other person is accurate. But having been on the receiving end, I know that I’d make a bigger effort to get the person’s attention before just closing the door.

      1. TalleySueNYC*

        Oh, the other thing I did was to remember to get up and close the office door if I thought the call was going to be more than a minute.

  19. AW*

    I once worked someplace where half the staff on my floor were in cubicles and the rest of us were just at regular desks. Some people would conduct phone calls on speaker phone. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how they justified doing this when there weren’t any walls and/or a door to close. I have to assume there was some kind of justification for it since managers never stopped it from happening and yes, I did complain). I also recall asking if we could get headsets, but it never happened. IIRC, part of the justification was that our positions weren’t seen as customer facing, despite the fact that this didn’t stop us from having to discuss work on the phone.

  20. The Barb*

    It also very much depends on the work relationship between those involved. One of my coworkers closed the door of a director and it did not go over well. In part because she did not say anything as she closed the door but also because this coworker already rubs a lot of people the wrong way here.

  21. Anony tony*

    We have an open office so all work related calls are heard. (for personal calls we have a small room for that). One of the bosses would have a regular call once or twice a week fighting with the consultants or whoever. Although I appreciate that we all learn how the project is going on, it also sends out negativity in the room, that boss seem to always wanna fight or assert the position. Sometimes I just wish I could put a capsule over that boss’ work space.

  22. Julie*

    My last office had a policy that it was more than appropriate for staff to shut an office door. Attorneys had their own offices and the rest of the place was full of cubes and every one of those jobs required phone calls where very detailed information was being passed along and you had to be able to hear. It was decided that since attorneys could choose their privacy levels, they were the rude ones for not closing the door if it came down to it since all phones could reach the doorway. I regularly closed doors on people on phone calls but I’d only do it for an in-person meeting/gossip session if I could do the “sorry to interrupt, I have a call, blah blah” thing in person.

    I think it’s important for people to remember their volume levels if they can’t shut their door for whatever reason and to not take it personally. At the end of the day, it is a distraction to project your volume outside your space whether it was intended or not.

  23. esra*

    I used to work in an office where three of twenty people had offices with doors. Guess who the only three who would listen to voicemail on speakerphone were? They never shut their doors.

    The noise issue had been brought up many times, during one-on-ones, during all-staff meetings, and still the doors remained open. One in particular would have near-daily screaming fits with his teenagers on the phone. We regularly had clients and potential sponsors coming in.

    I felt no shame or rudeness in quietly getting up and closing those doors. I’m not going to beg pardon for not wanting to listen while someone is yelling at their teen to “get [your] ass to school!”

  24. Jen*

    If it is normally the same person, I would suggest approaching them when they are not on the phone and asking them if they mind you shutting their door when they get those unexpected, and sometimes loud and distracting calls. If you do this politely, it shouldn’t be an issue. I do agree that simply shutting the door could possibly come across as rude. I had someone do it to me once. I was meeting with another coworker who just happens to have one of those loud voices that carry. One of my coworkers who sits out in the open and doesn’t have an office very abruptly hopped up and slammed my door shut making an exasperated sound and rolling her eyes as she slammed it. If she would have smiled and quietly shut it… I wouldn’t have thought twice about it.

  25. Anonymous127*

    This actually sounded sort of like my workplace. I think it’s really rude to talk really loud on the phone with your office door open; if I had an office, I would take advantage of it and close the door (for everyone’s sake—my privacy and their concentration).

    This happened last week with a co-worker (someone senior to me), who is ALWAYS on the phone, many times on personal calls, and I mean really personal calls. We have a small open office, and she was on the phone as she went into her office, not closing the door… Unlike many times when she slams it. This time, it almost seemed like she was trying to be really really loud… I thought about going up, giving a friendly look, and whispering something like, “Sorry, can I close this?”, and motion to/close the door, but since I need to walk on eggshells, decided not to say anything. I went to the bathroom to take a couple deep breaths, after a lot of thinking about how to approach it—I have a toxic co-worker/environment much like the OP.

  26. super anon*

    at my old job my desk was at the end of the hallway in front of another co-worker’s office. we had an agreement that i could shut the door if i was too cold (because they loved to keep the window open even in the winter and i’m cold 100% of the time) or it was too loud etc. in that case i didn’t ask because we’d already talked it about it so i had permission and it wasn’t seen as rude, but with other coworkers i’d go by and ask in a really apologetic tone “do you mind if i shut this?” .

    i wouldn’t close a door without asking though, that feels too rude to me.

  27. Joey*

    you might start conditioning yourself to get used to noise/talking at work.

    I’m so used to mentally blocking it out that sometimes people are like “Joey,Joey,JOEYYY!!” when I’m lasered in on something

    1. Windchime*

      To some of us, excessive noise and conversation is as distracting as disco music and a strobe light. It’s not something that you can just condition yourself to. Work-related murmuring and soft discussions? I’m fine with that. But listening to someone yammering on about their weekend or their dog or car racing or their family reunion–I just cannot block that irritation out, especially if you have an office with a door that you refuse to use.

      1. Forrest*

        Passive listening. It’s great for collaboration because you pick up pieces of information from those around you (whether it’s desired or not). Unfortunately it also makes for constant distraction for people who are also constantly processing that background chatter. A really good pair of sound isolating, over-the-ear headphones is the only thing that makes open plan tolerable when you need to focus….unless you’re like Joey and can tune out the world like you would a nagging wife. *lol*

  28. Nerdling*

    I always make eye contact and smile. And if I’m the one shutting your door, you are WAY too loud, because I’m way the heck away from the only office in the place (Thanks, open concept floor plan). The office’s occupant refuses to take Lync calls with a headset, so if he doesn’t close his door, we have to listen to both sides of whatever meeting he’s in.

  29. Beezus*

    This really, really depends on your office culture. I once worked with a boisterous group, where I was interrupted on an important call once by noisy horseplay behind me, and my reaction of whipping around in my chair and snapping my fingers at them and gesturing at the phone to my ear to make them realize I needed quiet was perfectly acceptable.

  30. Not long now*

    I am not seeing why this can’t be treated logically and objectively as a simple collective understanding of the reality of working in an office:

    – if you’re going to make noise, please close your door.

    – if someone is making noise in their office with an open door – and this happens to all of us, where we might get a phone call and either can’t close the door or get caught up in the call and spaz on closing the door – then another person can come close the door with a polite wave. Or

    – if a person cannot get the attention of the noisy person, they may politely close the door. The person who is making noise should be able to accept that it’s not a personal insult.

    These are not difficult rules to live by. The only time this stuff goes sour is when someone is a jerk, ala someone thinks they are important enough to have the privilege of being loud and annoying, or someone who feels they need to ‘teach a lesson’ by slamming the door shut.

    I know I live in a fantasy world. But really: this stuff shouldn’t even be an issue.

  31. Cassie*

    I’ve closed my boss’s door if his conversation (either in person or on the phone) gets too loud. I guess I don’t make eye contact – the door is frequently ajar so I don’t push it open to just close it. Otherwise, I’d go to close it with an “apologetic” look like I’m sure they’re discussing a private matter and I’m trying to help them.

    Just closing someone’s door would be rude (especially if the person slams it shut – which another one of my boss’s did to someone else). At the same time, I wish people would get a clue and close their own door or talk softer so that the entire suite doesn’t have to hear the conversation.

  32. Cruella DaBoss*

    Another downfall of the “open office” No one has doors! I realize it is cheaper and easier to “remodel,” but our managers don’t even have offices with doors that shut. Makes finding somewhere to conduct employee discipline and employee reviews very challenging. Everyone starts to forget that others can hear them by the end of the day. Whispering at work is rude? Out in the cube farm it’s a necessity.

  33. Kelly O*

    I must work in a weird place, because I do this all the time for our executive team. Lots of times they’ll start a call that’s just fine, but it starts getting into things that should be behind a closed door, and I just go in and quietly pull the door closed.

    Sometimes we will have a visitor come in the office, and that’s the first thing I do is close doors if people are on calls, even if they’re not necessarily sensitive, because we do have guests and you never know what might get around.

    In the short time I’ve been here, no one has said a word, except to occasionally say thanks, because they weren’t able to get up and get the door closed, or it got deep, quick, and they didn’t realize it.

    I’ve done that in other places too, and never gotten negative feedback. I may just be lucky in this though.

  34. _ism_*

    F0r me, it depends on who is making noise.

    My desk is right outside the conference room where a lot of impromptu meetings happen. If my own boss is in there I have no problem smiling while pulling the door shut gently and nobody minds.

    If my boss is being really loud I would not necessarily feel bad doing the same thing to her office door, but I would NEVER do it to Toxic HR Lady’s door. And she’s also loud, and prone to having personal conversations on the phone loudly with her door open. In fact her door is only closed for confidential HR conversations.

  35. Dan*

    I used to have a cube outside the office of some guy (not my boss) who would always listen to his voice mail on speaker – at max volume apparently. He had a lot of long-winded people who would leave him messages. Daily.
    By the third message, I would get up and close his door. I didn’t worry about whether he considered it rude or not. I figured if he didn’t like it, he would start being more considerate of his office mates and close the door himself or at least turn off the damn speaker. It never stopped.

  36. Forrest*

    I’m a loud talker, and until recently I was almost always in an office. I was never offended if someone politely shut my door while I was on a call or having a chat with someone (work related or otherwise). When I was on the floor, I have even closed doors to people in offices to shield THEM from my resonating voice. *lol*

    Never, in 20 years, have I NEVER gotten a reprimand or nasty gesture by closing an office door to protect the sanctity of the workplace….NEVER. More often than not…there’s either an apology, smiling nod, or thankful wave. They usually appreciate that I’m helping them keep their private info private.

    I’ve never done as this blogger recommends, however, and suggested the talking person is too loud by asking if I can shut their door “while they are talking”. Just remember to get into your “happy mindset” before doing making any engagement at work. If you’re angry or irritated and take action, then aggressive/passive-aggressive sentiments are pretty transparent.

  37. Gina*

    My one boss frequently has conversations with my other boss (who happens to be his brother) and my third boss (who is the uncle to both!). I get up from my office/cubicle and shut the door to the office they are in. BUT only when they are having a personal conversation that I know I should not be hearing. I’ve been here 15 years. We are a very small office. Just 5 of us in the office. But we have over 30 employees that work exclusively in the field. The President, Vice President and Treasurer are family. The newest hire has been friends with the President since high school. I really like my job and have no complaints whatsoever. But there was a conversation a few weeks ago about some marital problems the one boss was having. NOT a conversation I should be overhearing so I got up and closed their door. Simple. No one made any comments. Sometimes I think they forget that I am not family like they are. And that somethings really aren’t any of my business.

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