How to get your colleagues to keep the volume down

Dear Greg, Is it appropriate for me to e-mail noisy co-workers to lower the volume? We’re in an open-seating plan, most of their conversations are personal and they are really loud. How would you ask them to keep quiet?

This depends on how many people we are talking about — and whether you’re that disgruntled person who lost their corner office and thinks any noise is too much, or if you are talking about the few co-workers who really don’t seem to get it that open plan means you can’t talk as if you were in a private office. It’s like the people on the bus or elevator with stupid AirPods sticking out of their heads talking as if they walk the earth alone. Stop it, people — no one wants to hear how self-important or oblivious you are! Now that I have that off my chest . . .  confrontation is not necessary. Help a colleague out by telling them that they may not be aware of it, but everyone can hear their personal conversations, so they should either try to keep it down or take it to a more private space. A friendly, in-person assist is more effective than a flaming e-mail.

Dear Greg, I get so nervous preparing for interviews and stumble on answers, especially the “greatest weakness and greatest strength” question. Any advice on the best way to prepare?

You are a STAR —be a STAR. That’s not just positive thinking but an acronym to help you prepare to go into any interview confidently. When you are asked a question, think of a Situation in your experience where that question applies; the Task that needed to be completed; the Action you took, and the Results of your actions. This places your experience in context and demonstrates what you are capable of. As for the greatest weakness, mine is any sweet with raspberry filling… You’ll always get a laugh if you answer that question with humor. Then pick some non-job-disqualifying area of development (we all have them) and explain how you either compensate for not being great or how you are trying to improve. And if you want to express your gratitude for this advice, raspberry shortbread cookies or linzer tarts can be sent to me at the NY Post offices.

Gregory Giangrande is a chief human resources and communications officer in the media industry. E-mail your career questions to [email protected] Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande. His Go to Greg podcast series is available on iTunes.

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