I'm currently a grad student in a moderately large department. I share an office with a few other grad students, and I get along with all of them fairly well. However, one of my officemates is rather loud and unfiltered with what he says in and around the department. The office walls are very thin, they are movable partitions, and the professor next to us clearly dislikes the noise and behavior. I'm very concerned with how this may be affecting my reputation around the department. I like my officemate, but the immature behavior is very noticeable.

How should I deal with this situation? I can't really ask for a new office, but I don't want to be associated with the poor behavior. I've talked to him about it, but I don't want to constantly remind him to be quiet or conscientious of other people. I am at a loss with this situation. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  • 1
    "I can't really ask for a new office" - are you sure? I've done this - asked to move from a loud shared office. I was offered a desk in a much quieter shared office. It worked out great. – ff524 Sep 14 '17 at 2:49
  • 1
    The available offices are full as far as I can tell. I currently have one of the better shared offices, but I still have the issue described above. – AdviceSeeker Sep 14 '17 at 2:52
  • 2
    I would suggest asking. Then at the very least, if a space becomes available, they may offer it to you. Otherwise, they'd just give it to the next new student. – ff524 Sep 14 '17 at 2:57

If your only concern is for your reputation, I think any such concern is entirely unwarranted, and your best course of action is to do nothing and simply not worry about it. You are in no way becoming "associated" with the other student's poor behavior by occupying the same office as him, which you have been assigned by the department. The student's behavior will not reflect well on him, but unless you and him are identical twins or just happen to have extremely similar voices, which I find difficult to believe, as long as you do not emulate his behavior or egg him on in some conspicuous way, I don't see any chance that anyone will think you have a role in the way he behaves.

If the student's behavior bothers you for reasons unrelated to protecting your reputation, or if you are unwilling to accept the advice in my first paragraph, some options you may want to consider are:

  1. Remind him again that his behavior bothers you, perhaps pointing out that you noticed that the professor in the office next door is unhappy with the noise and are concerned that his loudness may hurt his reputation.

  2. Send an email to the department chair pointing out the student's loudness, and ask to be assigned to a different office and/or for the chair to do something to make the student improve his behavior.

  3. Send an anonymous email if you prefer that it not become known that it was you who made the complaint.

  4. Talk to your other officemates to try to get their assistance in getting the loud student to change his behavior. (Peer pressure can be a powerful inducement agent.)

  5. This is a defeatist option that I would not recommend, but if all else fails you can stop coming to the office (or at least minimize your presence there as much as possible) and find some other place to do your work.

  • Going direct to the department chair feels a bit extreme to me. – Jessica B Sep 21 '17 at 5:54

I don't see why you should feel associated with this person's actions, just because you share an office. If they are speaking loudly, those who can hear will recognise their voice.

While it may be that your office mate is simply immature, among grad students it may well be that something else is going on. It is possible that repeated reminders to be quieter would be the right thing.

Alternatively, if they start talking to you, you could say 'Let's go find somewhere we can talk without disturbing other people,' or you could try having an office agreement of fixed 'silent times' when everyone gets on with their own work without any discussion.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.