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The American office environment. Movies, memes, and Mondays have us just cringing at the thought of life in a cubicle. Debora from corporate accounts payable has the loudest cackle this side of the Mississippi. Jim from taxes is too peppy in the morning before you’ve had your coffee. And of course, your boss Brian gives you flashbacks from high school since every time he blows his nose he sounds like a trumpet from marching band.
This isn’t to say that it’s all bad though. Personally, I enjoy working with the majority of my coworkers. It’s nice to come into the office and shoot the shit with your work friends, discuss weekend plans, and hey, maybe even get some work done so you feel productive at days’ end.
But every once in a while (read: every day), I feel the need to tune people out. Alas, the desire to be by yourself in the middle of a cubicle farm is somewhat unattainable though, as there are people everywhere. So here are a few of my personal favorite ways that I avoid my coworkers throughout the day.
Close elevator door before others can join.
Like many of you, I’m not ready to interact with anyone before I’ve had my morning coffee. That’s why the silent ride up to the top floor that I work in is absolute bliss. No one asks me about the weather outside, there are no stops at six of the other nine floors, and no one asks me to press the button for their floor like my only job at the company is an elevator attendant. And if there are two elevators available and everyone piles into one, I’ll always hop into the less crowded one. Like the ol’ saying goes; always take the elevator less traveled.
Headphones at the desk.
I cannot emphasize this one enough. Sure, you might enjoy talking with your coworkers, but sometimes you just need to tune the world out, buckle down, and hammer out 1500 lines of code. The high I feel from a great workout is similar to the high I feel when I’ve been super productive and have caught up on all my assignments at work. Or sometimes your coworkers don’t realize that other people work there too, and they refuse to turn off the sound on their computer. The sound SAP makes every time someone switches codes or enters in data is haunting enough to keep a man up at night before he falls asleep.
Staring straight ahead in the hallway.
Some of the most awkward times of my day are when I’m walking down a long hallway and a smiling face is walking in my direction. That’s why at the start of the year, I decided I would no longer try to say hello to random people in the hallway. This was an easy decision thanks to my subpar long-distance vision and my general dislike for pointless small talk. Of course, if I know who the person is or have something work related to ask then I’ll say hello, but if I literally just saw you 20 seconds ago at the copy machine then I don’t really think there’s much to catch up on. Sorry, Jim.
Acting like you have a meeting.
“Can’t talk, gotta run to a meeting” used to be one of my favorite lines at my old job. It’s like the swiss army knives of excuses; you can use it at any time and in any scenario during the work day, morning, or afternoon. The part I’d be hesitant with is if you tell this to your cube mate and then just sit down at your desk. That’s why you should….
Book a conference room.
Ever get tired of acting like you’re busy at your desk? Book a conference room. This play works two-fold. One, your outlook calendar will look like you’re in a meeting which makes you appear busier. And two, you can sit in silence and get some work done. Plus, this way you weren’t entirely lying earlier when you cut your conversation short with Debbie from AP because of that “meeting.”
These are just several ways I like to avoid talking to people throughout the day. Naturally, I’m sure as I progress in my career I’ll pick up on a few more tools of the trade to stay sane in my 9-5. Do you have any that I didn’t mention? If so I’d love to hear all about them, but unfortunately, I have to run to a meeting. .