- Dennis Cox | Dreamstime.com
I work in an office with hardwood floors. One of my coworkers always wears clogs with big wooden bottoms that make a lot of noise when she walks. The nature of her job means she moves around all day, and the constant clomping drives me crazy. I can only imagine what it sounds like to the people downstairs. How can I let her know without it being really awkward?
Cloggy Bottom Breakdown (female, 27)
Dear Cloggy Bottom Breakdown,
I whistle a lot. I don't mean to; I just turn into a bird occasionally. I have a coworker who hates whistling, and it annoys the crap out of him. Luckily, we're good pals, and he's ribbed me about it so much over the years that I've learned to catch myself — sometimes. But whistling is a goofy habit, and it's easy to be lighthearted about it. Delicately addressing someone's choice of footwear is more difficult.
You could leave your coworker an anonymous note, but that's a little passive-aggressive. Also, if there aren't many people in your office, it might not be particularly anonymous, which could make the situation even more awkward.
Can you do your work with headphones on? You can buy noise-canceling ones or, if your job involves making a lot of calls, find some that are compatible with your phone. On a related note: You could pass the blame and tell her that someone you were on a call with said they could hear her shoes over the phone.
Perhaps you could talk to whoever is in charge of the office design about investing in some carpet runners or an area rug. That would cushion your coworker's flight path and add pizzazz to the office atmosphere.
Of course, your best bet is to talk to her directly. She's probably accustomed to the clickitty-clackin' and doesn't notice it. Start off with a compliment: "Those are gorgeous clogs. They're kinda loud, though. Any chance you could wear sneakers in the office?" I can almost guarantee that she won't freak out on you. She may even appreciate being made aware of the problem.
Just thank your lucky stars your cloggin' coworker isn't microwaving fish in the office.
Good luck and God bless,