Each week, Inc. staff writer Nadine Heintz will help you tackle office etiquette problems both big and small.
I own a small business with five employees. My office manager has been with me from the beginning, and she's been invaluable. The only problem is, she insists on playing the golden oldies all day long at her desk, which is the only desk in our entry area. I play classical music in my private office sometimes, but I can't stand the sound of that annoying music just outside my door. How can I ask her to put a lid on the doo-wop without hurting her feelings?
Tuned Out in Tennessee
It sounds like a case of taste discrimination. Since you play music in your office, your office manager probably assumes the same rules apply to her. If you come clean and tell her you simply don't like oldies, you'll seem like a snob or a jerk, neither of which are good qualities in a boss. Instead, you might start by lowering your own radio...or turning it off completely. Maybe she'll follow suit. If subtlety doesn't work, try asking her nicely to turn down her tunes so you can't hear them. That's not asking too much. It's certainly within your rights to ban music from the office completely. But that could hurt office moral. After all, a little doo wop is better than a lot of groaning and grumbling.
Have a dilemma for Nadine? Send her an e-mail and check back here Tuesdays for the answer.