I do not like to be disturbed or constantly asked questions while I'm working intently. I use headphones to deal with that, and do not like to be disturbed while I have them on. How do I tell my coworkers, that I do not like being disturbed at the moment, and they may connect with me using an instant messenger, and should disturb me only if the issue is of urgent concern?

  • 3
    Have you tried telling them this already? What happened? Or is there a reason you can't (or don't want to) be straightforward and tell them?
    – scohe001
    Jun 4, 2018 at 17:47
  • What's wrong with telling your coworker "I do not like being disturbed at the moment, and they may connect with me on IM, and should disturb me only if the issue is of urgent concern." like you just described to us?
    – sphennings
    Jun 4, 2018 at 17:48
  • i did not want to sound rude. and it's a daily routine. I helped him few times initially, and now it seems difficult to say otherwise
    – Itachi
    Jun 4, 2018 at 17:57

3 Answers 3


I do the same at work to focus and also don't like to be disturbed. This began while I was in somewhat of a 'junior' role and didn't want to impose silence on my managers or come across as being rude. What I ended up doing was, prior to putting on the headphones, saying:

Hey, did you need something from me? I'm going in "my bubble" now to focus. It's noise canceling soooo just chat me if you want something [and smile]

After the first few times, I stopped having to point out the headphones were noise cancelling. So basically, first I check that there aren't any questions for me at that time, and then I make the "my bubble" or "my cone of silence" joke and forwardly say I can be reached on "chat" (which all coworkers know means, Google Hangouts).

I let people know I want to focus, not so much that I don't want to be disturbed, and that I'm still available on IM. This has always worked for me since.

Good luck :)


It's not rude to set boundaries that help you work better and don't detract from the business. Nor is it rude to clearly let others know what those boundaries are.

Sometime when you are not busy, simply let the co-worker know what the headphones mean and what type of communication you would prefer:

Hey Steve. When I have the headphones on, it means I'm concentrating. If you have a question while I have them on, I would prefer you contact me via IM or email. If it's super important, then sure, get my attention. But otherwise, please let me concentrate on my work. I do see the IMs and will respond when I can.

In other words, just use your words. That's not rude!


Put a sign (or many) somewhere that is visible to people walking up to you that says something along the lines of:

Do not disturb me while I have headphones on. You can contact me on (whatever instant messenger you use)

Your coworkers should be able to see the sign when they come up to you, and if they do end up ignoring the written warning and asking you something that is unimportant anyways, you can always refer back to the sign.

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