You are in the cubicle farm and you have that co-worker that is just a little too loud for you to concentrate. How do you avoid the awkward conversation of
"hey you are too loud I can't work?"
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Never go straight to your boss, would be my advice. If any, always directly ask the co-worker.
My advice is to speak to him during coffeebreak. Do it when your co-worker is in a good mood. Never say about it being your problem. Say something like:
Hi, could you lower your volume a bit while working? Seems our boss did not spend that much on the acoustic environment. (Ha-ha.)
You have a bit of humor, you don't point the problem at him and you've made your point towards your co-worker.
PS: Do not take my advice if your co-worker IS your boss.
I would ask him to tone it down:
"Could you tone it down just a bit? That will make it easier for me to concentrate. Thanks."
That's a nice way to ask him to be courteous.
If necessary, I would follow with another question:
"You don't want me to hear all your secrets, do you?"
Now you're appealing to his self-interest.