Jul 21, 2015

    Colleague's sighing drives me crazy

    DEAR Troubleshooter,

    I am a female employee in my 30s. I am troubled by a superior who sits right behind me and sighs more than 100 times a day.

    I have endured the sighs, day after day, for more than two years. I feel like I am the only one who is bothered by it.

    I was diagnosed with depression about a year ago. I am not mentally strong enough to simply ignore the problem.

    Each sigh brings me down and makes my heart palpitate. I tried mentioning it to some colleagues on the same floor, but many of them said it bothered them only a little. I felt like no one was as troubled as I was.

    I tried to have my seat changed by using the groups we are divided into on jobs as an excuse, but there has been little progress. I am going to lose my mind if this goes on. I just want to shut out the sound.

    I do not know who I should talk to, as the problem involves a superior.


    Dear Ms J,

    Have you brought this up with your doctor and sought advice?

    If that does not ease your concerns and the problem is worsening, all I can tell you is this: I think the superior's sighing is a habit.

    Like people who restlessly shake their legs, the superior might not be aware of the sighing. If so, letting them know could actually be an act of kindness.

    The problem is that people with such physiological habits may not think their actions are an issue. Unless you are a friend or family member, warning them can be difficult. Luckily, others in the office seem to be aware of the issue - you could go to them for advice on how you could cope.

    If you do, you should be honest about your concerns and mention that bringing it up with the superior on your own is difficult.

    The sighing has to be discussed with your colleagues and it is important to listen to a range of opinions. You might learn something that you would not have thought of on your own. Afterwards, tell your superior to refrain from sighing as a collective request from everyone.