Dear Snarky – The Cubicle Eavesdropper

cubiclesDear Snarky,

I work for a large engineering firm and most of the employees don’t have offices instead we have cubicles. My problem is the woman who sits one cubicle over is the WORST eavesdropper. She’s not even ashamed about it. Any private phone conversation I have she let’s me know she heard the whole thing. Doctors appointments, talking to my husband, she’s listening in.

What can I do about this besides getting a new job?

Signed, Agitated

Dear Agitated,

The way I see you have three choices besides the obvious one of having fake conversations on the phone pretending you’ve murdered someone and are trying to cover it up. That will get the eavesdropper an earful she soon won’t forget. But, in terms of less fun solutions here they are:

1) Accept that you work in a cubicle environment and while there should be an expectation of good manners there is zero expectation of privacy. This means make your doctors appointments at lunch while you’re sitting in your car and as far as talking to your husband texting is the only way to go while you are at work.

2) Speak to your supervisor about changing cubicles. I’d make up some excuse that you’re right by an air vent or you think you would be more productive at the end of the row. Whatever, just get it out there that you need a cube change sooner than later.

3) You can confront the eavesdropper but beware I’m almost certain she won’t change her behavior and it will make working next to her very awkward. Ask yourself if you really want to face that 40 hours a week. Also, and I know this from personal experience, the person you confront this week maybe your new boss the next (sigh).

If you have a question for Dear Snarky please email me at

7 thoughts on “Dear Snarky – The Cubicle Eavesdropper

  1. Cube Farmer says:

    I’m working in my cube right now reading Dear Snarky. I hope no one is looking over my shoulder. P.S. Great advice, especially the part about the fake murder. 🙂

  2. Sammy says:

    I used to work in human resources for a very large insurance company and employees should, as you pointed out, be very CAREFUL about confronting anyone at work. They could report you for being a bully etc. etc. The best advice – get your cubicle moved.

  3. Z. Washington says:

    Been there. You are right there’s not much you can do about an eavesdropping when you work in a cube. I bought a smallish fan and would turn it on every time I got on the phone. It seemed to help or at least make it harder for the eavesdropper to hear my conversations.

  4. Dawn Old Elk says:

    My problem is opposite. My cubie is next to a woman who practically yells into the phone. I hear EVERYTHING. She has no concept of using her “inside voice.” She’s recently gotten better and has begun to take very personal calls away from her desk. Also, I wear headphones. It helps.

  5. ronnarosej says:

    It’s all about strategy. Try making that personal call during a long print job. Or wait for Nosey to pick up her phone, then make your call. There are too many reasons not to confront her, Unless you or she get another job. Then you can make that call (or pretend dial) to loudly complain about your annoying neighbor Nosey.

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