Whispers in the Workplace

Something I’ve noticed right away after re-entering the world of the cubicle dweller is the amount of whispering.

I mean, obviously whispering is needed, otherwise everyone would practically be yelling everything to hear over one another talking, but whispering also is an important element to workplace gossip, something that I have a huge amount of disdain for.

As I have sat at my desk and heard voices around me drop from their usual volume to a whisper, there is something in that moment that triggers terror in my mind. Maybe it is something that comes with us from our early school years, I really couldn’t say, but I know that hearing that particular transition (of full volume to a whisper) is something that makes my anxiety shoot through the roof.

As disturbing as this situation has been, I don’t find it quite as disturbing as something else involving whispers.

There have been several days at work now where I’ve gotten confused. Not extremely confused, but a little, about where the realm of reality stops and fiction begins. There are times where I wouldn’t call myself psychotic, but more on the precipice of psychosis, where that edge has become blurred and I’m not quite sure at what point I’m stepping over it.

One day, for example, I was feeling quite convinced that every face I saw that day was a face I’ve seen elsewhere. Something of a Wizard of Oz feeling, like waking up and saying, “you were there! And you! And you!”. Many of the people in my office are people I’ve worked with before, so that is where that blurred line comes in. To some degree, I am sure I was recognizing people I actually knew, but I am afraid it may have just been lumping everyone in that category, at that point.

There are other things, like technology, that have played tricks on me and make me believe I am nearing a psychotic state. Sending an email that says one thing, and then getting a reply where my original email attached says something completely different. Is it me? Is it technology? Am I not remembering things happening?

It is scary sometimes, to say the least, but more frustrating than anything.

Nothing, however, brings out those psychotic sorts of feelings like people whispering does. If I ever thought to myself, “you know what would be great right now? Some paranoia,” then by all means, whisper your hearts out.

For some reason, when a lot of whispering is going on around me, I would say it almost triggers psychotic sorts of symptoms for me. I don’t know if it is because of that huge spike in anxiety I mentioned earlier, or because whispers are probably the closest thing to a human voice I’ve ever experienced in an audible hallucination, or something different entirely.

Needless to say, this whispering has been something of an issue.

And it isn’t something I could go around asking, “could you please refrain from lowering your voice?”

I am playing with the notion of using headphones periodically, but I haven’t worked out the details. I am hoping that if I can find a way of blocking out the whispering, I can potentially avoid some of these blurry, psychotic precipices.

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3 responses to “Whispers in the Workplace

  1. Hi, I’m a new reader here.
    I don’t if it would work for your specific situation but I use earplugs to avoid listening to other people’s voices, there are several types and some that allow you to hear when people talk more loudly and stops only background noise like whispers. Could that help you the same way a headphone would?
    I hope you find a solution for that problem. I don’t deal well with whispers too, they cause me anxiety and some paranoia, too many bad memories with people whispering.

    • Welcome, thanks for coming by!

      Earplugs are definitely a good suggestion, and I was able to use them in a previous job to help drown out electronic/power tool noise in the next room while I was working to avoid triggering migraines.

      Now I am working in an office setting, and I’m hoping to leave earplugs as a final resort because I also experience really severe tinnitus. I’m afraid that without a lot of extra external noise helping to cancel out the severe ringing in my ears I’ll wind up with an ongoing high pitched whine… which unfortunately is about as exasperating as the whispering!

      I don’t know at this point, but headphones at least give me the benefit of white noise which helps with the tinnitus. Earplugs may be something I need to try again though, thanks for the suggestion!

  2. I hope you can find a way to drown out the whispering. I hate office gossip with a passion, as the majority of it tends to be spiteful.

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