* Try and discuss the issue rationally, be ignored (and follow up with the remaining two options) :-
* Ignore the directive and continue listening to music, collect three written warnings and be fired.
* Quit now.
The sad truth is, people who think like this exist. And you CANNOT change their mind. Sometimes. But not every time. They end up in positions of management. They believe that rules, and strict control, is how to achieve productivity in their underlings and every descision they ever make will be coloured by that.
They will install firewall software to monitor and block employees web access, despite the fact that a lot of useful research material code-wise tends to occour on blogs, wiki's and other sites that fall into blacklist categories like "peer to peer", "social networking" or "network backup". Your life degenerates into a living hell of finding every topic of research ends up being a google results page full of blocked results.
The will disallow any form of gaming on company hardware (during non work hours) because they are oblivious to the team building aspects of LAN games, as well as the inspiration many programmers (especially games developers those lucky bastards) find in the work of others.
They try to measure productivity in meaningless and easy to game metrics like "number of bugs per test cycle" or "lines of code written".
Unless (and only if) you manage to make a successful stand against them, they will use the failures engenderd by their own bad policies as evidence that more draconian measures need to be introduced. Every time a critical bug reaches the world, they will react by adding more developer 'checks' and testing procedures, ensuring that the next bug is yet more expensive (and time consuming) to fix. Each time, YOU the developer will be blamed for the ever more massive costs incurred by their futile attempt to stamp out the one constant of computer science - if youre not making bugs, youre not developing features.
This will over time, sap the reason you became a programmer. your zest and zeal will die. Programming will become a 9 to 5 hellish drudge that you can only hope to escape from at the end of the day. You will feel self doubt and actually come to believe that it IS you, not them, responsible for the hellish state of affairs - where it takes over 6 months to develop and ship a single feature or upgrade.
These people read dilbert, and find it funny not sad - because theyre empathising with the PHB.
You cannot frankly discuss things with them because, while you are both speaking english, your core understandings of basic concepts is fundamentally different. As such, when you present what you belive to be a compelling argument to them, they will draw a totally different conclusion from the same data. they are not idiots. Or classically stupid.
they do however think differntly. And they live amongst us. and become our managers.