Social Question

mostlyclueless's avatar

How to handle this coworker issue?

Asked by mostlyclueless (701points) March 22nd, 2012

I have a really stupid problem. One of my coworkers chews incredibly loudly. I have no idea how she can make such a loud noise. It sounds like she is banging her teeth together. It is about the loudness of someone knocking on a door, hard.

She is on a diet that causes her to be eating about 5 times per day during the work day (small meals each time). So the chewing is a frequent problem.

It is like nails on a chalkboard. For some reason, the sound drives me crazy.

What should I do?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

24 Answers

janbb's avatar

That is a real problem especially with the frequent eating. Is it possible that she or you could move away from the desk while the eating is taking place? If not, you may have to talk to a supervisor about not eating in the work place.

tom_g's avatar


picante's avatar

That is sticky situation. Certainly, you can complain to HR and let them deal with it—but I don’t favor that approach. I’m wondering if there is someone at the office who is a good friend of hers who can break the news in a very gentle, supportive way? You could approach that friend and work with her to script the conversation.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I agree with all of the above. Depending on your work situation (the type of work you do, how your layout/floor plan is-etc) this could be handled a variety of ways.

I’d add that I could see asking to be moved away from the offending co-worker as another viable solution, though the problem is not resolved with the move.

Since you don’t state whether your company has a kitchen or not, my next suggestion would be if there is a kitchen, she should be eating in there. Possibly this is the time for your company to set a rule on eating at desks. Eating at desks causes other issues besides unhappy co-workers, like lingering food odors, rotten garbage, rodent and bug attraction and more.

Coloma's avatar

Oh lord, forgive me but I am in a space of being fed up with difficult people, just sprinkle some arsenic in her coffee and be done with it. lol

SpatzieLover's avatar

That certainly would end it @Coloma <chuckle>

marinelife's avatar

I agree with @SpatzieLover. Push for a rule for no eating at the desks.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I agree that a rule about not eating at the desk would probably be the most beneficial, but it could have negative impacts as well. If she has to eat 5 times during the day, that’s 5 times she is going to be away from the desk, thus decreasing her productivity and possibly increasing the amount of work others have to do. There is also the possibility of it causing tension between others in the office because she gets to go eat so much (because of her special diet issues).

Personally, I’d nicely say something about it. There is no really easy way to address it, but I think it’s best to just be direct about getting it handled. Having her move to another room won’t stop the noise while she is eating, so anyone around her in the kitchen/break room would still be listening to the noise of her eating. Dealing with it directly will either lead to the noise stopping or becoming educated about why she is so noisy (perhaps she has a problem with her jaw that causes it).

CWOTUS's avatar

Have you considered – I’m just going out on a limb here – just talking to the woman? She may not even be aware that she’s making so much noise, and would probably be embarrassed to know how objectionable it is.

Now that I know – because I’ve been told – that some people in my area object to the smell of curries that I like to bring to work and reheat for lunch, I’m making alternative arrangements to heat and eat those elsewhere.

You don’t need laws and rules unless “talking to people” doesn’t work any more. But that’s where to start.

mostlyclueless's avatar

Thanks for the suggestions. Headphones might actually be the best way to go. We don’t really have other space where we could go to eat; it’s a small place.

The reason I have been reluctant to talk to her is what you alluded to—I think she would be extremely embarrassed. She is a VERY anxious and insecure person, and I think the conversation would be uncomfortable for everyone.

Coloma's avatar

What? No votes for the arsenic? lolol

CWOTUS's avatar

That’s why I think someone who knows her and has her interests in mind should tell her. It would be a kindness.

Put it this way: If you had bad breath, would you want to know or not-know that?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@CWOTUS that brings up an interesting question, doesn’t it!
If you get a ‘no eating at your desk’ policy so she has to go to the break room or something…well, how small are the small meals? Would they take less than 5 minutes to eat? If so, I don’t think she’d be missed that much.

janbb's avatar

Yes – I think 5 small meals could be a bit of a problem in the workplace anyway, although many of us do tend to munch through the day.

Coloma's avatar

Well..there’s always the passive aggressive approach…leave an anonymous note on her desk after hours with some tree branches, telling her that since she chews like a Beaver everyone thought she’d enjoy an extra snack. lol

Dutchess_III's avatar

What kinds of food does she eat, and how much?

tedibear's avatar

“I want to let you know that I know you’re working hard to lose weight. That’s a great thing and not easy to do. One thing that has become a problem for me is that you chew very loudly and it’s disturbing while I work. If you could try to eat more quietly, I would appreciate it.”

You could add, “I hope you don’t take offense to this. Normally you’re easy to work with, and I assume that you hadn’t noticed the noise.”

So yes, what @CWOTUS said, but with some script help. If that doesn’t work, there’s always arsenic.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Coloma if the OP went with your first suggestion she might end up with a cellmate with a loud chewing habit!

Coloma's avatar

@SuperMouse True that, then she would have to make a knife out of a chicken bone. lolololol

Dutchess_III's avatar

I hate it when a person posts a question and never comes back to answer the questions WE have for them.

Coloma's avatar

@Dutchess_III Oh well, we’re having fun anyway right? You know me, it takes little for me to be off and running. haha

mostlyclueless's avatar

@Dutchess_III, I am not sure. She sits across the room and behind me, so I would have to get up and look over her shoulder to see what she is eating.

Coloma's avatar

What about a spray bottle? I often laugh to myself thinking how great it would be to just whip out a spray bottle and blast annoying people like you zap your cat when they get on the counters. lol

A few zings with the spray bottle she will be well conditioned and quickly begin to blink and squint as soon as she sees you turn around. :-P

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Coloma You know, squirt guns and spray bottles work great on misbehaving two year olds too!

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther