Dear Blake,

I have a co-worker I share an office with. We are cordial, but not friends. The problem is she chews gum most of the day with her mouth open, and occasionally pops it. The noises she makes are extremely disturbing and they disgust me. I have taken to wearing headphones and listening to music as often as possible to tune out her noises, but it feels a bit rude and isn’t practical for all day. I’m on the verge of snapping at her. Is there a kind way I can alert her of the problem without disrupting our working relationship?

Signed, Allison
From Dallas, Texas

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Dear Allison,

I agree with you regarding your co-workers irritating habit. The only thing I can suggest, is for you come up with your own irritants that get to the point where she seriously consider going out on stress leave, or resigning or stress. Here are some ideas. Use some pencils as drumsticks and tap them on your desk, while she’s chewing. When she asks you why are you doing that, tell her that her gum smacking has a certain rhythm to it, so you were tapping to the music. You should also be singing while you’re playing, making up some idiotic lyrics that don’t even rhyme. Or, start chewing gum too, and after you’re finish, toss it on the floor. Once your boss steps in a few wads, he’ll ban it from the office… problem solved. Or this idea. Make her feel self-conscious about showing her teeth when she chews, by constantly reminding her about the company’s dental plan, insisting that she takes advantage of it as soon as she can. And lastly, this suggestion. Let her see you pull up some videos on Youtube of animals chewing, and then glance back and forth from your screen to her, and start laughing, while complimenting her on her spot on “impressions”. And then ask her if her body goes through some drastic changes during a full moon, she’ll get the hint.. I hope this helps.


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