Open Thread

by epi on June 27, 2012

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Rene June 27, 2012 at 11:50 am

I work in an office with cubicals. I’ve worked in the same room with the same women for 6 years. Over the last several months, I’ve noticed that she has began talking with her mouth full. It is not uncommon in my office for us to snack or (sadly) even have lunch at our desks. This has always been the case, but recently she will talk with a completely full mouth such that you can barely understand her at times. And, as a conversation goes on, she doesn’t stop eating; continues to eat and talk with a chomping, full mouth.

She is a boisterous, bold, and casual person and we work with many young people (ages 17 – 23) and I know they look up to her like a sassy mother or grandmother figure and I feel like A) she is displaying a bad (and down right gross) habit to these young people B) I am finding it harder and harder to contain my disgust. I don’t know where this change came from, because in the previous 5 1/2 years I’ve worked with her, this has not been an issue.

Is there a way to clearly and politely address this with her?

Any insights would be greatly appreciated!

Rene

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Winifred Rosenburg June 27, 2012 at 3:03 pm

If she starts talking to you with her mouth full, say “Why don’t I let you finish eating and we can talk about this later?” If she’s talking to someone else, just don’t look at her.

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Rene June 27, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Thank you for the response, Winifred! But it is not the looking that is a problem, because I can’t see her! Sadly, it is just the sound of it. I’ve started involuntarily groaning when I hear it and turning my radio up to try to drown it out. Maybe I will just have to turn it up even higher when I hear a cellaphane wrapper rustle across the cubical.

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Ashleigh June 28, 2012 at 10:45 am

Headphones and pandora radio will soon become your best friend. Looking at your message I had to double check the name to see if I somehow posted it and didn’t remember. As soon as I hear the glorping, sloshing, smacking, etc start, I simply ram my earphones into my ears as far as they will go and put on some music. I cannot imagine how one who eats like a farm animal cannot hear themselves and understand that it is not acceptable behavior in any place or time. C’est la vie…

Luckily, if you put on some energetic music, it kinda kick starts your energy and makes the afternoon a little more pleasant. :)

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Winifred Rosenburg June 28, 2012 at 10:55 am

That does sound irritating. Maybe you can ask your supervisor about installing a pink-noise system to allow everyone to concentrate better?

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/20/science/when-buzz-at-your-cubicle-is-too-loud-for-work.html?pagewanted=all

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Winifred Rosenburg June 27, 2012 at 3:39 pm

I have a friend who has a habit of making mildly condescending comments that I normally just ignore. However lately he has been doing it more frequently and it is really getting on my nerves. The comments are usually but not always related to my career and money, both of which are topics that I am not interested in his opinion on. To give you some background, I am a professional musician. This friend of mine at one point aspired to be a musician as well and went to music school with me. Towards the end of his time at music school, he decided he didn’t want to be a musician after all and went to law school. Because this worked out in his case, he seems to think his path is the right one and mine is the wrong one. For example, on one occasion he was commenting on my attention to detail and said “You have really good attention to detail. You should go to law school because that will make you a good lawyer.” One of my other friends who was present said “I think having good attention to detail makes her a good musician too,” to which he replied “yeah, but musicians don’t make any money.” Is there a way I can make it clear to him that I want these comments to stop without damaging our friendship? If it matters, my husband has known him longer than I have and has a closer relationship with him so I don’t know if it might make sense for my husband to speak to him about this problem.

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Vanna Keiler June 30, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Hi Winifred. Your “friend” doesn’t sound much like a friend to me. For example, you stated “the comments are usually but not always related to my career and money”. Is he criticizing or making derogatory comments about other things about you as well? It sounds like, as Nina put it, he sounds insecure. However, that should not excuse his behavior. Whether he is behaving this way because you are still enjoying your career or for any other reason, friends don’t put friends down on a “regular basis”, let alone infrequently. You really should not feel the need to defend yourself or your friend’s hostile criticisms – you just need to find yourself a new friend.

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Jerry July 1, 2012 at 5:47 pm

You just say, “[friend], why don’t you drop it.”

Or, if you want to return fire, you can say things like “Musicians don’t have billable hour requirements.” Or “yes, and musicians don’t have six-figure debt loads.” Or “why on earth would I want to go through three years of school so that I can be a document review/diligence monkey.” There are lots of ways to address him.

One thing that absolutely does not make sense — don’t ask your husband to fight your battle for you. You’ll come off as weak or over-sensitive and certainly not someone that he wants to be around. If you are looking to preserve the friendship, just nip it in the bud using direct communication. Or pick at his profession enough and he’ll get the hint.

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Rene June 27, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Because of your good advice to me, I will repay the favor with what I would do if I were in your situation: I would tell this friend that his comments make me think that he doesn’t respect my decision to be a musician and ask him if that is true? Often, I think, if you give someone your view on something then leave a nice open ended question for them, you’ll find what their true meaning behind comments are. Once he has to explain himself, he will likely be much more careful about his words in the future. And, if he is not, then you can decide how much time you want to spend with this person that doesn’t respect you in the future. Good luck!

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Jody June 28, 2012 at 6:19 am

I like Rene’s response. I hadn’t realized I was always correcting a friend until she said something — at which point I stopped as I was more than a little bit embarrassed. If your friend doesn’t stop making the remarks after you try Rene’s suggestion you might have to come out and say “knock it off, I’ve already told you those comments aren’t welcomed.”

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Nina June 28, 2012 at 10:47 am

Yes, I think Rene’s advice is very solid–if he’s a good friend, might as well come right out and ask. Another angle: I usually find those that need to belittle others are very insecure–he’s casting aspersions on your career path because he’s worried about his. You might try to shut it down with something like, “I’m glad you’re happy with your career, but everyone doesn’t wear the same size shoes.”

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