Q: I work in a call center. We have a casual atmosphere that allows us to eat at our desk. I have a co-worker who continuously talks with her mouth full, whether to me, others around her or even with customers on the phone. She is a good co-worker in many ways. I have told her that it bothers me when she speaks with her mouth full. I have tried not answering her when she speaks to me with her mouth full. I have told her I could not understand her when she is speaking with her mouth full, and truly, many times I cannot.
She is very ‘country’, but interestingly enough many of her habits are more particular than mine. She would never consider appearing in public in rumpled clothing, even her blue jeans are ironed. Any suggestions as to how to impact this disagreeable behavior? She does trust me and asks my opinion in many things.
A: You should speak to her privately and tactful tell her something along the lines of “Jane, I have to be honest with you. It is not appropriate to talk with your mouth full in any situation. It is unpleasant to look at and, when on the phone, it gives the impression that your food is more important than the conversation. You are such a nice person that I would hate for something like this to take away from people’s perception of you. If the situation were reversed, I would hope you would be as honest with me and understand.”