Help Me Cope With a Noisy Eater
September 25, 2012 9:30 AM Subscribe
I have about three weeks to come up with a game plan on how I'm going to deal with a noisy coworker's return to our shared desk space. What would you do?
posted by These Birds of a Feather to Work & Money (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I work in an open office, and unfortunately for me my desk mate is someone with some pretty lax manners when it comes to eating at his desk. He frequently chews with his mouth open and eats many foods that make irritating sounds (and have super pungent odors). The smells I can deal with; the sounds, not so much. To combat this, I normally listen to music as loud as I can through earbuds as it cancels out the distracting sounds, but recently one of my supervisors asked me not to do this anymore as a) they can sometimes hear the music and b) the set up renders it difficult for others to get my attention. :(
Right now said coworker is away on vacation. We normally sit close enough to each other that I'm in a constant state of tension and now that he's not here, it's really evident that his presence is a source of stress for me. I'm twice as productive and so relaxed.
I don't want to resent this guy as he's a nice kid, so since he's away, this is my chance to figure out what I can do on my end so we can have a harmonious work experience together.
My options seem to be...
1. Try to gently tell my coworker that he's eating with his mouth open and smacking his lips when he returns and it happens again.
2. Invest in noise canceling headphones and explain to my supervisor that I need to use them because I have sensitive hearing and my desk-mate's eating is highly distracting/aggravating.
3. Lobby to change my seating assignment. This is the most coveted option, but also the one that would be the most difficult to accomplish as I am new (though valued) at the company I work for and getting my own space may be perceived as an attempt on my end to hinder collaboration.
What would you all recommend? What noise canceling headphones would you suggest I get? How would you phrase this situation to a supervisor? Are there alternative solutions to this issue?
There is a slight possibility that this coworker might move desks soon but it's not guaranteed so I can't bank on it. He's a loud enough eater that I will likely be able to hear him even if he moves a few spaces down.