Do you need a tissue?
September 25, 2018 6:46 PM   Subscribe

Someone at work sniffs A LOT. Wet, runny-sounding sniffs. It drives me and at least one other person bonkers. How can I tell her to stop?

P is a recent joinee that I hired. In most other ways she is great – independent, picks up relatively fast and is friendly. But she sniffs. A LOT. Constantly and it sounds gross - very throaty and wet. I wish she would just blow her nose. She does have a box of tissues on her desk, no idea why she wouldn’t just use them.

We work in an open office, and sit in close quarters to each other. Another colleague of mine came up to me and asked me to talk to P about it, since I’m her supervisor. She said she could hear her over her headphones. It bothers me too and I find it hard to focus on my work.

Is there a way to ask her to stop without making her feel uncomfortable? We’re all women, but she’s new, so we haven’t really built a strong work relationship. I’m also someone who hates confrontations at work. So please help!
posted by milque to Human Relations (44 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Is there a way to ask her to stop without making her feel uncomfortable?


No matter what you say or how you say it, she will be uncomfortable, I guarantee it.

It is up to you to decide whether her short-term discomfort is something you are willing to accept as a supervisor seeking a quiet and sniffle-free open office. It is also possible that anything you could say makes her extremely uncomfortable and also makes no progress toward a quieter and sniffle-free office.

I’d personally rather spend my time working on moving away from close-quarters open office plan, because that’s the real problem here, ymmv.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:54 PM on September 25, 2018 [26 favorites]

no idea why she wouldn't just use them

Not the main part of the question, but I can shed some light on this, when in the past I had severe nasal irritation that basically led to my nose running all the time. Sniffling the mucus to the back of the throat so it can be swallowed is the most gentle and least irritating way of solving the issue. (think about each swallow = one tissue?).

Repeatedly blowing one's nose will erode the mucus membranes and lead to bleeds (first pink mucus, then full on bleeds).
posted by xdvesper at 6:55 PM on September 25, 2018 [29 favorites]

Does she wear makeup? I don’t blow my nose when I wear makeup, for obvious reasons.

There isn’t any way to ask someone to stop doing something like that without making them feel self-conscious. Maybe try being friendly with her, then ask her about allergies, and perhaps you can sneak it in like, “Oh, you don’t have allergies? I hear you sniffling a lot so I thought I’d tell you about what worked for me when I had that problem.”

Unsolicited? Yes. But I think that sounds well-meaning.
posted by AlexandriaParis at 7:14 PM on September 25, 2018

Begin with the assumption that this is out of her control, which has been the case for the people I've known who do this. That should help you decide where to go from here.
posted by she's not there at 7:19 PM on September 25, 2018 [15 favorites]

There's a guy at work who snorts loudly and grossly several times an hour. I suspect it's actually a tic, but I don't need to know all his diagnoses.

I have definite misophonia. So yeah, awesome for me. But there's no way I could tell him. That's just not a possibility. It's getting into his private medical business and no. I got some noise-canceling headphones and sucked it up.

We rearranged our office space recently and I made sure to subtly request a cube with a high likelihood of being far from his, and peace was restored. Open offices are Satan's seating plan. That's your problem.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:20 PM on September 25, 2018 [19 favorites]

As her supervisor, you should be the one to bring this up to her. I would recommend saying that in an open office plan, “we need to be considerate of how our actions and habits affect other people in the vicinity” and that you’ve noticed that she sniffles a lot, and can be heard over headphones.

Honestly, the fact that she’s new is an advantage because you’re still in the window of informing her of office culture norms (e.g. sniffling bothers a lot of people around here) and can present it as you would any other training issue.

If she feels uncomfortable about having this conversation, what. She’s an adult and will get over it. Better to be uncomfortable for 5 minutes than to drive the entire office nuts, and make them resent her and not want to work with her. Maybe she can do something about it and maybe not, but at least letting her know that it’s bothering people will encourage her to find a solution.

I have a former team member who just took a position in a different division, moving from our cube environment into an open office environment, and she used to constantly sniffle loudly. I liked and respected her as a colleague, but man am I glad to not have to listen to SNIFF SNORT SNIFF every 90 seconds.
posted by Autumnheart at 7:32 PM on September 25, 2018 [9 favorites]

I was a chronic throat-clearer and sniffler for over a decade. I knew it annoyed my cube neighbors. I asked doctors about it. They without fail gave me Flonase and shrugged saying “allergies maybe!” It wasn’t until it got horrible during my second pregnancy - like it became full on runny nose and throat clearing/coughing to the point of vomiting - that I finally identified it as weirdly presenting acid reflux. I now take medication for it twice a day and I no longer piss everyone off.

The takeaway here is that it was a problem I was aware of that I sought medical help for and it still took over ten years to fix it.

I mean, it’s really likely she knows she does this. I’ve never in my life been offered a Kleenex or a cough drop when I was unaware I needed one. All it will do is alert her to the fact that you’re noticing her sniffing. And she probably knows. If your employer already offers good health insurance and free tissues for desks, I’m not sure what else you hope to achieve.

I’m sorry, I wish I had a better answer for you, but there was nothing my coworkers could have done to change my situation and I’m not sure what you realistically think could happen here.
posted by olinerd at 7:34 PM on September 25, 2018 [31 favorites]

If she's very recent, at least wait a week or two to see if she just has a cold or even allergies at the moment...haven't you ever had a runny nose that won't stop even if you blow it every 30 seconds? I certainly have.
posted by randomnity at 7:36 PM on September 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

We have a snot sucker in our office and she drives me insane. But no way would I ever tell her anything or tell her supervisor to tell her anything. No way. Requisition better headphones.
posted by Don Pepino at 7:44 PM on September 25, 2018 [5 favorites]

My officemate has recurrent hiccups that sound like a chihuahua dry-heaving into a megaphone after a three-day helium binge. I was an attention-seeking hiccuper in my youth, and I secretly suspect that she can and should learn to mute them. After a few weeks of making pointed but gentle responses like “Are you ok?” and “Can I get you anything?” it became clear that she either cannot or will not stifle them. She’s otherwise worth it to me, so when an attack comes on I just excuse myself to a washroom or coffee break. No mention of the hiccups, just “be right back.” I always need to caffeinate, or pee, or both, so in a way it really is self-care.

I wish I could offer you better than the strategy of gently-pointed welfare inquiries and well-timed trips to the Keurig/loo, but I’m afraid it’s all I’ve got. Good luck out there.
posted by armeowda at 7:53 PM on September 25, 2018 [5 favorites]

A lot of answers here advocating continued passive suffering over making someone gently but directly aware that they're being a little disruptive. I think the direct approach is best. She is likely not aware that she is bothering people.
posted by killdevil at 7:56 PM on September 25, 2018 [12 favorites]

You could also get her a lovely handkerchief. Bring it about as an ask about allergies, saying they're killer this time of year or something and if it's affecting her. Casually mention how much you hate blowing your nose every 5 seconds and how irritating tissues are. If she's receptive and commiserating at all, tell her a handkerchief saved your nose's life and you wouldn't mind picking up one for her if she'd like. Then the next day leave it on her desk and see if that helps.
posted by lunastellasol at 8:39 PM on September 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

In my life, things like this have been out of my control. If I sniff constantly, it's because the mucus is too thick or too dry or too far back to come out upon blowing my nose. If I sniffle frequently but not constantly, it's because I need to blow my nose but can't get away to the bathroom to do it (I can't blow my nose in public any more than I could urinate in public).

When I hiccup, it often sounds like an angry goose getting strangled into a megaphone and it hurts like fucking hell and if I could control it I would, because it's both so painful and humiliating that I'm near tears while it's happening.

Neither of these are situations that I want to be in. I know it's annoying. I'm already embarassed by being the annoying person making loud and gross noises. I'm not actually doing any harm or creating an unsanitary environment or putting anyone at risk through these things my body does against my will and outside of my control. If someone were to ask me to stop, I'd become 100% more embarassed and self conscious, but I would become 0% more able to resolve the problem.

Please just let this go.
posted by windykites at 9:02 PM on September 25, 2018 [20 favorites]

I used to have horrible allergies, even with taking medication daily and getting allergy shots weekly. I would sniffle all the time because blowing my nose 30x per hour would irritate my nose so badly, no matter how magically soft the tissues were. At home I just stuffed tissue in my nose and that helped a lot, but that's not an option at work. I was embarrassed about it, always made sure to mention my allergies when I sneezed. I am sure it was super annoying to people. Now just wait until I go back to work after giving birth - I can't hold in, uh, flatulence anymore. People are gonna love working with me!
posted by at 9:04 PM on September 25, 2018 [4 favorites]

I think as her supervisor it's worth it to compassionately bring it up if for no other reason to ascertain whether there is an end in sight or whether this is her normal. Either way, it's not unreasonable to ask her to meet her coworkers halfway and try to curtail the constant annoying sounds. If she literally can't control the sniffling, she should see a doctor for advice, and if the doctor agrees that she can't control the sniffling, she can seek medical accommodations at work.

(It's impossible to avoid being annoying sometimes in an open office, but hey, when I'm sniffly or phlegmy in a way that's too much to control with nose blowing, I acknowledge it to my closest-vicinity coworkers with apologies. Situational awareness is not too much to ask.)
posted by desuetude at 9:48 PM on September 25, 2018 [8 favorites]

Best to bring it up. "Hey, been noticing you've had the sniffles for a while. Allergies?"

And if she asks if it's bothering anyone, I would say, "Distracted more than bothered, but yes. What can I do to help?"
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:02 PM on September 25, 2018 [7 favorites]

This is something that happens to me because of allergies/asthma/acid reflux/ocd. You could certainly tell me it's annoying or you'd like me to stop but the only thing I could say to that is, "you and me both!". I would find handkerchief gifts and odd beating around the bush about dry nostrils or tissues to be weird. Bring it up if you must, just realize it might be out of her control. Yet another reason why open office plans are the absolute worst.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 10:03 PM on September 25, 2018 [15 favorites]

Was this happening during her interview(s)? If not, there's probably an end in sight.
posted by kate4914 at 11:08 PM on September 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

She is likely not aware that she is bothering people.

That's possibly true, but I don't think it's possible that she's doing this and isn't, herself, bothered by whatever it is that's making her do it, so there's at least one person she's aware is unhappy with this situation. Whether it's allergies, or a tic, or whatever. I used to have someone who'd leave cough drops on my desk because I coughed a lot for an extended period after a brush with pneumonia. I already had cough drops. I had an inhaler. I was doing the things I could do to reduce the problem that didn't make me worse off. All it did was make me feel even unhappier.

Blowing her nose instead would also be disruptively noisy and the irritation from repeated nose-blowing can make a runny nose worse. Nobody just sniffles because they like sniffling. If you need to address a problem, I agree with addressing the problem of people not having good enough headphones, or the problem of the office plan, not the problem of having an employee with less than optimal health.
posted by Sequence at 11:13 PM on September 25, 2018 [6 favorites]

If she literally can't control the sniffling, she should see a doctor for advice, and if the doctor agrees that she can't control the sniffling, she can seek medical accommodations at work.

Well if it's possible for her to get a private office if she has a note from a doctor that this is due to a medical issue, I think you have a good way to bring it up.

I'm sure she'd feel uncomfortable for a moment, until she realizes she'll get to have a private office.

Otherwise, no, don't bring it up.
posted by yohko at 11:15 PM on September 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Another vote for letting it go. I'm actually imagining the sniffer writing a question for AskMe about their terrible new workplace that includes the detail that "I suffer from really bad allergies, and my supervisor actually took me aside and asked me to stop sniffing!" I mean, we live in a society. Sometimes we have to put up with unpleasant elements of being around other people, and as someone said above, it's not endangering anyone's health.

Also, it might be just me, but if my supervisor said something like "How can I help?" to me about something like this, I think I would (secretly, in my head), fly into a fit of rage. "I DON'T KNOW ARE YOU CAPABLE OF PERFORMING SOME MIRACLE NO MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL I HAVE EVER SEEN HAS NOT YET DISCOVERED?" But that's just me.

For what it's worth, I once went back to work after being really sick and had a chronic cough for a few weeks. A coworker came over after a few days and asked if I could just...train myself not to cough. Guess what? I couldn't, and I just felt more self-conscious than ever!
posted by tiger tiger at 12:00 AM on September 26, 2018 [17 favorites]

I am allergic to whatever chemical warfare agent is in Axe/Lynx and most Rexona deodorants and a whole pile of other perfumes and body sprays. When circumstances force me to inhale even minuscule quantities of that agent I have very little option but to sniffle and snort and itch and blink and squint until the urgently gobbled antihistamine kicks in, then just do my best to get by in quiet and almost completely unproductive misery until I can find some clean air again. Sometimes I'm caught by surprise without antihistamines to hand and can't leave either, and it's hell.

in an open office plan, “we need to be considerate of how our actions and habits affect other people in the vicinity”

I strongly endorse this sentiment.
posted by flabdablet at 12:06 AM on September 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

You might pose this question to Ask A Manager.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 12:29 AM on September 26, 2018

I think my ingrained British manners might try:

"Hey, I noticed you sniffling a lot recently-- I just wanted to check that it's not my perfume/deodorant/aftershave or anything causing it that I can tweak to help out? I'd feel terrible if there was and you were just being polite in not mentioning it because you're new."
posted by Static Vagabond at 3:24 AM on September 26, 2018 [25 favorites]

I sniffle sometimes too, though more quietly than it sounds like your person does (thanks to years of shame and anxiety). Like every other sniffler on this thread, I have consulted many doctors who have zero solutions. The only suggestion on here that wouldn’t absolutely mortify me is Static Vagabond’s response, because other people’s perfumes totally do cause problems for me but I don’t feel comfortable telling people how to smell.

Everybody: can it with the “do you need a tissue”. We are adults and we know when we need a tissue. We know it’s just passive-aggression. No one is being subtle here.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 5:03 AM on September 26, 2018 [14 favorites]

I appreciate that some people have legit medical concerns that they've worked for years to alleviate with no success, but some snifflers are just....not that bothered by it and don't realize that it's annoying! My husband was one, and I've had to help alert him to the issue. He does have sinus problems and he's always going to be runnier/stuffier than most, but he also will just....quietly sit beside me and sniffle for an HOUR. When there is a tissue box within reach. Gah!

So yeah, maybe in some abstract way your coworker knows she's sniffling, but I'm with others that your annoyance matters here too. Sure, if you bring it up once ("Hey, I've noticed this habit, is there anything beyond tissues that we can provide to be helpful?") and she doesn't get the hint then you'll have to live with it, but come on. Even frequent snifflers can make more of an effort -- that's part of "living in society" too. If the conversation makes her momentarily uncomfortable* or aware that she's bothering folks, that's an appropriate reaction. It's not useful or reasonable to NEVER make anyone else the slightest bit uncomfortable if their actions are inconveniencing others.

*I stress the word UNCOMFORTABLE here -- please no straw-man arguments about me encouraging vicious shaming or berating, but a moment's discomfort is not the end of the world.
posted by Bebo at 5:26 AM on September 26, 2018 [8 favorites]

I have asthma, allergies and reflux that occasionally make me sniff as well, and I would prefer (and have preferred) the temporary embarrassment of someone saying “do you need a tissue?” to the more permanent mortification of finding out I was annoying the shit out of an entire office full of people I’m trying to impress.
posted by lieber hair at 5:27 AM on September 26, 2018 [4 favorites]

I have allergies and several years ago, our entire department had to move out of our building to a large open office plan during a seismic retrofit. I was REALLY allergic to something in that temporary setting. AND that place was basically an airplane hangar -- sounds echoed. And my allergies made me have a really, really bad cough, the entire time I worked there. People occasionally would offer solutions and of course I understood it was annoying but it bugged the crap out of me because did they really think I hadn't thought about trying cough drops or whatever? And the embarrassment was pretty severe. So I guess what I'm saying is, she's probably aware that there's a problem and she's dealing with it the best way she can think of. I'm not sure there's much to be gained by talking to her about it -- it will likely embarrass her and the likelihood that there's a solution that she hasn't thought of that would make her less noisy is pretty low. Open office plans just kind of come with being annoyed by the people around you sometimes.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 6:35 AM on September 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

fwiw, when i'm sniffly, i know i'm sniffly. it's not something that a handkerchief can solve. sometimes it's not something that medication can solve.

if somebody were to tell me that my extreme discomfort and inability to breathe were a mild irritant to them, as if i didn't know that i couldn't breathe properly or as if it really was worse for them than it was for me, i'd be pretty annoyed.

if you're concerned about your coworker, then yeah you can try to have a conversation in a work setting about their medical issue and their body and its effects on other people, but it should be pretty clear that you should tread lightly.
posted by entropone at 6:55 AM on September 26, 2018 [6 favorites]

I would recommend saying that in an open office plan, “we need to be considerate of how our actions and habits affect other people in the vicinity” and that you’ve noticed that she sniffles a lot, and can be heard over headphones.

Yes, THIS. No one should have to listen to someone else's snot all day long. It's distracting and seriously gross.

Maybe she will tell you that she has seen 5 specialists and tried 12 medicines, with no success. In that case, I guess you have to accept it or find a slightly more secluded place for her to sit. But it seems far more likely that she hasn't actually explored all the options available to her, and that this will be the nudge she needs to get her sniffling under control.

I'll also add, for the chronic snifflers saying that the rest of us should just suck it up, that for some of us that noise is truly stomach-turning. Maybe her sniffing is beyond her control, but OP's sensitivity to it may be as well.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 7:28 AM on September 26, 2018 [6 favorites]

Jesus are you my coworkers? I have a runny nose half of the year and nothing works for it. It's not a nose-blowing sort of thing. I could blow my nose a dozen times and I'd still be sniffling immediately after. I also have massive tonsils and adenoids and sometimes have to do the snort and swallow because again, it's not something that can be solved by a kleenex.

This is something I'm incredibly self-conscious about, and your coworker might be as well. Static Vagabond's comment is the only one that wouldn't make me feel bad.

I wish I had a solution for you, but anything you say is likely going to cause at least some embarrassment.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:30 AM on September 26, 2018 [8 favorites]

As someone who came down with a rhinovirus yesterday morning and is currently a mountain of endlessly dripping snot, I want to offer my love and support to all the snifflers. Sniffle pride!

People get "helpful" every time I have a cough, because my coughs always last weeks. They ask if I need a drink of water. They come and offer cough drops as if I had never heard of the idea. "O! Why thank you, what are these little sugarjewels, each so perfect? Are they available in stores? So droll, so individually wrapped! I think I'll save them and put them in my grandnieces' Yuletide stockings." And I have a damn door, thank Christ. They tried to openplan the whole building, but we threatened to quit.
posted by Don Pepino at 7:43 AM on September 26, 2018 [8 favorites]

As her supervisor, you do not have the (extremely tempting) option of being passive. Vaguely mentioning allergies does not communicate the issue that someone has brought to you as her supervisor: that her constant sniffing is distracting her coworkers. Making up a story about how you're going to adjust your perfume doesn't accomplish that either. Coworkers can do this if they want (I still think it's passive-aggressive and not ideal workplace communication)-- but managers have to fix things head on.

I hate this part of management, but your option is to let it go (and instruct everyone else to find a way to let it go), or risk one awkward conversation. It will be awkward but there are ways to keep it short, sweet, and professional. Points to hit: This may be a bit awkward; I'm sure you're not aware of this; this might be something you can't control but if you can I need you to be more mindful; what can I do to help.

It will be more awkward when she realizes her boss and coworkers have been dancing around the issue for months while she has no idea she's bothering everyone.

Open offices suck. Signed, a manager with one direct report who's a loud talker, and another who grunts and groans involuntarily all day. I was mortified and wanted to take the coward's way, but I had to speak to both of them, and it helped, and nobody died or cried.
posted by kapers at 9:35 AM on September 26, 2018 [7 favorites]

The reason you should not talk about it with underling is because it will only increase your fixation on this noise.
I have misophonia. I hate noises. You can't make the other person solve your neurosis for you, you have to control yours.

You need BROWN noise, it has lower tones and sounds like the ocean. White noise does jack shit for people made noise triggers, I can still hear sniffles and crinkling through it. I promise that with brown noise in your headphones you will be able to tolerate her.
posted by skrozidile at 9:42 AM on September 26, 2018 [4 favorites]

I know it's annoying. I know it's awful. But trust me, having chronic and persistent sniffling and coughing is no fun for the person who does it. I keep tissues on my desk. I use cough drops. I take allergy meds every single day. I blow my nose constantly. And yet, I still sniffle. My nose literally cracks and bleeds for several months each year. There's only so much you can do. When you are stuck dealing with this for a lifetime, you already know that you're annoying people, but when nothing has worked to stop it, what do you do? I'm just grateful that I've never had a co-worker call me out for something I have no control over. Whatever you choose to do, please be kind.
posted by hessie at 11:52 AM on September 26, 2018 [8 favorites]

hessie, if it won't bug your coworkers (or you), you might try cloth handkerchiefs instead of paper tissues. I used to invest in "Puffs" and the like every year, the kind with lotion in them, because I would chafe my nose off every time I got a cold, but I completely by chance discovered that cotton is much, much softer and easier on the nose than even the softest lotion-fortified tissue.
posted by Don Pepino at 12:32 PM on September 26, 2018

Maybe she will tell you that she has seen 5 specialists and tried 12 medicines, with no success.

People are entitled to privacy wrt their health conditions. People are not obligated to disclose their private health information to their supervisors.
posted by windykites at 12:56 PM on September 26, 2018 [7 favorites]

Of course, windykites! I was being tongue-in-cheek. She may say “I can’t control my sniffing” and that would be all the information OP needs or is entitled to.

When someone is engaging in truly gross behavior like this, it’s reasonable for their supervisor to ask them to control it if it’s possible for them to do so. Of course, if it can ‘t be controlled then OP must accept that gracefully.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 1:51 PM on September 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

Didn’t read the comments, but this would drive me Absolutely Crazy! I have misophonia and endless sniffing isn’t a “suck it up” kind of thing when you have it. Every progressive sniff (after about the first 20 or so for me), leads to increased anxiety and suffering. I was once on a plane next to a sniffer and after a horribly miserable 30 minutes, I thought I was going to lose my usually mellow mind and thrust tissues in front of the poor soul’s face and insisted he blow his nose. My husband, on the other hand, hadn’t register one sniff.

That’s the thing about misophonia - if you don’t have it, you don’t really “hear” these small things. If you do, just one slurp of soup (the personal worst sound I can hear) can immediately send your entire self into a really terrible discomfort that I can best describe as anxiety, rage, frustration and stress all rolled into one. Your office sniffer may have a condition, but if any of you have misophonia, it would be unfair to expect the sniffer’s condition to be the only one considered.

Say something!
posted by murrey at 3:34 PM on September 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

I had a friend a while back that would excuse himself to go to the bathroom like, 8 times a meal when we went out for spicy food. Eventually we asked why, and he said that his mom taught him that it was insanely rude to blow your nose at the table, so he was getting up and going all the way to the bathroom (which was down a flight of stairs!) again and again when the spice got to him. We said that he shouldn't feel like he needed to do that around us, and to go ahead and blow if he needed to . He was so relieved, and was so much better able to enjoy the food! What I'm getting at is there are so many reasons that she may be sniffling - maybe she thinks it would be rude to use a tissue at her desk, but if she leaves her desk you'll think she is slacking off. I think you do need to talk to her, as long as you can do it privately and with compassion. I love the idea of asking if she has allergies and is your perfume bothering her. if you can frame it as "how can we make you more comfortable" there's a good chance you can resolve this. And let her know that it's ok to blow her nose if she needs to.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:11 PM on September 26, 2018

I, as a sniffler, also have misophonia. And this thread sorta makes me want to hide in my room forever. Please please please take the "this is seriously gross" comments as something you should really never say to your underling. If you ask her about lotions, perfumes, etc you better be willing to make your other underlings as uncomfortable as you'll make her by asking the question. If you aren't willing to tell others to reduce their scented products, don't even bring it up as an option.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 5:40 PM on September 26, 2018 [5 favorites]

Ditto, being a sniffler with misophonia. Yeah, my sniffles may annoy you, but your "CMONNNN!!!" or "Ughh!!" or *loud chomping* or whatever triggers the same reaction in us that our sniffles do in you. I can't help my sniffling, and you can't help your noises. Am I grosser than you? Hard to say. Personally I'd rather hear sniffling than your open-mouthed chewing or frustrated "CMONNN!!!s", but whatever.

Ultimately, open-plan offices fucking suck, NOBODY likes them, and EVERYBODY is likely annoyed by something someone else in the office is doing. Shaming one person when everyone is probably irritating someone else in the office is unfair.

And don't call me gross. It's a health care issue that I have no control over; I'm not doing it on purpose.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:17 PM on September 26, 2018 [13 favorites]

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