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robhaya's avatar

Office etiquette for a co-worker who lacks basic manners...

Asked by robhaya (999points) January 18th, 2008
10 responses
“Great Question” (1points)

I work in a small office where we each have our own private offices, with close proximity to one another’s door. My co-worker has a tendency to belch loudly constantly throughout the day. And on top of it talks really loud when on the phone (most of the calls are personnel). I know that he can control the belching in meetings, but when in his office lets them rip. My other office mates have noticed as well. It gets so bad that we sometimes have to put on noise canceling ear plugs.

Any suggestions for how to deal with this? I’ve had just about enough of this gross and rude behavior.


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softtop67's avatar

Next time you hear the belch just ask them if this is really neccessary and appropriate behavior at work where others can overhear

paulc's avatar

I’d carry around a water gun. Every time he burps quickly spray him in the face or, preferably the mouth. If this isn’t a good enough deterrent, begin adding disgusting but non-lethal additives to the water gun payload.

It also helps if you can have everyone else act as though this is completely normal behaviour and act incredulously if he suggests what you’re doing is unacceptable. Dead-pan the man.

This basically works for my dogs so I don’t see why it won’t work for another mammal. Except, of course, I’d never spray them with anything but water – I respect them much more than a human.

gailcalled's avatar

How about a petition signed by everyone; that way, your eructating office mate can’t single you out for retribution. Safety in numbers, remember. There is probably a new sydrome – office rage (his, not yours.)

gailcalled's avatar


maggiesmom1's avatar

I would simply say, “Could you please stop doing that? It’s making me ill.”

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

@paulc: Your answer is perhaps not practical, but extremely funny. I laughed out loud.

Bri_L's avatar

@paulc: me to

That is a tough one. if you all agree it is a problem maybe a general statement at a office wide meeting could be made.

Somethiing to the effect “This is a tight space for us to inhabit lets all try and be mindfull of each other as we work. If we need to close our door for phone calls, or lunch lets do that. Remember, if you think of being courtious first then it saves the other 11 a lot of headaches and worry about approaching.”

then maybe add “bealching is a taseable offense in this office”

gcross's avatar

In my office, we would take it to the supervisor first. If that didn’t solve the problem, then the manager. If that didn’t do the trick, the petition and the deputy director might work. The water pistol, however, would get us in serious trouble.

Unfortunately, it is YOUR responsibility to get along with others. Anything negative that you do, aside from simply pretending the other person doesn’t exist unless it is work-related, can be seen as YOUR inability to get along and to work as a team. In other words, it can backfire and leave a black mark on YOUR record.

I would talk to the supervisor (everyone, that is, not just you), then the manager, then shun him. If everyone shuns him, eventually he will correct his own behavior or look for a job elsewhere. And that entails not making eye contact, not saying hello or goodbye, terminating a conversation and walking away if he comes over to join in, turning your back on him, and a host of other things. Just remember, don’t let it interfere with your work-related interactions, because, again, that will backfire on you. You were employed to do a job, whether you like the other employees or not. You don’t have to like the people you work with and there is no law that says you have to socialize with them either.

Despite the fact that I get along with most everyone in my office, there are persons I won’t have anything to do with and I take every break and lunch alone and have for over 20 years. I am, at heart, an introvert, and I can only recharge my energies when alone. I could probably improve my relationships if I shared breaks and lunches with someone, virtually everyone else in my office pairs up for these activities, but I wouldn’t enjoy it, so I don’t bother to try.

Aeonflux's avatar

I’m plagued by this same scenario at work. I call him BMW or Belching Machine Wonder for the gross noises that he makes. At first, I thought his belches were more frequent after mealtimes but I was wrong about that. It seems that he does it all through out the day with or without a lot of people present in the office. I am so tempted to throw a glass of water in his face whenever he lets one out because it absolutely disgusts me.
I’m still trying to figure out how to deal with this diplomatically. I’m really glad I came across this blog. It’s given me several ideas.

northern_Paul's avatar

We got someone who’s behavior is similar. There’s 8 guys in a room that’s 14’x28’ in two circles of 4. Basically it’s small. He farts after lunch a couple times at a time and says excuse me afterwards with an occassional comment… ‘I had Mexican today for lunch.’ He belches occassionally. The first time, okay, but beyond that, come on. He and probably 5 others have associate for drafting / CAD the rest are engineers. The guy’s language is quite blue, what the Fxxx, M-FKR. He actually said F**k yesterday when our training coordinator was still in the room. She’s new here, and possibly to the company as well. He noticed afterwards & said excuse me… there’s usually just guys in here. The guy is at least 50 yr old…. with an 80 yr old mother.

The guy brings deep fried chicken back to his desk and eats there 1230 / 1 o’clock & many times eats breakfast there as well. Yesterday I bought a “fresh rain” odorizer fragrance gel & stuck it aside of my cube wall next to his garbage can. I’m within 4’ of him & the garbage is w/in 3.’ My step is to bring in some fans because I’m from a more northern state & it’s a little too warm, but I can use them to draw some fresh air my way.

I’ve used sarcasm… ‘tell us how you really feel,’ ‘you’re excused to go to the bathroom anytime.’ So, now I usually wear headphones even if I’m not listening to music or ear plugs, or even both.

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