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Gum popping!

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Question: I work in a nice office with a lot of nice people around. Sometimes, however, the lady next to me in her cube will chew gum ... then, she will pop it. Not too loud that the whole office hears it, but enough for me to cringe each time. It makes me mad, and I want to yell: "Please stop! For the love of all that is good in this world, stop popping your gum!"

But I am a professional and would like advice on how to politely bring this issue to light. Any suggestions?  -- Eau Claire, Wis.


Have we all becone so worried about offending one another? Are we over the top on political correctness? I think the simpple answer is the simple direct approach...

Be polite and just say to her that on occasion when she's chewing gum she tends to make a loud popping noise that bothers you. Would she mind not doing that?

Being polite will mean not accusing her of anything. Make sure you aren't using the gum incident as a smoke screen for something else that's bothering you.

I have a coworker who uses her Instant Messaging on her computer and it sometimes bothers me the same way because you can hear every time they type a message. I've either asked her by calling (more discreet) or emailed her. I imagine I could ask her in person as well but we're rather busy people up here!

Good luck....

Yes, we all need to work together and take other people's feelings into consideration but I question whether the "gum popper" is really doing anything wrong. I may be in the minority here but I really do not think that I could work in an office so quiet that gum popping or typing would create such a distraction. My co-workers are high energy people that work hard and can make some noise. I have learned to "tune people out" when it does become overwhelming but overall I love working in such a fast-paced and lively environment.

I can imagine how annoying that sound can become but I also do agree that if that is the only sound you hear it is pretty quiet at your work. I would suggest playing some quiet music in your cubicle that isn't distracting, maybe the two of you choose a station you both like. This would eliminate the noise. You could also try during some small talk, a joke about her gum popping. That way it creates a laugh and maybe she will get the hint. Like, didn't gum popping go out of style in the 80's?

I must be from the really old school but gum popping is absolutely just plain rude! It's right up there with knuckle popping and breaking wind. If this is something that she likes to do on her own time, fine, but be considerate of others and just don't do it in public. I would definitely let her know in a nice and kind tone of voice that it was really annoying to me.

It's possible that she's not even aware that she's popping her gum! [It's similar to people who wear too much cologne - they often aren't even aware of it.]

I would approach it in a polite manner, saying something like, "You may not be aware of this, but you often pop your gum. It's pretty loud - I just wanted to let you know." She may get defensive, but at least you spoke your mind in a polite manner!

I sympathize - it seems that once you do focus in on something like that, it's all you hear. I used to work next to a woman who sniffed constantly. Drove me crazy! I tried not to focus on it, but it was difficult. I kept wanting to offer her some kleenex!

I have extremely sensitive hearing and noises like gum popping drive me wild, while my "other half" and many of my coworkers wouldn't even hear it. I agree with the approach: you may not be aware of it.....and politely tell her how much it bothers you. Another option would be for you to get noise cancelling headphones and wear them at work.

Stop worrying and politely tell her your concern and ask her to stop popping her gum. Besides, have we forgotten our manners of not talking with our mouths full, or chewing so loudly that we can hear it across the table. You are not little children and this is a work environment. Let's start behaving like adults and leave the gum chewing outside the office. A polite table manners reminder should do the trick.

We have something in my office in place for these types of things--we leave a note once that person has left for the day, so he/she will find it the next morning. At first, I thought it was very childish and lame, but I realized that it works if you are the type of person who doesn't like confrontation but still needs to get a message across. In my office we still have agreed that if someone is doing something bothersome, you can let them know in person. But another alternative would be that note. Just a suggestion.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristin December 28, 2016 at 1:42 pm

I work in an 800 square foot office and have a gum popper who sits in front of me and a loud chewer to the right of me.
When I asked both of them to please, quiet down as it is distracting, I got told to Eff off by one of them and the other just went to popping her gum even louder.

They are all friends of the owner and have known each other for years.
Sending out resumes between tasks.


Nina July 26, 2016 at 2:10 pm

It has nothing to do with the general level of noise in the room. I am intensely annoyed with this noise, and I am sure I am not alone. I work in retail and sometimes a customer comes in and cracks gum in my face, and I want to run. It is rude and self centered behavior that someone does not comprehend that their bodily noises are not appropriate in public.


Marie Sanders September 17, 2015 at 9:16 pm

Jennie, most people who crack gum are not very mature to begin with, and when reminded by polite people that it is annoying, they do it more. This is why it is more important for human resources departments to recognize this behavior as unprofessional and distracting to other employees and draft a policy regarding it. Maybe you should put a small chalkboard by your desk and run your fingernails down it every ten minutes and then laugh when he asks you to stop.


Marie Sanders September 17, 2015 at 9:13 pm

I completely disagree. Gum cracking/popping is one of the most distracting, nerve wracking sounds and it has no place anywhere, but especially in the workplace. No one should have to play a radio to tune out the rude sound of a social misfit’s gum chomping. Grow up, gum crackers, and act like professional adults!


Jennie Cox August 17, 2010 at 4:11 pm

What if the offfender is your boss? I work in a small office. Myself, the Owner, his ex-wife and his son. His son is not a boy. He is 41 years old and he pops and cracks his gim like a kid. I have made references that it is annoying, but he thinks its funny he can bother me that way.


ugg December 17, 2009 at 9:20 pm

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