A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem
Career Damaging Habits
Dear Sue: I am appalled by the number of well educated people in
professional positions who chew gum. I would never hire anyone who chewed
a piece of gum during an interview or buy from someone who chewed gum in
my presence. Am I old fashioned?
- Not a gum chewer
Sue Says: You are not old fashioned. Chewing gum is
unprofessional. I’ve heard from others who feel strongly about
gum-chewers, especially when they snap, crack, or blow bubbles with their
gum. Most people don’t realize how noisy and distracting their chewing is.
Like smoking, finger tapping, and constant clearing of the throat, chewing
gum is a bad habit that can drive other people mad.
Don’t be too hard on the gum chewers you meet; everyone has
imperfections and idiosyncrasies. We all need should be more aware of our
habits and our affect on others. A person may chew gum to calm his or her
nerves, but many fidget instead. Some people play with and twirl their
hair, others their rings or earrings. Some people repeatedly pick up and
put down their glasses, others tap their fingers or pen.
Some people pick their teeth, others pick their ears, eyes, or nose.
Picking should never be done in public—pay a visit to the restroom if you
need to remove something. Blow your nose in public, but try telling that
to someone who has allergies or a bad cold. If you must blow your nose, do
it as quietly and discreetly as possible. Always handle your tissue with
care; no one should have to see what you’ve blown into it.
Awareness is the key. Most people don’t offend others on purpose. You’d
be doing people a favor if you’d tell them how you feel about their gum
chewing. If you’d rather not, consider displaying a “No gum chewing” sign
in your office and see where the conversation leads.
Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She
is author of the newly released
101 Tips for Graduates and
How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site at
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