Etiquette Questions, Answered: Social Situations
Can I Ask People to Stop Smacking Gum Around Me?
Q. Can I ask people who smack or snap their gum to refrain from doing so in my presence? If so, how can I do it without seeming
Long Beach, California
A. Is it possible we had the same mother growing up? Because I was raised with an aversion to gum chewers, especially those who are audible about it. I’ll confess, on the rare occasions that I chew gum (mostly on planes, to help my ears pop), I find it incredibly hard not to blow bubbles or snap my gum, which helps me understand why so many people do it. Hey, it’s all part of the chewing-gum fun, right?
Unfortunately, I think it takes a fair amount of chutzpah to speak up about this, so if it’s someone you’re only in passing contact with (say, a stranger on a bus or an acquaintance at a party), you just have to suffer through it. But if it’s someone you need to be around for an extended period of time (a work colleague or the person sitting next to you at the movies), then I would bite the bullet and say, “Forgive me for mentioning this, and I’m sure you don’t realize you’re doing it, but I have this nutty thing where it drives me crazy when people snap their gum. Would you mind…?”
This way, you’re putting the onus on yourself for having the freaky personality problem, rather than on him or her for being rude and tacky. Hopefully, this approach will make the person less defensive and maybe even embarrassed enough to put the chewing to an end altogether. Sssnap!
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