Loud Gum-chewing

Updated on August 10, 2011
J.H. asks from Bellingham, MA
16 answers

This might seem random- but it is getting to me and I need advice!
My coworker chews gum most of the day. I should say that she is a great friend and I really love her dearly. She sits right next to me and moving is not an option. She chews her gum with her mouth wide open and it is REALLY loud. It is so distracting that I cannot concentrate and it irritates me to the point that I have to get up from my desk sometimes and walk around. We have a radio in our area and I ask her to turn it on all the time to try to drown out the chewing, but it does not help.
So, how do I deal with this? How do I bring it up without offending or hurting her feelings and without sounding bitchy? I have tried to find ways to work it in as a joke, but I think it would seem really awkward. Any thoughts??

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Boston on

I feel for you, really. It is SO annoying and it makes it impossible to concentrate. Even worse at work when you have to get work done right next to her! I once had a coworker sit next to me and eat her lunch really loudly at her desk. I always had to walk around the office, go to the bathroom, get a glass of water, etc until she was finished. Can you mention something to the management about creating a no-gum policy in the office? It really should be in place to begin with. Good luck! Let us know what happens.

Edit My Answer
2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Can you make a joke about it? My dad always chewed gum and when it got annoying, we'd ask "gum good"? With a smile. I've started this with my husband since he's always gnawing on nicotine gum.

Edit My Answer
2 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Omaha on

This is probably my biggest pet peeve of all time and I think I married the loudest chewer of them all! Oh my word! I actually disagree with Sue H. I don't think you are a bad friend because your friend has a quirk that makes you crazy. None of us are perfect. I am certainly not going to divorce my husband over it. LOL When I can't stand his chewing I will gently say "your gum sure is talking loud today!" and he gets the hint. It is a tough one though because it can be awkward and embarrassing. I would just try to keep the matter light and in a fun/joking sort of way bring it up to her sometime or invest in some ear plugs and tell her that the general office noise keeps you from concentrating at your best. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

You don't have to come across as bitchy. Just simply say, 'I'm sorry, but the sound of your loud gum chewing is driving me nutty.' Laugh a little, then say, 'could you please tone it down a bit?' If she gets upset, then she is not the good friend you think she is.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Since this loud chewer is a woman, there is no way for you, another woman, to say something without coming across bitchy. I think this site has proven that. =)

So, wear headphones. Start chomping your gum like she does. Or, turn that volume up even louder. If she asks why, you may just have to suck it up and be that b word and tell her - " I can't concentrate!"

Or, tell her you were on mamasource and they were talking about this woman who chews her gum really loud. Can you imagine?!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

WOW! That's the #1 thing I HATE! My sister in law chews gum and when she does she makes noises and a "popping" noise, it irratates the heck out of me to the point where I- at times lol- feel like smacking her! Don't get me wrong, I love my sis-in law and enjoy her company but I was always taught that while eating-chewing anything to NOT make a noise and to NOT chew with my mouth open, yuck! I would jokingly say something to her like "gosh! can you chew any louder, I can't concentrate!" and see what she'll say, keep throwing hints to her or just be honest and tell her that it bothers you. I'm sure some of your other co-workes have noticed it too! If it were me, I would just tell her that I can't focus on my work from the distraction of her chewing gum....Good Luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Naples on

Lol @ baby doos mama! Leave an anonymous note "once knew cow that chewed like you"!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

HATE gum chewers who do this. We are not gum chewers for this reason. My daughter has maybe had gum like 5 times in her life. I used to work with a dear girl (I'm still friends with her 20 years later). Same thing - sat right next to her. She cracked the gum unconciously. One day I very nicely pulled her aside and said - Kathy, you know I love you like a sister. You're one of the sweetest people I know but if I hear you crack that gum one more time or hear you chewing it, I'm going to strangle you. Please, please chew with your mouth closed. She would forget once in a while and I'd just give her the "look", she'd take the gum and put it on her nose like the teachers in school used to do years ago. She genuinely felt badly that she had this habit. Nobody else had the guts to tell her and I think she was grateful that I had. Say it in a nice way and just let her know that you love her, but the noise is driving you crazy. I honestly don't like the joking thing - my MIL does that. She thinks if you say something in a joking manner than anything you say is OK - it's not. Be truthful but kind. She may thank you for it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Gum chewing at work is by far my absolute biggest pet peeve. Of course I worked with the public for 25 years, so it wasn't ever allowed, and I always had that to fall on when someone was chewing. Have you checked with your HR department about policy? Even companies that don't work with the public often have them in place. If you can't concentrate, it is affecting your productivity, and that will in turn affect the bottom line, so even if there is no policy in place, and you are really uncomfortable speaking to your friend, then I would suggest HR. And because HR's have confidentiality rules they won't be able to tell her who brought it up to them. Good luck.-

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

If she's a friend, I'd be really apologetic and say you're so overly sensitive so it's your fault but can she try to chew quieter. Friends of mine - guy and girl - were driving a long ways together. Apparently at some point, the girl just said "gum" and held out her hand for him to put it there. He did and she threw it out the window. He thought it was funny. Does she have any sense of humor about herself? If so, I'd try that. Lean over, say "gum" and see what she does...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New London on

Own that fact that it is your issue - not hers. Admit it might seem bitchy but you don't mean it that way. Then address her in that manner - it's not you, it's me - however in order to be productive at work, I need..... would it be possible for you.....

I just read the other posts and disagree with most of them - except I HATE gum chewing too and was raised not to chew gum. But the issue is either there is a no gum chewing policy or you can't stand the sound. The woman doesn't need a mother to admonish her (at least not at work) and is that a coworker's place anyway? I still maintain a direct approach and placing it within work context and productivity. Turning up sounds to drown out another sound just elevates the problem. Address the problem - you can't concentrate with certain noises and could she help you with this.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I don't know, but I hope you get an answer. One of my secretarys shuffles around in flip-flops ALL year and it makes me insane! Seriously- she brings slides with her in the winter to change into. I get it, feet hurt, but she shuffles back-and-forth all day! Oh... I can hear her coming now!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Every time I hear about or see gum chewers, I'm reminded of this poem I read in an old Ann Landers column:

A gum-chewing student
and a cud-chewing cow;
Seem quite alike...
but they're different somehow;
The difference is clear...
I see it all now;
It's the intelligent look
on the face of the cow.

Sorry, no advice. I'd probably get headphones. At least she doesn't over-perfume - that was the thing I hated most about working in an office. Then there's really no escape.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I am not a gum chewer, but my hubby is an after a meal kind of chewer...and he loves to tease me with a "cow-chewing" few seconds. He knows it makes me roll my eyes and call him names!

LOL...but the noisy and all that drives me nuts too. Or even when I can just SEE people who do this from across the way. Really?

The best, tho, is when people are on TV...and I am talking celebrities on the red carpet where there is a row of interviewers...and they are visibly or audibly chomping gum! Or the parents in the audience on shows like American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance (I am a huge TV-head)OMG, REALLY? Bad taste is as bad as bad breath!

I like BabyDoo's Mama's answer too..LOL. I am so glad I have never worked in an office! =)

Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Oh goodness, who doesn't have a friend that does one thing or another we don't care for? I say you should start clipping your toenails at work, maybe that will drive her crazy?! :)

Gum chewing is so unprofessional, maybe suggest to a boss that they change policy to no eating or chewing gum at your desk while working? Only on breaks, in the break room, etc.?



answers from Burlington on

It seems the one thing you haven't done yet, and need to do is bring it to her attention. I would just say, "Can I ask you a favor to please chew more quietly because the gum chewing is driving me crazy?" I am sure that it is just a nervous, subconscious habit that she will not be able to control right off, but would appreciate knowing that she is killing you. If you were doing something that annoying to her, sure it would probably hurt to hear that you are annoying, but wouldn't you want to know? I am the one who will tell you your fly is down, even if I don;t kow you. Better to do it nicely and when you are just the two of you. Delaying will only frustrate you. Try to have the conversation in the beginning of the day before you get too riled up :)

Next question: I've Got a Chewer...

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

More Questions About