Q: What do you do when someone makes annoying bodily noises, such as blowing his nose loudly, chewing loudly, burping or grunting?


A: With some family members and close friends, you can point out the irritating noise if — and only if — you do it in a way to not embarrass the person.

If the offender is your boss, esteemed colleague or client, you need to hold your tongue and refrain from giving even the smallest eye roll or nasty look. These are people with whom it’s important to build positive relationships, and commenting on their personal habits, regardless of how irritating, is crossing the line.

The quickest fix if someone is doing something that’s irritating is to physically remove yourself from the situation (leave the room, change seats, etc.) or alter the situation to change the person’s behavior. I did the latter with my beloved grandpa, who was an avid whistler. I hate whistling because it gives me an instant headache, so when he would start, I’d ask him questions. Eventually, he’d forget the tune, and quiet would be restored.

AIMEE SYMINGTON, CEO of Finesse Worldwide Inc.


A: Before confronting a grunter, consider that grunting is sometimes caused by discomfort, pain or stress. Perhaps the individual is having a bad day. Be compassionate and try to ignore it.

Not all noises are accidental, however. Take loud gum chewing. When people chomp and chew their gum obnoxiously, that is deliberate. Politely ask the offender to stop.

If a person apologizes for a natural bodily function noise, accept the apology and carry on. Don’t joke about the situation, no matter how tempted you are. The last thing you should do is make a big deal out of it and humiliate the person.

JACQUELYN YOUST, president of Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol