Q. I have a combination gripe-question.

I have been interviewing for a new position for a year. After each interview, I send the customary thank-you note to my interviewer. I often place a follow-up call as well.

I almost never get notified of the employer's decision not to hire me. In most instances, I simply never hear from them again.

Is this behavior because of a lack of professionalism and bad manners, or do employers lack the time and resources to let applicants know that they haven't been selected? A brief note or phone call surely can't be that time-consuming.

Rejection is tough enough, but not knowing is worse. I am developing an inferiority complex over this.

A. I agree. This is a sloppy and demeaning practice.

As to why people handle things this way -- saying no is an unpleasant task in most circumstances, so people will try to avoid doing it.

They may rationalize it in their mind by saying that they don't have time to deal with a non-essential task such as communicating the rejection just then, but this is, in fact, a rationalization. As you point out, it takes very little time.

Don't let yourself be affected by such conduct. Remind yourself that others' difficulty in saying no to you is no reflection on you but represents a flaw in them. And accept that their silence has really told you all you needed to know: that you had better hustle and apply elsewhere.

I recently helped a reader who complained about co-workers' chewing and popping gum too loudly but who did not want to confront them by printing a request for the offenders to stop.

A reader responds: "I thought of making a sarcastic response, but since your answer was meant in the holiday spirit, I will try to respond in the same vein.

"I am a 20-plus-year smoker. I won't debate the issue about the health effects of smoking, but my office is now non-smoking with no lounge for smokers.

"So I keep my mouth busy with chewing gum. I chew with my mouth closed, and because of a full beard and mustache, I don't blow bubbles.

"I have received three copies of your gum-chewing column in my office mailbox! As far as I am aware, the surgeon general places no health warning on packs of gum about possible hearing damage because of the sound of gum-chewing, so please tell your readers to lighten up."

I could tell them anything you like, but what makes you think they would listen to me any better than you listen to them when they tell you that your gum-chewing irritates them?

It's up to each of us to keep the space we share with our co-workers eight hours a day as free of annoyances as we can. And that includes you.

A reader responds to a recent letter about an overbearing boss:

"I read your response to the individual whose boss is a bully. I hope your advice of standing up to his or her boss worked for this individual.

"A similar tack didn't work for me.

"I worked at a Fortune 500 company for just such a boss. He conducted himself in an unprofessional manner, berated employees in front of co-workers and screamed at people so loudly that it could be heard through doors.

"I went to my manager and to human resources to complain about his behavior. They took his side and told me that I was a poor performer.

"Within six months, my job was eliminated, and I was out. The squeaky wheel got replaced!

"Next time, I'll just go job hunting -- and vote with my feet."

Standing up to an abusing boss has its risks. Voting with your feet is a good way of dealing with an unacceptable situation as well.

My main point is that putting up with such a situation indefinitely will have the worst long-term impact on the individual: loss of self-esteem and confidence.

Andrew Grove is chief executive of Intel Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif., and an author and lecturer on management. Please send questions to him in care of the San Jose Mercury News, Business News Department, 750 Ridder Park Dr., San Jose, Calif. 95190.