Dear Amy:

I work in a small professional office. One of my co-workers snacks at her desk throughout the day. The snack is always something crunchy, like chips, granola, dry cereal, etc. She is a grown woman in her forties and chews with her mouth open all day! She sounds like a horse. It is really unpleasant to listen to. It is unbelievable that she might not realize how loud she is, but it doesn't bother only me; my other co-workers have commented about it as well. In fact, it has become an office joke. This woman does not take criticism well, no matter how nicely approached. She automatically gets on the defensive, and no one wants to cross her. But this loud snacking is getting ridiculous. Is there any tactful way to tell her to chew with her mouth shut? Or should I just deal with it?

Annoyed

Why is it that the most obnoxious people are also the most sensitive? Because this is a problem for the whole office, you should take the matter to your supervisor. Your supervisor can open the conversation by saying, "A few co-workers have brought this to my attention."

You could also research options in terms of masking the sound. You chomping through a bag of Doritos would do it, of course, but so might earphones or a "white noise" machine.

(c)2005 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.