May 11th, 2017

Ask the Etiquette Expert: How to Eat at Your Desk Without Offending Others

by Jacqueline Whitmore

Photo credit: Adobe Stock

Dear Jacqueline,

Every morning one of my co-workers brings in a fried egg sandwich for breakfast. Not only does he make a considerable amount of noise unwrapping it, the stench of grease and overcooked eggs wafts through the office. I know I need to say something, but how do I approach him and what are the guidelines (if any) around eating food at one’s desk? Sincerely, Stuck with the Smell

Dear Stuck with the Smell,

Many people eat at their desk and they have no idea how offensive the smell (or the noise) can be. Here are a few tips to help you handle the situation with tact and diplomacy.

Look at it from their side: First of all, consider that your co-worker is probably not aware of the problem his eating habits are causing within the office environment. From his (or her) point of view, there is no problem, so you’ll have to start there.

Set up an office policy: If your workspace is large enough, or already has a kitchen or staff room, you may want to send out an overall message that food is to be stored and eaten in the kitchen area only and never at one’s desk unless you’re working on a tight deadline. This may solve the problem without having to face the offender directly.

Read more.


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