Social Etiquette and Good Manners/constant throat clearing


my co-worker does this every 15 seconds or so. i'm pretty sure it is intentional because a) she doesn't do it in meetings or when she's very busy or when people stop by for a conversation b) the sound is very fake (ahh-humm!).

i have always thought this is considered rude behavior, just as talking loudly in a shared work environment would be rude. am i wrong?

also, even if she has a health issue causing this (which i doubt is the case), isn't it incumbent on her to excuse herself and do this in the ladies room, or get medicine or something?

Dear Patricia:

People who demonstrate annoying habits around others are often not even aware they are doing it nor how annoying it is.  I suggest that you and your co-worker talk in a private room (not the bathroom or an open cubicle). Explain first how you appreciate the work she does and her expertise which helps the company.  Then explain that you believe she would want to know if she was doing something that is very annoying to others in the office and is considered rude but that she may not be aware that she does this behavior.  She will most likely say yes.  Explain to her the behavior but don't at any time accuse her of doing it on purpose.  You don't know that that is true and she will stop listening when you accuse.  Then just say that you wanted to share that folks in the office (don't mention your or anyone else's name in particular) find it distracting and disturbing and rude and you thought she would like to know.

Then leave it alone.  Most likely, since you told her about the behavior in a kind and supportive way, she will be more aware and will stop it.  If she doesn't, it is probably something she can't help - like a tic.  

See how this works and if it doesn't, let me know and I'll share additional strategies.

Social Etiquette and Good Manners

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Cynthia W. Lett


Proper manners with friends,family,colleagues,neighbors and everyone else you know.


I have been an etiquette expert teaching and consulting on the subject worldwide since 1983. I started and serve as the Executive Director of the International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals and am considered a leader in the field of etiquette and protocol training and execution. I edited "Etiquette for Dummies" and have recently written "Lett's Talk - Everyday Etiquette Dilemmas and What to Do about Them". My book, "That's So Annoying:An Etiquette Expert on the World's Most Irritating Habits And What To Do About Them" was published in 2009 and is available wherever books are sold. I taught the Business Protocol class to Master's level students at the George Washington University, Washington, DC for seven years I served as Chief of Protocol for MCI Telecommunications for three years.

International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals, ASTD, PCMA, National Speakers Association

I have been quoted over 700 times in the past 5 years worldwide. Publications include Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Washington Times, NY Times, Washington Business Journal, USA Today, Associated Press, London Times, Newsweek Japan edition, Newsweek US edition and many many more.

I am a Certified Etiquette Professional (CEP) and Certified Protocol Professional (CPP) earned by examination through ISPEP. I have a Master's degree in hospitality law and undergrad degrees in Restaurant & Hotel Management and Public Relations/Interpersonal Communications from Purdue University.

Awards and Honors
Who's Who Worldwide,Who's Who of American Women, Distinguished Darden Professor (Purdue University).

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