Social Etiquette and Good Manners/distracting 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?

I had to give this some serious thought, I've been pondering it for several days, because this is really a sticky situation in today's politically correct society.  Here's what I came up with.

If it is an unconscious habit, then it's simply obnoxious.  However, if it happens to be a medical condition, then you're pretty much out of luck because the ADA might consider this as a disability and then you are either going to have to live with it or change jobs.

Here's what I would do:  As her this: Have you seen a doctor for whatever is causing you to be constantly clearing your throat? You will need to appear concerned and solicitous of her health when you do this. It might wake her up to an unconscious habit and she might stop. If she denies a medical condition and does not stop then your attempt to tactfully resolve it is for nothing.  If it doesn't stop you will have to take further action.  Ask your supervisor if you can move your office/workspace as you think she is "suffering from a possibly contagious malady" that you don't wish to contract.  Again, approach this as a MEDICAL concern as it will make you appear to be a concerned co-worker/friend instead of someone who is being driven crazy by this obnoxious habit. If you get moved, great. If not you may need to change jobs.

Social Etiquette and Good Manners

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Teri Davis Newman


I can answer virtually any question pertaining to manners and etiquette. I am a wedding and party planner in St. Louis, Missouri and I do weddings and parties all over the country! My brides are my number one priority as I understand how important their wedding day is to them! Any questions about catering and cooking for large groups. This would include recipes, cooking techniques, what to serve, how to prevent food poisoning, food storage and food integrity. I have thousands of recipes that are scaled for large groups and gatherings and will be happy to share them! If you are in need of professional assistance for helping you to plan your wedding, party or corporate event, please feel free to contact me! I do a limited amount of weddings and parties every year in order to make sure that I have the best service for my clientele. Feel free to visit my business website at this address: WWW.EXQUISITEEVENTSUSA.COM for detailed information on what services I offer. I have price point weddings for every budget--no matter what size and I am very specific about what you get for your hard-earned money.


I teach etiquette classes for children and adults in the St Louis area. Classes include Table Manners, Table Settings, Invitations, Thank you notes, Condolence Notes and Wedding etiquette for brides and guests.

I attended Charm School as a child in Palm Beach and am currently a corporate etiquette consultant for correct manners in the USA and Japan. I studied Japanese etiquette while living in Tokyo.

©2017 All rights reserved.