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Co-worker Issue


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#1 BurningBright

Posted 11 July 2019 - 08:53 AM

Hello All, I need a solution to my problem. It’s a long read

I have a colleague who likes to sniff my food, beverages; hand cream, potato chips, hair etc. and by sniffing I mean putting their nose to touch the item.

I realised the issue and try not to drink tea, eat a cookie or anything at my desk, but sometimes I slip up.

To eat lunch, I go out of my way and walk 3 minutes to the far end kitchen to eat my boring salad and this person can still come there say hello and proceed to sniff my food - this time I slammed the lid shut ( as I couldn’t throw my food out) and told them “please don’t smell my things it makes me grossed out” , I could see I had offended them but life went on.......

Then last week it started again.
I like them, we get on well ( we spend 8 hrs together in same vicinity 5days a week), but I can’t deal with them sniffing/ smelling everything.
Please help me

#2 kimasa

Posted 11 July 2019 - 08:56 AM

That would weird me out so much.

I think you have to be consistent with reminding them until they get it. That's not socially appropriate behaviour (hair!?) if it upsets them then so be it, they can't be sniffing your hair and sticking their face in your food.

#3 Caribou

Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:02 AM

Do you have an HR department? You've told the person to stop, and they're still doing it, I'd bring it up with HR or if smaller company, speak to the manager, its pretty inappropriate and needs to be addressed ASAP. I know it sounds trivial to talk to upper management about this, but it really isn't. It's ok to ask for them to be stopped doing this as its making the workplace uncomfortable for you.

I would be uncomfortable with it too.

ETA: It doesn't matter you get along with them well, just think about how everyone else is feeling if they're doing the same thing, someone needs to be the bigger person and speak to management especially after having being told to stop.

Edited by Caribou, 11 July 2019 - 09:03 AM.


#4 Beancat

Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:27 AM

Geeeez.  Ok that would gross me out too.  Do they do it to other people?  Im wondering could they have a sensory processing disorder and are sense seeking? I know that doesn't excuse the behavior but maybe they need something a their desk they can smell if they feel the urge?  Maybe thinking about it from this perspective might help to come up with a solution that suits everyone

#5 casime

Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:28 AM

Eww that's is gross.

Be really blunt with them.  I've told you to stop sniffing my food, it's disgusting and completely inappropriate.  Do not do it again.

In reality, I'd probably say 'WTF do you think you are doing? Eff off.'

#6 lotsofbots

Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:29 AM

Does this person have ASD or a sensory issue ?  My son sniffs everything he doesn’t even know he does it and we gently remind him others don’t like it.

#7 Sweet.Pea

Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:31 AM

The only thing I understand is the handcream, but from the tube.

I think when they come up to you, just ask them to stop again. Let them know it makes you feel uncomfortable.

#8 lozoodle

Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:34 AM

Oohh that's weird!

#9 BurningBright

Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:35 AM

Am not sure about ASD or anything really. I am just really frustrated- it’s 9:34am and I just threw out my tea bag as again it’s started. I think they do it to people they are comfortable with, that’s why I feel bad. I think today at lunch I will ask again.

#10 Apple14

Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:37 AM

I’m with casime.
After telling him nicely as you’ve done, I would be very blunt. I’ve told you not to do that. Back off.
I would also see HR.
Not ok

#11 BornToLove

Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:37 AM

depending on if your employer has an HR on staff, I’d just take it to HR. It’s part of their job, they have probably had more awkward conversations with people to stop doing gross and inappropriate stuff, this is nothing.

If your employer is smaller, and no HR, I would ask them once more in a frank and matter of fact tone. Just ‘hey, please stop smelling my food/stuff/whatever.’

If they continue after your second request, I would take it to management and ask that they speak to them more directly. Again that’s their job, but I think being able to say I have asked more than once shows that you have tried to resolve on your own to no avail.

#12 Romeo Void

Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:40 AM

Remind him again, and soon, Then repeat.  It for sure is weird but you CAN sort it and before you get really angry about it. Hand up blocking his way 'Bugger off Bill, you know I don't like your face in my stuff...off you go'. Like you would with a child.  Maybe it is a sensory thing?

#13 wallofdodo

Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:41 AM

As side from going to HR about it, I think you need to say something at a time when it is not happening.

So not at lunch time or morning tea time. Just say look, it makes me really uncomfortable, please stop. Is there something I can do to help you stop?

Or make a joke of it, if you see them coming say something like 'NOSE FREE ZONE', 'KEEP YOUR BEAK AWAY'!

I dunno, it certainly is a strange one

#14 literally nobody

Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:45 AM

As soon as you see them coming put your hand up and say STOP firmly. and to speak to you from a metre away.

#15 Ivy Ivy

Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:48 AM

I see all sorts of signs around kitchen workplaces.  Any utility in putting up a sign at your kitchen and desk - "DO NOT SNIFF MY FOOD OR THINGS OR ME"?

#16 nom_de_plume

Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:48 AM

It’s definitely weird. I would have a very blunt conversation and say ‘please respect my personal space and don’t sniff my food, personal items, stuff on my desk etc as it makes me feel uncomfortable.’ I’d follow the conversation up with an email.

If that doesn’t solve the problem then speak to your manager or HR.

#17 Ivy Ivy

Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:49 AM

This is fascinating so please keep us posted on how it unfolds.

Hey could you ask the person WHY they do it?

#18 SelceLisbeth

Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:52 AM

Like a PP, I suspect its a sensory thing ands possibly linked to a disorder. I would try to handle the situation with compassion, but sternness. something like "I am not sure why you like to sniff things. I know it could be a part of a disorder, but it makes me feel really uncomfortable. I enjoy working with you and I am worried that if you dont respect my boundaries, it might impact our working relationship. Please stop it. I dont like it. If there is anything I can do to help, let me know."

#19 71Cath

Posted 11 July 2019 - 10:01 AM

This would be a nightmare for me as I am so afraid of confrontation.  I would go to my manager or HR.

Good luck OP.

#20 Luci

Posted 11 July 2019 - 10:32 AM

Very unusual behavior that could be linked to some sort of sensory disorder. I would practice in advance what I was going to say. Maybe just along the lines of “Hey colleague, don’t sniff my food please, thanks”.  When you see them approaching put your hand up and repeat “don’t sniff my food please”.

What is your manager like? If you spoke to him or her about it do you think they could tactfully have a quiet word with the sniffer without blowing the whole thing up into a drama?

#21 Brrrroooce!

Posted 11 July 2019 - 10:35 AM

Chippy slap

#22 JomoMum

Posted 11 July 2019 - 11:21 AM

Ooh how awkward.

I’m not backward about coming forward so I’d be alll over this, pardon the pun, but I can see why it’s an issue. And you should t be out in that situation.

In my old workplace (large corporate office) I’d be approaching their direct manager in the first instance to have a formal discussion.

#23 22Fruitmincepies

Posted 11 July 2019 - 11:34 AM

I would just say “please don’t sniff my things” every single time. If you can see them moving in for a sniff, say no assertively, but not meanly or aggressively. Do it every time.

#24 seayork2002

Posted 11 July 2019 - 11:36 AM

Just say please do not do that

#25 Ozquoll

Posted 11 July 2019 - 11:48 AM

I think you’d be doing yourself and The Sniffer a favour if you go to HR. Not to get them in trouble, but to get them to see they are stepping over boundaries. It is not going to help their long-term employability if they keep up the weird sniffing habits.




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