"Help. I'm being driven mad by one of the ladies I work with and her loud chewing."

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The open-mouthed chewers, the sniffers and the slurpers; there are some people in this world who can’t help but make noise.

It’s bad enough when you encounter such individuals on public transport, but it’s almost impossible when your job forces you to sit beside them.

The Mamamia Out Loud podcast hosts received an email from a listener this week desperately seeking some sound advice.

Listen to the Mamamia Out Loud hosts solve this tricky office issue. 

The listener shared that she was being driven mad by a work colleague who seemed incapable of chewing her gum at a normal volume.

The following message is an excerpt from her email:


I have a predicament at work. One of the very lovely older ladies in our office sits right in front of me. Every day after lunch, she pops a piece of chewing gum in her mouth and ferociously masticates, as if it’s the tastiest blade of grass on earth and she is a starving bovine.”

“I have never heard anything quite like it and it is driving me absolutely insane. I fixate on it and I can’t think about anything else. 

I pointed it out to her manager, who is a friend of mine at work, and he has apparently had a word with her but to no avail. The daily chew-fest continues.

Is it rude to take her aside and have a chat to her about it? Or should I just let it go, move desks, or put headphones on?

This would be taking our hands-on approach too far. (Source: Comedy Central.)

The three Mamamia Out Loud hosts, Mia Freedman, Jessie Stephens and Monique Bowley weighed in with their advice.

Mia told the caller they needed to bite the bullet and tell their colleague about the chewing in a gentle yet straight-forward manner.

"This is what you've got to say, 'Margaret, have you got any idea how loudly you chew?'"

Jessie believed the caller needed to ask themselves whether they're upset about the chewing or if this was a symptom of a larger problem.


"You clearly have a lot of feelings about it. I question whether it's all to do with the chewing. Perhaps there's an underlying issue here," she said.

"I think you've just got to accept it."

If you and Jessa (girl on the left) share an expression, you need to speak up. (Source: HBO.)

"No. You do not have to accept poor behaviour in an open workplace," Monique said.

"You can't control other people, Monique, you can't control them, you can't make them chew any quieter," Jessie said.

Monique told Fleur she needed to be more pro-active with solving her problem.

"I have two words for you, Fleur: white noise. There is a website that is white noise and you put your headphones in... it turns normal headphones into noise-cancelling headphones," she said.

Act now! Don't let this be you in the work bathroom. (Source: iStock.)

Monique explained how the listener could be suffering from a condition that causes individuals to become greatly distressed by certain sounds.

"The other thing you could do, is call it an occupational health and safety issue because you, Fleur, have misophonia - which is literally a condition that's hatred of sound."

"It was brought to light in 2000 as a condition where negative emotions, thoughts, or actions are triggered by specific sounds."

Monique ended the segment by telling the listener she needed to take the bulls by the horn and not accept anything less than a quiet office.

"You need to talk to your management about it and move desks and Margaret needs to snap it shut."

Do you agree? Share the advice you would have offered Fleur in the comment section below. 

Listen to the full episode of this week's MMOL for a refreshing take on what's caught our attention this week. 

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This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Beauty & The Beast.