A coworker of mine has been under the weather for a few weeks now and has developed the habit of loudly sucking his nose every minute or so. It has caused everyone sitting within 20 feet of him to wear noise cancelling headphones to try to drown it out. This ends up not working as our jobs (software engineer) rely on lots of communication and pair programming.

The noise is exceptionally loud,incredibly distracting, and quite frankly very gross.

The manager out our office (there are only 12 of us) has openly stated how annoying it is (not in front of the mentioned coworker) but has not done anything to address the problem.

What route should I take to try to remedy this problem knowing that the manager will not step in to address it?

It might also help to know that I am in an entry level role while the snot sucker is in a lead role.


If your Manager is not willing to step in to do something, then I don't think there is very much you can do. You can try to have a private conversation with your Manager to make them aware (or re-iterate) that you find it very distracting. But, ultimately, it is your Manager's job to deal with it and if they decide not to, then I think you have to go along with that.

Given the circumstances, it may make sense for your Manager to ask that person to work from home, if they are unwell and distracting the rest of the team. However, again, it is up to the Manager.

At least, by the sound of it, it is a temporary thing that should pass in time.


- Dude, that's gross. Go blow your nose.
- But, blah blah blah
- Yeah, it's disgusting. I can't work with you like that.

Your only option at this point is to be direct. Sometimes you have to be.


Every time he does it, one of the other occupants should offer him a tissue. Maybe he will get as tired of being interrupted as everyone else has with his nasty habit.

He's lucky I don't work there. He wouldn't last long with his suckage in a manufacturing environment.

  • I wonder what people find so bad with this answer. Would you explain? – puck Nov 3 '18 at 8:35
  • @puck yeah, me neither. Some problems should be solved by your manager, others by you. This is one of them. – rath Nov 3 '18 at 10:21
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    The colleague that is being referred to is unwell, it's not that they have a 'nasty habit'. This answer is bad, because it shows a lack of tolerance. That worker can't help being unwell, any more than anyone can. – Time4Tea Nov 3 '18 at 12:54
  • Being unwell is not a universal reason to disturb others. If it was then everyone could relate to being unwell with whatever they want to behave. It is not so easy. This forum wants to have questions answered, this answer clearly does ;-) – puck Nov 3 '18 at 18:11
  • "Sucking Snot" is ridiculous. Ask any nurse if there is such a thing as a bad patient. I totally disagree. There are ways of dealing with sinus problems without drawing the attention of everyone to the degree described above. – Den Warren Nov 4 '18 at 8:12

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