11

This happens regularly, once, every morning around the same time without fail, right before he goes to the bathroom for a while (not hard to guess why).

He makes no secret of it, lifts one leg, does what he feels he needs to do without any regard for people around him and continues like normal. Within 5 or so minutes he's gone.

The sound and the smell make me nauseous.

We're in an open plan office with "activity based desks" and he's been coming and sitting next to me for the last few weeks (he has no particular reason to sit here and has every right to choose where he sits - its first come first serve).

I don't want to move from my seating as I prefer it here.

Manager doesn't see any of this happen as he comes later in the day. None of the other workers are saying anything or outwardly acknowledging this behaviour.

What would be the professional way to deal with this behavior other than just accepting this as my life (or finding another job)

EDIT: This is not a duplicate of an office culture where there is a "chummy culture where people fart as a joke" this is a corporate office where I barely know this guys first name. This obviously makes what he is doing very out of place and awkward.

  • 4
    Have you talked to this person about this and asked them to stop? – DarkCygnus Sep 25 at 0:29
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    As an aside, I find it disappointing that people have to start postfixing questions asking to avoid answers that suggest finding another job. – Gregory Currie Sep 25 at 0:35
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    We used to have a paper model of a canary on a desk. When this happened, we'd put it in the 'dying' position... No need to be subtle about it. – PeteCon Sep 25 at 1:24
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    @gnat and Snow: this is not a duplicate, I did see those other threads obviously. They focus on where its an openly joked about culture. If we had that office culture I would have asked the guy to put a cork in it already. Ours is a corporate culture where I barely know this guys name. Hence it is a unique situation. Please bother to read the questions before marking them as duplicate, it is rude and inconsiderate when I have a genuine need of help. I'll update the title to reflect the uniqueness. – solarflare Sep 25 at 23:50
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    @solarflare Your profile says you're in Sydney. I also work in a corporate office in Sydney, and in my opinion there would be nothing unprofessional about speaking to him calmly and firmly when he does it. If your co-workers would consider that unprofessional then in my opinion the air is one of the less toxic things in your workplace. – Player One Sep 26 at 9:35
29

Be direct - if no one's said anything to him then he probably thinks no one cares.

Mate, that's really gross, you need to do it somewhere else.

If you're worried that it might be perceived as offensive then speak to your manager privately first and get their input.

  • 1
    Good answer but I wouldn't escalate that to mgmt immediatly without speaking directly with the person along those lines you are phrasing. A polite conversation asking him (the 'ripper') to air his gases either in the restroom, balcony or even outside the building if possible wouldn't be perceived as offensive by most reasonable people ;) – iLuvLogix Sep 25 at 7:50
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    +1 In my experience these things are best solved privately, immediatelly and directly. – rath Sep 26 at 8:39
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    Good advice, especially if it's so clockwork-regular. The coworker should be able to plan around this all-but-scheduled event, even if there are other underlying problems which are less fixable. – Upper_Case-Stop Harming Monica Sep 26 at 20:23
8

The average person farts 15 times in a day; some as many as 40 times per day

Yeah, I can kinda understand finding it disgusting - I had a coworker that did the same thing. But at the end of the day, it's ultimately an unavoidable biological necessity, and chances are: everyone around you is also farting... they're just quieter about it (and possibly eating a diet that doesn't result in as offensive of odors.)

Realistically, you've got two avenues you can go down:

  1. Ask them if they can go to the bathroom before they fart.

  2. Take a break and leave the physical area after they fart.

Personally, I chose option 2. Because I knew the guy well enough that option 1 wasn't going to work (if anything, they'd be proud about it) and I wasn't silly enough to escalate the issue into management's ring.

  • That's a power move if I have ever seen one – Victor S Sep 26 at 14:13
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    Maybe OP should have an air cleaner spray, and give the ripper a dose each time he flatulates. I'd leave it on the desk so he knows what comes next. – user25792 Sep 27 at 1:52
4

Your colleague could have some kind of bowel condition (Chron's, IBS, whatever else) and might have less control over their farts than they'd like to or realise. The fart could be a sudden "get to the bathroom" warning shot.

Alternatively, sometimes a fart is just a fart.

They could be uncomfortable talking about it, or they might just not care about it. Either way as others suggest, approach them about it, but respectfully and in private if you can rather than loudly outing them to the whole team. There's no need to go into long detail about how offensive the fart is with them, just mention it's noticable (noisy, smellwise) because they might think they're getting away with it and appreciate a private heads up before someone else shouts about it. If they seem to not care & carry on regardless, consider moving desk.

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    @JoeStrazzere And with bowel troubles, sometimes it can be like clockwork and still be uncontrollable! I didn't say it was definitely uncontrollable, the OP sounds exaggerated to me but I'm perfectly happy to accept it as fact because it's not unrealistic. Even if it is completely controllable, why would you actively not want to entertain that it might not be when approaching the subject? – Rory Sep 27 at 8:43
1

I'd imagine it'd be really awkward to confront them in person making a show in front of everyone else, especially since you mentioned you work in an open area. Does your company use any collaboration software like Slack or Mattermost? If so, I'd start there. You can always approach them directly as a plan B.

Find the person by their name (or ask around if you only know the first name) and DM them in private. Explain why it bothers you, just like you laid it out in your question. Perhaps they could be a bit more considerate and do their business in the proper place, i.e. the washroom. The wording is up to you.

If you want to be more empathetic, you could ask them if they might be having digestion issues. I know first hand that compounds like gluten lead to excessive gas with certain people. It may be rude to instruct them to switch diets, but you could hint that eating less carbs (as in keto) helps eliminate odors.

  • I'd suggest not having this discussion in Slack, or any other medium other than face-to-face. It may feel easier typing to the person, but it will be far too easy to have things misunderstood. The discussion should be in person. – Andy Lester Oct 1 at 15:47
0

Put a jar on your desk labeled "Fart Jar 25 cents" and insist that he drop in a quarter every time he lets one go.

Of course I mean after you have talked to him and he's agreed to stop but he keeps forgetting (he will) and apologizing but then forgetting again.

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