I understand that it is polite to say 'excuse me' after you sneeze, and to say 'bless you' to someone after they sneeze.

In situations where someone (possibly) yourself seem to sneeze incessantly, do you need to keep saying 'excuse me' or to say 'bless you' to the other person?

I assume that once is usually enough to indicate that you are aware of the etiquette. Is it less polite to say it just once or not to say it at all?


Minimum: 0 Maximum: 1

At my workplace when someone sneezes, nobody says anything. The sneeze itself was an interruption enough, there's no need to further draw attention to it and create more noise by having multiple people yell "Bless you" halfway across the room.

You could possibly get away with it if you're sitting directly adjacent to the person, but in a room of cubicles with adults, the "Bless you" is just taken for granted.

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    I vote for zero. The whole "bless you" thing is an archaic tradition of unknown origins. It serves no real purpose, and as noted can just add distraction to a workplace. – aroth Jul 30 '14 at 1:48
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    This is the correct answer. You can acknowledge someone's first sneeze but if you keep repeating it as i've heard some people do it can only make the incessant sneezer uncomfortable. @aroth Yes it is an old practice with no real purpose but so is shaking someone's hand. Do you also scoff when someone offers his/her hand to you in meeting the first time – Brandin Jul 30 '14 at 6:03
  • @Brandin - No. I don't scoff at traditions because they're traditions. I scoff at traditions when they make no sense. Inviting a stranger to safe and limited physical contact is a way of fostering trust, whether it presents as a hand-shake, fist-bump, hug, etc.. So I'd say handshakes make sense and are a reflection of an innate human tendency (to welcome and extend trust to a stranger whom you have no established grounds for trusting). Saying "bless you" after a sneeze? Not so much. – aroth Jul 30 '14 at 6:15
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    @aroth Yes it does serve a practical purpose: By acknowledging somebody's physical ailment (sneeze) you are showing a gesture of compassion. – CaptainCodeman Jul 30 '14 at 10:38

In situations where someone (possibly) yourself seem to sneeze incessantly, do you need to keep saying 'excuse me' or to say 'bless you' to the other person?

When I'm in the company of a sneezer, I typically say 'bless you' twice. Then, if the sneezing continues, I join the sneezer in a good laugh.

No embarrassment, no awkwardness.

In my experience, that seems to work well in the workplace, and in life in general.

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    I agree with this, but of course you have to adjust based on what works for your colleagues. – Michael Jul 30 '14 at 5:56

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