At the company where I work, we recently started a new project, and I've been assigned to a new team. One of the members of this team is a fellow from India, however the site is located in Europe.

I've been working with people from different ethnicity, that is not a problem, but this guy is constantly sniffling. I've experienced this kind of behavior from other people from India, but this is something extreme - although nothing active noise cancellation can't prevent.

Recently we've been working in pairs, and it looks like I'll be working with him for a while, but his habit is extremely annoying, and very disgusting - not to say unsanitary. I am dreading going to work because of this.

Should I get the management involved, or should I just let it slide, and hope never to work with him again? Or maybe I should just hand him a tissue and tell him "when in Rome, do as the Romans do"?

  • Is this a general habit or is he having a cold? If the latter it should be something that you need to get along with and it will only be temporary.
    – John
    Mar 4, 2016 at 22:05
  • 6
    I have a friend who had a sinus condition that caused her to have a runny nose almost continuously which required surgery to fix. He certainly can be sanitary about it (using tissue, etc), but the sniffling may not be something he can control if that is what you are complaining about.
    – Ron Beyer
    Mar 4, 2016 at 22:14
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    Why is the information about his country of origin important?
    – user70848
    Mar 4, 2016 at 22:15
  • 3
    Really you think this is habit and not just a biological reaction to snot running down his nose? I sniffle when my allergies act up.
    – paparazzo
    Mar 4, 2016 at 22:25
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    @keshlam: I had a coworker with a mild tourette syndrome. Not the cliche random swearing fits kind, but it gave him lots of facial, behavioral and verbal ticks - which he's gotten more under control now, with great practice and depending on stress levels. Basically, when stressed, he'd blurt out a "hop!" once in a while. Quite surprising and possibly funny at first. Very annoying when you try to focus. You just learn to ignore and make the best of it, especially as he's the one suffering from the condition and making the best of it.
    – haylem
    Mar 4, 2016 at 23:00

1 Answer 1


I suggest striking up a conversation with this guy. "Hey we have been working together here for a while. I notice you always have a running nose. Are you allergic to something in the office?"

I personally would find this constant interruption pretty annoying, but I am pretty used to working with music in my earbuds now. If earphone or earplugs are out of the question, the first step is to talk this fellow and see what is happening. If that doesn't work, then you can involve your manager.

Ultimately, you want to reach some kind of compromise where everyone is happy in this shared space.

  • How is being passive aggressive with this person going to help? You don't think he knows?
    – blankip
    Mar 5, 2016 at 3:00
  • Working in pairs, with earphones on? Does this make sense?
    – Tim
    Jun 22, 2019 at 12:48

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