I'm currently doing an unpaid intern in a medium sized company, to finish my studies and get my master degree in computer science. During my college years, I've developed the habit of chewing plastic sticks - the ones you use to mix up coffee and sugar (I'm talking about those things, the correct name escapes my grasp currently).

I'm a coffee person and I generally meet with my colleagues during coffee breaks. This usually happens early in the morning and after lunch. On a typical day, I drink my coffee around 9 am and I tend to keep chewing on the plastic stick while I'm working, sometimes even up until lunch.

I try to avoid doing it while I'm with other people or while other people are talking to me, but I fear this habit may look unprofessional or even unclean. I'd like your personal opinion on the matter.

To clarify, I didn't get any signals that this habit has been noticed by my colleagues/ my tutor, nor it seems frowned upon. It's just me wondering.

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    Some people will find it just plain gross. My wife is one who would. The simple solution is to supplant the habit with a more mainstream one, like gum chewing. as long as you aren't smacking your gum, nobody will think twice about that. – Chris E Aug 21 '17 at 13:06
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    Probably a good thing to do is go to the bathroom and look at yourself chewing that stick in a mirror. Never mind how you feel about stick-chewing - look at how other people see you. What you feel like isn't necessarily what you look like. You probably don't look like Clint Eastwood chewing a match.... – user44108 Aug 21 '17 at 13:13
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    @Pete I probably don't look like Clint Eastwood, but I don't look like a trash bag either. I had occasions to look at myself in the mirror, stick on, and I look acceptable to me; as far as my perception goes. To clarify, I'm not much different than someone holding a cigarette in their mouth (it is true i'm biting the plastic stick, but I don't do so mouth open, teeth flashing). Of course others may have a different opinion on this, hence the question. – Liquid - Reinstate Monica Aug 21 '17 at 13:17

There's nothing unprofessional about the habit as you've described it. Now, if you were leaving half-chewed sticks around the office, had one in your mouth while you were talking to people, etc. That would be a problem.

If anyone did see you, they'd simply assume you had recently quit smoking and developed a substitute habit. You may want to try to curb it and substitute it with another habit, but I wouldn't worry too much unless and until something is said.

There are far worse habits.

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    Any habit where your hands are near your mouth will "wig out" most people I know. Nasty habit. – Mister Positive Aug 21 '17 at 13:09

I fear this habit may look unprofessional or even unclean. I'd like your personal opinion on the matter.

Some may indeed interpret this habit as unprofessional or possibly unclean. It would be like someone chewing on a toothpick all day.

You should try to quit this habit if you can.

There are plenty of self-help books on the subject, plenty of websites (search for "How to break a habit"), and you could always consult your doctor.

As far as habits go, this isn't a big deal. But it still may benefit you to break it if you can. It certainly couldn't hurt to be rid of it.

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    In my personal opinion, this would look unprofessional. When you take that stick out of your mouth to speak with someone, you're waving a pretty gross, spit-covered mangled, bit of plastic at them. Leaving it in your mouth to speak is also pretty gross. – user44108 Aug 21 '17 at 13:06

In the privacy of your work space this is not a big deal, in any other situation it will look really gross, and I would urge you to break the habit.

Here is an article that offers some insight on this topic as a whole: Bad Office Habits

( this is applicable as your hands are around your mouth. )

Doing things that gross people out. This could be coming in when you're coughing and sneezing like crazy, clipping your fingernails or toenails, or picking your nose or fingernails and then touching a piece of shared office equipment. "Even if I was not ick-factored out, I would get germ-factored out," says Rothman.

I use a fidget spinner when I need to burn nervous energy, and I leave it at my desk when I get up.

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