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Make them stop eating on the phone

By Julie Rottenberg, RealSimple.com
One person's multitasking may be seen by another person as bad manners.
One person's multitasking may be seen by another person as bad manners.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Some people take phone calls while eating, taking a bath
  • Expert: Try the "This sounds like it's not a good time" approach
  • If that fails, try "I'm a bit distracted, so I'd rather wait until you're not eating"

(RealSimple.com) -- Question: Nothing bugs me more than when I am on a business call and the person I'm speaking with is chewing and talking at the same time.

How do I ask him to refrain from eating his lunch during our phone conversation?
---Posted by SHELLY853

Answer: Back when I was an editor, I was giving notes to one of my freelance writers over the phone when I heard the sound of gushing water in the background.

RealSimple.com: Tech etiquette manual

I jokingly asked if he happened to be at Niagara Falls, and he laughed and said, "No, I'm just taking a bath." Stunned, I stammered, "Ummm, I guess it's not a good time," to which he replied, "No, no, it's perfect. Go on."

Not surprisingly, someone who is clueless enough to take a bath or eat his lunch or do any number of other inappropriate things while on the phone is unlikely to realize that his behavior is unprofessional.

RealSimple.com: Etiquette for public-place encounters

If you've already tried the "This sounds like it's not a good time" approach and your colleague keeps chomping, I would take it one step further and say, "I'm a bit distracted, so I'd rather wait until you're not eating. That way, we can both focus. How's next Tuesday at 10?"

At that point, the muncher will have to weigh whether he really wants to reschedule the call or if it is worth setting aside his panini. One hopes he would put down the sandwich.

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