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  1. #1

    Default Co-worker constantly clearing throat - going nuts!

    Posting under an alter for obvious reasons I don't like to bring my 'work' life into my 'online' life because I like my job and I would like to keep it.

    In my job, my function shares work with 1 other person. The girl I used to work with and I were extremely close and just worked perfectly together. She moved on to a leadership position and the other position opened. Obviously, I was a wreck because this is the person I will work side-by-side for 40+ hours a week for the forseeable future.

    So they hired someone, and I'm going crazy.

    Anyway... this working relationship has been going on for about 2 months now and and it's been fine for the most part. HOWEVER, there is something that is literally driving me slowly insane (see username).

    She clears her throat. Almost constantly. We share a cubicle and I swear she turns towards me when she does it and it makes me crazy. I counted the other day but when I got to 9 times in 15 minutes I had to stop because it was just too negative and making me more crazy.

    I KNOW that it's probably medical, and I feel for her, I really do. I have some really probably annoying nervous tendancies that I picked up in stressful times in my life that I've never let go of.... but I don't think they're anything that is truly distracting (ie: don't make noise).

    I wear headphones and try to keep something going in them all day, but I can still hear the throat clearing clearly over them. I thought about springing for some $$$ noise cancelling headphones, but I do have to be available to answer questions during the day and I feel like closing myself off in some headphones isn't really work appropriate.

    My supervisor is on maturity leave right now and I have spoken with her stand-in regarding moving desks (there is an open cube not very far away which would still enable us to work 'together' just not right next to each other) but she seemed really uncomfortable with the idea so I said I would wait and speak with the supervisor when she returns later next month.

    I feel like I am being sensitive, but it's excessive. A person who worked near her before she moved to my function actually mentioned it and I realize now that her previous supervisor had her in a single cubicle away from the rest of her group. It's starting to effect my ability to enjoy my job. Tonight my fill-in supervisor made a comment about me 'counting down minutes' until I could leave. This hurt because I've always been the go-to workaholic but seriously, I hit my 8 hours and I am ready to LEAVE. I did 9 hours today and I felt a little like Exorist girl.

    I don't feel like I can speak to the co-worker directly about it. We have *very* different personalities (I am the kind of annoying bubbly positive type, she's not) and it was touch and go there for a while. I still don't feel like I can speak with her without her putting me down but at the same time, I think she tends towards painting herself as the victim.

    I am thinking of seeing how far I can shift my hours away from her so we overlap less (though the office is only open from 7-5:30 so this option is limited and there are nights that I have to work the standard shift to be on call at the end of the day.)

    What to do???? Is offering her water/cough drops too passive aggressive? (Also could be really insenstive if it's a mental/emotional issue rather than a throat issue).


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  2. #2
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    Jan. 10, 2008
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    I clear my throat a lot because of sinus issues. I have a deviated septum and post-nasal drip and all sorts of related ickiness. I do it mostly unconsciously, but I can't really help it. ): I do try to limit it in public but it's uncomfortable. The alternative is a surgery that I really don't want to get and can't currently afford.

    I don't really have a solution... I think if you frequently turn around expectantly and say, "yes?" she might get a hint that she's doing it more often than she realizes, and maybe she'll tone it down as much as possible... but it's probably going to be there no matter what. If it's any consolation, it's probably more annoying for her than it is for you... and it's also probably seasonal, as my sinus issues just flare up at certain times of year.



  3. #3
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    Oct. 22, 2003
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    Bring in a bag of mints. Say "It sounds like your throat has been really scratchy! I was at the grocery store and thought of you."
    "The nice thing about memories is the good ones are stronger and linger longer than the bad and we sure have some incredibly good memories." - EverythingButWings



  4. #4
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    My wonderful SO does this. He has persistent post-nasal dripping. He clears his throat probably 100 times a day. When we first started dating I thought I was going to either go crazy or kill him.

    Now every time he clears his throat I force myself to smile and think a positive thought. Overtime it has helped remove the negative association and I don't even notice it (unless he gets into a throat-clearing frenzy during a movie).

    If you draw attention to it then she will notice the post-nasal dripping and feel the pressure to clear her throat more often.

    I guess this isn't terribly helpful but I don't think there is a magic solution. Think happy thoughts if you can.


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  5. #5
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    I feel for you. I would want to kill myself, literally. My boss shares an office with me and he hacks up flem about 20 times a day. I gag or turn and look at him. It's so gross, he can't help it. If he did it every minute he'd be dead by now, or I would.

    I teach a lesson student that coughs repeatedly. If I think about it, it makes me nuts. Her mom hums constantly. You will be talking and stop and she'll start humming. Many times I have to remove my self from the situation. I'm sorry it seems you can't.
    Maria Hayes-Frosty Oak Stables
    Home to All Eyez On Me, 1998 16.2 Cleveland Bay Sporthorse Stallion
    & FrostyOak Hampton 2008 Pure Cleveland Bay Colt
    www.frostyoaks.com



  6. #6
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    Neti pot is the answer for anyone with sinus issues. You use it to wash out the allergens and it loosens the mucus so it drains/goes away sooner.
    As the cold and flu season is approaching you may be able to suggest this with your cube mate.

    I understand your pain as I worked with a woman with major sinus problems. I made the point to get to know her which really helped getting past the sounds.
    Turns out she is a pretty neat lady somewhat embarrassed by her condition.
    "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
    Courtesy my cousin Tim


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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by GraceLikeRain View Post
    My wonderful SO does this. He has persistent post-nasal dripping. He clears his throat probably 100 times a day. When we first started dating I thought I was going to either go crazy or kill him.

    Now every time he clears his throat I force myself to smile and think a positive thought. Overtime it has helped remove the negative association and I don't even notice it (unless he gets into a throat-clearing frenzy during a movie).

    If you draw attention to it then she will notice the post-nasal dripping and feel the pressure to clear her throat more often.

    I guess this isn't terribly helpful but I don't think there is a magic solution. Think happy thoughts if you can.
    I have a friend that has Tourette's syndrome and he clears his throat continuously as one more tick.

    It is extremely annoying until you make your mind not to notice it any more.
    Once in a restaurant with his wife and mother, I was wondering why others kept getting uneasy and looking over and finally figured it was his throat clearing.
    Guess I had learned to filter it, as his family had and everyone in high school had also when he was a kid.

    Get busy with whatever you are doing and tune that out.
    You can do it and it will be best, unless you change jobs.

    I expect she knows she does it, why not flat ask her about it, if it is something she has asked a doctor about and see what she tells you?



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluey View Post
    I have a friend that has Tourette's syndrome and he clears his throat continuously as one more tick.
    Yes, one of my friends too. Not Tourette's diagnosis, but he has some ticks, the constant throat-clearing being the most noticeable one. If that's what it is, no amount of throat drops or mints will help.



  9. #9
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    Read about Tourette's syndrome and see if you think it could be Tourette's or if it is just a runny nose/sinus problem. If it is Tourette's, stressing her more may make it worse. I would focus on your coping strategies. Compared to some of the other things people deal with at work (e.g., coworkers stealing money, illegal activities, personal safety issues) this just doesn't impress me as a big issue. I have a wonderful job, but even I have had work issues at times, such as the time a client said he would "go postal, you know, shoot em up" on me if I didn't immediately give him sleeping pills. Until the police arrived, I was feeling real work stress!


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  10. #10
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    I feel for you. My new co-worker does this, too. I have been used to having quite large cubes due to the nature of my work and now I've been stuffed into a 12'x5' cube with close neighbors. My new neighbor is constantly clearing his throat, coughing, what have you. Plus, he eats fish (STINKY, microwaved fish) at 10:00 am and then other smelly things throughout the day. He's a really nice guy but between the fish and the coughing/clearing/snorting he's driving me nuts.

    I just listen to my head phones and try to ignore it. I think he has allergies and I guess no one ever told him it's just not right to impose stinky food smells on your cube neighbors. *sigh*

    I'm not a very tolerant person in general so I try to keep that in mind when I feel like crawling over the cube wall and killing him. I'm sure some of my cube habits might bug him, too.



  11. #11
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    Yes, I can understand this bothering you, but I bet she can't help it and pointing it out will only be negative. My husband went through chemotherapy when he was about 34. He has had to constantly clear his throat since then. Trust me, it annoys him, too. 16 years later and I can tune it out. It really bugs him when people (granted, they're trying to help) offer him cough drops all the time. Nothing helps. So though I feel for you, I feel for your coworker, too.
    “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
    ¯ Oscar Wilde


    2 members found this post helpful.

  12. #12
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    I would like to be on maturity leave....


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  13. #13
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    Throat clearing is bad, but I think the snorgling/snorfling/snorting thing is the worst - where the person seems like they're 'gathering material' to hock a big loogie. Oh, Lord. Why don't they go to the bathroom, do their gathering, hock it into a tissue and flush it away? Why? Why?

    Right now we have a lady at work who is one of those 'presentee-ism' people. Was sick with a cold two weeks ago, came to work every day regardless, touching all the door handles and such. And I'm sorry to say she doesn't seem to be getting all that much better, in fact her cough has gotten very bad; but she doesn't DO anything about it. Just walks around coughing profoundly. I know for a fact she has the same health insurance I do; she could see a doctor, and I wish she would - for everyone's sake. What if it's pertussis, for instance?



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurierace View Post
    I would like to be on maturity leave....
    Aw, you beat me to it! I was going to say how I wish all my bosses had mandatory maturity leave.

    I feel for you. My husband shares an office with a smoker who coughed constantly. My husband said something about it one day, and his coworker didn't even know he was doing it. Coworker did stop smoking not long after and the cough went away too.
    I think my husband just wore his headphones a lot.
    You are what you dare.



  15. #15
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    I'd kill her, just wait in the parking lot and run her down. Justifiable homicide.


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  16. #16
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    I feel for you. Because I AM that person. (Not literally of course).

    And I feel bad for my co-workers. It's something I can't help - I have shitty sinuses and a nearly constant post nasal drip. Oh and I blow my nose frequently too. I do try to not do it too loudly and always cover my mouth though.

    What you should also know is that I find it as annoying as you do. Imagine having to live with it 24/7! Sometimes I yell at myself to shut up.

    I'm sure your co-worker knows that she is doing it (hopefully!). If someone confronted me about it I don't think I'd be offended, but there is seriously NOTHING I can do about it. (And I did have the surgery - it didn't work)

    I sometimes find my co-workers equally as annoying - one talks too loud, one plays music too loud, and one is just an idiot. Earphones and my iPod usually take care of the problem. The noise cancelling ones are majic!


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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurierace View Post
    I would like to be on maturity leave....
    I think you qualify for that after you hit 65 or you retire, whatever comes first.



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaintPony View Post
    I feel for you. Because I AM that person. (Not literally of course).

    And I feel bad for my co-workers. It's something I can't help - I have shitty sinuses and a nearly constant post nasal drip. Oh and I blow my nose frequently too. I do try to not do it too loudly and always cover my mouth though.

    What you should also know is that I find it as annoying as you do. Imagine having to live with it 24/7! Sometimes I yell at myself to shut up.

    I'm sure your co-worker knows that she is doing it (hopefully!). If someone confronted me about it I don't think I'd be offended, but there is seriously NOTHING I can do about it. (And I did have the surgery - it didn't work)

    I sometimes find my co-workers equally as annoying - one talks too loud, one plays music too loud, and one is just an idiot. Earphones and my iPod usually take care of the problem. The noise cancelling ones are majic!
    Curious, what one learns on COTH.
    Earphones and iPod take care of idiots.



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurierace View Post
    I would like to be on maturity leave....

    Count me in!

    For the OP:
    I truly feel your pain.
    My Idjit co-worker is one of those who literally cannot have a thought without it exiting her mouth.
    I tell people it is like working with a Tourette's sufferer, but hers is just her {for lack of a better term} "personality"

    To top it off, her voice is in the same register as Minnie Mouse's.
    Try listening to that 8h/day.

    We do not share a cube, but she projects over the walls and - unfortunately - can easily be heard throughout the office.
    It is a small office.

    I admit BabyGreen's advice sounds pretty good, at least for a stress-relieving fantasy.
    I am counting the days until I can retire to my "maturity leave"
    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
    Hey Vern! 1982-2009
    Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurierace View Post
    I would like to be on maturity leave....
    So happy I'm not the only one who noticed that. Actually I think my coworkers would like me to go on one of these, hehehe!!
    COTH's official mini-donk enabler

    "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl



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