Monday, August 6, 2012

Manners Monday: Chewing Gum Etiquette




Two weekends ago, I was at a local church service enjoying hearing from a guest speaker who was visiting. While listening to the Pastor's awesome message, I kept hearing someone snap their from gum behind me, it had become quite distracting. I literally wrote the title for today's manners post in small letters on the back of my Sunday program so I'd remind myself to post about here later.

Aside from gum snappers and loud chewers, there are limited times when chewing gum is appropriate and also times when it is not, so I wanted to address these aspects also. Let me just say though, if you're ever in doubt as to whether it might be okay, err on the side of caution and avoid it.


When Not to Chew Gum

1. At Work: Avoid chewing gum during any professional meetings, during church, at job interviews and in small classes or in any class where your participation is required or you'll be speaking. (I think it's a good thing that many schools don't allow it). You want to eliminate gum chewing in any working environment where you're in constant contact with customers or clients (this is common with sales jobs) and also advised for therapists, professors, teachers, counselors, professional speakers, instructors, trainers, singers, performers and of course clergy. Even Doctors, Dentists or Lawyers will have a more polished and professional appearance without the chomping of gum.

2. At Home: As it pertains to close family and friends, I think it is disrespectful particularly with the elderly to be chewing gum while carrying on a conversation. Many times they are hard of hearing, and are forced to read lips a little bit and this makes things challenging for them. Apart from this aspect, many older folks grew up in a time when gum chewing was considered to be tacky and you just didn't do it. Around your friends and closest of family, I think it is okay to chew gum with a closed mouth where the chewing is quiet and almost not noticeable.

If you're going to chew gum, the best time is in your car, at home, while reading or anytime you're not carrying on a conversation with others on the phone or in person. I am one of those people who if chewing gum for a while can start making snapping noises with it, I'm aware of it so I typically only chew it for a few minutes post-meal or do away with it altogether and use mints instead.

Chewing Quietly & Respectfully

As you'll note from my personal example at church, it only became an issue for those surrounding her including myself when it got noisy and became a distraction. Had the gum chewing been free of snapping and her mouth was closed while chewing, I probably wouldn't have even noticed.

If one cannot chew gum without needing to open their mouth and appear to be chewing cud like a horse, it's probably best to avoid gum altogether. If the gum chewing is for fresher breath, a mint might be a better option.

If you're one who enjoys snapping, popping and blowing bubbles from gum (you might be surprised to know that I'm one of those that do so I have to be very mindful of it), the only time you should be doing this is at home, by yourself when you're not going to irritate others. In fact, I would strongly discourage such behavior as it would be easy to carry out the same popping in public forgetting where you are, as with most things in life what we do in private usually become public at some point in time.





Disposing of Chewed Gum

Nobody enjoys getting a wad of gum stuck to the bottom of their shoe. There is a proper way of disposing chewing gum that doesn't include sticking it under a desk or chair, rolling it in a ball and tossing it into a potted plant (I've seen people do this before) or sticking it to the wall of a building. Gum is sticky and especially when it gets hot, it becomes a gooey mess.

The most clean and elegant way of disposing of gum is to carry a small pack of tissues with you and use the tissue to quickly remove the gum from your mouth, squeeze the tissue and toss it into a garbage bin (not a recycling bin, not a smoker's ashtray-only a garbage. This way your hands stay clean and is is far more discreet. A lady never spits gum or anything else for that matter out of her mouth, that is an absolute no-no.

Chewing Gum & Health

Gum chewing is personal-some enjoy it and some don't.  Let me just say that I used to chew a lot of gum. I've never been a smoker but for some reason since high school, I loved the fresh burst of mint-it seemed to perk me up midday and it seemed to somehow occupy my mouth while in a boring class. It just kind of became a habit I suppose. Today I almost never chew it. Two years ago, I went to the Dentist because I had jaw pain and it felt as though my jaw wasn't aligned properly for some reason and it had begun clicking. He enlightened me by letting me know that by constantly chewing (as in the case of gum) that you actually over-exercise your jaw. Like a rubber band, the constant stretching will eventually wear out those muscles and hearing clicking or grinding in the jaw would not be uncommon, it was eye-opening to say the least. After that day, I stopped because I'm too young to have jaw problems.



On a side note, the other negative health issue I found with gum is that all of the mainstream brands contains aspartame,  BHT, acesulfame-potassium and other chemicals to artificially sweeten it which have been proven to cause health problems like tumors-eek! Yet, I see so many small children chewing it which is really scary. For that reason, the gum I've been buying for the past few years is called Spry-the peppermint flavor is my favorite. I like that they offer a healthier alternative to regular gum after trying many other natural brands. They use natural ingredients and sweeten with sugar-free xylitol which comes from the birch tree and naturally sweetens without adding sugar and actually cleans your teeth and prevents cavities.  I purchased mine from Whole Foods or online here and it's not like chewing on a rock as with some other natural gum. They also sell mints and toothpaste. While this may come across as an ad for them, it's not, you all know I love to share my favorite things with you. ;)


Let's Socialize!


What are your thoughts on gum chewing as it pertains to manners? Are there any points I missed that you'd like to add?

Have a great week!

XO




*Photo credits: (1), (2)

26 comments :

  1. Great post! I'd also add that chewing gum can also cause indigestion/heart burn.

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    1. So true, Sarah! Thanks for adding that! :) It does mess with digestion because we're constantly chewing and produce enzymes that don't get used.

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    2. Gum also causes belching because you are swallowing air while you chew it.
      When I took modeling lessons 46 years ago; the semi famous instructor told us: "A lady NEVER chews gum." Her name was Marge Munro.

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  2. I always loved chewing gum until I saw someone chewing while doing an interview on television, and I thought "do I look like that?" Yes, probably! There is no way you can chew gum and still look good.

    Thanks for the post,
    Rosemary

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    1. I feel the same way as you, now that I've stopped I've noticed how it really does look and I'm so glad I don't chew it anymore. But I don't judge those who do! ;)

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  3. I do not chew gum, and I don't allow my children to chew gum. Nothing irks me more than to step in gum with my shoe. It makes me so mad.

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    1. Leigh, that is so smart that you don't let your children chew gum. :) I agree, there's nothing worse than stepping in gum!!

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  4. OMGosh! I have never met anyone who feels as strongly as I do about this!

    People have no idea that when they are chewing gum, they've just visibly lowered their IQ.

    Makes me so sick to see how many people have spit out their gum. So un-classy and have made sidewalks, etc. so ugly to me.

    As a frequent traveler, I can honestly say that Saltzburg, Austria is the only city that I've been so proud of their policy on this matter. End of my rant, I promise!

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    1. Thanks Dawne for sharing! :) I agree, spitting gum out is not classy. I'm with you, after traveling to many countries also I can also attest to the fact that there are many countries that are clean and forbid gum on sidewalks, etc., such as Singapore. I feel it shows a lack of respect for not only one's city but also a lack of self-respect too.

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  5. so interesting and helpful. Fabulous post, love. If you get a sec, I'd love to hear what you think of my latest outfit and post for LaurenConrad.com. xo

    www.fashboulevard.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Anna! :) Congrats on your collaboration with Lauren Conrad. I just popped over to visit your blog and I'm loving what I see! I'll be back!

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  6. i never thought that there will be a chewing gum etiquette...thanks for this..

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    1. You're welcome, Synergy! I never thought so before either but as with most things, when I learn people can benefit from such a post, I have to share! :)

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  7. I stumbled across this blog by accident, and am impressed with the quality of your writing, Karla. Great points. I will add a church peeve of my own: people massaging each other's shoulders during a worship service. I don't really care if it's subtle, but it can be very distracting! Sometimes I wonder if the person being massaged had not wanted to come, and the "masseuse" is trying to "help" him/her through the meeting.

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    1. Thank you so much, Carol! :) Hmm, I'm not sure if I've seen that yet. Perhaps I have but thought they had a kink in their neck or were tired. ;) I can definitely see how it would be distracting, as if the service is boring them. That may be the case, the person being massaged maybe had not wanted to go but God bless them for actually showing up! :) I think it is important to be respectful though in a place of worship, not to say that people need to feel stiff, but to remember that their actions can distract others who genuinely are trying to get something from the service. Great point!

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  8. I love the way you've articulated this matter!

    I wish I could express the way you did(I just clam myself up and leave the room), this very minor matter to my wonderful colleagues, all usually immaculately dressed women that when they chew gum, loudly, and movie-prostitute-ly, constantly, I automatically get transported into an imaginary barn full of cows, wearing pearls and Prada. Not so classy after the gum makes its appearance.

    I find it rather distressing while I work on my very tedious job that requires concentration(I'm not allowed to use my iPod :( ). Very distracting and distressing. Everyday.I'm very close to a nervous breakdown.

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    1. Hi Mumble Jumble! Thanks for your comment! I'm replying to a few below and just saw yours too. Yes, I feel the same way, it's often the simple things that can really be off-putting. A cow chewing the cud comes to mind with gum, I see it all the time. It can be very distracting and it's so important to say something, nobody should be tormented, especially at work. ;)

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  9. Thanks for this. I tried to find something like this a couple of years ago to share with my kids but could find nothing...they thought I was a fruitcake! :) I used to be a gum-chewer myself. We had an exchange student from Sri Lanka when I was in high school, and he just could not believe that Americans walked around chewing gum! He said we looked like cows chewing the cud. I thought HE was quite strange for thinking so, but I have come to the conclusion, lo these many years later, that he is right! You have done people a great service by posting this.

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    1. Jennifer, I'm so glad that you were able to find what you were looking for after years of searching. :)Thanks for taking the time to comment. It's funny how we don't see things when WE do them but then one day we see the light and wonder why on earth we were ever doing it to begin with.

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  10. Good post, however could you follow it up with a post about constructive criticism. One wonderful lady I work with happened to chew gum after a lunch that was heavy in garlic. She did not chew it during any meetings or in front of any customers. However, someone else at work printed off this exact post folded it up and slid it surreptitiously under her key board. They did not have the tact to ask any questions, or offer constructive criticism. They just put this on her desk with a note FYI written on it. It seems to me that anyone trying to instruct another person on class, should use a little themselves.

    thanks,

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    1. Hello there! I'm so sorry to hear that this happened to your co-worker. I agree, it's not polite to be judgmental and the person instructing should use some also. However I do give the person points for printing it off, folding it up so others wouldn't see it and just writing FYI instead of anything else. Perhaps this person wasn't sure of the right thing to say and didn't want to offend by having a conversation about the gum chewing so they felt it easier to print off my post as a guideline. As far as the gum chewing goes regarding garlic, while gum is faster and more convenient it's just a mask, a toothbrush and toothpaste work best with a travel size bottle of mouthwash. When I was working in an office, I always kept a set along with floss and an extra pair or pantyhose (in case of emergency snags) in my desk drawer. That is the best way to rid the taste of the garlic an not offend others. Thank you for writing in! :) Warmly, Karla

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  11. Glad to hear others feel this way. I think this article could use a addendum on how to politely ask offenders to stop.

    In several cases I've been so irked by this that I've actually asked people to stop. In every case the chewer has been surprised and politely complied! Imagine that! They were simply oblivious.

    Zach

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Zach! I'm so sorry that I'm just seeing it now after someone else commented! I just replied to the same question below. It's quite common to experience this and yes, simply asking people to stop in a polite tone is often all that it takes. Most people are oblivious just popping away out of habit. ;)

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  12. So what is the appropriate method to tell someone that is popping heir gum to cut it! The way I tell people to stop may not be as nice so I want to know an appropriate nice tactful way to express that.

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    1. Hi ML! Thank you for your question. It depends who the offender is and where it's happening. If it's someone who does this consistently at work, you might try saying, "Would you mind not snapping/popping your gum as I find it distracting and hard to concentrate while I work. Thank you". Honestly, most people don't even realize they're doing it sometimes, as it's more out of habit. If it's a random person in line ahead of you at the checkout counter, I'd just let it go for the short time. I'm going to assume though that you're referring to those where you'd be stuck listening to it for a length of time. For anyone else, a simple "Could you please stop snapping your gum while you chew it? I'd really appreciate it". The person will likely either feel a bit embarrassed or annoyed and offended. Either way, at least they now have the option to choose to stop. I hope those help you. The most important aspect is just to use a soft and kind tone. :)

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  13. My mother chews gum because she takes medications which give her dry mouth. I get it. But it is SO annoying. She chews with her mouth open and pops and cracks it CONSTANTLY. I don't see my parents that often, and this is just one of many, many reasons. I don't even know how to get gum to pop and crack like that. . . Anyway, they came to my child's winter concert recently and my mother sat next to me. I couldn't enjoy the concert and I was embarrassed that people around us could probably hear it, too. Finally I had to say, "can you chew with your mouth closed, please, it's really loud." She of course got very huffy in response. She is easily offended. But I just had to say something so I could listen to the concert. Her excuse would be that she HAS to chew gum. Maybe I should print out your article and leave it on the table at her next visit! My kids don't chew gum because they've had braces, but I also agree with you about the ingredients. The only gum I can find without aspartame is Double Bubble.

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Thanks for stopping by, your comments make my day! I read every single one and will answer any questions you have. I hope you'll visit again soon! :)

Warmly,
Karla

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