Something (Not) to Chew On


To avoid turning off customers, here are 5 habits to adopt. First up: Leave the gum at home

To avoid turning off customers, here are 5 habits to adopt.

Chomp. Chomp. Chomp.

Chewing gum can keep your breath minty fresh, diminish cravings for food and cigarettes, and burn off some nervous energy. It also can annoy the heck out colleagues and shoppers.

You may think your gum chewing is unobtrusive, but people notice, and it’s one of those things — like fingernails scraping a chalkboard — that can irritate other people instantly.

“Chewing gum at work is like fidgeting, but instead of using your hands, you are fidgeting with your mouth. Lip smacking, gum cracking, and the sound and sight of someone chewing incessantly can be as distracting as someone clicking and twirling their pens nonstop in a meeting,” writes Sally Hayes in a May 2020 article for Tough Nickel. 

If you are worried about your breath, pop a few quick-dissolving mints or bring a toothbrush and toothpaste with you to work to freshen up throughout the day. If you must chew, take a gum break outside.

Here are four other workplace behaviors that will endear you to co-workers and customers alike: 

O Toning down your talk: Speaking too loudly can distract your co-workers and come off as aggressive when dealing with shoppers. Maintain a conversational tone. As Hayes notes, “Beyond having to speak over construction noises, sirens or other loud sounds, there really is no reason to raise your voice at work.”

O Punching up your posture: Watch your body language. Slouching in a chair at the sales desk indicates a lack of interest and energy. Crossing your arms while talking to a customer can come off as defensive. Sitting and standing up straight, with arms by your sides, conveys that you’re open and engaged, giving “other people the respect and attention they deserve,” Hayes says.

O Spiffing up — in private: We wish we didn’t have to include this one but we’ve caught retail sales associates brushing their hair and even clipping their nails on the sales floor. It’s a mattress store, not a spa. Personal grooming tasks should be done at home or in the bathroom, Hayes says. 

O Dining with decorum: Depending on your hours, you may need to eat a meal at the store. If that’s the case, try to eat in a back room or discretely behind the sales desk. And be careful what you bring. Strong smells — microwaved broccoli, reheated curry, fried foods, even popcorn — will linger in mattress fabrics and on your clothes. And no one wants to rest-test a mattress that smells like leftover halibut.