Is It Rude to Chew Gum?

Chewing gum in public is extremely bad manners. But are there times when it's OK to chew gum? Modern Manners Guy explores gum etiquette.

Richie Frieman,
March 10, 2014
Episode #287

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Think about what you’re doing when you pop your gum; you’re taking something you’re chewing on and using it to make loud noises. How mature is that? It’s a step below making fart noises with your armpit. It’s like taking chicken bones and using them as drumsticks on your plate.

If you are chewing gum – or anything else for that matter – there should be no noise. Nothing! Unless of course it’s a crispy food or a chip or something else where sound is expected. But other than that, if it goes in your mouth, we shouldn’t see it or hear it. 

When you pop your gum, it shows a total lack of respect for the people around you.  I understand that popping your gum is a habit – and possibly a hard one to break. If you need help with that, my new colleague, the Savvy Psychologist, has a terrific episode on How to Break a Habit.

I also realize people can “zone out” while chewing their gum, but this isn't an excuse to keep the habit going. If you have to pop your gum, I recommend that all popping be relegated to private spaces - like in your car, while running or biking outside, or even walking in the halls at the office. Never bring this insanely annoying habit to a place where others have to listen to you.

Tip #3: Don't Chew Gum at the Table

By table, I mean any situation in which you're surrounded by others and will be engaging in conversation. This could be a meal or a meeting.  Chewing gum is a casual exercise and some people may think that you're not taking the conversation seriously if you come to the table with a mouthful of Bubblicious. It’s kind of like showing up to a dinner party wearing a ratty t-shirt you would normally wear to the gym.  

As well, the act of removing your gum can also be distracting and gross when it’s done in front of people. There are only so many ways to get rid of gum; you spit it out, you swallow it, or you use your fingers to remove and trash it. Either way, who would want to see that happen at a business meeting?

Allow me to paint a picture for you: I was at a meeting with four colleagues for lunch one day, when a fifth colleague showed up late. She sat down at the table, and then (I kid you not) took the gum out of her mouth and placed it onto her notebook. Stay with me folks. Then after the lunch meeting ended, she took it from the notebook and put it back in her mouth. I. Nearly. Lost. It.

As I said in Tip #2, when food goes in your mouth, it should not make noise, but I guess I should add another rule to that. When food goes in your mouth, it should stay there! Once it goes in, it’s in!  

The point is that there is a time and place for everything, and that includes chewing gum. Unless your job is a baseball player, where chewing gum is allowed (Why is this? I have no idea), then leave the gum in your pocket. When you are at a meeting, you don’t want to draw any negative attention to your mouth. After all, how can you sound calm and collected if you’re tongue tied because of all that rubbery goodness?

As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.

Do you have any recent graduates in your circle, or perhaps someone who is looking to start a new career, check out my new book, Reply All…And Other Ways to Tank Your Career for great tips and advice on job success. It's available now!

Girl blowing bubble image courtesy of Shutterstock.



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