Management conundrum: stopping the fingernail clipping at work


This morning, someone at work started clipping their nails.

To know me is to know that my body immediately went to full tilt cringe at the sound of the first clip. Within minutes, I received two IM messages from others in the room who wanted her to stop immediately.

I spoke to her manager about it, who seemed more annoyed that I was annoyed than annoyed at the person doing it. I wonder if it might be more meaningful if I stand over her shoulder and do it. I mean, if it’s acceptable at your desk, why not in a meeting? At someone else’s desk?

There seems to be two camps on nail clipping in the office (or other public places, for that matter), those who are disgusted or shocked at it and those who don’t understand why it’s a problem.

I’m always more surprised at how people can lack the societal awareness that it’s really irritating and impolite to many and best done in the confines of one’s own home.

So, my question is, are we at a point, as a society, that I can talk to the person and tell them to please never do that at work again? Is that an appropriate manager action in the workplace? Or do enough people find it acceptable that it’s not a clear black and white, do/don’t type of issue?

Society is a very sensitive place these days. That you said something or how you said often receives more focus than the content of what you said. That’s a fairly large obstacle to overcome. Too often, the person complaining receives more attention that the thing they were complaining about.

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5 Responses to Management conundrum: stopping the fingernail clipping at work

  1. jigje says:

    This quote comes to mind from the 8th c. Indian Buddhist scholar Shantideva.

    Where would I possibly find enough leather
    With which to cover the surface of the earth?
    But (just) leather on the soles of my shoes
    Is equivalent to covering the earth with it

    Likewise it is not possible for me
    To restrain the external course of things
    But should I restrain this mind of mine
    What would be the need to restrain all else?

  2. jigje says:

    The problem isn’t outside.

  3. jigje says:

    “People can give you an opportunity, but you’re less likely to take it.” ~ Jon

    At least you’re consistent. :0)

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