Sounds could be Tourette's

Dear Amy: I work in an office where we sit in cubicles.

A new hire has a very annoying habit of clearing his throat and making grunting sounds constantly.

It is very annoying to all of us who sit near him.

We have even counted the noises he makes. He does this one to three times per minute.

What would be a polite way of making him aware of this so that he might make an effort to stop it?

It is getting difficult to concentrate on our jobs.

We are wondering if it is a health issue or just a bad habit because when we are in meetings (including one that lasted all day) he does not do it.


Dear Annoyed: Your colleague might have a medical condition causing him to do this. For instance, there is a fairly well-known disorder called Tourette's syndrome that has symptoms similar to what you describe.

People suffering from Tourette's sometimes have uncontrollable tics, grunts or other unusual outbursts and physical gestures -- sometimes hundreds of times a day.

You should speak with your supervisor or HR (not your co-worker) to see if there is a way your company can accommodate him so that everyone can do their jobs well and relatively free of distractions.