is it okay to clip your nails at work, explaining why I don’t want a promotion, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Is it okay to clip your nails at work?

I’m curious whether folks think it’s okay to clip their nails in the office. In my last two cubicle-type jobs, there has been at least one person who clips their nails in the office on a regular basis. I think that practice is absolutely revolting (groom at home, people!), but other people I’ve vented to seem to think it’s no big deal. I don’t even know who the culprit is, so I have no idea how to address it — I just hear CLIP. CLIP. CLIP. every few days and want to die.

Nail clipping (aside from quickly fixing a single chipped nail) falls under the category of personal grooming tasks that are considered rude to do in public. Moreover, clipping a full set of nail isn’t something has to be done with immediacy (like, for instance, flossing might be); there’s no reason the culprit can’t wait until they’re at home. (And even with flossing, as we established recently, it should be done in the privacy of the bathroom.)

If you want to ask the person to stop, the next time you hear it, you could try walking around to see if you can spot them, and then saying, “Ah, it’s you — I’ve been hearing that noise a lot and it’s driving me crazy. Would you mind doing that in the bathroom?”

2. I was told my statement would be confidential but it was shared

A colleague cursed out a supervisor. I was asked by a next level manager to give a statement in confidence about what happened because I witnessed the incident. The manager who told me that the information that I gave would be held in confidence not only used my name in an appeal hearing for unemployment when the colleague filed for unemployment, but sent an appeal letter to her saying that I was going to testify against her. And the statement I wrote was also shown to the colleague. I wrote the information down and they used it without my permission without even asking me or telling me that they would use it against this person.

I was not made aware of the hearing or my name being involved until the day before the hearing, when an HR manager came to me and asked me would I be comfortable being a witness. This is a week after the colleague had already informed me that they disclosed to her by document that I would be a witness and testify against her. I told the HR manager that I would not testify or be a witness and that I was told my statement would be held confidential. Is this a breach of confidentiality, abuse of information, and abuse of position of trust?

They shouldn’t have told you that it would be confidential when it wouldn’t be … but if you give a witness statement at work, it’s safe to assume that it could end up being seen by people involved in the incident. It’s also not unheard of for employers to need employees to provide statements for unemployment hearings or legal matters; if your job made you privy to relevant information, it’s reasonable that you might get pulled into those proceedings.

But yeah, they shouldn’t have promised you confidentiality.

3. Can I suggest creating a job for myself on another team?

I work in the IT department of a midsize company. I dislike my current position but have identified, through a lot of trial and error, the type of work I actually want to do. My company has only two people doing this type of work now; they’re based in another department. Both are overworked and frequently stressed out.

I am pretty close with both my manager and the manager of this other department, even though I’ve been at the company for only a year and a half. What I’d like to do is let them know that I feel there’s a need for another person with these skills on staff — the workload would certainly justify it — and that I’m interested in acquiring this training. (I’d like for them to pay for it, of course.)

Do you think doing this is a good idea? I’m just worried it’ll scream “I hate my current job!” . . . even though I do. I also wouldn’t know how to broach the subject of getting them to agree to the training I’d need, though I know I could learn the necessary programs quickly and the training wouldn’t be exorbitantly expensive. What if I make the case for this position and then they decide to look outside the company for someone who already has these skills — someone they wouldn’t have to spend extra money on?

Yeah, that’s certainly a possible outcome; it might make a lot of sense for them to hire someone with a track record of success in that type of work. But if that happens, then you’re no worse off than you are now, so you might as well speak up.

I’d say something like this to their current manager: “Would the company ever be interested in adding a third person on your team, do you think? Jane and Rupert’s workload seems high enough to support a third person, and it’s work that really interests me. I’d love to come work with them if there were another slot.” See what kind of initial response you get and go from there. (It might be a clear “not happening” or it might be something more open, but you should follow her lead.)

4. How can I explain why I’m not applying for promotions?

I have been with my company for just over four years in the same role. I am very good at my job, and this has not gone unnoticed by leadership. They are now pushing me to apply for a promotion. The problem is that I am hourly, and any promotion would be to a salaried position. It’s not that I don’t want a promotion, or even that I have a problem with switching to salaried, but it would only be an extra $5,000-10,000/year, and I’d be expected to work a minimum of 60 hours/week. I have no complaints about my current pay, and quite frankly don’t want the added stress that would come with the promotion. I have also been looking for a different job because I don’t see much of a future for myself at my current company. I know that I can’t tell leadership about my job search, but what should I tell them when they ask me why I’m not applying for promotions?

You could say, “I’m actually happy right where I am, and want to continue to focus on the work I’m doing currently.” Or, if you feel like it would be useful to get into the reasons you mentioned here, you could say, “I’m not able to work the hours that would come with a promotion, and frankly I’m really happy with what I’m doing currently.”

5. Asking about my job security before buying a house

I am a contractor on a yearly contract that has, for the past 3 years, been renewed as a matter of course. I have started thinking about buying a home and setting down roots here. I know that my boss cannot promise anything long term and, if I did lose this job, there are a number of other potential employers in the area. That being said, does it make sense to tell my boss I am thinking of buying and taking his temperature about whether he sees me here long-term or not? Like I said I know he can’t promise anything, but we do have a lot of long-term contractors in this office and it would be good to know if he sees me as one of them. I know you say not to bring up things like this when asking for a raise, but is it ok in this context?

I think that’s totally fine to do. I’d say something like, “I’d love to talk with you about what you see as likely for me in the future here. I’m thinking about buying a house, and while I know nothing is written in stone, I wonder if you can give me any sense of the plans for my role over the next few years.”

You might hear, “We want to keep you for as long as you want to stay!” Or you might hear, “Actually, I’m not sure what will happen to our contractors over the next couple of years.” Or you might get something totally useless. But it’s a reasonable thing to ask.

And in addition to this conversation, I’d also factor in what you know about your standing at your employer — do you get good feedback? Do they seem to value you? If you’ve seen people not get their contracts renewed, what’s your sense of why it happened? That stuff is all at least as important as this conversation (as is your sense for what you’d do if you did part ways with this employer at some point).

{ 222 comments… read them below }

  1. Artemesia*

    In addition to asking about long term prospects be sure you are able to actually listen to and HEAR the answers. I have at times in my career not read the signs that the company was not going to make it and I have had employees who didn’t understand the feedback they were getting was ‘go slow, your job is likely to be eliminated.’ Often people will not or cannot be straight with you on this, so listen carefully for clues or hints.

  2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    One exception, in my opinion, to the rules about nail clipping: it is acceptable to clip them (over a trash can of course) at the rock climbing gym. Indeed, climbing gyms often have nail clippers at the front desk for people to borrow. This is the one place in my life where clipping all ten nails is an immediate need; it’s difficult to climb with nails that are slightly too long because teeny tiny climbing holds require you to use your fingertips to hold on. I’ve often realized only after climbing one route that I had to trim my nails a bit.

    Of course, at a noisy gym no one’s going to hear the “clip, clip, clip” noise as they would in a quiet office!

    1. Liane*

      Ugh. Please tell me these clippers come in a sealed bag & aren’t reused? Climbers, for your own health, bring your own!

        1. Rowan*

          I can see a slight possibility of some kind of fungal nail disease being passed on them but I really wouldn’t be particularly concerned. It’s not like metal is the most inviting environment for disease particles!

        2. some1*

          It can be very dangerous for diabetics and people susceptible to infection to use communal nail clippers. My mom is diabetic and cannot go to a nail salon.

              1. E.T.*

                But, skin can get broken while rock climbing in the gym too. So, by that logic, would that mean diabetics and people susceptible to infection should not go rock climbing in a gym in the first place? (Which would the argument against communal nail clippers at the gym due to potential harm to these people a moot point then.)

                I’m not snarking, I’m honestly wondering.

                1. some1*

                  When most people clip their nails, they can feel when they’ve nicked their skin and when they do, it heals on its own. A lot of diabetics have bad circulation and may not feel it, and cuts get infected way more easily, and the risk of infection goes up by the number of people who have used the clippers and nicked their skin.

                2. E.T.*

                  some1, I understand your point, and I’m not advocating for sharing nail clippers outside of rock climbing gyms. But, in the context of this particular thread, I don’t see any problem if rock climbing gyms provide communal clippers inside their gym for their guests (but, due to my personal ew factor, I would still question if they sterilize them, as a Fuschia mentioned, or bring my own).

                  As I mentioned, a person can get just as much damage to their skin (if not more, due to scraps from the wall and the rope, etc) from rock climbing as they would from the communal clippers. So, if someone (such as diabetics, in your example) needs to protect their skin from nicks, shouldn’t they just stay away from the rock climbing gym, where skin can easily break in a myriad of ways from the activity and other people’s sweat and dead skin and bacteria lurk in every corner. The communal nail clipper, in my mind, should be the least of their worries.

        3. Xay*

          Viruses can live quite well on metal surfaces. For disease transferred by blood/body fluids (hepatitis C for example), people are recommended not to share nail clippers.

    2. Cath in Canada*

      Another exception: I once saw a musician (Fran Healey from Travis, to be exact) clip his nails on stage, because he realised a couple of minutes into the first song that the nails on his left hand were too long for guitar playing. He was incredibly apologetic about it though.

      1. MJ*

        I thought our office was unique in the nail-clipping-at-work phenomenon. Ironically I have 3 colleagues who do this with regular frequency. All of them are men. One is the president of the company who happened to clip away while I was in a meeting with him. I asked if he’d recently become a neanderthal becaused his behavior was completely out if line. He didn’t seem to think it was poor manners but he hasn’t done it since.

      2. Cassie*

        When I was a kid, my piano teacher once clipped my nails before my lesson because my fingernails were too long (or so she felt).

        I was going to say that the other place where nail clipping is okay is in the ballet studio – you have to keep your toenails short/trimmed when you wear pointe shoes (although I presume you’d want short toenails in most kinds of dance). BUT even then, I think most dancers clip their toenails in the privacy of their own homes. Maybe trim a bruised toenail here or there, but not clip all ten toenails and not on a regular basis.

    3. cataloger*

      I prefer the brief “clip clip clip” noise to the skritching of too-long nails on the wall as someone climbs!

      I agree with E.T. that there is more risk of damaging skin (and touching gross things) from the act of climbing than from communal front-desk clippers.

  3. Gene*

    Number two, you witnessed something. So long as your statement was factual, why the angst that the person who blew up at the supervisor saw it? Did she think that the hearing “would have gone my way if that darned Jane hadn’t told the truth!”

    I can understand you are angry you feel you were lied to, but the supervisor who asked for the statement may not have understood what would happen with it.

    1. Manager anonymous*

      number 2

      In my experience a statement is made during the investigation of the incident regarding the confidentiality of the proceedings. The confidentiality would be in place until a summary of the investigation was produced. After the witness’s supporting statement was made, it would be typical practice for the manager or HR person to inform the witness that they may be called to repeat their statements in a union hearing or in an arbitration meeting. As uncomfortable as this situation is the employee should testify as needed if this was the truth of the situation.

      1. anonmouse*

        I would be livid. What if this employee retaliated? It’s bad enough in the ex-employee’s mind you ratted on them, now you are testifying so that they don’t even receive unemployment.
        I am sorry OP. The employer doesn’t have to pay unemployment, but you get a red letter and possibly a target. I truly hope not.

        If it was the other way around the supervisor could very well keep job and curse employees every day. But an insubordinate employee is not only fired but denied unemployment, recipe for dysfunction.

        I’d never testify, unless it was a criminal case.

        1. anonmouse*


          If they were managing properly this person should have a disciplinary record. They don’t? Not your problem.

        2. MK*

          But how much does a former co-worker’s retaliation have the potential to hurt you? Unless they are a complete psychopath, the result is that you have made an enemy, a.k.a. someone who bears you ill will. Considering that this someone is a person who just got fired from their job for verbally attacking a manager, I don’t think their ill will won’t hurt you in the short run. Yes, it’s possible that you might find them blocking your way 10 years down the road, but that can be said for anyone. Is it really reasonable to allow vague future possibilities control your behavior?

          Also, refusing to testify is not safe either; and I anm not even thinking of a toxic employer who will fire you for it. If your company knows you have information that can save them from unjustly paying unemployment to an employee who misbehaved and that you are withholding this information because you don’t want to get involved, that’s going to color their opinion of you.

          1. Traveler*

            I don’t think they need to be a complete psychopath though to potentially react badly or go after the coworker in some way. There are lots of people that do stupid or harmful things that are not psychopaths, but we’ve also already established this person has a bit of a temper since they lost their job because of it. I think an average person, if they are made desperate by the firing/unemployment (say they were living paycheck to paycheck or were not able to find employment for a long stretch of time) could be tempted to lash out at the coworker. When you’re upset and desperate, you’re not always of a right mind to think “hey, this was really all my fault and not my coworker’s”.

            How much potential it has? Depends on what the coworker is capable of, and sometimes people have skills and connections you are not aware of.

            1. MK*

              “Tempted” to retaliate, yes. Being angry, certainly. But I still think the average person would not go further than perhaps an angry e-mail or a tirade over the phone.

              In any case, one has to weigh the vague potential of a co-worker retaliating in an unreasonable way against the certainty of their employer’s justifiable disappointment in an employee who wouldn’t be bothered to tell the truth.

        3. Ask a Manager* Post author

          You could be required to testify about your knowledge or what you witnessed as part of your job. There are some jobs where it would be absolutely reasonable to expect and require this of a person.

          1. Traveler*

            If the company required this, and then fired coworker retaliated in some way – does the person who was forced to testify have any recourse?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              What sort of recourse are you thinking of? I think it’s akin to where as a manager, you might need to fire someone who might try to retaliate against you. It’s part of your job and you can’t not do it (although certainly if you had safety concerns, you should expect your employer to work with you on how to handle that).

              1. Traveler*

                The scenario I was thinking was if the fired employee keyed the OPs car or smashed in the windows, and then OP was out several hundred dollars in deductibles. I would assume that the company couldn’t be held responsible in any way?

                I just feel like OP is between a rock and a hard place – face potential firing/retaliation from company for refusing to testify, or face fired employee who potentially has a temper retaliating in some way (I assume this is why the confidentiality was important to them but I could be wrong).

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  A good company would pay for that, but I don’t think they’d be legally required to. But even halfway decent companies would.

                  The majority of people who want confidentiality seem to want it because they don’t want to be “involved.” They don’t want to be blamed by the person. Doesn’t mean some people don’t fear more specific retaliation — they do, of course — but this seems to be most common.

        4. arjay*

          Back when I worked retail, I was interviewed by a loss prevention associate and promised my statement would remain confidential. The interesting part is that I had nothing to contribute to the case. I described my part in the workflow but had no knowledge of the suspected wrongdoing. They kept my statement confidential indeed, but revealed to the fired employee that I had made a statement. At the unemployment hearing, his claim was denied “based on statements made by” me and my coworkers. He came into the store screaming at me about what I told them, etc. Fortunately he wasn’t a complete psychopath, but it was a really ugly confrontation and I learned to never trust loss prevention again.

      2. KellyK*

        What would be wrong with saying, “Your statements will be confidential until a summary of the investigation is produced. After that, you might be asked to repeat your statements in a union hearing or arbitration meeting”? And if their previously taken statements are going to be released beyond HR either way, telling them that too?

        It’s not appropriate to tell people something is confidential when it isn’t.

      3. employeeX*

        Neither management nor HR told me that i may have to testify or repeat what I witnessed BEFORE I gave my statement. If they had I wouldn’t have said anything yes what I told was factual but NOT serious enough for them to use it against the employee to not pay her unemployment. Our job is very stressful and exasperating.

    2. Michele*

      I was in a similar situation. I had a co-worker that blew up at me. I didn’t think much of it, just figured it was a bad day, and let it go. Well a different co-worker saw the exchange and reported the guy that blew-up at me to our manager. He got written up even though I just wanted to let the whole thing go. The managers didn’t really give me an option so I had to write up my view of the whole exchange. He gotten written up. It took a bit of time for the relationship to repair itself but once realized I wasn’t the one that reported the whole incident he got over it somewhat. This was my first job out of college and I can say now after be in the business world for 20+ years he deserved to be written up.

      1. MK*

        I think people tend to forget that the purpose of disciplinary action is not really about the “victim”. A company has a vested interest to discipline employees who misbhave, so that they won’t do it again and the message will be out that this type of thing won’t be tolerated, so that the working environment will be safe and harmonious. It doesn’t really matter if the person who happened to be at the receiving end of the misbehavior that particular time wanted the wrongdoer to be punished.

  4. GrumpyBoss*

    #2: I told the HR manager that I would not testify or be a witness

    Sounds like a very inflexible and career limiting line you are drawing. You saw what your former colleague did and I notice that nowhere in your letter are you disputing that this person acted out of line. So why the loyalty to them? Your employer, the same one that pays your bills, asks you to reiterate what you saw to protect the company, and you are saying no because your feelings are hurt about the breach of trust.

    Yes, it sucks that they told you one thing and did another. But statements like this are a clear cut example of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    1. tt*

      I’m not sure we actually know that hurt feelings is why OP wouldn’t testify. There are a variety of reasons why employees wouldn’t want to be directly involved in this type of situation, it is rather uncomfortable after all. OP may not have wanted to testify from the beginning, even without the perceived breach of trust.

      1. jag*

        I don’t see how you can possibly say you won’t talk about something like that at work. It’s work. Part of your job is to share information that your bosses want or that benefits the organization as a whole.

        There are things that you could legitimately balk at sharing – particularly things that relate to promises of privacy for staff or customer information, or are kept private for internal controls.

        But refusing to testify about something wrong a coworker did in front of your own eyes? Come on.

        1. tt*

          I didn’t actually say she had standing to refuse, or that she had the right to hurt feelings. just that there are many understandable reasons why someone wouldn’t want to. fear of retaliation is one that comes to mind.

      2. Traveler*

        I don’t think this is about hurt feelings or that we should be dismissing this as “yeah that sucks, but company loyalty”. If this happened to me – it would be that the company had broken my trust in promising one thing, and doing another. They can write that off under “company interests” and not wanting to unjustly pay unemployment all they want. They still broke my trust, and once they’ve done that I would not be excited to put myself out on a limb for them any further. A large part of the employer/employee relationship depends on that trust – and loyalty needs to go both ways.

        1. Mephyle*

          I think you have put your finger on the issue that is the heart of the matter. If it was me, from now on I wouldn’t trust anything that anyone promised me on behalf of the company. Is it productive to tell them that, or is that just something one keeps to oneself and acts upon?

      3. Molly*

        I agree. We have no idea what level of loyalty OP feels for her former coworker or place of employment. I’ve certainly worked for places where I felt -12% loyalty toward the company, and a lot for my coworkers.

        It’s not like she witnessed someone get stabbed. It was a verbal argument, and there are a lot of situations where agreeing to help the company place blame on the employee would feel uncomfortable.

    2. Waiting Patiently*

      I didn’t see that she wanted to be loyal to her coworker but rather she wanted to protect herself from what she witnessed and what was she reported in her written statement. It’s not like she immediately had a problem with writing a statement about what she witnessed, but it seems like her coworker was the one who approached her first about it. Nor did she realize she would be pulled into a further proceedings about it. Of course, its all possible.
      These thing get tricky though, especially if you think you are giving a statement and won’t have to encounter the person again and then out of the blue they come to you. I had a similar situation where I had to work with this person until the last possible moment before they were let go. Talk about arkward.. and I too would be a little hesitant to be involved in someone’s unemployment proceedings if I wasn’t a manager or supervisor. This is why documentation is do important. Would I do it of my boss asked, i dont know, maybe i would, but I would definitely say I’m not comfortable with it.

    3. Magda*

      I wouldn’t assume the OP is refusing solely out of hurt feelings, exactly. At the most unprofessional place where I ever worked, my manager once called a meeting for the sole purpose of yelling at us for not “respecting” him properly. My colleague, “D,” disagreed with what he was saying. The manager then started loudly berating D for a mistake she’d made the previous week — clearly intended to humiliate her in front of the department, rather than out of any concern over the actual business need affected by the mistake. D promptly blew her stack, and everyone at the meeting later got called into HR to give statements.

      Now – I’m not going to say that D was in the right. She wasn’t. Even if someone is provoking you, you need to keep your composure. But I was really upset to find out that the statements I gave to HR were used to paint my colleague as The Problem Child in our department, and our manager as some poor beleagured man. Thankfully it never got to a level where anybody was testifying about anything, because I would have been extremely uncomfortable furthering that narrative. As much as I don’t think D’s actions were right, I also think it is unethical to give cover to an abusive manager. I don’t really know what I would have done if it came to that.

      I completely understand that this is just my personal experience, in an extraordinarily dysfunctional workplace, and I make no assumptions about whether OP is dealing with anything similar. But, I’ve been in situations where I was extremely reluctant to make a statement about another employee’s behavior because I had no faith that my company would be fair or ethical with what I gave them, let alone that they would protect me against any retaliation. The fact that OP’s manager promised confidentiality and then completely broke it suggests to me that there is at least some dysfunction in the workplace, and I wonder if OP is trying to insulate themselves from that.

      1. V*

        Depending on what type of proceedings were taking place, the company may have been legally obligated to disclose all evidence used in the determination to terminate the employee because of the matter. It is possible that supervisor who took the statement didn’t know that she would have to turn over the evidence and thought that she could keep the OP’s statement confidential. The supervisor should have told OP right away when the statement was shared and the possibility of OP’s needing to testify came up, so the supervisor isn’t without some fault here, but I think the initial promise that the statement would be kept confidential could have been meant sincerely at the time it was made, with a mistaken understanding of how unemployment hearings work.

        1. Magda*

          I agree with you that the lack of confidentiality may have been out of the supervisor’s hands at some point. I really should have been more clear — it’s not just the lack of confidentiality that makes me suspect workplace dysfunction, but OP’s entire description of how she found out. I’m taken aback by the fact that the OP found out from the coworker who was being disciplined, not from the supervisor, and by the fact that OP did not know she would be called to a hearing until the day before. Going back on the promise of confidentiality might have been unavoidable, but the failure to give OP a heads-up wasn’t.

    4. neverjaunty*

      “that pays your bills”? I have never understand this guilt tripping. They don’t pay OP’s bills as an act of generosity; they pay her money in exchange for her labor. They sure as heck won’t be paying her bills anymore if they decide it would be cheaper to employ somebody else in her shoes, or if slashing the workforce makes the shareholders happy.

      Lots of people are averse to conflict and especially the variety that involves legal proceedings. Whether OP should suck it up anyway is a different question, but this workplace version of “After all we’ve done for you!” is bizarre.

    5. M. in Austin!*

      I agree with you, mostly, but this line jumped out at me: “our employer, the same one that pays your bills…”

      Come on, that’s not fair or accurate. Employers do not pay your bills! They pay for your work/time. Don’t make them sound more generous than they are.

      1. Molly*

        I feel like that’s the party line for terrible, abusive management of the kind you find in food service, where they pay terribly and expect a ton. “I pay your bills!! You owe me unending loyalty, constant phone availability, and any time I ask for!”

        You owe me money when I do work for you. My loyalty can’t be bought; you have to earn it by treating me like a human.

  5. K*

    Ew, it’s only okay to clip your nails in the bathroom or at home, and they should be cleaning up the mess afterwards.

  6. Confession*

    I’m going to confess to being a nail clipper at work. I have extremely weak nails that chip very easily, resulting in snags that get caught everywhere. I always carry nail clippers with me to trim away the snags…am I gross?

      1. Illini02*

        Thats kind of rude. But maybe you don’t see it that way, similar to how Confession (and myself) don’t see clipping your nails as rude. Its perception, and everyone doesn’t share it

        1. snapple*

          How is it rude if Confessions asked for people’s opinion. I too think that this behavior is gross.

        2. JB*

          Well, it’s standard etiquette in the U.S. (and a number of other societies as well) not to clip your nails in public. It’s not just “perception.” So you might not personally think it’s rude (because you do it and you don’t mean to be rude?), but your opinion isn’t the prevailing one. And that’s pretty much what makes something considered rude in a particular society, not one person’s individual opinion. So you might not find it rude, and you might not intend to offend anyone, but clipping your nails in public is against the social norm of what’s acceptable, making it rude.

          There’s nothing wrong with heading into the bathroom to clip your nail if it chips, or shutting your office door if you have one. But that’s not what’s going on here.

    1. Auditoholic*

      I wouldn’t expect someone to go to the restroom just to trim off one chipped nail. But I’m hoping it’s at least over a trashcan. However, I cannot imagine why anyone needs to trim all of their nails in an office setting on a regular basis. That just seems like something that should be taken care of at home.

      1. bagworm*

        I frequently clip my nails at work because I don’t notice they are too long to type until I am working and typing a lot. I know it’s better to do it at home and I try to remember but I often just don’t notice then it starts making me batty and I have to deal with it at work. I do always clip them in a private bathroom though.

        1. JB*

          Me, too. But I put that on me, though–knowing that too-long nails will bother me when I type, I ought to pay more attention to their length so that I can take care of it before I get to work. I’ve been trying to do a twice-a-week check at home to take care of it there. And if I ever work somewhere that I can’t clip my nails in the bathroom or the privacy of my own office, I’ll be even more careful about that.

        2. Agile Phalanges*

          YES. Exactly this. It was worse when I was a transcriptionist and literally typed for eight hours with very few breaks, but even in my accounting or research jobs, when I’m doing a typing- or keying-intensive project and my nails are bothering me, I won’t be able to wait until I get home to do something about it.

        3. Molly*

          Work nail clipping grosses me out, but I think that’s fine. If no one can see you and the scraps are thrown away… I mean people poop in those bathrooms; they’re not supposed to be ungross.

      1. Kay*

        Definitely this. I always kept a nail file either in my purse or desk for broken, rough nails. Broken nails always happen at the worst time and have to be straightened out. I don’t think it’s rude to use a file to even out a nail from time to time.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Me also. I wouldn’t clip at work.

        A vendor came in to have lunch with someone at Exjob and stood in the reception area waiting for him. While he was waiting, he whipped out the nail clippers and started snipping away, just letting the clippings fall on the carpet! He got miffed when I asked him to stop. Well, saw-ry. Jeez!

      3. Parfait*

        AUGH! The sound of a nail file is one of the most awful sounds to me.

        I agree with the majority here that clipping your nails in public is gross, whether it’s at your desk or on public transit. However, I also have terrible nails that split like mad, and once one starts I really need to cut it. I keep a nail clipper in my desk for this reason and if nobody’s around, I might do one quickly at my desk. If it’s anything more labor-intensive, I go to the bathroom to do it. Nobody needs to sit in their cube in terror of a wayward clipping soaring over the barricades.

        A hangnail? Knock yourself out. No noise, no problem.

      1. Coffeelover*

        A coworker of mine cuts his with SCISSORS. About once a week I hear it happening, it’s so disgusting however it’s only one of his many poor hygeine habits.
        I know I should say something but my coworkers tease me enough about how I can’t handle annoying sounds!

        1. louise*

          Pocket knife across the hall from me! How does he not lose a finger, I wonder??

          I used to think biting/chewing on nails was disgusting, but I’d rather that over a KNIFE. Geez, people.

        2. Chicken*

          I keep nail scissors in my desk and use them at work if I get a snag / hangnail / etc. I prefer nail scissors to clippers. But I only use them in my office with the door closed!

        3. Joline*

          I’ve admittedly done that once or twice. But only a single nail if I half rip one while at work and don’t have clippers and/or a file on me. Then I will cut the single offending nail (it usually still looks really stupid, but at least I don’t have to worry about ripping it more deeply down to the nail bed).

    2. Helka*

      Add me into this. I don’t do normal grooming at work, but it’s not at all unusual for me to realize partway through the day that I’ve got two or three ragged edges that want to be straightened up ASAP before I wreck some article of clothing or get them caught hard enough to tear down to the quick.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with clipping fingernails at work as long as it’s over a trash can. I don’t do it myself, though, because I know the noise is quite annoying. Plus, who really needs to clip all of their nails at work? One or two because they chipped or broke, fine. But not all of them.

      Toenails, on the other hand….gross. If anyone is clipping their toenails at work, please stop immediately.

    4. KellyK*

      If you’re clipping a single snag over the trashcan right when you notice it, I think that’s different from sitting at your desk clipping all your nails.

      I’d do it in the bathroom if it’s feasible, because it does bother some people. But if your job isn’t one where you can get up and go to the bathroom as needed (e.g., call center, reception desk), I’d just clip over the trashcan rather than make a big production out of it.

      1. De Minimis*

        I think a clip here and there isn’t bad as long as it’s over a trash can. It’s not the act itself, it’s the clippings that can make it gross. It also depends on your proximity to your co-workers—if you have an office to yourself and people can’t really see what you’re doing I think it’s okay to do it if you really need to [like the hangnails that people mention] as long as you’re neat about it.

        I don’t think people should do their regular grooming tasks at work when they could just as easily do that at home, though.

        1. Cassie*

          For me, it’s the sound that drives me batty. People are clipping in their own office or their own cubicle (farther away from me) so I presumably won’t see clippings – I hope they’re clipping directly into a trashcan anyway. But the sound travels – I can hear it like it’s right next to my ear!

    5. Caris*

      Obviously I’m in the minority here, but personally I do not care what people do in the office unless it somehow hinders my ability to work. The woman who sits next to me clips her nails several times a week. It takes all of 3 minutes and as far as I can tell she cleans up properly. It seems like a weird thing to be offended or grossed out by, and I definitely would not consider it rude.

      1. Loose Seal*

        Why does she need to clip her nails several times a week? Do they grow extra-fast? I thought I had fast growing nails but I only need to deal with mine’s length (which I do by filing at home) every two weeks.

        Add me to the people who don’t think the sound is bad but would hate to come across the clippings. So clean up, people!

        [One of our biggest arguments in my relationship with my husband came shortly after we moved in together. He had a habit of sitting on the end of the bed to cut his toenails. The clippings went everywhere all over the carpet and he didn’t clean them up! He didn’t see that as odd or inconsiderate at all. Suffice it to say, he does now!]

        1. Nina*

          +1. The sound is unpleasant, but the clippings are far worse, IMO. Fingernails and toenails can collect dirt and get pretty gross. And they can fly everywhere. Ugh.

          I also wondered why they need to clip their nails several times a week. Mine grow pretty fast, but not that fast! A nail file should suffice in between clippings, which could still be done at home.

          I did clip my nails at work once because I had let them grow too long and it was interfering with my typing. So I went to the bathroom and did it in a stall. Personally, I do find it inappropriate to clip nails at your desk, unless you’re in a private office. I can see if you have the odd jagged nail or a hangnail and taking care of it quickly, but I wouldn’t like it if someone was routinely clipping their nails at their desk. If it’s really that urgent to clip them all, then I would go to the bathroom and do it there.

      2. Simonthegrey*

        I don’t find it rude or disgusting, but I work in a large open room. There are two of us staffed in here, but there can often be several students working in this space. The guy on the other side of my cubicle trims his nails about once a month. I don’t think it’s gross, but the clipping sound makes my skin crawl. It sets off something, like nails on a chalkboard or rubbing styrofoam together (even stating these things is giving me goosebumps). So I leave the room while he clips, because the sound bothers me. Otherwise, no problem with him doing it.

    6. A.*

      I’m in the minority here, but I honestly couldn’t care less about people clipping their nails while at work. As long as you’re doing it in your office or away from community and eating areas, who cares? So, to me, you aren’t gross.

    7. The IT Manager*

      I don’t think you’re gross at all.

      I find the idea that nail clipping is revolting and gross very bizarre. Yes, the clippings do need to be disposed of properly, but the nail clippers and a nail clippings are not potential disease carriers like bodily fluids or items that touch bodily fluids. This revoltion and the idea that THIS MUST BE DONE IN THE PRIVACY OF A BATHROOM simply baffles me.

      I carry a nail clipper with me to use on snags or damaged nails. I don’t have to use it often, but when I do use it at work I carefully clip over a trash can at my desk.

      1. LBK*

        Honestly, I don’t find it gross, but I do find the sound of it EXTREMELY grating, especially in a large open office space like I have where it’s amplified by echoing. I used to have a coworker who clipped his nails at his desk weekly and it was like having to listen to nails on a chalkboard for 5 minutes once a week – I mean, not the worst thing that could happen and it’s not like it’s all day every day, but I’d still rather not listen to it if I don’t have to.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        The noise is annoying. Clip clip clip clip….clip…clip clip….clip….


        One discreet clip to take care of a hangnail is fine. Constant, repetitive clipping? Makes me want to put a tack in your chair. Also, see my post above–scattering your nail remnants all over the place like Clueless Vendor is just disgusting.

    8. OhNo*

      Me too, although I have a slightly different reason. If I chip or crack a nail, I do have to take care of it immediately or it’s going to get caught on one of the spokes of my wheelchair and rip the nail half off. Yes, that has happened. It hurt a lot, and I’d rather not repeat the experience.

      I don’t understand why people are so annoyed by the sound of clipping. I mean, hearing people chew makes me want to punch something and rip out all my hair, but I don’t go around telling people, “Hey, that noise is bothering me. Can you go eat those chips in the bathroom?”

    9. Chicken*

      I think that if you sit in a cubicle / out in the open it’s pretty marginal at best. Better to go to the bathroom. If you have an office with a door, close the door and clip away!

    10. Deedee*

      What ever happened to nail files or emery boards? I find a couple of quick swipes with an emery board smooths the snag or chip well enough to get through the day. I actually do that in the bathroom but it could probably be done right at your desk with nobody the wiser. When you get home you can go to town with the nail clippers to complete the job.

  7. Dan*


    You’re a contractor. Contractors are the first to go when times get tough. You and they have no idea when times will get tough. ‘Nuff said.

    At my last job, we had had a bread and butter contract that we were told would get renewed. Two months later, they didn’t renew it. A subsequent contract was supposed to have a huge ceiling on it. When we signed it, management told us that “now is the time to buy a house.” Three years later, they laid off ten percent of the staff, including me. That “huge” contract is getting funded at about a quarter of the ceiling.

    Moral of the story: whatever they tell you isn’t worth staking a 30 year mortgage on. If you’re confident about your marketability if things go south, don’t bother asking and just buy the darned thing.

    1. Colette*

      The vast majority of people in any jobs can’t be sure they’ll have a job in three years – but it’s worth asking, because if there is definitely an end coming within a year, the OP may prefer to wait until she’s found a new job.

  8. Anon for this one*

    #2 – I definitely feel your pain. I am in the middle of something similar (testifying against another employee who is grieving her discipline) and I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up testifying against her in a court of law at some point (yeah – her mistake was THAT bad). I wasn’t promised confidentiality, but I absolutely was not given a choice about giving a statement or about testifying. I know first hand how uncomfortable this is, but I think you need to consider the consequences of refusing to be a witness. In all likelihood it will not be looked upon favorably by your company and you may be deemed difficult or uncooperative. If there is any plus side to your situation, it’s that you’re testifying against someone who is no longer your coworker. I still have to see mine all the time…

    1. Waiting Patiently*

      First this person felt it was everyone against them (would not speak to anyone) then I was singled out and isolated only by the individual though. This person “went in” (verbally assaulting others who asked why the sudden change in behavior to them). After the initial incidence which i had addressed directly with her, she came to me questioning me,after she was called into the office. I was surprised that nothing was done and responsibility was being passed around. So it went on for 3 months…This experience definitely left a sour taste in my mouth. I know I did the right thing but I’m a little jaded.

      1. Waiting Patiently*

        *Oh I accidently deleted the first part of my post…
        But I was saying I feel your pain having experienced something similar

  9. Jen RO*

    I find it funny how many people find nail clipping at work gross and rinsing the breast pump in the kitchen sink not gross… To me, they are both on the same level of grossness or non-grossness, they are activities that don’t harm anyone and perfectly natural. It’s just a matter of each person’s squickiness triggers.

    1. Sourire*

      That is interesting. I don’t find nail clipping very “gross” in a hygiene type way (unless the nails are strewn about all haphazardly or are flying around the office as I’ve actually seen them do – yuck!), but the noise does really bother me for whatever reason.

      1. Apple22over7*

        +1 on the noise factor. I don’t care if people file their nails at their desk, or use nail scissors to cut their nails. It’s the clipping sound that bugs me – goes right through my teeth.

      2. Jen RO*

        This is interesting too! My boyfriend finds everything nail-related gross – cutting, clipping, filing etc. – and he’s asked me not to do it in the same room as him. On the other hand, he can blow his nose several times in the same Kleenex which is extremely disgusting me.

      3. jag*

        Pumping milk may be gross to some people (even me perhaps), but it’s also very very important to the kid and to gender equity in the workplace that doing so is convenient. So it has to be supported.

        Clipping nails can wait.

      4. LQ*

        I had a nail clipper coworker who’s nail parts ended up on my desk because they fly around. I’ve never had breast milk end up on my desk. So I feel ok going EWW to one and not the other.

      5. Magda*

        Same – I am also far more bothered by the noise than by any hygiene issues. From a germophobe perspective, I’m far more nervous about eating off the plates in our kitchen than by someone clipping their nails a few cubicles away.

    2. UK Anon*

      I think it comes down to propriety – nail clipping is an activity which can be done at your convenience and therefore there’s no reason to do it anywhere other than in private. Breast pumps, by and large, have to be rinsed at use, therefore it isn’t possible to wait.

      I think that rule’s probably true for all areas of social interaction, not just at work.

      1. AnonyMouse*

        Agreed with what’s been said so far. It’s not so much that nail clipping is truly gross, it’s more that it makes a distracting noise, has the potential to leave clippings (trash) around the office if not done over a bin, and is rarely urgent. It’s probably just best saved for home or the bathroom.

    3. GrumpyBoss*

      For me, it’s a very hard thing to articulate why the nails bother me. It is the familiarity of it, if that makes sense. I’d have the same reaction if someone put their feet up on their desk or came to work in a bathrobe. This isn’t your home. There should be some boundaries of what isn’t appropriate in a workplace. This one is over my boundary. YMMV, of course.

      The milk issue is something that cannot always be timed outside of work. Not to mention, a temporary inconvenience. Trimming nails, outside clipping off a hangnail or fixing a chip, is a choice you are making when the same choice could ultimately be made a few hours later at home.

      1. Illini02*

        Ha, so clipping a nail is too familiar but pumping at work and rinsing it in the sink isn’t. I think that area is a bit more personal than your finger nails

        1. Diet Coke Addict*

          Pumping is time-sensitive in a way that nail clipping isn’t–you can wait to clip your nails three hours later with exactly the same outcome, but the same cannot be said for pumping.

            1. fposte*

              For one thing, that’s culture for you–simple binaries always have loopholes for greater interest and greater need.

              For another, I’m okay with people clipping their nails at work if they limit it to spaces where they’d breastfeed.

            2. GrumpyBoss*

              Pumping is a bodily function. As long as I don’t have to see it, it isn’t over my line.

              Filing your nails, however, is a personal act that you have 100% control over when and where to do it.

          1. Kelly L.*

            And the actual pumping was taking place in privacy; it was only the equipment that anyone else had to see.

            1. NPF*

              Yeah, I think the analogy works better if you’re clipping your nails in private (like a separate room/office), and then washing the clippers in the kitchen or other common area.

              1. Mints*

                Right, and lots of people are saying it’s okay in the bathroom. Which, like lots of private but not really bathroom things, vary and some people will do it at their desks. I think nail clipping falls in the category of things that aren’t super gross, but should be done in the bathroom (like adjusting under clothes, changing shoes, or applying make up)

                1. NPF*

                  I agree. I think hairbrushing or applying makeup should be done in the bathroom, along with flossing, etc. and other grooming activities.

        2. Who are you?*

          The person pumping in the office isn’t doing it in a place that’s within sight or hearing of others. She’s merely rinsing the tubing and device in a sink afterward.
          The person clipping their nails at their desk is doing it so that others see and hear the whole process. Regardless of whether they clip over a trashcan, it’s gross.
          If the person clipping their nails was to go into a closed room to do it, then came out and disposed of the clippings in the matter of fact way the person rinsing the tubing and device did then it wouldn’t be gross.
          I don’t want to see or hear people grooming themselves at their desks. There’s a time and a place for personal grooming and at your desk while working isn’t it!!!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Nail clipping does not bother me. But I cannot imagine an emergency such that all ten nails absolutely need to be clipped at work.

      I walked by the office of a sales person one day. This is an individual who would dress in a suit for work. He had his socks and shoes off, and his foot up on his desk. He was trimming all his toe nails. I wondered why he had to wait until he got to work to clip his nails. It looked silly to me. However, others saw it and the jokes started. He seemed oblivious to people’s reactions.

      1. BRR*

        This is exactly what I was thinking. It seems so odd to be like, oh it’s 3:00, time to clip all of my nails.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Right after I am done plucking my eyebrows at 2:40.

          It just looked like this grown adult did not know how to prepare himself properly for a work day.

    5. Ani*

      I know, right? Increasingly I’ll personally find a response here to a question somewhat odd, and then seemingly the very next day the opposite position is taken on something that to me seems pretty darn comparable.

      1. Cat*

        This is another situation where not all feelings are created equal. You might be equally grossed out by nail clipping and pumping, but the former is a non-time sensitive personal grooming task that is mostly discretionary (and where it’s creating a problem like nail snags, people seem to be open to a quick trim at work). The latter, on the other hand, is something employees have a federally protected right to do at work; is a key part of keeping women in the workplace after they have children; and has to be done on a certain schedule, which means it can’t be deferred until after work.

        So the fact that some people find them equally gross is pretty irrelevant.

        1. Spoticus*

          Yes, this.

          Nail clipping: personal grooming; one can avoid doing it at work by even the most basic of planning ahead.

          Breast feeding/pumping: bodily function; one cannot plan ahead to avoid having to do it at work.

          It’s not totally unlike the difference of why it’s ok to pee during work but not to perm your hair.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        One reason that they’re wildly different: Pumping must be done at specific times during the day. Clipping all your nails (as opposed to fixing one that broke) isn’t a time sensitive task that must be done right now; it’s fine to wait until you’re at home and can handle it along with your other person grooming tasks. It’s the same way it would be bizarre to use Biore strips to clean out your pores at work.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          It’s the same way it would be bizarre to use Biore strips to clean out your pores at work.

          I’m glad I had already swallowed that mouthful of tea before I read this. :D
          Now watch; you’ll get a letter about someone who wore their Biore strip or their Wrinkies or Frownies to work.

          1. A Bug!*

            I used to work with a guy who’d use tape. He was upper management. He’d go up to a counter in the middle of the call centre, reach over and grab the tape dispenser, and just go to town for a minute or so, in full view of pretty much every employee in the building. When he tore the pieces off he’d look at them and go “hoo-hoo!” in a sort of self-satisfied way.

    6. orange roll*

      OP#1 here:

      I’m thoroughly enjoying the comments to the nail clipping question! Now I’m wondering if one of you pro-clipping folks shares an office with me! ;-)

      It’s not the nails themselves that are gross, it’s the piercing sound and the possibility for projectile nail shards that bother me. I have a vivid imagination and shudder at the thought of someone’s nail clip taking flight and landing in my morning coffee. I’ve seen a stray clip on the floor once or twice, and it’s just such a non-essential grooming thing that can so easily be done at home, I cannot imagine why anyone thinks, hey, let’s do this in the office! Also, I agree that fixing one broken nail is totally different — I do that all the time at my desk and am careful to make one soft clip as to not make that dreaded noise. But then again, I don’t bring chips or carrots in my lunch because I don’t want to annoy my cube mates. Maybe my weirdness about office activities stems from the time that I had some lint on my skirt, and my older male boss walked into my office as I was lint rolling my tush! #awkward

      It is definitely funny, though, to hear what grosses some people out and not others. Bathroom flossing or the b-pump from yesterday’s question wouldn’t annoy me a bit — there’s an urgency in those two situations that doesn’t exist in nail hygiene.

      1. Amanda*

        I’m with you 100%. I was on a train once and the person sitting next to me took out clippers and trimmed all of his nails right next to me and the clippings went all over the floor between us. I was nauseated and could not stop from watching in horror. The more I watched, the more repulsed I was. Ever since then, I’ve had an aversion to anyone clipping their nails in public, the sound actually does make me feel nauseous.

      2. LBK*

        Maybe my weirdness about office activities stems from the time that I had some lint on my skirt, and my older male boss walked into my office as I was lint rolling my tush! #awkward

        I know this totally isn’t the point of your comment, but that’s hilarious (in a “mortifying at the time but makes for a good story” way).

      1. M. in Austin!*

        Though, I will say that they should probably do it at home. Tracking down the clippings could be a total pain/time waster!

    7. Molly*

      To me, the difference is that cut off nails are weird and gross and a waste product (I know!! they were just on hand nails. It doesn’t make perfect sense!) and breast milk is food.

  10. Erin*

    LW5, just be careful with that, take into consideration the general behaviour of your employer.
    I was in a similar situation and my boss even signed a document from the bank stating that he intended to keep me long time, then fired me. Later it turned out he signed it already expecting he’d be letting me go.
    Unfortunately, I didn’t know enough about the organization to know they are likely to do that sort of thing.

  11. Rebecca*

    #1 – regular nail clipping at the office is not acceptable. If you accidentally break a nail, that’s one thing – one small clip and file the rough edge, and go about your day. But clipping all 10 nails on a regular basis? No, no, no, no. Do it at home, before you come to work. No one wants to hear this. **aside – we have a serial nail clipper in my office and I am sorely tempted to relocate the nail clippers she keeps on her desk just to prevent this situation.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      There’s one in my office, too, although I can’t figure out who it is. I know from which general area it’s coming from, but not sure which desk. The sound drives me insane!

    2. Kevin W.*

      My old co-worker clipped his nails every…single…day. Drove me nuts. On top of that, he was a slob at his desk, would constantly eat disgusting smelling food and was beyond incompetent. My boss loved him though for some reason and I’m convinced he concocted a cover story for him when he was forced by his higher-ups to fire him; the “official” story is that he found a new job, but it was all very suspicious.

    3. Gene*

      We know who ours was (only 5 guys in the office) and we took away his dikes (wirecutters), which was what he was using. If you think those little clippers make an annoying noise, try a set of 6-inch pliers.

      He still does it, just outside.

    4. Another comment on the situation*

      We had a student assistant clip his nails by the party food table one day and we had to throw out every uncovered dish that was on the table. He was let go for other reasons but a lot of people think that the clipping was the first shot that sank his ship.

  12. RB*

    I sent in question 4. Thank you for answering me. Since writing, I have continued to apply to and interview for jobs at other companies and have been called back for a second interview for a position at a company that offers a much better work-life balance than my current employer.

    1. Mike B.*

      I suspect that your current employers have an ongoing problem here–this role requires 60-hour workweeks for only a small premium in pay over a 40-hour workweek in a contract job, and per your original question it doesn’t offer much of a future. (Or is that specific to you and your own plans?) It’s not a terribly enticing offer, unless it also comes with benefits that others might value more than you do.

      Good luck with whatever happens!

      1. RB*

        There’s definitely an ongoing issue – over the summer while we were managing through absorbing the work of a recently closed office while also preparing for our sales expo, it wasn’t unheard of for managers to work 15-hour days Monday-Friday, plus put in hours on weekends. At one point, a recently promoted friend told me he wished he could go back to an assistant role. Meanwhile, they keep handing work off to the hourly assistants, then got upset when we were unable to complete our own work plus the additional work (did I mention we were short-staffed during this time?) in 40 hours. At one point I got yelled at for not getting my work done because I was training new employees. Then I got yelled at when I had them sit with someone else for a few hours so I could complete a few things that wouldn’t be part of their jobs. The place is incredibly dysfunctional. I can name at least 4 other assistants (out of 20) who are actively seeking employment elsewhere.

        I have high hopes for this interview, but will continue to apply elsewhere if I don’t get the job. Thanks for the good thoughts!

  13. Waiting Patiently*

    My daughter clips her nails in her bedroom at least twice a week, the sound drives me insane. So I could even imagine listening to that in an office in a daily basis….*shudders*

  14. Not So NewReader*

    OP#2. In situations like this I like to try to narrow the scope of the problem. So here I would try to tell myself that it’s the manager who dropped the ball. She should not have promised confidentiality when it was not HERS to promise. It could be that she saw no need for your name to be common knowledge. It could be that she did not understand how the company operates and had no clue what was coming up next. It could be that someone promised her confidentiality on the matter and THEY dropped the ball here. You get the idea. There’s too many moving parts here.

    Others have covered the point about supporting your company. All I can add, is if you maintain your stance that you will not testify then at least tell them why. If you are concerned about retaliation then say so. Be prepared to substantiate that reason. Going the opposite way, if this person is (was) a friend of yours, then say that. Point out that you gave them a written statement and that is the best you can do. Definitely add more to the statement than just “No, I will not do this”.

    I have worked with people who because of their faith believed they could not get involved in such matters. So I know first hand that there are all kinds of reasons for wanting to step back from this type of thing. [Note: I am not saying that their faith directly impacted their decision, but rather that the individuals themselves came to that conclusion because of the general teachings of their faith. They showed a history of consistency in their choices. So no one was truly surprised.]

    I am not there, so I don’t actually have an immediate sense of the situation. It could be that going back to the manager that asked you to do the original report and discussing whole thing this is a good path for you to take. You’re the one in the situation so follow your gut on this last suggestion.

    1. some1*

      +1. If nothing else, LW, I’d inform the HR Mgr that you were promised confidentiality so they don’t promise it to anyone else should something similar happen.

  15. Illini02*

    So I’m basically going to copy my comment from late in the day yesterday regarding nail clipping. Is brushing your hair or putting on make up at your desk also rude? They are all personal grooming, but I have seen plenty of my female co-workers do those things, and it doesn’t bother me nor do they find it rude. I don’t really care if they clip their nails at their desk either, assuming that they clean it up. I get that its a huge deal for some people, presumably because of the sound? Again, if its YOUR desk, no one else will sit there, and you clean it up or do it over your trashcan, its not like its spreading waste or disease. I mean, that is more sanitary than blowing your nose at your desk, but most people aren’t expected to go to the bathroom every time for that. Having said all of that, I know clipping my nails would bother a significant number of people, so I don’t do it, similar to what I thought about the breast pump. But I really don’t get why people are so annoyed or grossed out by it.

    1. Allison*

      It’s not really a sanitation thing (although I’ll point out that clippings like to go rogue sometimes), it’s a noise issue. To hear “CLIP CLIP CLIP CLIP” that often can really get on a person’s nerves. People who brush their hair or reapply makeup are doing it to look more put together, although one could make the argument that even those activities look unprofessional and should be done in the bathroom. I’ll never forget the CEO at my first job making a passive aggressive comment after catching me applying powder at my desk.

      Then again, I use blotting tissues at my desk, and I’m just now re-thinking whether I should.

    2. Amanda*

      I personally think that all personal grooming should be done in a private space. If you have a private office, great. If not, use the restroom. The fingernail thing repulses me. I don’t understand why on earth anyone would do it at the office when it can easily be done at home?? (the exception being a broken nail which needs immediate attention).

    3. Traveler*

      The biggest thing for me is not that its gross – it’s that the people that do it tend to be repeat offenders which draws attention to them (hair, nails, makeup etc.). If its just a one time thing, I would probably forget it, or barely notice it. Then I just start wondering what is going on that all that grooming has to be done at the office.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      It’s just the sound–it bothers me, but I know people it doesn’t bother. Conversely, sounds that bother them don’t bother me. I don’t mind the sound of keyboarding, unless the person is pounding on the thing. I do know people who can’t stand it.

      I brush my hair in the privacy of my cube sometimes–you can’t see me unless you walk right by and look in, and it makes little, if any, sound. I’m not going to get up every time I need to wipe my constantly running allergy nose, though if it needed blowing, yeah, I’d go to the ladies’.

    5. Clever Name*

      They are all acts of personal grooming, and I think that yes, they should be done in the bathroom if one must do them while at work. I am a woman who wears makeup, and if I feel the need to touch it up at work (which is almost never), I go into the bathroom to do it.

      The thing about clipping nails is not only the sound, but parts of another person’s body (nail bits) can fly off. Also, the type of person who clips their nails at work sometimes is also the type of person who doesn’t clean up after themselves. I’m sure my opinion is not universal, but I would find it disgusting to come across another person’s nail clippings at work.

  16. Allison*

    I could see myself needing to clip or file a nail if it broke and became jagged, snagging on every little thing until I finally fixed it, but I agree that routine clipping is unnecessary and annoying.

  17. Scott M*

    I have a nail clipper at the office. I don’t see any problem with using it, even on all ten fingers (although I bite my nails more frequently than I clip them). I have a cubicle with 5 foot walls. It’s not like I whip out the clippers at meetings.

    There are plenty more disgusting sounds I hear (phlegmy coughing, burps, etc) that seem much worse than little clicking noises. But I must be in the minority.

    1. Amanda*

      But….but…why do you have to do it at the office? Why can’t you take care of your grooming at home?

      1. Scott M*

        Some kinds of ‘grooming’ are not intimate acts that must be done in absolute privacy. I comb my hair at the desk. I wipe my hands with a towelette at my desk. Fingers aren’t genitals. Clipping nails just isn’t a big deal.

        And why don’t I do it at home? I often don’t notice at home. I type on a keyboard all day so it’s usually at work that I notice my fingernails are too long. 30 seconds with a nail clipper and I’m fine.

        Seriously, I think as long as it’s done out of sight of others, then it’s not rude.

        1. Mike B.*

          People seem to find the sound bothersome though. I don’t quite understand what’s objectionable about it myself, but isn’t it better to take people’s word for these things instead of dismissing their feelings? Particularly when it’s so trivially easy to accommodate them.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’m curious if you know that it’s a pretty established point of etiquette not to clip nails in public? I’m not saying therefore you must abide by it, but I’m curious about whether the people who think it’s no big deal realize that it’s a long-standing etiquette rule that many of us have internalized.

          1. businesslady*

            also, it’s SO LOUD. it’s one of those sounds that just travels, even through a closed door. & all of the nail-clipping coworkers I’ve ever had seem to do it with bizarre regularity (like, they clip their nails more often at work than I do at home, ever). so it becomes this thing where the sound distracts you, & then your frustration/incredulity that so-&-so is clipping their nails AGAIN becomes an additional distraction.

            I’m not saying that it’s the worst thing a person can do, but I think it’s pretty much guaranteed that if you regularly clip your nails in the office, it’s annoying your coworkers.

          2. Allison*

            Not sure if I ever heard it was a hard-and-fast rule, to me it just seems like something you don’t do in front of people when you can avoid it. What I have been told is that brushing and combing your hair in public is considered rude, and applying makeup in front of people is often considered tacky. Basically, I was taught to fix my appearance in private as much as possible.

          3. illini02*

            I never really knew that it was a point of etiquitte until recently. And trust me, I have learned most societal norms. Maybe it was just who I grew up around. Maybe its cultural (is it as frowned upon in the black community as in the white community? I don’t know). But I think the assumption that everyone has is proving to not be as universal as people think

            1. fposte*

              I think etiquette exists because not everybody knows it–otherwise why would it matter? And I’m sure we’ve all got stuff that our family didn’t care about that turned out to be a thing once we got out into the wider world, and it’s good to know when you might be running into one of those things.

      2. Bea W*

        This is what I find odd about nail clipping in the office. It’s not like it can’t wait until you’re home, unlike eating or pooping or clearing phlegm from your throat.

      3. illini02*

        Have you adjusted your hair or make up at your desk? Even moisturizing is grooming. All things that can be done at home or in privacy, but things I’ve seen people do at their desk. So the argument that all personal grooming should be done at home or out of sight seems weak at best. If you say the sound annoys you, I can buy that a bit more, but I also think unless someone is doing it all day long, you can probably deal for 2-3 minutes.

        1. Who are you?*

          See, I shouldn’t have to deal with it for 2-3 minutes. I shouldn’t have to watch a co-worker floss his teeth at his desk. I shouldn’t have to see the receptionist applying make-up first thing in the morning or watch someone fuss with their hair. These are all things that can and should be done in a bathroom. I get that there are nail emergencies. You break a nail, fine, a quick clip and file and move on. Clipping all ten fingers once or twice a week? Aren’t we smart enough to realize that fingernails grow and that they should be clipped once a week? My kids are 8 and 9 and know that after their showers on Sunday night it’s time to clip their nails. They know that cleaning their ears with a q-tip is to be done in the bathroom. They know that flossing their teeth is to be done in the bathroom. My daughter brushes her hair in the bathroom. It’s just what we, as humans sharing the space around us with other humans, should do.

          1. Jipsy's Mom*

            Maybe life would be easier if you could accept that people do annoying things. They’re not doing it AT you – they’re just living their lives. From the Buddhist view, it’s our expectations that things should be different, that we “shouldn’t have to” [listen to nail clipping/get stuck behind slow drivers/insert your personal annoyance here] that causes angst. Maybe your idea of what other humans should do is what’s causing you so much discomfort. Why take everything as a personal affront?

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Brushing hair, touching up makeup, and moisturizing are QUIET. Do those all you want in your cube where I can’t see you. But please, clip at home or in the bathroom. That sound just carries. It shouldn’t, because it’s not loud exactly, but it does. It’s like when people repeatedly click the end of a ballpoint pen or tap their fingers.

          1. Who are you?*

            I had a math teacher in 7th grade who hated the clicking of a ballpoint pen. I was taking a test and was absentmindedly doing this while reading the questions. My desk was directly in front of hers. She made me stand up and drag it into the hallway to finish my test. I have never absentmindedly clicked a pen since. :)

            1. Judy*

              Engineer here – we all used the stick erasers in college. My roommate went out and bought me a Staedtler one with the fixed clip and small “pusher” because using the Pentel one with the clip and “pusher” part as one made it much easier for me to click it.

              You used a pen for a math test???

          2. A Bug!*

            Moisturizing is quiet until someone decides they absolutely need to use every last drop of lotion in the bottle, even if that means making farty, wet sounds with the tube or dispenser for thirty seconds to get the tinest blob to dispense.

  18. illini02*

    What I find interesting on the topic of the nail clippings is that while the people who find it rude find it VERY rude, many people don’t see a problem with it. People get annoyed at the smallest things. I saw someone mention it earlier, do people really get annoyed by others eating chips at their desk? My office provides us with bags of chips as snacks lol, so that would never fly here. At what point does someone have to not do something that a few others consider annoying or rude? On the flipside, at what point should people who get easily annoyed just suck it up and deal?

    1. Colette*

      At what point does someone have to not do something that a few others consider annoying or rude? On the flipside, at what point should people who get easily annoyed just suck it up and deal?

      Most etiquette boils down to making other people feel comfortable, so by that test, if someone considers what you’re doing to be rude, you should stop. Having said that, I think it’s reasonable to make an exception for things that are appropriate for the environment you’re in and expect people bothered by those to just deal with it. A manager telling their employee they need to get to work on time is fine, as is brushing your teeth in the bathroom at work, or clipping or filing a broken nail. The distinction for the personal grooming items I’d include on that list is that they are time sensitive. As others have said, clipping your (unbroken) nails is not (although it doesn’t really bother me), so I’d find choosing to do it at work weird, and I’d wonder whether you really have enough work to do if you’re doing regular grooming during time you’re supposed to be working.

      1. Scott M*

        Well some people have really busy days, other times you might be sitting waiting for a report to on your PC, or simply on a conference call (muted). But seriously, 60 seconds and it’s done.

        Is it that people find clipping their OWN nails gross? So it’s doubly gross when they know someone else is doing it? It always seemed rather benign to me. It doesn’t even bother me to see others do it.

        But as I’ve seen here, apparently it does bother other people. It just surprised me. (sort of like the whole “cutting your food with the correct hand” thing a couple weeks back)

        1. Colette*

          To be clear, the point where I’d wonder whether you have enough work to do is if you’re making a point of doing regular grooming things at work.

          I really don’t think nail clipping is a big deal, but this is where the principle of not doing things that bother people if they’re not necessary kicks in – and since multiple people here say it really bothers them, it’s better not to do it. It’s the same principle that applies to regularly eating smelly food, listening to the radio without headphones, and the other behaviors that can bother people when you’re physically close and they can’t leave.

        2. Cassie*

          60 seconds and it’s done – except it’s Bob in the office to the right on Mondays, Samantha in the cubicle on the left on Wedensdays, and Joe in his office a few doors down on Thursdays. Rinse and repeat again in a week or so. Could we at least get everyone to clip their fingernails on the same day, at the same time, so I can schedule my break then? It could be like the morning calisthenics companies in Japan used to do.

      2. illini02*

        Well taking that back to yesterday’s pumping topic, if the rinsing in the kitchen sink is considered rude by some, shouldn’t she stop? To be clear, that wouldn’t bother me, just like clipping nails doesn’t bother me. However I just find it funny that people want to argue that the people with the problem with the pumping should “get over it”, but the people who have a problem with clipping nails should be made to feel comfortable and the other person needs to stop their behavior. Its a weird double standard.

        1. Elsajeni*

          Well, people are making a lot of points about what’s different about the two situations — nail clipping is rarely time-sensitive, while pumping milk has to be done at certain intervals and can’t be put off until you’re home, and the pump parts have to be rinsed (as I understand it) at the time of use; nail clipping isn’t associated with any social issues such as women’s equality in the workplace, while breastfeeding and pumping is; nail clipping is not protected by statute, while pumping milk is. I don’t see a double standard here; I see a general standard, “If something annoys or grosses out your coworkers, the polite thing to do is to try and avoid doing that thing where they can see/hear/smell it,” that people are willing to make exceptions to in cases like, for example, “Unless it’s time-sensitive and must be done at work.”

          1. Aa*

            Yes, but she wasn’t being denied the right to rinse off her breast pump parts. She was being asked to rinse them in the restroom. I have never heard that it was a necessity for these items to be washed in a kitchen sink. If the restroom is necessary for nail clipping, I think that the breast pump items should be washed there as well.

            Personally, I don’t care one way or the other but let’s be consistent.

    2. MK*

      Do you really want to take the chance that your manager or an important client is among those finnicky people who are easily annoyed and you will feature forever in their minds as gross and unprofessional? When you can very eaily clip your nails at home? After all, it’s not something that has to be done every day, nor is there any sensible reason for doing it at work (where, by the way, they are paying you to work, not groom yourself).

    3. fposte*

      Some of this is based on established etiquette, so you can think of it as being like driving–driving on the right isn’t better than driving on the left, but we’ve decided we do it this way, and if you try to move past somebody on the other side, they’re going to think that you don’t give a damn about the way we do things and wonder how far that goes.

      As I said previously, none of this cultural stuff is simple, in that there are always loopholes and exceptions. But basically, personal hygiene belongs in the bathroom, and the more moisture, detritus, or sound involved in the process, the more it belongs in the bathroom.

      Washing food equipment isn’t personal hygiene but food hygiene, so it’s kitchen-appropriate. And breastfeeding isn’t hygiene, so it has its own food-related spaces.

  19. Bea W*

    I’m pretty sure I did #5, if not before buying a home, definitely before deciding how to invest a small windfall I had received a few years before buying. My job tied to a gov. contract funding my project and there were negotiations every so often about extending the project which had originally been slated to wrap about about the time I was in the market for a home. My boss understood the way that worked. So it was not a weird question at all.

  20. kozinskey*

    Most of the objections to nail clipping I’m hearing seem to be coming from folks in cubicles. I’ve definitely clipped all 10 nails at work a time or two, but I have my own office and can do it under my desk, over a trash can, when people nearby aren’t in. Is that gross, too? (The reason I do this is that I’m busy enough in the evenings that I only really notice my nails at work, and if they’re long they do bother me when I type. But I don’t want to gross out my coworkers….)

    1. Kelly L.*

      If you’re in private, who cares? I think you’re in the clear as long as you don’t leave the nail bits lying around or anything.

    2. Office Girl*

      Just make sure you shut your door. I work in an open plan office, but I sit at the last cube next to one of the private offices. The person in that office clips their nails at least 2x a week, and will do it for up to 30 minutes at a time. I’m not quite sure what he is clipping for so long because you’d think that 30 minutes 2x a week would mean he’d have clipped his entire finger off at this point…maybe he trims bits of skin off? He even does it while on a speakerphone conference call. Anyhow, my point is that he’s in a private office and I can still hear through the open door and it drives me CRAZY.

        1. Cassie*

          Hopefully your walls are sound-proof – I can still hear people clipping their fingernails behind closed doors. Our walls are pretty thin.

    3. fposte*

      I’ll wreck the paraphrase, but the great Miss Manners has said that etiquette is not like morals, in that as long as nobody catches you etiquette doesn’t care.

  21. jhhj*

    I was at an office where I worked at the front desk, and sometimes my boss would come over, stand behind me, and clip his nails there.

  22. neverjaunty*

    OP #2, your company’s management is messed up. You should never have been promised confidentiality, and assuming it was the same manager rather than the company’s lawyers who sent that letter, they should absolutely have spoken to you before saying you would be a witness. Not just because it is polite but because that was a dumb move. What if you had quit, or moved across the country, or had your own beef with the company before agreeing to be a witness? And do they really think their lying to you and “oh by the way we said you’d be a witness” won’t come out?

    You probably should testify, if only because they might subpoena you anyway.

  23. Eric*

    #1. Get over it. People deserve some freedom at work. Clipping your nails under your desk over your trashcan is not that terrible. It is a sound. It’s not harassment. It is the same as is a woman were to pull out her hairbrush at her desk and use it to put her hair in a ponytail.

      1. Clever Name*


        I’m a woman with long hair, and I think it’s impolite to brush my hair at my desk, so I do it in the bathroom if I feel I need to during the day. It’s personal grooming. Just like nail clipping. Doing something that many find offensive and gross isn’t exercising a “personal freedom” at work. It’s being boorish.

  24. Who are you?*

    The problem I have with nail clipping at work (and all of the other grooming issues brought up here) is that it we’re living in a world of oversharing. People share personal details on social media: pictures of outings, food they’ve eaten, jokes they’ve laughed at, etc. I feel like it’s gotten to a point where a lot of people think that level of sharing is acceptable and it carries into their behavior in all apects of life. It’s the reason that people clip their nails at work, apply deodarant while on the train (yes, you read that right!), floss their teeth at their desk, and everything in between. I’ve worked with a woman who would leave an open box of tampons on her desk for three days every month rather than discreetly carry one to the restroom. Nope! She didn’t care who knew that it was her time of the month. Too much information! Same goes with the guys who adjust and scratch their genitals without even trying to be discreet about it. Even my husband, who looks at every moment in the car as an opportunity to pick his nose. My response to him (and everyone else) is “People can see you. It’s gross what you’re doing. You need to think about others for a nano-second and realize that your grooming habits are something we can’t unsee. I don’t want to know what you look like while doing your grooming habits. Some things are better left a mystery. Let’s keep it that way!!!”

    1. Haleyca*

      Why should someone care if everyone knows it is “their time of the month”? Menstruation isn’t something to be ashamed of. I can understand having a problem with over sharing, but shaming people about their natural bodily functions is unnecessary.

      I remember a time someone was astounded and disgusted upon finding tampons in my bag. They’re in there because sometimes I get my period which is a normal thing that many many people also get. Having visible tampons isn’t telling you all about my flow or getting into gory details. It is no different than when you see someone carrying toilet paper in their grocery bag or when someone says that they have to go to the bathroom. We all know what that stuff is for and would probably be grossed out to hear about it, but no one believes that the act itself doesn’t exist or is offended by the mere existence of it. Seems interesting that the disgust only comes from a female-associated bodily function (similar to the breast pump issue).

      1. Who are you?*

        I agree that menstruatrion isn’t something to be ashamed of. However, to slam down a box of tampons on the corner of the desk that has the highest visibility once a month is a bit extreme. This was done in a way that was almost a challenge to the rest of us. It was done quite aggressively. And our male manager would become visibly uncomfortable once he saw the box sitting there. It was the way it was done.

      2. Office Girl*

        OK, so if you had incontinence problems, would you leave your bag of depends on your desk? Same thing, there’s nothing wrong with having issues holding in your pee, but do you really need to inform the rest of the office?

        1. fposte*

          A clean, unused bag? And the co-workers who are fortunate enough not to need them are objecting that the disability accommodations are visible?

          Yeah, not on the side of the delicate sensibilities there.

      3. NPF*

        Haha, this reminds me of a roommate I had in college who refused to buy toilet paper from the store because it was “embarrassing” for her. I told her I think the staff/customers who might see you with the TP know what TP is for and that it’s a normal, widely-used product. It shouldn’t be embarrassing. She didn’t have a lot of hang-ups in general so this was out of character.

        My mom always told me to find a female cashier when buying tampons/pads but really I think most adult men (or teens old enough to work as cashiers) know, at least vaguely, what feminine hygiene products are and what they are used for.

        Also, Who are you?, your comment is hilarious. I have known a lot of public genital/butt scratchers but a lot of them are older than the social media age.

    2. Dutch Thunder*

      I’m a train deodorant-applier, and trust me, you’ll be happier if I continue to be one. Not every day necessarily, but on hot days, I’m not applying some because I forgot or anything – I’m applying some because I’ve walked a good distance and the train is really hot and a top up is better for everyone. There’s nowhere private on my commute, so it’s going to have to be wherever I find a moment. It’s better for everyone involved if I quickly dab on some more (roll ons only). It’s possible to do this in a contortionist fashion that requires zero additional skin on display.

      I’ll take a quick deodorant application over smelly BO on a train any day.

    3. kozinskey*

      Wait, since when is it gross to put on deodorant? I’d much rather see someone put some on if they need to than smell BO. Maybe I’m desensitized because I work out a ton, but I’m all about controlling sweat and BO.

      Now, if people feel the need to spritz themselves with strong perfume or Axe in public, making people around them sneeze and choke, that’s another matter entirely.

      1. fposte*

        Because it’s personal hygiene, and personal hygiene is something traditionally performed in private. It may be that you know social circles that don’t feel like that about deodorant or whatever, but it’s probably good for you to realize that there are a lot of people who do and are going to consider it problematic if somebody’s rolling on publicly in the office.

        1. Clever Name*

          I’m really starting to feel like I’m a repressed Victorian, so I’m glad there is at least one other person who shares my view that personal grooming is personal and should be done in private. I won’t even put on lipstick at the table in a restaurant after dinner (which I believe is considered OK according to Miss Manners, but maybe I’m wrong). I excuse myself and go groom in the bathroom.

          1. Mints*

            I remember my seventh grade teacher explaining to a group of girls that you’re not supposed to put on make up in public as a flirty/braggy thing; you’re supposed to pretend you woke up looking like this.

            My thing is it seems really unhygienic, unless it’s just a tube of lip product. I don’t understand the classmate who would apply a full face on the bus. I’d be worried my contact lenses would get infected and I’d go blind. (Did I mention I’m a germaphobe?)

            1. kozinskey*

              Okay, I recognize the teacher’s line of reasoning is societally accepted/mandated, but don’t you think it’s just a tiny bit sexist when women are expected to wear some amount of makeup? It bothers me that guys actually get to go into work with the face they woke up in, where women have to budget time to put on makeup. If it’s a thing society expects from me, I’m not going to apologize for putting on makeup in public in a pinch (or carrying a tampon to the bathroom, or rinsing out breastfeeding pumps, or switching into flats if my heels are giving me blisters).

              K, rant over. I’ll buy your hygiene argument for makeup, though. Deodorant, not so much, but I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree there.

  25. Haleyca*

    Am I the only one who desperately wants to clip their nails after reading all these comments?

    I am one of those people who never really pays attention to my nails but eventually I do notice that they have gotten long and it drives me insane. Last week it got to the point where on my lunch break I stopped at a convenience store to buy a nail clipper and clipped them at my desk over the trash can when I got back. I was in my office alone and I wouldn’t have done there were other people in the room. Those emergency nail clippers are still in my bag and reading these comments have made me conscious of my nail situation again and I desperately want to clip. I don’t find it gross and the sound doesn’t bother me, but in deference to the person I am sharing an office with for the day I will resist.

    As for the “better to do it in the bathroom” argument, I’m not sure if the bathroom really is better. At least in my office we have a shared bathroom on the floor with stalls. There are no trash cans or mirrors in the stalls so any kind of personal grooming needing those things (cutting nails, applying makeup, fixing hair, etc) would have to be done in the sink area. Is it really better to go into your shared bathroom and see/hear a coworker (or a stranger from somewhere else on the floor) clipping their nails than for them to do it at their desk (hidden behind the walls of an office or cubicle)? Others will still be exposed, but the fact that it is in a tiled room with sinks and toilets makes it okay?

    1. Colette*

      People do a lot of things in the bathroom that they wouldn’t (and certainly shouldn’t) do at their desks. That’s what the bathroom is for.

      1. LBK*

        Yep, exactly. Being in the bathroom does make it better because I already have an expectation that I may see/hear things I would not be comfortable seeing/hearing at my desk.

  26. Dutch Thunder*

    Clipping and filing nails – none of this bothers me. But for the love of all that is good and true, please stop painting your nails on public transport and in the office, people.

    1. tt*

      Ditto! The smell can be so strong, especially in contained spaces like the train. Someone was doing it near me on the train a few months ago, and it made me queasy and started a migraine. I thought I was going to have to get off at an earlier stop just to get away from it.

    2. LBK*

      I once rode the bus with a guy who brushed his teeth. On the bus. No lie, he whipped out a toothbrush, went at it for a minute or so and then swallowed the toothpaste. Just so gross on so many levels.

    3. Cath in Canada*

      I once saw someone start painting her nails mid-flight. The smell was really strong, and yet she got kinda mad when the flight attendant ran over and told her she had to stop. And don’t get me started on people who think that marinading themselves in perfume is good preparation for a 10 hour flight…

  27. Laurie*

    Regarding the clipping of nails, I find it so rude and gross myself. I am not kidding when I say, I had someone on the other side of my cube that was clipping his nails every day. To me, hearing that sound is like someone that gets the creeps/chills when you hear finger nails scrapped down a chalkboard. Well, my cubical moved over to another location on the floor, I had two more people that clip their nails. The best part is that we got moved again recently, I have two-three people on the other side that clip their nails daily sometimes twice a day. My entire team hears it and feels like me now. It is TOOOOOO much. I wish we could just ban the practice. So I know the feeling very well in my position.

  28. Agile Phalanges*

    Okay, I guess I need to “out” myself as an office-nail-clipper here. It started when I was a transcriptionist, and I could not STAND to type with long nails, yet I never noticed at home when they were getting too long. I wasn’t the only transcriptionist with the same issue–we all had nail clippers at our desks and trimmed our nails at our desks (into the trash can).

    When I moved into accounting, I would still have some days with typing-intensive work, and if my nails were long that day (which I wouldn’t have noticed the day before or at home), I’d trim them at work, into the trash can. No one’s ever said anything to me, and now I usually just trim them at home on Monday mornings as a matter of habit, so I’ve mostly stopped needing to clip them at work, but occasionally I have a day where I’m doing a lot of typing or keying and they’re just driving me NUTS, so I do a quick trim.


  29. Andrew*

    I used to work with someone who had six-inch long fingernails that curved upward. I’d rather listen to nail clippers all day long than have to see those things ever again.

  30. Savvy*

    I once worked with a guy who clipped his nails so often they called him the clipper. One day his nail clipper went missing. I may know who took it – and no it wasn’t me. I didn’t work on his floor.

  31. Willow Sunstar*

    I have only ever clipped my nails at work when it was a complete ghost town and nobody else was around. It’s generally not acceptable when there are tons of people in the office to hear you do it.

  32. star 242*

    I don’t mind the sound so much, but when I go to some ones desk and is covered with fingernail clippings, its gross. I work in the IT dept. and have to do maintenance on systems. There is one desk I hate to work in because there’s clippings in the keyboard, sticking out the power strip, its everywhere. Clip if you HAVE to, but at least find your clippings and put them in a garbage can. ><

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