What to Do When Someone in Your Vicinity Belches or Passes Gas

27. January 2020

If someone burps or passes gas in our presence, even though it is a natural bodily function, a certain decorum should be preserved in terms of etiquette in local latitudes. We certainly cannot suppress this natural function of our body – why, a few Chinese emperors, who honored court etiquette actually died of this. It is crucial to know that the released gas can only – or already, depending on the situation – about 10 seconds from the fateful moment. This gives us space for a defensive maneuver and aligning the situation with the rules of etiquette.

We also need to look the truth in the eyes and admit that each of us passes gas an average of 20 times a day, and at least 10 of those times we deal with where it is appropriate and how not to compromise Lady Etiquette in the process. Interestingly, as far as the statistic of frequency is concerned, we rank eighth, right behind dogs and ahead of us are, for example, zebras, camels or termites. Maybe the only place in the world where you can pass gas, and it is even expected of you, is among the Yanomami tribe in South America, where this sound replaces greeting. Getting away with burping is a little easier. For example, in China it is a way you express your satisfaction with a meal, and give your compliments to the chef.

What to do and what to say

If someone burps loudly in your presence, that person should surely apologize immediately, and of course you accept the apology without hesitation and additional comments. You can also just nod or say something like “yes, of course”. If they pass gas, do not laugh or comment on it. Do not try to humiliate or shame the person. Resist the urge to make a joke. If you can’t hide a smile, try to talk about some other, less controversial topic, which will help both you and the “sinner” in question. If you are unable to maintain a poker face, or even need to a breath of fresh air, apologize and leave the room briefly. Try to be as discreet as possible when leaving and avoid embarrassment for others.

Personal Responsibility

If you are prone to indigestion associated with flatulence, try to cut down your consumption of foods that exacerbate the problem – such as broccoli, beans, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, apples, pears and carbonated drinks. I don’t mean forever – only if you’re going to a party or public event where you could get into a difficult situation because of flatulence. Don’t forget that even chewing gum causes flatulence, because during its chewing we absorb more air than is common for our body. If you are at a dinner where you are served food that you know is more difficult for you to digest, do not rush, but rather take your time and chew each bite thoroughly to minimize the consequences, according to experts. Another thing to consider is the consumption of appropriate dietary supplements that can help you optimize the functioning of your digestive tract.

In Private

In private, it is solely up to us what domestic “policy” we set in this regard. Your loved ones should love you unconditionally and exactly as you are. Some are not bothered by their partner‘s belching or flatulence, while others are unwilling to tolerate it. For me there is perhaps a compromise here to consider. After all, most households are not childless, and it is the children who then, later in life, carry the habits they’ve picked up at home to their own families. Openly discuss these human needs with them so that they do not unnecessarily find themselves in embarrassing situations. If, when at home, you feel the need to burp, then do not suppress it – just choose a way to do so puts the least burden on your surroundings. If you need to pass gas, go to the bathroom. If this is not possible, apologize to your loved ones. And this conclude our small guide to compromising at home!

In conclusion, I would like to assure you that even if something like this happens to you in public, and you feel ashamed, don’t dwell on it. It’s natural, after all, and like with everything else, even this experience will be soon be borne away on the winds of time. Let’s all just please keep in mind that in these situations, to err is human and to forgive is divine.