I have problems with gas. It’s because of a lot of medical things–basically, even when I strictly control my diet, it’s…let’s say…abundant. At my last job, I had my own cubicle, and it was never a problem, but I’m about to start work at a new company, and when I went in for my training session, I noticed that my desk is in a cube with another coworker. How do I address this? If it were less persistent, I wouldn’t say anything, but if I’m working closely with this person, the issue is going to come up. Often.

-Sharing Air

That stinks.

Sorry, I had to.

Here’s the thing, weird personal habits in shared work spaces are unavoidable. You happen to be aware of yours, which puts you way ahead of the vast majority of humans who chew loudly, drum their fingers constantly, clear their throats, or sing along under their breaths when they’re watching YouTube videos at work. 

You could warn your coworker about what’s coming (frequently), but all that will serve to do is make him or her hyper-aware of the sounds and smells of your new, shared space. It won’t change the fact of your issue, and it won’t make it more tolerable to said coworker (because sympathetic as one might be, sympathy won’t change whether or not that person is a little eeked out). 

If you think the problem is big enough (or, frankly, smelly enough) that it is going to disturb your new cube-mate no matter what, consider going to HR and asking if there are any more private workspaces available (explain exactly why you’re asking). That conversation might be a little awkward, but no more so than one you’ll have with your coworker, and it may lead to a solution that gives you the airspace you need. 

If that’s an intolerable option, or the HR person isn’t able to help you with your problem, consider investing in some basic defensive materials (in fact, consider doing that anyway), viz: scent-cancelling carbon inserts for your underwear. From all accounts, they work pretty well.

Of course if you really want those to work, you’ll have to practice being, shall we say, “silent as a summer breeze?”