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Dear Urban Diplomat: How do I get my oblivious boss to stop chowing down in front of our fasting Muslim coworker?

I share a pod with a few colleagues at work. One of them observes Ramadan—which means she’s fasting during the day—but I don’t think our immediate superior, who sits with us, has clued in. For the past few days, he’s been obliviously chowing down on Popeye’s chicken at his desk, right next to her. I want to say something but worry butting in will only irritate my boss. Should I just mind my own business?

—Fast Company, Queen West

The only thing worse than making things awkward with your boss is making things awkward with your boss and colleague. Be careful before you assume that she’s bothered by his feasting—or that she needs you to stick up for her. She’s more than capable of leaving to take a break if the Popeye’s aroma is giving her stomach the rumblies. That said, if you notice her shooting your boss sideways glances and loudly clearing her throat every time he digs into a crispy chicken sandwich, there’s no harm in asking her, when your boss is not around, if she’s bothered by his behaviour. If she is, and wants your help dropping a hint, try asking your colleague how Ramadan is going a few minutes before lunch, loudly enough for your boss to hear. Even if he remains clueless, your colleague will appreciate the gesture and might be more willing to speak up once the topic’s been broached.

Send your questions to the Urban Diplomat at urbandiplomat@torontolife.com

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