There are people in Japan who seem to think nothing of sniffling their nose indefinitely as they sit in a coffee shop, in an office, on a train, or anywhere with other people around. Sometimes surprisingly loudly. I've heard some guys who sound like their grinding espresso in their noses.
Sometimes it can be really grating. Just a few moments ago, a person was sitting near me, sniffling away, and this was one of the loud ones. So I decided to take action. I had a pack of tissues on me that someone had handed to me last night, so I offered it to the sniffler. My hope was that handing over tissues alone would communicate the whole message of "Please use these to blow your nose because your sniffling is annoying."
However, the sniffler took it, and thanked me, and then set it on the table as if it were just some gift. A few more sniffles later, I turned and asked if they understood why I gave it to them. It seemed they didn't grasp it, so I tried to explain. Here's where things got a little murky.
It seemed I couldn't find the right word for "sniffle" to express what I was talking about. I tried:
... both of which I found in a dictionary. Neither seemed to convey the point. The sniffler looked at me like I was from Mars.
Now, there may be a bit of a cultural miss here. I've been in Japan so long I honestly don't remember if people sniffling without ever just blowing their nose once to just get it over with is a common occurrence elsewhere or not. It seems in any case that in Japan, it's just not something that is given any particular thought. I've been through this a few times and it seems people are genuinely surprised that I notice, or that I can hear it, or whatever.
So it might be possible that I'm using the right words, but assuming a context that can not be assumed, in which case I need to find the right words to convey the situation, not just to convey the single sniffling element.
Bottom line, though, what words should I use to describe sniffling? What words would I use to suggest someone blow their nose, both polite and impolite?