Something Doesn’t Smell Right


Dear Dharma,

With temperatures this high, one of my co-workers has major BO and it is making me gag. I don’t know how she (or her husband) doesn’t smell it!

What can I say or do to make her aware of it? We are a small company with no HR department and while I don’t want her to be upset with me, I would like to be able to get this taken care of. What is the best approach?

Mouth Breather for Now

Dear Mouth Breather,

Well, this situation kind of stinks doesn’t it!

Haha, oh Dharma, so funny!

Okay, you say the company you work for is too small for an HR department, but this person has a manager, non? Luckily for you, that’s who draws the short straw here, so you can abandon all thoughts of leaving an anonymous stick of deodorant on her desk.

Can you imagine how mortifying that would be? Finding a bar of Secret on your desk, not knowing where it came from? She would suspect everyone of leaving it there and never make direct eye contact with anyone ever again! So don’t do that, okay?

Your part in this is to alert the manager so that they can have a closed door conversation with the employee. They will need to deliver the information directly and with a certain amount of sensitivity. Something like “Sally, we need to address an issue of personal hygiene. You have a noticeable odor and it’s making the office environment a bit unpleasant. Can I trust that you will take care of it?”

Keep in mind, one of the possibilities could be a medical condition, so the manager needs to be prepared for that. There’s a lot of information on good old Google as to how to deal with that, so hopefully a bit of research is done in advance. And keep in mind that whatever they discuss is confidential, so don’t badger the manager to tell you how things went.

Hopefully this awkward conversation should rectify the situation, but if not, you make no mention that this was a problem prior to this heat wave so know there is an end in sight that doesn’t involve clamping a clothespin on your nose.



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