How to Tell Someone at Work that They Smell Bad

Two Methods:Standard MethodAlternate Method

If someone you know seems to suffer from a "failure to bathe", you don't have to suffer in silence. There's no great way to address the issue, but there are good ones.

Method 1
Standard Method

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    Get the best attitude - an empathic, informative attitude.
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    Find a quiet place to initiate the discussion.
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    Use neutral, impersonal language that refers to professionalism and the impact on the office.
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    Say something like, "I have noticed the smell of (the offensive odor), and I’m concerned that it is having an impact on your ability to interact with your co-workers and our customers."
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    Let them know you are pointing it out to be helpful. Use the Power Phrase, "I’m telling you because it’s important for you to know."
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    Set up a follow-up discussion.
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    Let them know how they're doing.

Method 2
Alternate Method

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    Buy two very nice scented soap/shower gel/perfume/deodorant and bring them to work
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    Show one to your offender. Explain how much you love it.
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    Let them keep the one you showed them. You can have the other.
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    If this doesn't work, ask them how they liked their product. If they look sweaty or nervous, suggest a new way of how to use it. Repeat again the next time you see them.

Tips

  • Be as low key as you can, but don't hide the truth in hints.
  • Wouldn't you want to know if you smelled? Don't beat around the bush and just tell them. It's gonna be awkward but there's no good way to tell someone they stink.
  • Tell the offender, not anyone else.
  • If they become reactive, be empathic about it.
  • If someone does have offensive breath or body odor, tell them directly in a discreet manner. They will appreciate your honesty, where others may just talk behind their back about it.

Warnings

  • Don’t assume you know what the underlying issue is. You don’t.
  • Don’t refer to culture or race or religion or anything that could get you in legal hot water.

Article Info

Categories: Etiquette | Sweating and Body Odor Hygiene