Posted by: JLee | 2013-02-07

Sensitive issue

Dear Doc
I have to inform a colleague at work that she has bad body odour - it is more a feminine odour than perspiration - which is affecting our conditions at work. I work closely with her. What is the most sensitive way to approach this? She is my sub-ordinate.
I appreciate your assistance in this matter.

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Our expert says:
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It will be fascintaing to see what ther readers suggest here. Where its armpit odour, an issue which has been raised here before, its been suggested that an anonymous can of deodorant spray be placed on the individuals desk, but while that might spare some of the embarassment of the person making that gesture, it'd probably add to the embarrassment of the person at the receiving end.
I think part of the real problem in such situations is that any smell that is around us for more than quite a short period, our nose accomodates to, so we stop noticing it. As she moves around the office, other people will be assailed by the stench, but as she is herself constantly surrounded by it, she probably doesn't notice at all.
In a way it might be easier because she is your sub-ordinate, as ou could take her aside in a pleasant and discrete manner, and mention that a number of people have complained about an odour from her which she herself may not have noticed. Maybe she should have a check-up with a gynae to be sure there's nothing more going wrong there, and then work on the basis of scrupulous personal hygiene. I gather there arwe also some more intimate sprays which can help, though ordinary deodorants can cause severe irritation of sensitive skin.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Tito | 2013-02-08

Same problem here at work. But the woman with the odour is in senior management. She doesn''t smell bad everyday, but may 3 to 4 days every month. The perspiration smell is so bad, the whole office stinks sometimes. And amazingly not everyone in the office seems to notice (esp management - or they just pretend they smell nothing).

How can one not know they smell so bad? When you leave your office and return after a few minutes, the smell hits you as you enter the office. If we need to go to her office, the smell hits us even before we reach her office door. Surely your hubby and kids smell it when you get home.

Reply to Tito
Posted by: Sue | 2013-02-08

I agree with the note solution. It will spare humiliation and embarassment for both parties. Say something along the lines that unfortuantely she has a " personal smell"  and needs to see to it.

Reply to Sue
Posted by: Me | 2013-02-07

How to tell her - write an Anonymous note, a polite note, and leave it at her desk. write it politely with tact to spare her some embarassment and leave it there.

Reply to Me
Posted by: Gracie | 2013-02-07

There are good feminine hygiene products on the market. Available at almost all pharmacies as well as supermarkets. As CS suggests there may be an underlying problem. She may have a bad infection, alternatively she may just have very poor personal hygiene.

Reply to Gracie

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