7 Nice Ways to Tell Your Colleague He/She Stinks

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Two women sitting opposite directions on a big rock to denote the problem how to tell a colleague
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Body odor is the smell humans produce. Few groups of people and cultures, though, find it unpleasant. Often, a person doesn’t realize his/her odor is offensive to others, and the issue can be a sensitive topic to discuss. Since a colleague’s stench can disrupt work productivity, it’s important to understand how you should treat someone with offensive odor while maintaining proper behavior and etiquette.

Tips How to Tell a Colleague of Unpleasant Body Odor

1. Pretend you got body odor.

When you bring it up this way, it may make them aware of their stench, realizing they’re stinky. You may try these lines:

“I’m sorry if my feet stink. It’s raining outside and my shoes and socks got soaked.”

“Do I stink? I went for a run during lunch and didn’t have time to apply deodorant again.”

2. Deflect the issue to yourself.

Since it’s uncomfortable to tell others they stink, sometimes, it’s easier to say you’re sensitive or allergic to odors. Through this, you can make them aware of their offensive odor without telling them outright.

3. Send an anonymous message.

Unpleasant body odor is such a common issue in office settings that websites sending someone a nameless email now exist. By completing an online form, the site will send a message explaining to the person he/she has body odor. A handful of them even include tips to manage the condition.

4. Give them a fresh kit in secret.

Leaving a kit with refreshing products is a great way to let the person realize (anonymously) the problem with his/her odor. Include items such as deodorant, mouthwash, scented lotion, or wet wipes in a gift box and make it look nice as a gift than a command. Leave the kit on his/her desk, near his/her locker, or at a corner where he/she can find it in private.

5. Leave an anonymous note.

If you’re scared to tell your colleague, the least confrontational way to tell him/her is to leave an anonymous note on his/her desk. One downside with this method: this might cause the person to find out who sent the note, distracting him/her from the real issue. Use nice words, avoiding any language or handwriting that may tell you sent the note. Likewise, place it somewhere no one else could find it by accident because this may embarrass the concerned person.

6. Exercise good hygiene when you’re with them.

Another way to hint at your colleague’s body odor is to remind him/her of good hygiene habits. Maybe they’re stinky because of a cultural practice, a medical condition, or a simple lack of awareness. Whatever the reason, practicing good hygiene in front of them will be a subtle cue your habits are different. By being aware that you and other people practice hygienic ways unlike theirs, they could change their own cleaning habits.

7. Ask your Human Resources (HR) department to handle the issue.

If you tried every method above without success, ask your HR department to help you resolve the problem. Whether due to medical issues or your colleague does nothing with his/her odor, your HR department can handle it in a way that eases you both.

Can you suggest more ideas on how to tell a coworker he/she has body odor? Share them in the comments section! Do you need resume writing services? Hire us!

Sources: Wikihow| Hearst Newspapers|NPR| CrucialSkills|Go Ask Alice!
Image from Gratisography

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