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How do you tell someone they have a body odor?

I have a few staff that have really bad body odor. I'm really bad at telling people stuff like that. I don't want to offend anyone.


Asked by Cassandre at 8:58 AM on Aug. 6, 2010 in Money & Work

Level 46 (220,043 Credits)
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Answers (11)
  • Mass email about conduct and "dress code" perhaps?

    Answer by butterflyblue19 at 8:59 AM on Aug. 6, 2010

  • Depending on how large your work environment is (and the likelihood that everyone will know who you're talking about and gossip about it / maybe hurt their feelings), you could send out a mass email / letter, saying something along the lines of "While we're all suffering from the heat and the desire for a more casual, "summer" approach, it's been brought to your attention that professional standards in regards to grooming have been slipping. Because of this, you ask that everyone please pay a little closer attention to this matter, so as to ensure a more comfortable work environment for everyone." Then add something about "For the sake of office morale, you ask that any questions or comments about this be directed to you personally, and not to fellow staff members."

    Or you could simply pull them aside and tell them very nicely that while you think they are a lovely person,


    Answer by sailorwifenmom at 9:23 AM on Aug. 6, 2010

  • Well it all depends on the environment you work in...I know that I can tell the staff here they stink and need a shower w/o having any problems...But a letter like Butterflyblue suggested could work...

    Answer by bumblebeestingu at 9:04 AM on Aug. 6, 2010

  • Leave an anon note and a can of deodorant.

    Answer by older at 9:07 AM on Aug. 6, 2010

  • That's funny "Older". The email is a good idea. I can send a memo.

    Comment by Cassandre (original poster) at 9:13 AM on Aug. 6, 2010

  • yup.. leave an anon note on their desk or email them from a new id.

    Answer by cookie269 at 9:16 AM on Aug. 6, 2010

  • cont

    You tell them that while you think they are a lovely person and a great employee, unfortunately you have a sinus problem that makes you very susceptible to odors, especially during the warmer summer months. While this is in no way a reflection on them, and it's actually pretty embarrassing for you to have to share your medical problems with them, it would be a big favor to you if they could maybe spend a little more time grooming...


    Answer by sailorwifenmom at 9:25 AM on Aug. 6, 2010

  • oh - lol - I should add - I don't mean to say that it's really you with the problem, just that it might go a little easier if you present it as they would be doing you a favor rather than just saying "you stink - go wash" - at least as far as having a comfortable work environment.

    Then again - if you work in a large company, you could always "pass the buck" and file a complaint with human resources and let them deal with it ;-)

    Answer by sailorwifenmom at 9:26 AM on Aug. 6, 2010

  • I liked the first post about a sending out a group e~mail. I think that it's about the only thing you COULD do.
    The reason I say that is because,you have to be careful w/that sort of thing. I mean,you don't want someone being offended and saying that the reason they smell bad is due to some sort of medical conditipon and that you are discriminating against them. Also,depends on what sort of business you run,are you working outside in the heat and weather or airconditioner?

    Answer by momthruivf at 9:44 AM on Aug. 6, 2010

  • I find it deeply disrespectful to withhold information from people when they need it.

    Perhaps they do not know they're smelling...or don't know that other people have noticed it.

    It would be kind to point it out, because they can do something about it. One at a time, at a calm and unrushed time of the day, bring them into your office for a discussion of their work performance and demeanor.

    "One concern I have is that your personal body odour is strong, and I wonder if you're aware of it? Perhaps you need to use a more effective antiperspirant, or change your shirt more often? People have commented, and I'm concerned that you're being viewed unfairly in a negative way in your work, when this has nothing to do with your excellent work."

    Answer by LindaClement at 11:40 AM on Aug. 6, 2010

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