Difficult Discussion: Body Odor At Work

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Question: There is a co-worker that just smells. I wonder when the last time they have taken a bath the body odor is so bad. I have told my boss about I do not like to work near her, but he has not done anything about it. We work on some projects together and if I don’t work with her, it will affect my work. Other people in the department discuss it behind her back, but no one has the nerve to tell her. How do I get this problem solved since I have to work with her all the time?

Answer: This is a difficult conversation to have with any employee and it is your boss’s responsibility to have it with her or to find someone else who can deliver the message.

Take some time to do a little bit of research on body odor before the conversation.

A successful conversation will be sensitive, open and candid. If one jumps to the conclusion that the person has poor hygiene, it may not be the answer – some body odors are from medical or other health related problems. The person may or may not be aware of the odor, or may be working with a doctor to eliminate the odor.

Body odor can be an individual preference. For example, some people may find perfumes or sprays to be offensive or irritants or certain cultures diets may emit odors from the body.

Ultimately, it will be up to the individual to share what they want with you. Some companies feel it is best to engage someone outside the company to work  with the employee, says Jill Bremer, Owner of Bremer Communications. Do your homework and good luck with your difficult conversation.

Author: Lynn Dessert

Lynn Dessert is a certified ICF and NLP Coach specializing in Executive Career coaching in Charlotte NC. She works with individuals to accelerate their career advancement and organizations to fast track leadership skill development. Her career eBooks What To Do After Being Fired and The Secrets to Successful Job On-Boarding give you a roadmap to DIY. Start your discovery process by contacting her at 704.412.2852 today.

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