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smelly work colleague AIBU

(44 Posts)
Mushypeasandchipstogo Sun 24-Nov-13 19:02:03

AIBU to simply just tell a new work colleague, who is actually superb at their job, that they have the worst BO that I have ever met? We work in a small room and I have to run outside every few minutes to gasp for breath! Help!

OP’s posts: |
Imnotaslimjim Sun 24-Nov-13 19:05:12

If you can be tactful, I would say go for it. It isn't fair on anyone else to have to tolerate it

I had to work with a man with severe BO, in a shop. Customers used to scowl and step away from him. He was told several times but sadly never did anything about it

picnicbasketcase Sun 24-Nov-13 19:08:31

There's actually a website for this problem where you can send an anonymous email to a colleague, it's called something like 'you really' Try googling it.

phantomnamechanger Sun 24-Nov-13 19:10:21

you have my sympathies OP, this is vile. LOL at the anonymous website email - that's OK if a lot of you work with this person, but less anonymous if you and they are the only ones there!

bonzo77 Sun 24-Nov-13 19:14:51

I think you just have to be honest. Kind but honest. Say that you hope that they don't mind you mentioning it, but they do have noticeable BO. You're telling them because you'd want them to do the same if you had spinach in your teeth or a big hair growing out your chin, because you'd rather they mentioned it than other people had a chance to discuss it behind your back.

NoelOfLorst Sun 24-Nov-13 19:16:06

I had to have the conversation with a work colleague once and it was excruciating. But I had no choice, we were a small team and it was revolting. I did a mix of truth and tale grin ...

"I'm so sorry, this is really difficult for me to say but...have you changed your deodorant recently? It's just that I keep noticing was fine before, this is a new thing, it's just that it's quite strong and I wondered if you'd changed something...I'm really sorry <weak smile> feel free to say if I also smell..."

Cringe cringe. It worked though!

Mushypeasandchipstogo Sun 24-Nov-13 19:21:35

I think that you are right Bonzo but I am not very tactful and because I really don't know them that well I am a bit scared to say something. but dreading going to office tomorrow, should I do a sickie?

OP’s posts: |
CoffeeTea103 Sun 24-Nov-13 19:23:08

Yanbu, I was in a class once with a lady who smelled so bad that people throughout the entire huge room could get the smell. One day the lecturer announced that could everyone be considerate and please shower and use deodorant before class. You wouldn't believe that the lady was shaking her head in agreement and seemed totally oblivious that it was actually her! Maybe your colleague just doesn't have a clue.

PrincessFlirtyPants Sun 24-Nov-13 19:27:20

Maybe a "gosh, it smells very bad in here today, can you smell that? Do you mind if I spray some air freshner?"

Hopefully they will get the hint if not, I feel an awkward conversation between the two of you heading your way!

Chocotrekkie Sun 24-Nov-13 19:28:36

Can't you ask the boss to do it ??

BarbarianMum Sun 24-Nov-13 19:34:10

I once worked with a woman who smelt so bad that you could smell if she was in the building the moment you walked in the front door. Our boss was too chicken to say anything and so were we but we all complained about it (behind her back). sad

I met her a few years later, working at the public library, and she didn't smell at all. I guess in the interim someone had had the guts to talk to her about it and wish we had. She was really nice and I feel bad we were such cowards.

Personally, if I smelt I would want someone to tell me (kindly).

Ifcatshadthumbs Sun 24-Nov-13 19:35:26

No helpful advice but this reminds me of the time our line manager got us altogether to ask that whoever kept going for a poo every morning to clean off their skid marks as the cleaners were getting pissed off grin

CrohnicallyTired Sun 24-Nov-13 19:35:29

I second asking the boss- and I say this as someone who was on the receiving end of this very awkward conversation.

I really had no clue that I had BO- I couldn't smell it and apparently neither could DP, maybe we were used to it? I had just moved out of my oarents into my own house, and I naively thought that washing and changing my clothes regularly was enough. Well, I needed to change my deodorant to a 48hr one, but my main problem was clothes washing- I was doing a 30 wash with own brand non bio and it just wasn't enough.

But the awkward conversation could only have been made more awkward if it came from one of my colleagues that I worked with every day. It was just about bearable coming from my boss, who approached it as professionally as she could. And I still have no idea who asked her to have that conversation, and I'd like to keep it that way.

oldgrandmama Sun 24-Nov-13 19:35:55

Back in 1960, my first job, aged 18 ... in an office with three other secretaries and one absolutely stank! Stale sweat, unwashed jumpers - aaargh! Our boss called three of us in (without the poor smelly girl) and told her that WE had to tell her to get her act together. So we bought her a load of lovely smellies - soap, deodorants, cologne, for Christmas, and also had very forced 'chats' in the office about the best deodorants, anti perspirants etc. .. But she never got the message. So then we entineered that she visit the employees' clinic of the organisation we worked for, and alerted them beforehand about the problem.

But they chickened out too ... sadly, none of us dared confront her directly (we were only eighteen, nineteen) and anyway, we thought our boss should have done it. Eventually she got fired - not entirely the BO issue, she was also very rude and confrontational with colleagues and on the phone. But I did feel bad, and a bit cowardly.

Not sure what to advise OP. Could her firm's personnel dept. (or whatever it's called these days) 'have a word'?

jedishelly1 Sun 24-Nov-13 19:44:31

Perhaps an office Kris Kindle? Whoever gets El Stinko is honour-bound to buy nice smellies/perfume/aftershave for them.

AnneTwacky Sun 24-Nov-13 19:44:58

Don't do the anonymous e-mail. That would just be cruel and not help at all.
If the problem is as bad as you say, I think you'll just have to bite the bullet and tell her tactfully. Hard to do I know, but the definitely the right thing.

ModreB Sun 24-Nov-13 19:47:07

I manage a team of staff, and I have had to have this conversation over the years, several times with different people.

1. Keep it factual. "{Name} I am very sorry that I have to bring this up, but you smell of (urine, poo, sweat, damp, unwashed hair) insert as necessary.
2. Ask if they have a medical problem, "Is there anything underlying this, do you have a medical issue that we can support you with?"
3. If no medical issues, tell them that they need to shower, change clothes, wash hair, use deodorant etc as it is causing a problem for all staff including me

It never gets easier, but if you pussyfoot around I can promise it will get worse. They are usually much more mortified than me, so it gets better grin

walkinghaphazardlybystarlight Sun 24-Nov-13 19:47:39

I work with someone with terrible breath. How they've got away with it I don't know (teachers) but it is unpleasant, I don't know how on earth you can tell someone nicely they smell!

Heartbrokenmum73 Sun 24-Nov-13 19:53:27

El Stinko? Anonymous email from 'you really stink'?

How very mature of some of you. My younger brother has terrible BO. He also has SN. He works. I've spoken to him about how he smells. I hope to fuck none of you work with him and talk about him like that.

Where's your compassion?

TidyDancer Sun 24-Nov-13 19:57:55

I work with someone who has very odd breath. Smells like gone off dairy products or something like that. I keep chickening out of telling him, so instead I have given him the impression I'm some kind of face toucher because I keeps covering my nose and mouth whenever he speaks to me. I really should say something, I know.

DisappointedHorse Sun 24-Nov-13 20:01:49

I used to work with a really nice guy who smelt like he was rotting. When I first started working with him I was training him and within the first minute asked him if he wanted some chewing gum. He declined.

He then moved opposite me and the only way I could cope was to have an air freshened on my desk and I hate air fresheners.

I asked my boss several times to have a word but he was too chicken so went above his head to his boss who told him. His general hygiene improved but his rotting breath never did.

WhoNickedMyName Sun 24-Nov-13 20:02:19

My boss has terrible breath but that's easier to deal with. Every time he's near enough that I can smell it I offer him some chewing gum or a mint. Having said that he still hasn't got the message, one year on but at least the mint is a temporary fix.

I think you have to say something or get your line manager to do it. Modre has worded the conversation perfectly.

Nottalotta Sun 24-Nov-13 20:03:27

The trouble is often those with BO or bad breathe don't notice it themselves. Personally, i would prefer someone to have a kind word with me. Yes it will be excriciating for you OP and embarressing for the person but better all round.

RandallFloyd Sun 24-Nov-13 20:04:16

Oh god, this is my absolute worst nightmare.
I'm properly paranoid about bring smelly.

I'm not. I know I'm not, but I still get the fear.

(My dad is really smelly. He showers once a week, wears his clothes several times between washes, and doesn't 'believe' in deodorant. My mum has breath that could knock you out at ten paces.)

I definitely think you should tell her, imagine if it was you, you'd want to know. I mean it would be shit to be told but far worse to not be told and have everyone talking about you.

If I was you I would say that you're telling her because you don't want to wait until someone else notices iyswim. You need to do it next time you see her though, don't let it drag on, that will only make her feel worse. Just get in there and get it done, like ripping off a plaster. Quick and painful!

<goes to boil wash self in carbolic>

carlywurly Sun 24-Nov-13 20:08:51

There was someone behind me in a slow moving shop queue yesterday who smelled so awful it was making me gag.

She kept crowding up right behind me and I almost asked her to give me some space as I thought I was going to be sick. Although I hate the thought of causing hurt or offence, it was truly revolting.

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