How do you politely tell someone that they have really bad body odor?

Okay, here's the deal. I'm a manager of a small 3 person department. I have this one girl in my department that has really bad body odor. She's the nicest person in the world. I don't want to hurt her feelings! I also don't want her to quit. We work in a small inclosed office, and sometimes the smell is so bad, that I have leave on an "errand" to just get away from it. I'm bad at telling people things like this, and the HR person for my company was helpful, but not really. Any good TACTFUL ways that I can handle this??

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  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    It is unfortunate your HR person could not tell her there had been complaints. This is a 3rd party that is not involved in the situation. If you have had others complain. It really is her responsibility. You will just have to tell her. Be gentle. Maybe start out with that the office is small and enclosed and there has been a personal body odor brought up when others walk into the room. Request each person to consider their hygiene. Talk about daily showers being a courtesy in such a small space...make it a group issue vs an individual one...if it doesn't work, you will have to take her aside and explain others have commented and she needs to take better care in her cleanliness. If it is a medical reason, can it be accommodated? We had a lady that smoked and smelled awful. She admitted to smoking, with the windows of her car shut, all the way to work! She was told to change it or get moved out to the warehouse! We have 10 people in a small space and we aren't allowed to burn candles, wear perfume, oils, or lotions...

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    You may have to talk to her about it but definitely do it privately. Refer to it as personal hygiene if you do. That way you don't have to say "body odor" or "smell". Giving her an anonymous gift of perfume or soap is a classic technique. "It wasn't me. It was the Christmas elves, dear." That's a tough one for sure. There really is no way to say 'you smell' without it potentially hurting her feelings. You shouldn't let it go though. Or have a friend of yours come into the store and be all "DDAAAAAANNNNG! What's that smell?" and fan their hands all about. At least it won't be you. Then you can console her afterward. J.K. Seriously though, you can also say "Do you smell that? Smells musty in here today." But look all around like you can't tell where it is coming from. Then you've gotten it out that there is an odor issue (somewhere) but you haven't pointed the finger directly at her. You are playing dumb and hoping she does a smell check after you've left. Then, the next day, if the odor is still there, you can say "There's that smell again. Is the sewer backing up?" with a confused look on your face. Good luck.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Some people can't help it. She might have a medical condition. If you are receiving complaints, then take her aside in private and let her know that this is a problem.

    My husband worked with someone like this. The smell was a result of some medicine the person was taking for a medical condition along with some issues of animals at home. They derived a system that would let that person know when it was time to freshen up. She may need to take some time at lunch to go home and take a shower and change clothes.

    Approach it with with tact and discretion.

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  • 1 decade ago

    It is very hard not to hurt someone's feelings when you tell them they smell bad. Just tell her straight up...What perfume do you use? or what soap do you use? Make it sound like you really want to know. Maybe she will get the point! On the other hand, if she doesn't have a problem with her smell then you should have to learn to live with it!!!!

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  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    This is what I do. First time I tell them privately. " Hey man do you realize that you smell bad?" Sceond time I tell the person in front of people so he or she get embarassed and do something an if that does not fix it I take them to my supervisor and I make them explain to my supervisor why they stink. If that doesn't fix it, there is nothing in this world that would. Good luck and buy some breathing masks... LOL!!!

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  • 1 decade ago

    1) Get a Really good air purifier, of the "Ionic Breeze" type, better if you can! (We use Edenpure. It has a light that kills the stinky bacteria.)

    2) Christmas is coming. Give presents early (get it?)

    3) Say, "I'm expecting this whole room to smell Wonderful!" (You're Not expecting her to save the presents for weekends, etc.!)

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  • 1 decade ago

    Be honest and just tell her, however, do it privately. And let her know you don't want her to quit, however, she will need to turn up the personal hygiene. Good luck, and God bless. I have had to do this and it didn't work out well at all the female quit. However, the air was alot fresher.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Draw her out about her home life. Perhaps she doesn't have indoor plumbing? It will be hard, but someone needs to tell her. It would be a disservice not to tell her she is offending others.

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  • 1 decade ago

    tell her u had a problem like hers and recommend something u have in mind that you know will help. dont make the problem sound too serious though.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    similar situation....we left a bottle of deoderant, and a bar of soap on this persons desk.. HELLO!!!! He used it, problem solved...good luck....

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