How can I let a co-worker know politely without making her feel bad about her body odor?

Serious answers now please.

There's a woman at my workplace that has a horrible body odor and no one knows how to go about breaking it to her.

She is absolutely the nicest person and we don't want to hurt her feelings.

Tried the buying lotions, perfumes bit. No luck. Even sarcastically said phuwee someone stinks thing.

I think I'm gonna be the one to break it to her, any suggestions?


I'm not her supervisor, I am a manager, just not her's, but I am the only "nice" person at my job. I'm afraid someone will eventually just blow and really hurt her feelings.

23 Answers

  • Modest
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    It shouldn't be you having the conversation. That is a supervisor's/manager's responsibility.

    I know someone who had to have that conversation. There is no good way to do it. Just have to be sympathetic. Recognize that there are reasons someone could have BO that don't involve bad hygiene.

    It's going to be embarassing for everyone involved.

  • 1 decade ago

    This is the job for human resources, personnel, or the boss. Don't do it unless you are one of these people.

    If it is you, be factual and make sure you have a policy to back it up.

    Tell her that this is a private conversation and keep it strictly private. Tell her that there have been complaints that she smells bad. This odor can be caused by several things but it is requested that she:

    1. Bathe at least every other day and apply under arm deodorant.

    2. Wash shirts before wearing them again.

    3. Wash pants after every other wearing and whenever there is an apparent odor or stain.

    It is possible that she has a medical condition or depression and make sure there is ample opportunity for her to speak up during this conversation and let her know that if she wants to talk about it later, the door is open to her. Expect defensiveness and hurt feelings.

    This straight talk should help, but if it doesn't, what to do?

  • 1 decade ago

    You can't. There is no polite or sensitive way to say "you stink". Figure out first if it's a hygeine thing or a cultural thing. Some people have body odor because they eat different kinds of food. If it's that, hold you breath. If it's a hygeine thing, talk to her boss as a group. It's his job, that's why he gets paid the big bucks. If you don't trust him or her, then be blunt but sensitive. Tell her the truth, we all love you and I wanted yo to know there is a little issue with your body odor. If you need to take a shower, you can come to my house. We all like you very much so we wanted to say something here in the comoany of friends, because strangers would be jerks about it. We still love you, but you need to rectify this." Or, you can hold your breath.

    But no matter what, her feelings will be hurt eventually.

  • Dan H
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    That should be the job of her supervisor or the HR department. The body odor affects the ability of other employees to work in the same area. Co-workers shouldn't be the ones to relate that kind of problem.

    As a supervisor, it isn't easy, but it can be done matter of fact and quickly. Many people aren't aware of their own odor. It should be done in private and nothing should be mentioned by the supervisor to any other employees.

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  • nice
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    First you're able to clarify on your co-worker that Lysol™ isn't a root word for "lice." Or is it? in the experience that your co-worker does have a louse concern, i don't think of the lice might like Lysol one bit. the reason I convey this up is that it rather is significant so you might envision there is rather not any little bitty bugs hopping from armpit to carpet and then mendacity in watch for you. purchase her a can of Raid, just to confirm. i don't be responsive to what to do with reference to the physique scent, yet pest administration is significant too.

  • 1 decade ago

    hey there, make sure you understand her culture first before you let her know!! some cultures dont tend to use perfumes, deordant ect, it's against their religion, no make sure you're not going to offend her!!!...but what i use to do was I would talk to my friend privately..and tell her the truth, like they say truth hurts, but for you're situation it's best if you let her know privately, because you dont want others to talk bad about her right?? or hurt her because you said that she's the nicest person. So tell her the truth!!! it'll show that you care!

  • hrcarr
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    There may be a good reason why she stinks all the time. Is she overweight? Or maybe she has a condition that just makes her smell, regardless of what she does. Or, is she from England? I knew some people from England once and they all stunk. Maybe she knows she stinks and she can't do anything about it. Be SUPER polite to her, (although I feel it's her manager's job) never have a conversation like this in public, or give her the opinion that EVERYONE knows. Poor girl's gonna die of embarassment. But, do your best to be gentle.

  • 1 decade ago

    Oh my, I shared an office (we worked opposite shifts) with a very large lady who sweated a lot and always smelled like musty uriney or something. The smell would linger in the office. I did not know what to say to her. I think a manager has to say something, that's what they get paid for or Human Resources personnel........

    good luck it's awful.

  • 1 decade ago

    You need to have her manager send a memo out to everyone about personal hygiene and your company's expectations about it. This should include consequences if the rules are ignored or not followed and what can be done in the case of medical conditions. This is her superior's job and not yours! You can not be expected to confront just because you have been deemed the nice person.

  • 1 decade ago

    That sucks, I've been it that situation a couple times before. You'd be doing her a favor by telling her sooner, but it's gonna sting her for a little bit. Just say it in a nice way and she'll get over it.

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