Men's Life Today: Expert Q+A
The guy in the cube next to me at work has killer body odor. How do I tell him -- without coming off like a jerk?
The first thing you need to do is determine your risk. Does the chance of offending him make you reluctant to say anything? If so, you can go to his supervisor for confidential assistance. Although that may seem awkward too, I would begin by saying something like, “I’m coming to you confidentially with a situation I need some advice on … it makes me uncomfortable … what should I do?” The boss may take things from there or refer the situation to human resources.
If you decide to handle the conversation on your own, start with a disclaimer. Your approach should be something like this: “I want to talk with you about a sensitive issue and I sincerely hope you receive it in the manner in which it’s intended. You’re probably not aware of this, but you have a certain body odor. I’m telling you because I figured you’d want to know, so you can address it before it has an effect on your work relationships and professional image. If the situation were reversed, I hope you’d feel comfortable sharing something like this with me.”
This bold effort is an honest attempt to take care of an uncomfortable situation --and kudos to you if you can do it. After you’ve had the conversation, say a prayer and hold your breath! (No pun intended.)