Dealing with workplace harassment, bullying and discrimination to create a respectful workplace

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Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

ARTICLES

#2

TELLING SOMEONE THEY HAVE B.O.

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There are very few conversations tougher than telling a person they smell. Let’s face it, there’s no other diplomatic way of putting it. However, some ways of dealing with it are more diplomatic than others. You may find out about a person’s body odour because her colleagues have come to you. Or people have been making jokes behind his back or subtle jokes while the person is right in the room. You may have noticed it yourself, but decided to leave it alone. Regardless, if you are in charge, this might be the kind of task you won’t find in your job description, but dig all you want, you won’t find it in anyone else’s job duties either.

 

The best approach is to be sensitive, yet up front. There’s no other way around it. He may not know his body odour is a problem. Even if people have made a comment or two, he just might think it’s the guys kidding around – after all, everyone sweats and some people more than others. Don’t believe anyone who says “women glow, men perspire and horses sweat.”

 

TRY THIS:

 

Don’t let anyone know what you’re going to do, unless it’s in response to a boss saying “thou shalt” or because a colleague refuses to work with him until you correct the situation (happens a lot). Find a location where no one can hear and where you won’t be interrupted. Don’t go to a local coffee shop where things can be overheard, and if you have trouble with the smell, then go for a quiet walk outside. Tell the employee that when we work with others, simple hygiene is important. Let him know that his body odour is quite strong and he should find a way of correcting that. Be open to listening. He may be able to shed some light on the situation and a reason might even be medical of sorts (which still needs to be addressed). He may come to work every day with a clean smelling shirt, but as the day wears on, he gets smelly. Or he might not be washing his clothes properly and each day he comes in with “clean” clothes, but the smell lingers. You can try to find out what that is. Some people were brought up with better hygiene than others and might be unaware.

 

HOW ABOUT:

 

“Just as we all need to get along, we also need to be considerate about our personal hygiene. Your body odour is quite strong and I’m not sure why, but I’d like to talk to you about it so we can find ways to improve the situation.”

 

“I don’t know how to put this, so I’m going to be as direct and considerate as I can. For some reason, your body odour is strong. It might be that you sweat more than the average person, or that your clothes need special cleaning, but I’d like to talk to you about this. I know this is a sensitive topic, but I want to make sure you can work with others.”

 

“If I was in your situation, I would want to know what I’m going to tell you. Your body odour is strong and I’d like to discuss how you can rectify the situation.”

 

 

Stephen Hammond, B.A., LL.B., CSP

 

 

If you have any questions, please contact Stephen.

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© STEPHEN HAMMOND - HARASSMENT SOLUTIONS INC.    
 
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Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

© STEPHEN HAMMOND HARASSMENT SOLUTIONS INC.
 
  
 
CONTACT