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Work stuff: how do I bring this up?

curlylauracurlylaura Posts: 8,352Registered Users
There's a woman at work who quite frankly stinks. She starts the week not smelling but by mid-week she starts to smell and then stinks at the end of it. It's like she only bathes once a week.

How do I bring this up? And who do I mention it too? Or do I and everyone else just have to accept it?
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Comments

  • The New BlackThe New Black Posts: 16,738Registered Users
    You don't have an hr dept?
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  • Fifi.GFifi.G Posts: 15,490Registered Users
    We had a similar problem with a former co worker. Really nice guy but his personal hygiene was lacking. Our supervisor had a talk with him in private after several people had complained. She broke the news to him gently, and told him a clean/hygienic appearance and smell was part of department policy, which it was. He did somewhat better after that.
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  • spiderlashes5000spiderlashes5000 Posts: 17,495Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    I think it's fairly common for HR to be asked to intervene in these matters.

  • NetGNetG Posts: 8,116Registered Users
    I hope you have a human resources department because as mentioned they're the ones trained to handle it.


    If not, anyone have suggestions?


    I was going to post this same basic thread as a hypothetical a couple weeks ago when I had the misfortune of being near a woman who really smelled terrible. I haven't seen her since, so it would be hypothetical as I don't know her, but I wondered what would happen if you're in a small enough company there's no HR - we have one and that's who I'd go to in my company, but I was wondering what if you don't have one.
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  • curlylauracurlylaura Posts: 8,352Registered Users
    We don't have a specific HR dept. it's only a small business. Last time something was brought up with one of the managers involving a member of staff the message was to suck it up and accept it.
    Fat does not make you fat. It's actually pretty important.
  • The New BlackThe New Black Posts: 16,738Registered Users
    I would think hygiene is a compelling enough health concern that mgmt would be more responsive this time. Approach them from that angle. If you can smell her, customers probably can too. I'd be majorly turned off by smelly employees, and equally turned off by mgmt if they refused to do anything about it.

    Maybe they can put up a '10 Rules for Health and Hygiene' poster and of course daily washing would be one of the rules. Every doctor's office has those types of fliers, restaurants and other public establishments as well. It wouldn't be out of place in a pharmacy. I'm surprised there isn't one already. And if there is one, then mgmt needs to stress it, maybe as part of staying healthy during cold and flu season (assuming it's c&f season in the UK too).
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  • spiderlashes5000spiderlashes5000 Posts: 17,495Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    with regard to the ehow advice...I have never met anyone w/ a medical condition that caused them to stink (other than breath). What kind of medical conditions cause ppl to stink? I'm sure it happens, I have just never met anyone who stunk and wasn't also slovenly.

    Many years ago, cancer patients smelled bc of the treatments. But medical advances have changed that...or so I thought.

    Do they mean specific drugs cause the person to have an odor?

    Or certain injuries make washing and staying clean impossible?

  • CurlyB_CurlyB_ Posts: 126Registered Users
    The brother of my mothers fiancee (can't remember the english word) has a hormon disorder that causes him to stink to hell! I'm disgusted to death every time he enters the room...all in all he's a nice guy but the smell is horrible.
    He bathes every day, but one hour later he has started smelling again. I kind of pity him cause there is no "cure" to it without tons of possible side effects.

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  • theliothelio Posts: 5,374Registered Users
    Causes of Body Odor that Are Due to Medical Conditions - Yahoo! Voices - voices.yahoo.com

    sidenote: i'm too lazy to summarize and type anything out myself.
  • curlypearlcurlypearl Posts: 11,970Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    I'm at work so I haven't had time to read the Yahoo and e-how answers, but here's what we did in my last job.

    First of all, we had an HR dept. which you don't have, but I cleared what action to take with them first.

    Is there a senior admin. type in your organization or an office manager? S/he should send around a memo about personal hygiene to everyone so that the person doesn't feel singled out.

    Another idea (which we didn't have to do) is to have someone put a bar of soap and deodorant on the offending person's desk. In lieu of that, you can print out something from yahoo or e-how and leave it on the person's desk so that s/he will get the message.

    You shouldn't have to put up with that. Please let us know how you handle it. Even in US prisons the inmates shower twice a week and are given deodorant to use.
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  • The New BlackThe New Black Posts: 16,738Registered Users
    A bar of soap on her desk? Isn't that a little mean?
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  • CurlyB_CurlyB_ Posts: 126Registered Users
    A bar of soap on her desk? Isn't that a little mean?

    Definitely! I would feel really offended and sad, maybe even bullyied if someone ever did this to me!



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  • spiderlashes5000spiderlashes5000 Posts: 17,495Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    I'm amost afraid to ask but what kind of smell is it? Is it armpit smell? Or something a bit more..."nefarious?" LOL

  • curlylauracurlylaura Posts: 8,352Registered Users
    It's an unwashed body smell. Hard to pin point exactly what and I'd rather not think about it. :shock:

    We don't have desks, I work in a pharmacy. Thing is she always stand really close to people when she's talking to them and doesn't understand the concept of personal space. Even if you take a step back she steps forward. So there is no escape.

    There's another person at work who stinks of alcohol but that's been excused as her medication (no one believes it as she's admitted to drinking a bottle of wine a night before).
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  • nynaeve77nynaeve77 Posts: 7,135Registered Users
    curlylaura wrote: »
    It's an unwashed body smell. Hard to pin point exactly what and I'd rather not think about it. :shock:

    We don't have desks, I work in a pharmacy. Thing is she always stand really close to people when she's talking to them and doesn't understand the concept of personal space. Even if you take a step back she steps forward. So there is no escape.
    In college, I had a roommate who didn't shower as often as she should've. For her birthday, a bunch of us who shared the floor with her in our dorm chipped in and got her a really nice gift basket of shower gel, lotion, etc. It got the point across in a nice way and it wasn't a problem after that.
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  • theliothelio Posts: 5,374Registered Users
    CurlyB_ wrote: »
    A bar of soap on her desk? Isn't that a little mean?

    Definitely! I would feel really offended and sad, maybe even bullyied if someone ever did this to me!



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    i agree. i wouldnt do that. the idea about sending a memo to everyone is a better approach.

    we had a situation where a co-worker would bring curry to work for lunch. another co-worker didnt like the smell and wrote a letter and left it on the coworkers desk. we all veiwed it offensive mainly because she did it secretly. if she had gone to the co worker and told her privatley the coworker could had easily begin to eat her lucnh in the lunchroom. our boss didnt like the lady's approach or the way she worded her letter either so she was fired (i never read the letter, but it apparently came off as bullying, rude, and racist. i'm unsure if this was the lady who wrote it intent). i wouldnt live a bar of soap on someones desk, it could put your job at risk. it could come off in a way you did not mean.
  • Who Me?Who Me? Posts: 3,181Registered Users
    I think something should come from management to all of the employees, about the importance of hygiene and respecting others in the workplace by keeping to a certain standard. I don't know what I'd do if management refused. Probably go the route of trying to put up a generic sign about hygiene somewhere in the office for all to see, if I was allowed to.

    In terms of the personal space issues, I would be all over this one. As soon as you step back and she steps forward I'd hold out my arm and say "I'm sorry, I have some issues with personal space. It makes me very uncomfortable to have someone too close to me. Please don't take it personally".
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  • The New BlackThe New Black Posts: 16,738Registered Users
    I'd address the space issue directly too.^^
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  • MojoDojoMojoDojo Posts: 702Registered Users
    I'd personally bring it up with management but that's just me. Maybe suggest they send out a memo to everyone, and if that doesn't work, management should contact them directly - this is not something that I think should be handled by you, as you risk your job if she takes it wrong (why wouldn't she, you're telling her she stinks, right?).

    In that link posted (diseases that cause people to stink) I can vouch for the diabetes one. Before I was diagnosed I smelled like fruit loops. Even though I showered daily.

    ... I to this day cannot stand the smell of fruit loops or anything that smells even remotely like fruit loops.
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  • scrillsscrills Posts: 6,700Registered Users
    Once something REALLY bothers me, I take a more direct approach. I pull the person aside and start off by saying "do you mind if I offer you some unsolicited advice...."

    I would be weery about signs or memos. She may not think they apply to her.
  • The New BlackThe New Black Posts: 16,738Registered Users
    She will if they are posted as mandatory to follow.^^
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  • scrillsscrills Posts: 6,700Registered Users
    ^^ If the rules are general, she could still ignore it. Can you really make it mandatory to shower at least every 4 days? What would the rule(s) be?
  • legendslegends Posts: 3,073Registered Users
    During college I worked at a cosmetics store, and one of the employees had eleven cats. She smelled like someone who lived with eleven cats. Like, your eyes would tear if you got too close, and there were days where you could smell her from yards away. The rest of us finally begged the manager to do something because holy hell no one should walk around smelling like. While she was never pleasant-smelling up close (dude, 11 cats), it got a lot better.
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  • The New BlackThe New Black Posts: 16,738Registered Users
    scrills wrote: »
    ^^ If the rules are general, she could still ignore it. Can you really make it mandatory to shower at least every 4 days? What would the rule(s) be?
    Yeah, you could. But there's no way to know for certain how often people shower. Hence, the possibility of illness being the cause of her BO.
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  • StarmieStarmie Posts: 6,677Registered Users Curl Dabbler
    Could you go to mgmt and say that a customer had complained to you about her (but that the customer wanted to keep it quiet, so to speak)? You could say that you and your colleagues had noticed it and were now concerned that customers were noticing too. They may be more inclined to address it if they think it's affecting business.
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  • multicultcurlymulticultcurly Posts: 5,132Registered Users
    Starmie wrote: »
    Could you go to mgmt and say that a customer had complained to you about her (but that the customer wanted to keep it quiet, so to speak)? You could say that you and your colleagues had noticed it and were now concerned that customers were noticing too. They may be more inclined to address it if they think it's affecting business.

    That is a great suggestion. If customers notice it, then they'll probably go elsewhere.

    I once went to a Subway restaurant where an employee smelled so much like cigarette smoke that I never went back to that location. It disgusted me because his smell was so strong that it overpowered the smell of the food. Although this location was close to me, I would drive farther to another location because I was that grossed out.
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  • curlylauracurlylaura Posts: 8,352Registered Users
    Good idea Starmie.

    Would it be acceptable to email management about this?
    Fat does not make you fat. It's actually pretty important.
  • StarmieStarmie Posts: 6,677Registered Users Curl Dabbler
    I don't see why not. they tend to like having things in writing ime.
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  • curlylauracurlylaura Posts: 8,352Registered Users
    Thing is, everytime there's a problem at work the others seem to expect me to say something because they won't. I've been the one who brought up everyone's complaints before.
    Fat does not make you fat. It's actually pretty important.
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