What would you do if a co-worker came up to you and asked you if they had body odour? What if someone you work with does have body odour and hasn’t asked you? How do you handle it and what should you do?
The first scenario happened to me many years ago. A woman I worked with told me that someone had mentioned to her that she had body odour. I was a young woman at the time and unfortunately didn’t know how to reply. Instead of telling her the truth, I hemmed and hawed and finally said, "What an awful thing that was for her to say to you". I then proceeded to recommend some good deodorants and showering and laundering habits. I didn't say yes, but my round-about answer was saying yes.
The woman who had initially told her the truth had actually done the proper thing and did her a favour by telling her.
It is a difficult thing to talk to people about such personal issues. I think that generally it would be the HR Manager’s responsibility to approach employees about such sensitive topics, but if you have a friend who has this problem, it would be a good-friend thing to do to tell them in a kind and gentle way.
I have since completely lost the sense of smell so if someone would ask me this type of question now, I could honestly say, “I have no idea”, and I like that very much. Although now I often have to wonder, how do I smell and would anyone tell me if I had b.o.? Hmm! Something to think about as I shower and put on my deodorant this morning!