Sensitive BO advice

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  • Sensitive BO advice
  • Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    What you propose is fine.

    Actually came up on a training course I did and the approach you suggest was recommended.

    My suggestion of ‘do you carry a bag of rotting cabbages around with you?’ was vetoed

    Premier Icon tomhoward
    Subscriber

    ‘Oi stinky, wash.’

    job jobbed.

    Premier Icon Rusty Spanner
    Subscriber

    A few subtle signs around the place:

    Houns
    Member

    I have had to tell people I’ve managed before.

    Do not say “people have noticed/people have told me/people have been commenting on” no matter if it’s true

    Say “I have noticed”

    jekkyl
    Member

    I think about this too. There are people at my work from time to time who stink. It’s that smell where they’ve left wet clothes in the washing machine for a day or 2 or longer and then dried them and then worn them, they smell like dried wee wee and it’s repulsive. OP I think what you’ve said sounds fine, if you’re the boss then it’s down to you.

    TuckerUK
    Member

    Many years ago as a young fledgling manager we had a temp agency cleaner working for us who always smelt a ‘ripe’. Lovely old guy, pleasant, great worker, just ponged a bit. My manager gave me the task of telling him. I did, as sensitively as I could, even suggesting perhaps some deodorant might be an idea.

    We never saw him again. I’ve felt bad about it ever since. 😐

    I’ll know better next time. “I think he smells fine, you think he smells, YOU tell him!”

    TuckerUK
    Member

    Do not say “people have noticed/people have told me/people have been commenting on” no matter if it’s true

    Say “I have noticed”

    Sage advice there. You could even go further and explain you’ve got a sensitive nose, so you doubt anyone else has noticed it, but here’s a head up.

    bigyinn
    Member

    Im not the Boss boss, but I have tact and diplomacy (HA!) apparently.

    Houns, out of interest, why say “I have noticed “, and not “others have noticed” less passive aggressive or just less embarrassing for the guy?

    Candodavid
    Member

    Buy a deodorant, explain you have noticed an aroma which if you can notice then others who he works for will notice, ask for the matter to be dealt with, personal hygiene is not personal when someone else finds it offensive.

    Failing that get soap water too, tell him to get washed and sort his stinkiness out or find somewhere else to leave a vapour trail

    Markie
    Member

    Some things to be aware of, particularly if dealing with a lower paid member of staff…

    They may not have access to body washing facilities on a daily basis (can occur if they share accommodation with a number of others, for example, or if money for bills v tight).

    They may not have access to the facilities to (or be able to afford to) wash their clothes regularly. No washing machine in the house and a rule about not washing clothes in sinks, for example.

    How many sets of work clothes do they have? Is there time (given any other constraints) for them to clean the work clothes they do have before odour becomes a problem?

    It’s an awkward situation all round, every time. My wife used to deal with this issue a few times a year – what I’ve written above is what I remember from a discussion with her about it some time ago – I’d gladly ask her for her actual thoughts and advice if you thought it would help. Everyone she’s dealt with wants to be clean, wear fresh clothes and smell good. It’s about working to enable that.

    Telling someone they smell and then giving them some deodorant is simplistic and unreasonable.

    eskay
    Member

    This came up on a course I did and from memory they suggested starting with something like:

    I need to have a word with you about an awkward matter that is of a personal nature.

    Apparently that forewarns them about what is to come and slightly lessens the blow.

    I have the suggested response at work I think in the course notes.

    Candodavid
    Member

    A lot depends on the character of person in question in how the matter can be dealt with.
    We have a can of both male and female deodorant available at all times, all members of staff are honest enough towards each other that they can comment on aroma’s.
    Makes for a more pleasant work place

    Houns
    Member

    If you mention that others have noticed then that person may feel worse as now knows people are talking about them.

    Edric 64
    Member

    Deodorant will mask the stench ? Surely you need to hand them Wrights Coal Tar Soap

    bigyinn
    Member

    How do you tell someone they smell without offending them?

    The scenario is we have someone working for the business as a contractor. They go to customer’s site to carry out work on our behalf. The client has called in and somewhat sheepishly said that they smell very bad and all of the ladies working there have commented on it.

    I guess that this would be better handled face to face rather than an easily misinterpreted e-mail.

    Something along the lines of “We’re very happy with the work you’ve been doing for us and the client is also very happy with it. But, and im sorry to bring this up, but its been mentioned by a number of clients that you have a personal odor problem. Is there a problem or do you suffer from a condition that we need to know about?

    Can I have some helpful suggestions, as I don’t want to upset the guy nor do I want to appear rude over such a personal issue.

    russ295
    Member

    I had a stinka working with me for a while, he would get in the van on a Monday morn and smell like he hadn’t been washed since Friday.
    When anyone commented, he denied it was him. His clothes stunk and had bad b.o. every day.
    Bloody awful tbh.

    toys19
    Member

    The “I have noticed” will be much more effective and much less upsetting than saying “other people have”.
    Top advice there.

    samuri
    Member

    One of my contractors has this problem.

    I eventually decided to pretend I could smell gas and said so quite a few times.

    It has seemed to sort it.

    toys19
    Member

    At school a mate smelled bad, so we just put soap and deoderant in his bag.. He got it.

    At this moment in time i smell of wee

    argoose
    Member

    When I joined the forces we lived eight to a barrack room. If you had a smelly c t in the room not only was it not fun to live in funk, but any inspecting officer noted it and your weekend was spent cleaning for a re-inspection. If a quiet word “wash you smelly cant” didn’t work then the room would give him a scrub down with vim and a bass broom. Worked every time.

    Premier Icon flap_jack
    Subscriber

    I used the line (in private) ‘Sorry to tell you, mate but your deodorant isn’t working as well as you hoped.’

    In that case it worked fine. your case may be different.

    bigyinn
    Member

    The guy has his own business as well as working for us and isn’t poor. I’d be surprised if it’s a hygene issue tbh. It may be physiological.

    yossarian
    Member

    Or maybe he likes rolling in shit?

    TuckerUK
    Member

    Does he live alone? I worked with a fantastic guy that lost both his parents (who he lived with) over the space of a few years. And then the pong came. Soiled clothes? Not washing? I don’t know, but it wasn’t nice.

    boxfish
    Member

    Be aware that certain medical conditions, for example diabetes, can cause excessive body odour that no deodorant is going to completely mask. Just sayin’ like.

    Premier Icon flap_jack
    Subscriber

    The guy has his own business as well as working for us and isn’t poor.

    Was exactly the case with the guy I spoke to. He was very busy and didn’t realise that he could not get away with sometimes not washing due to lack of time…

    Pieface
    Member

    On the other hand…

    Some days I run in to work and we have no showers.

    I shower before my run and always wear clean clothes. I have a quick wipe with baby wipes and use anti-perspirant. I’m quite open about the fact I may have BO and openly ask people to tell me I do (only occassionally, not every hour). They never say so, however I’m always worried they’re being polite.

    samuri
    Member

    Well, sweating excessively is a different problem to BO. It’s how you manage it that makes the difference.

    TheBrick
    Member

    Shit sandwich is the only way to deliver such news.

    bigyinn
    Member

    Thanks guys, anymore pearls of wisdom?

    peterfile
    Member

    I’ve had to deal with this twice before.

    Both times it seemed to be more a lack of washing of clothes rather than themselves.

    First one was easy because we had a very strong suspicion it was his clothes. Casual conversation went along the lines of “How many days wear do you get out of a shirt?” When the answer came back 2 or 3 it was quite easy to follow up with “we do long hours in here, one day to us is like two days in a normal office, best to stick on a clean shirt every day, looks better to others/clients”. He then revealed that he only had two shirts(!). This was a trainee, so he probably hadn’t built up a wardrobe of work clothes yet, but he was being paid upwards of £30k, so no excuse really. He went out that day and bought a load of shirts and we didn’t have a problem after that.

    Second one was much harder. It was a guy who’d been struggling with workload and stress. I passed it up to a partner initially because I was a bit worried whether i’d be able to handle it correctly, but after a while we agreed that a partner doing it would probably be a bit too much for him (I still reckon this was my bosses passing the buck though!). Kept the conversation light, just basically asked a similar question again of how often he washed his shirts (i thought this was less of a blow than suggesting he didn’t clean himself. He got where I was going with it straight away. Apparently he was struggling to get up in the mornings and running late due to not sleeping well at night because he was so stressed/worried. This meant not showering every day and sometimes not having a clean shirt ready, added in with being anxious/stressed all day and sweating more than usual.

    Poor guy, one of the worst conversations I’ve had with a colleague. BUT, his BO probably saved his career and sanity, since the anxiety/stress he was feeling was much worse than the partners had thought, so there was a really focused effort to get him back on track. Which seems to have worked, although I’ve not seen him in a while.

    Never had to do it but I had a climbing partner who would often smell a bit ripe. He was a good and old friend. I couldn’t bring myself to ever say anything. I’m fairly sure he washed every day but I’m also fairly sure he wasn’t so fastidious with clothes washing. It’s often the case that it’s the person’s clothes that smell rather than the person him or herself. People are more likely to wash themselves more often than their clothes.

    brant
    Member

    Did we all shower a bit more vigorously* this morning or was that just me?

    *sounds a bit rude

    bigyinn
    Member

    Depends where you were washing vigorously brant. 😉

    Premier Icon somouk
    Subscriber

    I’ve a couple of mates that thankfully I don’t work with but if you see them of a weekend they’re normally a bit ripe.

    Normally the sweaty feet smell more so than BO and is a nightmare to get the smell out the car. 🙄

    I guess you don’t know what someone’s living situation is, as someone mentioned, access to washing facilities, being able to afford a washing machine etc.

    I had a housemate who had a bit of an issue in that department, we did tell him, turned out he had a poor sense of smell, and couldn’t really tell himself. My partner’s dad has a similar issue with the smell thing but he doesn’t tend to pong!

    Don’t make assumptions would be the wisest course.

    The problem is that you have received complaints about it, so it has to be addressed, so do so as you would for any other disciplinary matter. Put the complaint to him, offer him the right of reply and any support that is required. Really the first step is to agree that there is an issue. Once you have discuss potantial remedies, then a review process, plus next steps in the event not dealt with etc etc etc.

    Whatever you do don’t go down the subtle route, be factual and truthful. He needs to get it. Dancing around the issue may leave you in the embaressing position of him actually not taking it on board.

    You don’t know, there could be any number of genuine reasons…. diabetes being just one, such things as colostomy bags and the like are also potential culprits.

    surfer
    Member

    Do not say “people have noticed/people have told me/people have been commenting on” no matter if it’s true

    This. Tell them you have noticed and as above be tactful and discreet. I know of people who do make an effort to keep clean but still have issues so it is not always a case of laziness or poor hygiene as such however it has to be managed.

    Weasel
    Member

    I once had to tell a member of staff…..called him in the office with the supervisor present, we said we’d received a call about his personal hygiene (he was working out of a loading bay, delivering courier packages round a corporate office).

    I had a wash bag in my desk so gave him the can of deodorant, told him to freshen up and keep it in his locker, and assured him that no other member of staff was aware of this situation and also if he needed any extra uniform i.e shirts then we could order him some.

    This we thought was the most diplomatic way to handle it.

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