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07 Feb 2013

Sensitive issue
Dear Doc
I have to inform a colleague at work that she has bad body odour - it is more a feminine odour than perspiration - which is affecting our conditions at work. I work closely with her. What is the most sensitive way to approach this? She is my sub-ordinate.
I appreciate your assistance in this matter.
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Expert
CyberShrink
cybershrink

01 Jan 0001

It will be fascintaing to see what ther readers suggest here. Where its armpit odour, an issue which has been raised here before, its been suggested that an anonymous can of deodorant spray be placed on the individuals desk, but while that might spare some of the embarassment of the person making that gesture, it'd probably add to the embarrassment of the person at the receiving end.
I think part of the real problem in such situations is that any smell that is around us for more than quite a short period, our nose accomodates to, so we stop noticing it. As she moves around the office, other people will be assailed by the stench, but as she is herself constantly surrounded by it, she probably doesn't notice at all.
In a way it might be easier because she is your sub-ordinate, as ou could take her aside in a pleasant and discrete manner, and mention that a number of people have complained about an odour from her which she herself may not have noticed. Maybe she should have a check-up with a gynae to be sure there's nothing more going wrong there, and then work on the basis of scrupulous personal hygiene. I gather there arwe also some more intimate sprays which can help, though ordinary deodorants can cause severe irritation of sensitive skin.
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