Olfactorily Offense Officemate!
September 25, 2006 7:35 AM   Subscribe

The guy over my cube wall is over dosing his body on some bad deodorant and it's whiggin' me out all day long. Any suggestions on how to breathe normally again short of using respirators and other obnoxiously strong smells?
posted by unmodern to Health & Fitness (14 answers total)
Get a friend to come over to your cube and ask in a loud voice, while the guy next cube is in his cube, "what's that weird smell? It smells like someone spilled a carton of cheap deodorant."
posted by orthogonality at 7:37 AM on September 25, 2006

Meet the guy early in the morning when he's getting coffee or something. Start up a conversation and get to know him (he's your officemate, anyway; you should already be on a first name basis and know stuff about him). Then casually bring it up. Mention that you have an allergy situation with you nose and that fragrances set you off.

The less offended he is, the more likely he's change to fit your needs. Basically, I'm suggesting the opposite of orthogonality.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:46 AM on September 25, 2006

he'll, not he's
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:46 AM on September 25, 2006

There's no need to embarrass him, turn him into an enemy, and possibly make him try smellier stuff just to get your goat.

You also don't have to make up anything about allergies or anything. Anyone with a normal nose who is confronted with a strong smell all day will have trouble with it.

And he almost certainly has no idea that other people can smell him like that or that other people dislike the smell. If he doesn't mean to offend you, there's no need to offend him.

Just be honest and polite. Say that you can't deal with the perfume in his deodorant wafting over your cube wall all day. Ask him privately whether he could cut down on the deodorant and, if it's that particular deodorant that bothers you, ask whether he could try something else. It's almost a certainty that he will cut way back on the stuff if you put it to him decently.
posted by pracowity at 7:59 AM on September 25, 2006

Just to be clear: your nemisis doesn't have BO, it's his deoderant that smells bad, correct?
posted by Rash at 8:22 AM on September 25, 2006

get a desk fan, send the odor back to him
posted by pinksoftsoap at 8:27 AM on September 25, 2006

Speak to your manager, who can politely take up the issue with him. This is a fairly common occurrence and managers are trained to deal with it in a manner that is not offensive or demeaning. In fact, many companies have a pro-active approach of asking that employees not wear perfumes, colognes, or fragranced items precisely to avoid any issues of allergies or discomfort that it may create.

There is no need to embarass your co-worker or do something snarky. Either make a polite, professional, and mature inquiry to the person himself to refrain from wearing the fragrance, or discretely mention the situation to your manager.
posted by galimatias at 8:53 AM on September 25, 2006

I agree with gali, speak to his boss. It's not your responsibility to get co-workers to behave in a manner conducive to a productive workplace (whether that be stink, noise, attendance, sexual harassment or otherwise), it's the manager's. If the manager won't deal with it, talk to HR.
posted by phearlez at 9:16 AM on September 25, 2006

I think it's less embarassing for the guy if you talk to him directly, in a low key kind of way. Then again, it's less stressful for *you* to talk to a manager - and hope they don't tell him who mentioned it.

Seriously, try a desk fan to diffuse the odor, and maybe get one of those "odor absorbing (not masking)" thingies to discreetly put in your cube in the area where the smell wafts over.
posted by KAS at 9:45 AM on September 25, 2006

Ask to move to a new cube. Your call on whether on not you need to bring up the issue of The Smell, I wouldn't. It seems the height of self-involvement to tell someone else that their chosen brand of deodorant is too strong and btw, could you change it for me?
posted by jamaro at 9:54 AM on September 25, 2006

No, somebody has to say something. If you think The Boss can discreetly discuss it with him (and not bring up any names) then go that way. Otherwise try to have a tactful quiet conversation with him under the assumption that he honestly doesn't know what he smells like. You can allude to allergies.

If his personal care items smell bad to you, they smell bad to clients and coworkers too.
posted by ilsa at 10:51 AM on September 25, 2006

You might check out this thread.

But, my vote is to talk to him discretely. Say that you have been bothered by the strong perfumey smell, and that would appreciate if he would use less/ or something unscented. If that doesn't take care of the problem, then you could escalate to manager, et al.
posted by sulaine at 12:34 PM on September 25, 2006

Speak to your manager, who can politely take up the issue with him.

I have been on the recieving end of this, and I absolutely agree. (Didn't have to do with how much I was wearing, but specifically what I was wearing.) Getting pulled into the manager's office to talk about it is definitely better than being taken aside by a coworker, because I never had to find out who made the complaint. The extreme awkwardness of that conversation was confined to that room, and never mentioned again, by anyone.

You'll probably be doing the guy a favor. Being told I wasn't allowed to wear perfume to the office anymore broke my (insane!) patchouli habit. Eventually I started wearing soft girly scents and no one complained at all.
posted by Famous at 3:32 PM on September 25, 2006

Getting pulled into the manager's office to talk about it is definitely better than being taken aside by a coworker

And in any event - - they're The Man. It's their job. That's why they get paid the big bucks.
posted by jason's_planet at 8:27 PM on September 25, 2006

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