January 30, 2009

How can you think that smells good?

So you have a stinker in the cube next to you. his cologne is so potent you honestly believe you might be getting drunk off the alcohol after-waff. GROSS!

this happens to men and women. we all have different tastes when it comes to scents. however we are also a pretty sensitive society and smelling bad is up there with being stupid on the insult ladder, so tread lightly.

as a general rule of thumb you should wear very light or no perfume/cologne to work. our olfactory systems are one of the strongest triggers of memory. a common treatment of amnesia patients is to bring in scents they're familiar with, which can often return the memory to the patient. you don't want to offend anyone using this super charged memory trigger.

what if your perfume is the same as the boss's ex-wife's. she broke his heart and he doesn't feel happy when he's reminded of her. your perfume just got you in trouble with your boss, even though you have no idea what you did wrong.

likewise, if someone in your office is a stinker it's really hard to say anything to him without hurting his feelings. if it's truly unbearable than i would suggest making a joke. humor can be the best tool to get a sensitive point across. this is more likely to go over well if you're dealing with a stinky guy than a noxious smelling lady.

"wowsers jimbo you trying out a new tactic to get the ladies? not sure that cologne is going to help unless you're hoping they pass out right off the bat." ha ha


"did Ralph Lauren just come and take a dump in here?"


"man i was worried about eating a tuna sandwich in here, now i think it might improve the air quality."

ok so these are harsh, but if you can joke with your office buddy than this might get your point across and clear the air.

if you're dealing with a woman i wouldn't suggest any of the above.

i would try something like:

when she walks by with a group of people: "do you guys smell that? there's a very strong odor i keep smelling. it's really distracting. i can't figure out what it is."

when she walks by again or when you walk by make a similar comment. you're essentially playing dumb, hoping she'll realize she's the distraction.

maybe others in the office feel the same way and you can work together on it.

this may not work either. i used to work in an office where we tried these tactics. the odor offender would just turn and say "oh, it must be me. my perfume is strong and lasts all day." we'd roll our eyes and agree it sure did last all day. i believe it got to the point where she knew we were all trying to tell her she stunk. she caught on and decided to play the always fun game of i know you're too weak to actually say what you mean so i'm just going to act like i don't know what you mean, even though i do!

the only person who made a difference was a producer who told her she couldn't work on stories with her because her perfume irritated her nose. this worked. it was direct and straightforward. the smelly gal wanted to work with this other lady and realized when she was around her she had to leave the 99 cent perfume at home. however, i believe part of the reason this worked was because she had to change in order to get what she wanted.

we should all be respectful of each others noses. just as you'd find it offensive if someone showed up at the office without showering for days or weeks on end, don't show up smelling like an overly perfumed potty bowl.


  1. You are like Luanne from the NY Housewives show. Shut up already and get off your high horse. Out of touch.