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Ask Dan
Q.
One of my booth staffers has a pungent body odor. How can I address his problem?

A.
According to the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, most people can't smell themselves. So it's important to approach him knowing he is probably unaware of his offending scent.

Surveys conducted on this topic overwhelmingly indicate that those who have a disagreeable odor want to be told about it — but preferably by a friend, rather than a boss. So, begin by identifying a co-worker who could fill that role and see if he or she is willing to help. If that's not feasible and the job falls to you, my suggestions for how to approach the person are still the same.

First, arrange a private meeting and explain that you need to bring a delicate problem to his attention. Add that if you were in his situation, you'd hope that he would be willing to approach you. Then, explain that the person's smell is having a continuing negative effect on the office. Be direct but nonjudgmental, because you cannot be sure if the odor is a result of poor hygiene, unusual diet, or an ongoing medical condition.

Assuming he's open to it, discuss potential solutions, from more frequent bathing and dietary changes to a thorough medical checkup. Ask him to check in with you so you can offer additional assistance when needed. If you help him see that you care enough to tell him the truth with compassion, you might find that clearing the air will ultimately freshen it.E



Dan Lumpkin, organizational psychologist, is the president of management-consulting company Lumpkin & Associates in Fairhope, AL. Need answers? Email your career-related questions to askdan@exhibitormagazine.com.
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