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Solving the office perfume problem

by on
in Business Etiquette,Workplace Communication

Have you ever had a co-worker you could tell was in the office before you even saw her? You know, the one who wears way too much perfume?

How do you let your co-worker know it’s too much without hurting her feelings?

That’s what one reader asked recently on the Admin Pro Forum: “How do you tell your co-worker she’s wearing too much perfume? It gives some people a headache—not to mention its effect on people with allergies.” — Andrea

Readers offered their take on the issue.

“I think if it is approached the right way, an employee would not take offense,” Treva wrote. “For in­­­­stance, my boss has very bad allergies and I never knew she was allergic to my perfume until one day she politely said that for some reason the fragrance I wear triggered her allergies. I did not take offense to it by any means and actually felt bad that she had gone all that time without telling me.”

 “The way I handle touchy situations like this is to assume responsibility for my own well-being,” wrote Rita. “I always let them know that I don’t blame them, but blame the asthma.”

One reader suggested coming to a compromise with the person wearing the perfume.

“I asked if we could compromise, and she would wear less and I will walk an alternate route in the office when I could,” wrote Joyce. “To my surprise she stopped wearing it completely, and I got her a goodie bag so she’d know it didn’t go unnoticed.”

Another reader, who loves to wear perfume, explained that clear and polite communication is key. “I love perfume and don’t mean to offend, but if I’m used to the smell I might be desensitized,” Melody wrote. “Just tell me honestly about your issue. Please don’t keep apologizing and explaining.”

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