How to tell someone they smell badly? Advice needed!

How to tell someone they smell badly? Advice needed!

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This is a discussion on How to tell someone they smell badly? Advice needed! within the NF's Temperament Forum- The Dreamers forums, part of the Keirsey Temperament Forums category; Have you ever known someone who just... smelled really badly, all the time? I just met a lovely girl in ...

  1. #1
    ENFP - The Inspirers


    How to tell someone they smell badly? Advice needed!

    Have you ever known someone who just... smelled really badly, all the time? I just met a lovely girl in one of my classes who has been very friendly and eager to hang out. One problem: She has a really bad case of BO. Like sweaty-guy-after-the-gym BO.

    Have you ever dealt with a situation like that? Would you tell the person, or leave it be? How would I go about telling someone they smell without hurting her feelings? The other students in my lab group definitely noticed, and it was saddening.
    Last edited by brightlywound; 09-07-2011 at 10:18 PM.



  2. #2
    INTJ - The Scientists

    I would definitely tell her, and I would do it in person. Pull her aside when you get the chance to talk to her one on one. Do it at the end of a meeting so she has a chance to deal with the issue afterwards.

    The most likely emotion is embarrassment or awkwardness. The key with awkward issues like this is that the more awkward you feel about it, the more awkward she will feel. Be comfortable with the fact that she smells bad, it's true. Try to make it clear through your words and body language that while this is a problem, it is not one that she will have to keep thinking about once she deals with it. It's a simple problem, she has to deal with it, but it's not a scarlet letter. Your goal should be to avoid group tension later on, as you will have to continue working with her. It will probably be on her mind the next time you see her too. If she's fixed the problem, no need to mention it. Just a friendly smile and an affirmative head nod should do the trick.

    If you can't do the above, I suggest an anonymous note or message.

  3. #3
    Unknown Personality

    Had a guy at work who stank so badly that after sitting in a spot the chair stank too for a couple of days after. Turns out he had some obscure medical issue, and nothing he did fixed it.

    He appreciated that I was direct with him on the subject.
    digitalceremony and Promethea thanked this post.

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  5. #4

    One on one, and in private, I guess... I am still trying to think of a way, though, where you can convey you are doing it because you don't want others to discuss her behind her back, without necessarily making her paranoid that everyone is talking about her.

    Occasionally an anonymous note might work, but that one can also easily backfire, especially if there is a reason for why she is the way she is. I got a "drive-by" anon comment once in my 20's about a completely different issue, and it really really upset me because the criticism was (1) rude/snarky and (2) unfair, but I never even knew who was criticizing me from the group, so it made me paranoid and frustrated. It bothers me even still today, when I think about it. So that can be a tenuous approach, depending on topic.
    bengalcat and Promethea thanked this post.

  6. #5
    INFP - The Idealists

    Quote Originally Posted by JayDubs View Post
    The most likely emotion is embarrassment or awkwardness. The key with awkward issues like this is that the more awkward you feel about it, the more awkward she will feel. Be comfortable with the fact that she smells bad, it's true. Try to make it clear through your words and body language that while this is a problem, it is not one that she will have to keep thinking about once she deals with it. It's a simple problem, she has to deal with it, but it's not a scarlet letter.
    I completely agree. If you're comfortable with the subject, it might not seem as embarrassing to her. I know that, in other situations, when I have been uncomfortable and the other person seemed completely at ease, it made me feel better.

    I used to work with adults developmental disabilities. When interviewing for the job, I was given this same scenario about dealing with a hygiene issue. I was told to still be gentle about it, to maybe ask questions such as, "Are you able to do laundry regularly?" I know yours is not with a person with a disability, but you might still be able to be gentle. If you can be kindly direct, go for it. I'm just thinking about it as I type. I don't know if I'd be able to be direct. I'd probably, at first try a, "*sniff sniff* What's that smell?" Take note of her reaction and see if that did the trick. If it's that bad, I can't help but think it's a medical, health issue. That asking a question suggestion is how I think I'd want to be approached. I guess the quote suggestion is the more stand-up, not wuss thing to do. I'm a wuss.

  7. #6

    Unfortunately, as an Fe, I tend to... express my reactions to peoples' body odor almost immediately, just through facial reactions and body language. I practically revolt at the smell. I'm very sensitive in that regard, especially if I've recently eaten anything. At my job, I deal with hundreds of customers per day. Every once in awhile, I have to deal with one that smells. And I always react to it. I never say anything, because I'm far too nice and polite, but I deal with them as fast as possible, and it's probably fairly apparent on their end.

    So, I really can't give advice. I'd love to. I really would. But in that situation, I'd probably avoid the person if there wasn't some over-arching obligation to be around them. And even then, I still wouldn't be able to handle it well. Perhaps you can wear a perfume yourself sometime, and then brag about it to her without directing anything at her?

    "Doesn't this smell fantastic?! You should give it a try! My boyfriend loves it when I wear it!" (Or whatever favorable compliment applies.)
    LadyJava thanked this post.

  8. #7
    ENFP - The Inspirers

    You could print off some information about different kinds of body odour and how to fix them, buy a nice body wash, roll on deodorant and spray and sneak it into her bag when she's not looking. I'm not sure how well that would go down though. Maybe just tell her? She probably already knows based on peoples reactions to her. I've struggled with it a bit myself, but I think I'm better now.
    LadyJava thanked this post.

  9. #8
    ENFP - The Inspirers

    The B.O. problem was especially common back at my secondary school (it was also a boarding school). There were several girls who had terrible personal hygiene concerning washing- they didn't, or if they did it was once a week. One girl in particular stank awfully. I'd known her since we were in primary school, and she stank even when we were just little kids :/ needless to say, when we got older, she smelled even worse and would stink up the room she shared with her best friend, the interior of cars, not to mention any clothing she borrowed from anyone... I thought this was an issue only I noticed, but one time she walked past a boy who then exclaimed 'Ugh!' and made the 'that stinks' gesture. Her friend/roommate also told me that this girl would never wash her body, just her hair (wtf).
    Unfortunately, in the UK the cultural prerogative is to say nothing about such issues, so I don't think anyone ever mentioned it to her. Damn shame, in my opinion. I had to tolerate her infernal stench for 4 years.

  10. #9
    ENTP - The Visionaries


    You're an ENFP. Stuff like this is your gift. Be direct and open. Offer help. Make it something where the other person will feel good. Approach her with openness and concern and make her feel like you are concerned for her rather than the cleanliness of the air. This should be an easy spin to put on the situation because it sounds like that's what you really are concerned about. And make it fun and spontaneous. Maybe plan a girl's makeover night or something where you, her and some of your friends get together, laugh, put on makeup, do your hair, and maybe go out dancing or whatever y'all would do after you did all of that stuff. The most important thing is to be direct and be concerned about her and express how much you want to help her because you like her. Even if it's a medical condition, you should still make her feel like it's no big deal.

    Remember this is about making her feel better. It's not about making the BO go away. That's just a plus if it happens. I wouldnt do something passive aggressive like slip deoderant in her purse. That would probably make her feel insulted. If not for anything else but it sends a clear message of, "I want to help you, but I don't want to help you badly enough to risk conflict. This feels a lot safer to me." A great way to get her on her own would be to ask her if she wanted to get coffee or something to talk about your "lab assignment". Then once you get her to come with you tell her that you lied, so the actual topic at hand wouldn't be so awkward. I know this is very INTJ of me, so translate it into your own unique ENFP style.
    bengalcat and Celtic Dreams thanked this post.

  11. #10
    INFP - The Idealists

    I personally would ignore it. I don't think there is a way to do it that won't hurt her feelings. I'm especially wondering, does she have many other friends? Because unfortunately sometimes people with hygiene issues don't, so she may really need someone to be friends with her and kindly overlook her problems. Another thing to take into account is that hygiene issues are sometimes related to deep self esteem issues, so you might be stepping into sensitive territory.


     
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