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How Do I Tell My Boss About Her Body Odor?

Real Simple answers your questions.

Boss desk Sang An
Q. My employer has the worst body odor! Is there a nice way to let her know?
Anonymous
Los Angeles, California

A. You have to talk to her. Sure, it’s going to be awkward. But staying silent won’t do her any favors. Start off with a little sugarcoating (“I really enjoy our working relationship, and I hope it’s OK that I bring this up”), then state your point gently, suggests Jodi R. R. Smith, author of From Clueless to Class Act: Manners for the Modern Woman (Sterling, $10, amazon.com). Avoid words like odor. Instead, tell her that you’ve noticed that something seems a bit off with her lately―that she smells different. You could also say you’ve read that stress can have this effect (which is true) and ask if there’s anything you can do to help. She’ll get the message, and you’ll come across as having her best interests at heart.

If the prospect of telling her is just too mortifying, you might have to put up with the stench. Whatever you do, don’t leave an anonymous note. “They don’t work,” says Smith. “Put yourself in her shoes. You’d rather be told in person than think people are talking about you behind your back.” Besides, it’s always a relief to clear the air. ―Lindsay Funston

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