Ask the Insider columnist Ashley Lutz answers all of your work-related questions, including the awkward, sensitive, and real-world ones. Have a question? Email [email protected]
My colleague’s perfume is driving me crazy. Even though I generally like her as a person, I dread her arrival every morning because her perfume is overpowering. We all sit very close together, making her impossible to avoid. Within a few minutes of her sitting down I begin to get a headache and feel sick to my stomach.
We work in the same level in the same department, meaning she (and her scent) follow me to every meeting and conference room. I often feel distracted on the job because of it. The smell wafts around and everyone complains about it behind her back.
How do I say something without offending her?
Tired Of My Coworker’s Perfume
If only office perfume and cologne could be regulated like dress code!
I think you should gently tell your coworker that her perfume is bothersome. It’s very possible she can feel the resentment building and has no idea why. If I were in her shoes, I would rather know than be kept in the dark.
Pull her aside and say something like: “Erica, I’m very sensitive to scents, and your perfume is starting to distract me at work. I love working together otherwise and would rather let you know before I start to get resentful.” I’m guessing she has no idea and will lay off the perfume at work going forward.
If she is dismissive of your request, enlist another coworker to talk to her. Get your manager involved if that doesn’t work — it’s possible he or she could move your desk away from the cloud of perfume.
Ashley Lutz is a senior editor at Business Insider answering all of your questions about the workplace. Send your queries to [email protected] for publication on Business Insider. Requests for anonymity will be granted, and questions may be edited.
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