I took up a new job as software engineer where I share a generous room with another person.

We interact with each other respectfully and professionally and he is doing great work as far as I am concerned.

The problem is, he is often wearing the same T-shirt for multiple weeks and his smell sometimes gets repulsive. The back office employees who often visited me in the first week commented how we should open the windows and how much it smells in our "nerd-room".

Sometimes I sit in a meeting room and develop on a laptop because it gets too overwhelming. I am constantly chewing mint chewing gum and smear mint cream below my nose so I can stand it.

I do not consider myself especially sensitive in the olfactory area.

I really don't know what to do or how to approach this matter. I could ask the bosses to get another room, but for what reason? I don't feel like this is something I can approach my colleague about directly...


2 Answers 2


From the point of view of colleague, he would probably prefer that you approach him first and discretely. This person might not be aware of his odor and could be mortified at finding this out through HR or a manager.

From previous experience, I've known a couple of folks with severe "odor": one who had a funk smell and another who used far too much cologne. In both cases, they simply were NOT aware of their own odor.

If you are gentle and honest about it, I think you have a good chance to get him to change his personal hygiene habits as far as work is concerned.

Involving a manager is bad, because it is awkward for the manager to have to deal with this in the first place, but more importantly it communicates that someone has been talking about this person behind their back.


I had a boss who had extensive experience with giving advice to the more odoriferous subordinates and colleagues, almost everyone of whom was oblivious or unaware of the devastating impact of their BO, especially at close quarters.

  1. Learn about deodorant soap!

  2. Learn about mouthwash!

  3. Replace your clothes!

Every one of the recipients of this advice was grateful for it :)

You are going to have to tell your colleague to stop waging biological warfare on the staff and management. You don't really have a choice. On the other hand, say it gently to him before somebody else, say your manager, says it to him much more loudly, much more angrily and much more clumsily :)


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