I currently sit in a cubical beside someone who does not seem to understand the merits of shower on a regular basis. This is not affecting my job per se, but it is sometimes distracting to have the smell of a co-workers body odor wafting around. This person is also soon to be job shadowing me, meaning he will be in my cubicle probably daily for a couple of hours at a time. If I can smell him/her from their own cubicle, this can only mean it will be exponentially worse when he/she is in my cube.

How can I deal with this respectfully? I don't want my superiors to think I am just trying to cause a fuss, and I don't want this co-worker to feel bad or humiliated. I just want the air to stay... fresh.

  • 1
    "This is not affecting my job per se, but it is sometimes distracting to have the smell of a co-workers body odor wafting around." You get distracted without your job getting affected? How do you manage to do that?
    – Masked Man
    Mar 29, 2017 at 18:29
  • 2
    I can work through it, its just not pleasant. Mar 29, 2017 at 18:43

2 Answers 2


I would go to your manager and just be frank. Heck, someone else may have complained about this person already.

Just be polite and factual when speaking to your manager. Do not use derogatory language to refer to your colleague, or make fun of them. Simply state the facts, and your concerns.


Coincidentally, I ran into a very similar problem with a past coworker. This coworker showered not only rarely, but possibly never. We could smell him immediately after he entered the conference room (which is quite a large room)!


A group of us designated a few people to talk to management about this problem. Management then made a group announcement that personal hygiene was mandatory and not optional. And if affording personal hygiene products was the problem, the company would help with that.

He must have known that the announcement was really directed at him and he changed his behavior.

Bottom line, go to management and just be honest and calm about it.

  • Why is this better than talking directly to that smelly coworker? It seems to me that a complaint is a more nuclear option than just talking about it
    – lucidbrot
    Jul 1, 2018 at 13:27
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    Dealing with this is part of a manager's job, like it or not. If the manager wants the original questioner to talk directly to the person with unwanted behavior, the manager can simply say that. But there should be a fallback position if that fails.
    – O. Jones
    Oct 9, 2019 at 15:23

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