Body odor (BO) is a very difficult subject to discuss with someone who has it.

Either you are careful not to hurt their feelings are you just do not know how to out-rightly put it to them. Whichever way you decide to do it, remember the goal is to help them deal with the issue so, doing it nicely is the key!

This is one scenario:

Henry was late for work. He had worked late into the night, working on the presentation which was due for submission at 12 pm. “I’ll just order an Uber,’’ he said to himself while dressing up in the room and parlor self-contain that he rented last year in the suburbs of Surulere, Lagos. Hopefully, the driver would empathize with him and pick up the pace, avoiding the usual Lagos traffic and taking alternate routes when necessary.

He made the request for a ride and in seven minutes, the driver named Benson arrived in front of his gate. He noticed that the driver looked haggard. “Abi is he one of those kidnappers that pose as drivers?” He thought to himself just as he cross-checked with the information on his mobile phone. “Yep, it’s him, all right,” said Henry aloud as he opened the back door of the car and got in. As he did so, he perceived an unpleasant smell and frowned, but assumed it was just a waft of bad air that had the good fortune of finding his nostrils.

“Good morning, Mr. Benson. Victoria Island, please.” Henry said to the driver as he looked out the window. “Good morning, Sir”, said Benson as he started the trip and began to drive towards the destination. They hadn’t gone very far when Henry perceived the same odor he had frowned at a few minutes ago. “What’s that?” he asked, frowning again. “What?” asked the driver in return.  “That smell, what is it?” “I’m wearing the same shirt I wore yesterday, sir. I haven’t been able to go home due to the late trip I ran last night. I’m sorry sir.”

Henry hung his head in disbelief. Asides the fact that he was late, he now had to deal with the driver’s body odor for the duration of the entire trip.

How many of you have found yourself in a similar situation? You know or have met someone who has an offensive body odor (BO) but in your case, you don’t know how you’d call their attention to it, without sounding abusive, awkward or even rude?

How well do you tell them about it without the two of you exchanging blows???

Oh well, there’s always a solution to every problem. Yes, BO is becoming an increasingly common problem in our society today. While some people are unaware of its health implication and the discomfort it causes to people around them, others just don’t care about their bodies well enough to want to eliminate their BO. In either case, research has provided us with useful tips on how to address these seemingly awkward situations, and the best way to proffer solutions to the guilty ones.

  • Firstly, discuss this issue with the individual. You can do that by talking to the person in private. You should start the conversation with honest praise of the person’s work ethic or a task the person just recently undertook if you work together or have an idea of a recent achievement they just accomplished.

Then, you acknowledge the necessity but potential trouble the discussion might bring. That way, the individual has been caught unawares and will give you their full attention. Honesty is very important at this stage, so you must be candid, although diplomatic as well. You don’t want to use the wrong words to convey your intended message and sound arrogant.

You should never make any assumption about their personal hygiene as you can never be so sure.

  • After relaying the message to the individual and getting his feedback on why the problem has been persistent, we advise that you discuss ways of coping with the problem. You could offer solutions like them washing their clothes more often, taking their baths more frequently, eating healthy meals, etc.

You could also tell a third party who is a mutual friend (one that the individual respects) if they refuse to act on your advice. If you are in a management position, we’d advise you insist that such a person resumes fresh and clean to work daily to help reflect well on the business.

  • Another solution would be to minimize BO by getting deodorants, and body sprays as they not only mask the odor but also make the individual smell great. Also, setting up air fresheners in the environment can also help to minimize the individual’s BO.

Ever found yourself in a situation where you had to talk to someone with a body odor? How did you go about it? Let us know in the comment section……