Ask Kari: My coworker has bad body odor — help!

Dear Kari,

I need help with a very weird situation that is happening at work. My colleague is a nice guy, but he stinks! He has both personal body odor going on, and bad breath. How do I causally mention to him that his body odor is offensive and that’s why people avoid him? I have offered him a breath mint more than once, thinking that he would take the hint, but it did not work.

--Sticky Situation at Work

Dear Sticky Situation at Work,

It is kind of you to try to help a friend of yours at work who has a personal health issue. I recommend that you take the matter to your manager or human resources, as hygiene is an important part of professional wellness and can be sticky to address. HR may be best to manage the situation. They can remind the employee of his responsibility to be healthy both mentally and physically in his work environment, which includes proper body hygiene. Keeping you out of it and taking it to leadership within the company allows your co-worker privacy and dignity around the matter, and the two of you an opportunity to remain friends in the future.


As published in the April 2019 issue of Connections.

About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and the owner and Clinical Director of Issaquah Highlands Counseling Group (IHCG), which is now Kari O’Neill Counseling.

This column is for entertainment purposes only. If you are in crisis and in need of support please contact the Crisis Clinic at 866-427-4747.