way way way off topic ....

pseudo_momAugust 1, 2011

Hey ladies :)

How do you tell a co-worker (part-time supervisor)... that she has extremely bad breath??

I almost think its medical or diet something ... needs attention I have offered breath mints gum ... it can be smelled almost 4 to 5 feet away thats why I am thinking its a medical issue ...the mints do not help neither does the gum.

How can she not know or smell it ... top it all off she is a gossiper so she likes to get real close to tell you the story ... I move to her side so its not directly in my face ... all of my other co-workers talk about it ...so its not just me ...

I am not friendly enough with her to say "hey do you have something going on that would cause your breath to stink that badly on a daily consistent basis!!"

She lost over 150lbs in the last few years no clue if she did it with diet or surgery met her after she lost the weight but I have seen pictures of when she was a big girl.

So I wonder if she had gastric bypass if that is a side effect of the surgery??? there is no distinct smell to it like garlic or onion or any other odor ... it just lingers..

I think of a "green cloud" lingering over her head when she is talking ...kind of distracting :)

So how can I tactfully ask is it medical?? diet ?? without insulting her ...sadly I think anyway I ask/say something it will offend her.

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That's the worst pseudo. You can say something, but be prepared for her to hate you. It's a greater service to say it but oh-so-difficult.

I'd make sure it's really private, pull her aside where she won't have to walk past anyone else who she might think would be in on what you're saying (less embarrassing). And then just tell her that you want her to know that her breath sometimes stinks and you know that it's hard to tell if your own breath stinks...

I wouldn't ask if it's medical... Maybe you could have a "friend" who had really bad breath and your "friend" went to the doctor because sometimes it's medical. I'd express concern for her health, but not ask that directly.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 11:43AM
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Does your company have a Human Resources department or liason? If so, I would report it to them. They can treat it objectively as a management issue, getting you and other members of the department off the hook. It's also somewhat less humiliating for the person.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 11:55AM
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Even her supervisors comment on it :) no one will say anything to her directly ... I think its the one topic that is so off-limits anywhere ... I mean if it were a one-shot deal you know or a once in a while event I could overlook it but its a consistent problem. KWIM if your pal has bad breath you could say something because its not an everyday occurance.

The general manager is sort of a bully so coming from him it would be taken as offensive ... others make fun of her ... I try to defend her saying it must be diet or medical but she is rather abrasive herself ...

I have to work with her tonight so thats why I was looking for some advice ..

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 12:31PM
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I'd suggest HR as well. I know somewhere I've seen a "sample business letter" which addresses this; it was very tactful and made references to the recipient's good qualities. I know where I worked we had a fair number of "guest engineers" and HR had to sometimes discuss personal hygiene issues with them.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 12:38PM
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I have no suggestions. I am the one with the headphones on avoiding all the bodily function noises and humming and chomping that goes on in my dept. Never the one that speaks up.

BUT something came to mind. You say she lost a lot of weight? My sister takes phentermine (a prescription diet drug) and it gives her extreme dry mouth. To the point of when she talks her lips sometimes get 'stuck' on her teeth because her mouth is SO dry and she often has bad breath. 1. From smoking and 2. The dry mouth.
If she is on medication that cause dry mouth, that might be your answer to 'why'? Also if she drinks coffee with cream, smokes .. That adds to it. Do you think she is actually brushing her teeth in the mornings? I used to be in the dental field lol you guys don't laugh ... Dental to accountant .. Lol ok anyway - if she has severe sinus issues, she will have bad breath.. Notice any sneezing, coughing or complaints about sinus issues? She may not even realize it's effecting her.

My ex often did not brush his teeth at bedtime. He would fall asleep in the recliner and then shuffle half asleep to the bedroom, strip and fall in the bed... I had to start saying, 'let's get ready for bed before we turn the tv on' and then I would brush my teeth and he would follow my example. Not the same situation but wondering of she brushed during the day if that would help.
I brush at work because I try to keep myself from drinking too much coffee or snacking... So I brush and gargle twice sometimes three times a day. A few ladies liked the 'smell' of my fresh clean mouth just walking in to the room so they asked, 'do you brush at work?'. Why yes. Yes I do. And so now several of us are 'work' brushers...

I second the go to the HR dept if that doesn't work, maybe just take her away quietly or step outside.
I did have to confront someone about something embarrassing once and she was actually quite grateful. Granted it wasn't her breath but it was her perfume. I was sneezing all day and because I was miserable I finally just said 'hey can I talk to you for a minute? I love your perfume but I think I'm allergic to it' and she was like omg! Everyone has been sneezing and I thought you guys just had colds... Thank you sooo much for telling me how embarrassing. She just switched and didn't wear as much.

Good luck and Hey be sure to let us know what you do and how it turns out

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 11:41PM
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I brushed my teeth at work once and a colleague saw it and asked "what is it a camp now?" LOL
I would not say anything but talk to HR, let them handle it.

I think bad breath is such sensitive issue that i would not want to be the one addressing it

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 8:34AM
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My DH has an issue with bad breath, and it has nothing to do with his brushing habits. It's caused by a build up of plaque on his tongue -- which is the source of the foul odor. He uses mouth wash and a tongue scraper to deal with it and that takes care of it temporarily until the next flare up. His dentist says it's not uncommon and it's something he may have to deal with for the rest of his life.

He is mostly unaware that his breath is bad until I tell him...and he is always so embarrassed. But, I know he appreciates me telling him and saving him from further embarrassment at work or in social situations.

I'm not sure how you should handle this with your co-worker, but maybe you could print off some info on plaque, or get it from a dentist's office, and pass it along to her in a kind, non-judgemental manner.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 8:51AM
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just get a note to her without her knowing who or where it came from be nice but tell her the way it is

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 10:58AM
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