It’s something that we don’t talk about, at least not in public. Being stinky. I mean, sometimes people smell. It might be OK for the gym, but at work it can be a problem of odiferous proportions. It can also drive co-workers to the nearest window.
While some people are extra sensitive to smells, it’s not necessary to ban every fragrance at most workplaces as long as we can agree that moderation and common courtesy is key.
Science says that olfaction (sense of smell) is the most sensitive of the senses. Seventy five percent of emotions are triggered by smell and a woman has a stronger sense of smell than a man. People can identify others by smell, they can actually smell fear and to support a popular commercial, stress sweat smells the worst.
Don’t think you are a good judge of your own smell either. Fact is, you can’t really smell yourself. The sense of smell fatigues quickly so you get used to your own smell and that of your house, your dog and your cologne. Because of this, you will need to remember what your momma told you to avoid offending the delicate senses of others.
What are our odiferous enemies?
Stinky food: What you ate it for lunch (especially if it involves garlic, dairy or coffee) can cause your office mates to turn away or back up when you talk.
Stinky clothes: If you are partial to fabrics with synthetics or poly-blends, they need regular, special attention. They hold on to odor and bacteria and even if you are clean, your clothes will betray you.
Stinky habits: Smoking, chewing and a passion for Polo cologne can all affect others.
Stinky you: Untreated, your body will naturally sweat and smell, moisture breeds bacteria.
How do we make sure we aren’t the smelly ones?
Outside of being kind to others with work-hour food choices, a rigorous personal hygiene routine may be in order. Surprisingly enough, you actually have to wash your clothing more often than you might think. Don’t try to “make it one more day before washing.”
A bad smell might indicate poor health. Bad breath or body odor may indicate poor eating habits, dental issues or even diabetes. Proper medical check-ups and eating well all contribute to a healthy, clean smell.
Do what your momma told you. Regular bathing, brushing your teeth, washing hair and thoroughly drying off helps you stay clean. In an emergency, there are always tic tacs.
Wear deodorants and antiperspirants. Deodorants only temporarily mask your body order. Antiperspirants actually control your sweat glands. There are even prescription strength antiperspirants if needed.
So the next time your colleagues garlic chicken breath drives you from the break room, make sure to check your own perfume at the door.
Mary Louise VanNatta is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) with the American Society of Association Executives and has spent over 25 years in the field of Association Management and Public Relations. She has been honored as Rotarian of the Year, one of the OSU Austin Family Businesses of the Year, and currently writes the weekly society column in the Statesman Journal Newspaper in Salem, OR. She can be reached at www.PRSalem.com