“How do I tell someone they smell bad?” is a question at least some of us have been plagued with. Some people can take being told they’re basically the Pig Pen of the group, others will be mortified, offended or just deeply embarrassed.
Some people stink due to hygiene, or their clothes, but sometimes it’s a genetic or medical issue – so it can be pretty tricky. But they stink – and you can only do so much. So how do you approach the subject?
Well, the service My Friend Smells will do the dirty work for you and anonymously give your stinky friend, neighbor, co-worker, etc. a “hint,” along with cologne wipes.
HOW IT WORKS
It goes like this: they stink and you can’t find any other way to broach the subject, you visit the website and upload the smelly offenders name and info and decide if you’d like to send one unisex scented wipe for $1.99 or four for $4.99. They receive a package in the mail with a note informing them of their offensiveness, along with some wipes. The service claims that the note isn’t mean or contains profanity. But one sample of a note reads “BRO: Someone thinks you SMELL BAD! Sincerely, Anonymous” – so this gesture might insult some.
ALTERNATIVE METHOD – TELLING THEM YOURSELF
The My Friend Smells service is funny, but I figure it might not be the best move for everyone. So I asked around and conducted some research on alternative ways to tell someone they smell horrible.
1 – Before telling someone they stink, ask yourself if this person is really someone you want to have an enriched relationship with. If not, then it might be best to just let it go and keep quiet. But if it’s just their stanky breath – offer them some gum and hope they take the hint.
2 – Don’t do it out of spite or when you’re angry. If their scent really gets to you, maybe do this outdoors – don’t wait until you can take no more and burst out at them. For example – don’t be trapped with them in a car. Air it out.
3 – Pick a private place. Even if everyone else can smell them, they don’t need to be privy to the convo you’re having with this person. A meeting or party is most certainly not the place.
4 – Be compassionate. Imagine if this was you receiving this message.
5 – Don’t tell them other people have been talking about their stink. That’s horrifying. The individual will then be so focused on what other people have been thinking and saying about them, and who, that they won’t focus on the conversation and it will instantly get negative.
6 – Have backup. I know I said to keep it private and without mentioning other people – but if the person freaks out and takes it as you personally insulting or attacking them, then it’s probably okay to mention that someone else also smelled it and knew they dealt it.
7 – Be clear. When delivering an uncomfortable message such as this, we sometimes have the habit of trying to soften the blow so much that the actual message is completely lost. Halley Bock, CEO of Fierce Inc., a leadership development and training company that focuses on conversation recommends five steps: name the issue, give an example, describe it objectively (as a video camera would), clarify why it’s important, say you want to resolve it, and invite the person to respond.
8 – Give the person a chance to respond. They might get defensive, have questions, or want to explain something – hear them out. This is where you can do damage control and preserve the relationship if things get too heated.
What’s your advice? Have you had experience with this as either the one delivering the message or as the offender? Share in the comments below.