Telling the truth can be incredibly hard if we have to tell a truth that’s difficult to hear.
But one of the kindest things we can do is tell that truth, according to the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor IndyMazzy found themselves in a tough situation where they were pressured to tell the truth at work.
But after seeing their coworker’s reaction, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if they should have kept the truth to themselves.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for coming up with ways to keep a stinky coworker out of my office and finally telling her that she smells bad?”
The OP had a coworker with a noticeable odor.
“I have a coworker that absolutely reeks of what smells like indoor smoking, hairspray left in her hair for days, and a general lack of personal hygiene.”
“She is very friendly and has been at the company for decades. She is just one of those people who isn’t very self-aware about hygiene and presentation.”
“She also must smoke like an absolute chimney in her house as the smell just seems to be stuck in her skin.”
The OP did what they could to distance themselves from the coworker.
“I haven’t ever smelled that level of smoke on a person before.”
“I have gone so far as to have a pony door installed as my office door and put a basket on the outside of the door for her to put paperwork she brings me in, so that she doesn’t need to come inside.”
But the coworker finally called the OP out on it.
“The other day she dropped by and asked why I have others in my office frequently but always have reasons why she can’t come in (I lie and say I’m about to start a teleconference or I’m headed out).”
“I finally told her yesterday that her smoking habit makes her have an odor that I find offensive and can’t be around.”
“I left out the hygiene and hairspray smells.”
The coworker did not respond well to this feedback.
“She seemed absolutely crushed by what I told her and hasn’t spoken to me since.”
“I feel really bad that I let her know that she stinks.”
“AITA and could I have handled this better?”
“I feel really bad about it.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some thought the OP handled the situation perfectly.
“NTA. I think it was wise to leave out the hygiene and hairspray part and simply stick to the smoke smell. If you show up for work, you need to not reek, and if you ask someone else about it, honesty is the best policy.” – GlowLightLady
“She did ask. When you ask someone point-blank why you don’t get to hang out in their office, you have to be prepared to hear something you might not want to hear.”
“The answer isn’t gonna be, ‘You are so delightful, I want to share you with the whole office.’ You smell bad is probably better than I hate your face.” – Music_withRocks_In
“NTA, I actually think you handled this difficult situation perfectly.”
“You didn’t lie and give a fake reason. You didn’t mention the more sensitive hygiene issues.”
“Smokers know that they smell like smoke, and you made her aware that she, personally, may have become desensitized to what she smells like.”
“Hopefully, she’ll get over the initial hurt feelings and take appropriate action (rather than adding heavy perfume or another smell to the list).”
“Personally, I think smoke and other smells are a bad mix.”
“I had a coworker who was perfectly hygienic but just reeked of this combination of cigarettes, coffee, and vanilla lotion that was nauseating to me. She quit smoking and the remaining coffee/vanilla scent was perfectly tolerable.” – JeepersCreepers74
Others thought the OP should have mentioned the hygiene issues, too.
“NTA. The hygiene conversation is hard but necessary in these situations. Hopefully, she will shower more often.” – sarah449
“OP didn’t mention the hygiene issue, but honestly they should. In college my sister’s bf’s (boyfriend’s) roommate just. wouldn’t. shower unless asked.”
“He was cool about it, and he would not argue if he was told to shower. But he just straight up wouldn’t shower of his own volition.”
“I get that some people have trouble managing themselves (I’ve been known to go through a spell myself) but there are lots of tools and resources to help.” – SelfBoundBeauty
“I have cats, dogs, and used to have some farm animals. I can’t believe how much my clothes smelled like cat pee and general animal when I went to college.”
“After my first month, my parents sent up clothing, and when I opened to bag, it was like I was punched in the face with animal smells. Took 2 washes for the smell to get out.”
“I ended up telling my roommate that I thought they left the bag on the floor or something and the animals got to it but she ended up telling me that I actually smelled like that too when I first got there and it didn’t go away until the second week.”
“She had been trying to figure out how to tell me but that’s when I had washed to last of the clothes I brought up so it wasn’t an issue anymore.”
“I was absolutely mortified.”
“I ended up talking to old high-school friends about how I was hurt they never told me I smelled and they had no idea what I was talking about.”
“Then I remembered everyone from my town had some sort of pet, so I gleefully told them to have their parents send up some clothes, and the next week, I got calls asking WTF (what the f**k) I did to their clothes because it smelled like various animals.”
“Apparently, we were all nose blind to each others’ animal smells lol.” – AnimalLover38
It might have been incredibly difficult for the OP to step out of their comfort zone and respectfully explain what was going on with their coworker, but the subReddit agreed, the coworker did ask, and it was best for them to know so they could make appropriate changes.
Hopefully, their relationship will survive, and perhaps even thrive, once they’re able to comfortably spend more time together.