Ask Loria: A Malodorous Coworker, a Rambunctious Classmate and a Case of Senioritis



I’m having a problem in my place of business. Five of my coworkers and I work in confined space/room in the basement and one of us smells really bad. I have tried to ignore it, but the smell lingers even after he has gone. He is so sweet and I don’t exactly know how to talk to him. I feel even more uncomfortable talking to him because he is older than me. Is it disrespectful to tell an elder in my work place that they smell? How exactly does one go about starting that discussion?

Loria Says: This situation is a very sensitive one and should be approached with care and concern – rather than just correction. I have been in this situation before and I was able to handle it without hurting feelings. I worked with an older gentleman who had very poor hygiene. Many of my coworkers would poke fun and crack jokes about his body odor (it was very bad!). One day after work, I approached him and expressed my concern. He shared with me his medical problem (inability to hold urine), so it caused him to smell of it constantly. I made a few suggestions, took him shopping and helped him buy cologne. The smell was history! Motive is always important – people can sense heartfelt concern. Talk to him with humility and genuine concern. I am sure he will take your advice and make efforts to fix the situation.

I have a major problem with a young woman in one of my classes. I do not know her, so I don’t feel comfortable talking to her about this problem, but something must be done. She is rude and disruptive. She talks back to the professor who seems uncomfortable putting her in her place. It is disruptive and honestly makes me want to skip class. I don’t like her disrupting my education but with the teacher there it doesn’t seem like my place to check her. What would you do?

Loria Said: You aren’t having a problem, your teacher is. I am sure you are not the only student who finds this classroom disruption infuriating, so talk to other students to gauge the group’s feelings. Make sure that the young lady is actually creating a problem for everyone, not just you. Sometimes, a person’s character or voice can be irritating to some and not others. If other students are just as aggravated, then you should talk to the teacher in private about it. This shouldn’t be your professor’s first “rodeo”, so get his/her take on the issue – it may be a reason this is happening. If all of these measures have been exhausted and if it persists, then you may have to go to the Dean. Please don’t approach the student – it could turn into a very ugly situation.

I am a senior and I am leaving this campus so soon! The problem is I can’t get myself to focus on any of the work I need to do before that wonderful day in May. Do you have words of wisdom that will help me stay focused these next few weeks?

Loria Said: Congratulations!!!! You have fought the good fight and almost finished your course. Don’t give up at the end of the race; you are almost at the finish line. You have worked too hard to slack now. What I want you to do right now is tell yourself that you are a winner. Play Pharrell’s song Happy and sing it every day until May. Don’t forget that YOU have earned this degree. Keep working hard and you anticipate that overwhelming sense of accomplishment you will feel on that day in May. You did the damn thing.

Image: Darragh Nolan


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