While leaving the office yesterday, I entered the empty elevator on my way to the ground floor and parking lot. Suddenly, one floor away from my destination, the brass doors parted and a woman entered who was wearing enough perfume for about 18 people. Normally, I would just try to ignore the uncomfortable barrage of fragrance, but yesterday was different, because I’m just getting over a chest cold, and my cough reflex is pretty sensitive. Seconds after she boarded, an attack on my olfactory senses sent me hacking. I don’t think the offending excessively flowery-smelling fellow employee realized that she had irritated my nervous system, but I’m rather confident that her entrance into the elevator was the stimulus of my coughing fit.
For the record, this is an issue with both men and women. My dad is actually one of those guys who really enjoys cologne on the rare occasion that he gets to dress formally. For him, dressing up isn’t just a suit and tie–it’s suit, tie, and COLOGNE. The family has intervened a couple times, but some additional restraint would still be helpful.
Apart from sharing the story, I’m writing this to ask how you think managers should handle “strong fragrance” issues in the workplace. It seems like a sensitive issue because people wearing the cologne or perfume must not realize that it is SO noticeable for the people around them. I really hope that you have some real life stories to share below.
Regarding the elevator offender, I’m thankful that I sit at least a floor away from her desk. I really don’t know what I’d do if I had to sit next to her—could I handle eight or more hours of that fragrance every day? Would it drive me insane and impact my quality of work? Would I write recurring blog posts like this and bore the readers? Would I quit? Hey, maybe extreme fragrance is a technique that managers could use to get underperforming workers to quit (just kidding).
I suspect that if this were someone reporting to me that I’d eventually address the issue. It’s just not like me to let a small thing like this fester and become a big problem so that everyone makes a, well, big stink about it. Ignoring the problem seems like it would eventually turn into a gossip issue with co-workers, which, in turn, would impact the team’s performance.
Have you ever had to deal with this kind of issue in your workplace? If so, how’d you approach it and what was the result?Related
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