I work in a bank and the president of our branch wears the same suit everyday! Now you would think with him being the president and all, he could afford more than one suit or at the very least, get that one cleaned regularly. Will, the suit smells to HIGH HEAVEN! And don’t let us have to be in a closed door meeting with him in the middle of summer. It is literally overwhelming!
Recently, in one of the meetings he mentioned that he noticed an odor. Everyone in the meeting exchanged quick glances at each other because we knew it was his suit, but of course we couldn’t tell him that.
I know he’s going through a lot right now; his wife left him and you don’t have to live under a rock to know the economy is in the tank. There’s also been talk that our branch will be shut down.
Will, what’s the best way to handle this? Is there a good way to tell your boss he stinks? And do you think there’s something else going on here?
Tired of holding my nose
This is relatively simple stuff at least it is for a guy like me. I think sometimes women over-think this kind of thing. Sure, there are a million factors that could be considered here, but they all end with this boss smelling like a gym sock and everyone tap-dancing around it and making stinky faces instead of doing what has to be done. Here’s what needs to happen and why YOU probably shouldn’t do it:
WHAT’S GOING ON: I can’t be sure from the info you gave me, so I’ll have to make a few assumptions based on what I have. You say his wife left him, so he’s probably going through a divorce. If he has kids, she probably took them with her, so he basically lost his whole family. If he is going through a divorce, he’ll probably lose his house, possibly lose his car, and definitely lose a large sum of any money he has in the bank, plus a large portion of what he earns in the future. If there are rumors of the branch closing, he’s worried that he’ll soon lose his job too. To top it all off, this guy has NO close friends to talk to. I know that because, if he had any close friends, one of them would have already told him to clean that funky suit.
SOMEONE’S GONNA HAVE TO TELL HIM: But it shouldn’t be a woman. Hearing it from anyone is going to sting a bit no matter who it comes from but just imagine if a lady in the office (you, for instance) was having an “odor” problem. If another woman pulled her aside it would be bad enough, but if and a man told her that he smelled her, she’d probably be looking for a window to jump from. Since it sounds like everyone in the office already knows, I’d recruit the guy that’s most likely to say a thing like this to someone. I’m sure your office has one: that guy who says what’s on his mind and deals with the consequences later (in my office, that would be me). He’s perfect for this kind of dirty work because the boss already knows how he is and would expect him to be the one to say this sort of thing anyway.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE SAID: The only person I know who has less tact than me is my best friend, which is sort of why he’s my best friend. If I were in this situation, he would say, “Will. Bruh. You know I love you but you smell like stir-fried ass. I know things are rough at home, but you have to get yourself together. After you take a shower and burn that suit, why don’t we go have a beer and talk this out?” Of course, this is not the way you’d want to tell the president of your branch, but it’s going to have to be straight forward, authentic, and compassionate. Regardless of his position, he’s a human being and he’s hurting. As my daddy use to say, “When a man is in a hole, don’t look down on him; reach down for him.”
In this kind of a situation, sincerity trumps tact every time. Your boss doesn’t care right now and feels like no one else does either. And if you and all of the other “grown-ups” in your branch have been holding your noses and giggling behind his back instead of helping him through one of the toughest times in his life, then he’s right (I try not to fuss at the people that write in, but you had that one coming).
These are tough times, but if we all stick together we’ll make it through. When your boss finally gets his head on straight, he’ll remember who cared enough to help him out of his “funk”. Good luck to you, you’re boss and your branch.
Rene here: out of curiosity, have you ever been in a situation like this? What did you say and how did you say it? And if you have a question you’d like Will to tackle, click here and fire away!
William Jones is originally from the tiny town of Alton, Illinois, and now lives in the tinier town of Reisterstown, Maryland. He is a happy husband and a proud father of three, and writes as a hobby, in those few moments he finds between husbanding and daddy-ing.