Ask Katie: My veterinary colleague is great but stinky

April 29, 2019
Katie Adams, CVPM
Katie Adams, CVPM

Katie Adams, CVPM, is owner and management consultant at Agrygation Consulting.

Hes a great team member at the veterinary hospital, but occasional body odor could become a problem. I say dont be afraid to talk about it directly, privately and kindly.

The sweet smell of success ... or maybe just sweat. (shurkin_son/stock.adobe.com)Q: One of my coworkers frequents the gym before work. Most of the time it's not an issue, but two to three times a month he'll come to work smelling like sweat. I don't want to embarrass him, but his role involves a fair amount of customer interaction and I worry about the impression it leaves with them. How do I have this awkward conversation without hurting his feelings?

My guess is that this person is completely unaware and will be happy you've brought the issue to his attention. Try something like this:

“Bob, could I chat with you for a quick second? I know you enjoy hitting the gym before work every day, and I applaud your commitment to that routine and to your health. However, there are times when you arrive to work there's a lingering odor of someone who's been at the gym.”

Wait for him to respond and then together come up with a plan that will address the issue. Perhaps Bob can commit to taking a shower following every workout, even if that means he must cut his routine short. Maybe he occasionally forgets his deodorant and can commit to keeping an extra stick in his gym bag or even at work. Because it's only an occasional occurrence, my hunch is it's something he can easily address.

Katie Adams, CVPM, is director of Curriculum Development at IGNITE Veterinary Solutions. Got a question for Katie? Email us at firstline@ubm.com.