Core Decorum

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Dear Decorum,

One of my acquaintances sits near me in a few of my classes. I greatly respect the person, but this individual is a stink bomb. The stench is distracting me to the point where I get sidetracked in class. How do you tell someone that he/she smells?

-Nauseous Nose

Dear Nauseous,

How do you approach someone? Very, very carefully. Chances are this person has no clue about the stink! Still, if a person does have bad body odor, that person probably wants to know. Honesty is always the best policy.

As an acquaintance, ask yourself: Am I fully comfortable pulling that person aside to discuss cleanliness? Place yourself in their shoes. That person may wish to be told by a friend rather than you, so if you can, discuss it with a mutual friend, one who could break the news more gently. However, don’t let this turn into gossip galore amongst everyone on the Mall, because for some, this is a sensitive topic. Whoever tells him or her must do so privately and respectfully.

When talking with the person, begin by saying that if the roles were reversed, you would hope someone would say something to you. Keep things light and positive, and bear in mind that this may come as a total surprise to the individual. As awkward as it may be for the two of you, the person (hopefully) will be thankful for your concern and that you’ve brought it to their attention.

When in doubt, think: WWOSGD? What would the Old Spice Guy do?

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