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My colleague stinks. How do I tell her that she's ruining my work environment?

Everyone experiences hardships from time to time — whether they be friendship dramas, boyfriend scandals, or job-related challenges. The Morning Breath’s Jackie and Claudia Oshry generously devote time every week to guide their viewers as they overcome any predicament — big or small, trivial or consequential.

This week on “Dear Breathers,” a young social media manager struggles with the irrational demands of her clueless boss, while another employee battles with the debilitating stench of a neighboring colleague.

First up, a viewer writes in to vent about her work-life balance, or lack thereof. While completely pleasant and amiable, this particular Breather’s boss is oblivious when it comes to her high expectations of her subordinate. Midnight phone calls, unproductive three-hour meetings, and disorganization are contributing to the viewer’s overall stress and poor quality of life. How can she implement a normal work schedule without rocking the boat with her boss?

In this situation, a simple sit-down with her supervisor would be the most mature, and perhaps effective, route to take. She should simply explain, “I work from 9 to 5. If you can’t finish whatever business you have to attend to, then it’ll have to wait till tomorrow,” advises Claudia.

Or suggest different payment options, Jackie says. Perhaps being paid hourly will ease the burden of midnight calls.

She should ask her supervisor “what her responsibilities are on a day-to-day basis, because obviously she’s going above and beyond,” says guest co-host and sister Olivia Oshry. “If you’re going to put yourself in that situation, make it work for you,” she adds.

All in all, no one knows the job better than you do, so if you’re experiencing this, simply find a plan that caters to both your boss’s needs and your own needs for a solid work-life balance.

On to a far worse work situation: A long-time company employee has been moved to the basement of her office, only to be trapped with the stinkiest colleague around. While the occasional lapse of deodorant is acceptable, “Peggy’s” consistent hygiene issues are frankly intolerable for her neighboring co-workers, and measures need to be taken.

HR has declined involvement because the situation is too uncomfortable, while the smelly colleague hasn’t taken hints from the new air fresheners lining the hallway. Wanting to solve the problem without hurting Peggy’s feelings, the Breather needs advice on how to make everyone’s work experience more pleasant, or at least livable.

“How do I tell this nice, clueless lady that she reeks?” asks the viewer.

First of all, Claudia encourages her to walk back up to HR and demand that they reopen the issue of the stench: “What are you being paid for? That’s literally HR’s job.”

Or, there’s someone that will do it, and they need to be found as soon as possible. “There’s just one person who’s ruthless and will do it, and you just need to find that person in your office,” advises Claudia.

“There’s no way to go about this in a delicate way,” sympathizes Jackie. “I wouldn’t do a thing about it.”

Ultimately, she should take inventory of her job and decide whether this problem is a solvable one. If so, she should find the ruthless soul willing to lay down the deodorant. If not, she should stock up on Febreze until her next job comes around.


If you want a chance to have Claudia and Jackie answer your questions live on air, email DearBreathers@gmail.com.