Worker overwhelmed by fragrances

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WVEC.com

Dear Roze:

Are you aware of any polite, but effective way of addressing co-workers who wear too much heavy fragrance?  I don't want to be labeled a whiner, but some folks seem to have a cloud of scent enveloping them and it doesn't wear off!  I've tried all kinds of avoidance tactics and allergy medications but I literally get sick after prolonged exposure or closed-door meetings with some of them.  I've mentioned my sensitivity, but it hasn't convinced them to lighten up on the scent.  I'm not the only one who is bothered, but I'm affected the most.

-Suffering in Chesapeake

Dear Suffering in Chesapeake:

I can empathize with you.  It is a tough issue to address with anyone, not just co-workers.  I recommend that the person/persons who are close to these overly fragranced employees be the individuals who have one-on-ones with them even if they are not affected by the strong scents.  It is so important that they approach the situation with utmost sensitivity and respect.  They should treat these co-workers the way they would want to be treated.  The goal is to have the individuals use a lot less, a different, or no fragrance without being embarrassed.  If the situation does not improve, request assistance from your supervisor.  Explain that the fragrances are affecting your physical health and your efforts to remedy the matter before going to him/her.

Dear Roze:

Up until recently, I was the “go-to-girl” in my office.  Starting with our big boss, everyone came to me when they needed something done in a pinch, or when they needed to know an agency policy or procedure.  I’ve always been highly thought of for my work and work ethic.  We got a new boss and my status has changed.  He relies on someone else and I’m a nobody.  To go from being highly thought of to not being thought of at all is a real morale crusher.  What do I do?

-Feeling like a nobody in Norfolk

Dear Feeling like a nobody in Norfolk:

I understand your disappointment but it is important that you maintain your professionalism and continue to do the same quality of work.  I can guarantee you that office politics will always change, but only you have the ultimate control over your performance and self-satisfaction in knowing you are doing your best.  Hang in there!

Dear Roze:

My assistant is supposed to process my expense reports.  She sits on them so that I get “nasty grams” from our comptroller when they’re late.  These ugly emails tell me to take care of them, and if I don’t know how, to contact our IT guy for instructions.  I have no intention of contacting the IT guy.  That’s not my job.  The comptroller knows my assistant is responsible for these reports but they’re good friends, so she knows my assistant and I have a hate-hate relationship.  I’ve never responded to the comptroller’s emails.  After this last one, I told my assistant my expense report better not be late again.  She wouldn’t look at me or say anything.  I’ve had enough but I’m stuck with her.  What do I do if she does it again?

-Do your job

Dear Do your job:

Obviously, there is a history between you and your assistant that I have no knowledge of.  Regardless, since you are the boss, set a professional example.  Do not stoop to the level of your assistant.  Instead, make an effort to improve the relationship.  Before having a one-on-one with her, be introspective, recognize and take responsibility for your part in the current situation.  Then, during the face-to-face, tell her you want to work on the relationship, acknowledge your contribution to the problem(s), and apologize.  Because it is not so common for individuals to admit their fault(s) and apologize, such behavior can go a long way towards improving things.

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