20 Polite Ways to Tell Someone They Smell

Addressing personal hygiene issues, particularly body odor, is a sensitive matter that requires a balance of tact and honesty. It’s crucial to approach such conversations with respect and empathy, ensuring that the individual’s dignity is maintained.

This article provides 20 polite and considerate ways to communicate with someone about their body odor. These strategies are designed to minimize embarrassment and discomfort while addressing the issue effectively.

how to politely tell someone they smell

How to Politely Tell Someone They Smell

Each response is tailored for different relationships and contexts, with explanations on why they are appropriate and examples of how they could be used in conversation.

1. Expressing Concern for Comfort

“I wanted to mention something to you in confidence. I’ve noticed a recurring odor that might be uncomfortable for you and others around you. I thought it was important to bring it to your attention discreetly.”

This approach is caring and shows concern for the person’s comfort and social interactions.

You: “I’ve noticed a recurring odor that might be uncomfortable for you. I thought you should know.”
Person: “Oh, I wasn’t aware. Thanks for letting me know.”

2. Offering a Subtle Reminder

“Have you tried [specific deodorant or hygiene product]? I find it really effective and thought it might be something you’d appreciate.”

Suggesting a product can be a discreet way to hint at the issue without directly stating it.

You: “Have you tried [specific deodorant]? It’s really effective.”
Person: “No, I haven’t. I’ll give it a try, thanks.”

3. Framing as a Common Issue

“I’ve noticed something recently and wanted to mention it as it’s a common issue many of us face. Sometimes, we might not realize our own body odor, but it’s something we all need to be aware of.”

Discussing body odor as a universal issue can reduce the feeling of being singled out.

You: “Body odor is a common issue. It’s something we all need to be aware of.”
Person: “I see, I’ll be more mindful of that.”

4. Linking to Health and Wellness

“As part of our wellness approach at work, we’re encouraging everyone to be mindful of personal hygiene, as it’s crucial for both health and social interaction.”

In a workplace, linking the issue to overall wellness initiatives can make the conversation more general and less personal.

You: “We’re encouraging mindfulness in personal hygiene as part of our wellness approach.”
Person: “That’s a good initiative. I’ll keep that in mind.”

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5. Encouraging Professional Presentation

“In our professional environment, it’s important for all of us to present ourselves in the best possible way, which includes personal hygiene. It’s something that can impact our interactions and professional image.”

This is suitable in a professional setting where the emphasis is on maintaining a certain standard of presentation.

You: “Personal hygiene is key in our professional image. It’s important for our interactions.”
Person: “I understand. I’ll make sure to pay more attention to that.”

6. Offering Assistance

“I’ve noticed something that might be a bit sensitive to discuss. If you’re having any issues with access to laundry facilities or personal care products, I’m here to help or offer advice.”

This approach is compassionate, especially if the issue might stem from a lack of resources.

You: “If you need help with laundry facilities or personal care products, I’m here to help.”
Person: “Thanks, I’ll let you know if I need anything.”

7. Mentioning a Change

“I’ve observed a change in your usual freshness, and I thought I should mention it. Sometimes, we might not notice these things ourselves.”

Highlighting the issue as a recent change can make the person aware without making them feel it’s a longstanding problem.

You: “I’ve observed a change in your usual freshness. It’s something we might not notice ourselves.”
Person: “Really? I’ll have to check on that. Thank you.”

8. Suggesting a Routine Check

“It might be helpful for all of us to do a routine freshness check throughout the day. It’s easy to get caught up in work and not notice.”

Proposing a general habit that everyone could adopt makes the suggestion inclusive.

You: “Doing a routine freshness check can be helpful. We can easily miss it during a busy day.”
Person: “That’s a practical idea. I’ll start doing that.”

9. Linking to Specific Activities

“Since we’ve started the new fitness program at work, it’s a good time to discuss how increased physical activity can affect our personal freshness. It’s something we all need to keep in mind.”

In the context of increased physical activity, such as a workplace fitness program, this approach is relevant and timely.

You: “With increased physical activity, we need to be mindful of our personal freshness.”
Person: “That’s true, especially after the gym. I’ll be more attentive.”

10. Offering to Share Personal Care Tips

“I’ve recently come across some really effective personal care tips and would be happy to share them with you. It’s amazing how small changes can make a big difference.”

Sharing personal care tips can be a friendly way to address the issue indirectly.

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You: “I’ve found some effective personal care tips. Would you like me to share them with you?”
Person: “Sure, I’m always open to new ideas.”

11. Emphasizing Environmental Factors

“With the change in season, I’ve noticed that we all might need to adjust our personal care routines. It’s something that can affect anyone.”

Seasonal changes can naturally affect body odor, making this a timely and non-personal way to bring up the topic.

You: “With the season change, adjusting our personal care routines can be beneficial.”
Person: “That’s a good point. I hadn’t considered that.”

12. Discussing Dress Code

“As we’re revising our dress code, it’s a good opportunity to talk about how certain fabrics can affect body odor and comfort. Choosing the right materials can make a big difference.”

This approach is useful in a workplace setting where dress code policies are being discussed.

You: “In revising our dress code, let’s consider how fabrics affect body odor.”
Person: “That’s a valid consideration. I’ll look into more breathable fabrics.”

13. Referring to Personal Experience

“I’ve had my own challenges with managing body odor, especially in stressful situations. I found that using certain products really helped. If you’re interested, I can recommend a few.”

Sharing your own experience can make the conversation more relatable and less embarrassing.

You: “I’ve had challenges with body odor too. I can recommend some products that helped me.”
Person: “I’d appreciate that. Thanks for being open about it.”

14. Recommending a Health Check

“Sometimes, body odor can be a sign of a health issue. It might be worth checking with a healthcare professional to ensure everything is okay.”

When body odor might be a symptom of a health issue, suggesting a medical check-up is both caring and practical.

You: “Body odor can sometimes indicate health issues. A check-up might be useful.”
Person: “I hadn’t thought about that. I’ll make an appointment.”

15. Offering Support in Lifestyle Changes

“If you’re considering any lifestyle changes related to diet or fitness, which can also affect body odor, I’m here to support and share resources.”

This is a supportive way to address the issue, particularly if you know the person is making lifestyle changes.

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You: “If you’re making lifestyle changes, I’m here to support and share resources.”
Person: “Thanks, I’ve been thinking about changing my diet. Let’s talk more.”

16. Focusing on Hygiene Education

“I think it could be beneficial for our team to have a session on hygiene and wellness. It’s an important aspect of our personal and professional lives.”

Organizing an educational session on hygiene can address the issue on a broader scale without singling anyone out.

You: “A session on hygiene and wellness could benefit our team.”
Person: “That’s a great idea. It’s important for all of us.”

17. Encouraging Empathy and Understanding

“It’s important for us to be empathetic and understanding about personal hygiene. If someone is facing challenges, we should offer support and guidance.”

Promoting a culture of empathy and understanding can create an environment where such issues can be addressed more openly.

You: “Let’s be empathetic about personal hygiene and offer support if needed.”
Person: “Agreed. We should all be there for each other.”

18. Recommending Professional Grooming Services

“Have you considered trying professional grooming services? They can offer personalized advice and products for managing body odor effectively.”

Suggesting professional services can be a way to address the issue while offering a solution.

You: “Professional grooming services can offer great advice for managing body odor.”
Person: “That’s an interesting idea. I’ll look into it.”

19. Suggesting a Team Reminder

“As a team, we could all benefit from a reminder about personal hygiene, especially considering our close working quarters. It helps maintain a comfortable environment for everyone.”

Best used in a workplace setting where a general reminder to the team can address the issue without singling anyone out.

You: “Let’s have a team reminder about personal hygiene to maintain a comfortable environment.”
Team: “That’s a good idea. Let’s all be mindful.”

20. Recommending Personal Care Products

“I’ve come across some great personal care products recently and thought you might be interested. Sometimes, they can really help with issues like body odor that we all face occasionally.”

Use this method to suggest solutions indirectly by recommending personal care products.

You: “I’ve found some great personal care products that help with body odor. Would you be interested?”
Person: “Sure, I’d like to know more about them.”