General Etiquette > All In A Day's Work

Okay! I Get It!

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Start BG/ Iíve moved to a new floor in my work building and while I know the people on the new floor, I never interacted much with them.  Move went smoothly and I am settled in. /End BG

Two days ago, I made a stop to the ladies room, stopped to refresh my water pitcher and came back to my desk where I put on some hand lotion.  I started back on a project I was working on and a coworker that I sit next to (divided by a half wall) asked:

CW: Cookiehappy, do you smell perfume?
ME:  Hmmm, no but it could be the lotion I just put on, is that what youíre smelling?
CW:  Yes, thatís it!  I canít stand perfumes with flowery scents Ė gives me a headache!!
ME:  Oh, Iím sorry.  Itís not perfume, itís lotion.  Itís called ďcolored materialĒ.  No worries, I wonít use this particular lotion when youíre here, I can use an oil with no scent.
CW:  Good!  Ugh, I can just sniff a small whiff and it sends my head reeling.
ME:  Not a problem, I can use the oil.

Yesterday, I was finishing up a project and coworker says out of the blue:

CW:  You know that lotion?  I still see it on your desk.  Please do not use it. I almost got an instant headache yesterday.
ME:  Coworker, I am aware.  I told you I wouldnít use it while youíre in the office.
(NOTE:  we all have the option of working from home so there are no set days we work in the office at any given time together)
CW:  What is that anyway?  Iím sorry, I just have to make sure I donít get headaches.  You see, I use non-scented lotions and hand creams.

I ignored her and picked up the phone as if I was dialing a number.  I didnít want to get into another conversation with her about the lotion.  I thought we handled it two days ago.

In case she comes back again with more to say, what should I say?  I certainly do not want to give a rude answer (although I could conjure up a good rouser!).

Help and thanks in advance!

Outdoor Girl:
Put the lotion out of sight in a drawer or your purse.  If she doesn't see it, maybe she won't bring it up again.

If she does, 'Coworker, we have discussed this.  I was not aware you were scent sensitive.  I am now.  I will not be using any scented lotions while you are in the office.  (Please) do not bring it up again.'

That's a tough one. Some people, no matter how many times you tell them something, simply won't let things go. It also sounds like, as my neighbor puts it "she enjoys ill health" that is to say she wants everyone to know she has issues with scents, even though she's told them over and over again.

I'd simply keep repeating that while it may be sitting on your desk, you are well aware of her issue with scents, and you will NOT be using it while she's there. And keep repeating that. If she persists, maybe ask her if she's actually SMELLED it since you became aware she has the issue.  If she says no, then simply ask WHY she keeps repeating herself and complaing.

Hide the lotion. People are creatures of habit - since the scent doesn't bother you your coworker is afraid you are going to sit down and put on the lotion without thinking about it. As long as it is on your desk she will have that worry. Put it away and she will probably stop talking about it.

Why not just take the thing home, or at least off your desk. If I had let a coworker know that their scent bothered me and I saw it still sitting there a few days later, I wouldn't say anything, but I would be concerned that they would forget, or just not notice I was in one day and use it.

But then, this is why I wish there were more scent free policies in place.


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