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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Coworker Wears Too Much Perfume

Dear Sue: We have an employee whose fragrance announces itself way before she enters the room. I am the person of least status in the department and yet people complain to me, rather than to upper management, hoping I'll do something. We cannot expect action from upper management as they do not cope well with issues like this.

To top it off, I'm highly allergic to fragrance. What is the best way to handle this?

- Can't breathe

Sue Says: If you are allergic to perfume and are being affected by someone’s fragrance you have every right to say something--and you should. You can own the “problem.” Tell this person how fragrance affects you, and although it is difficult for you to ask her to limit her fragrance you must or you will continue to suffer.

This person probably has no idea she is wearing too much fragrance or that it is affecting others negatively. By speaking up you are doing both of you a favor.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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