What's your Problem?

What should I do about my boss's bad breath?

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Q: My boss has bad breath. It's not full-blown halitosis, but it's extremely unpleasant and it makes it very difficult to talk to him face to face. Not everyone in the office notices it, so I don't know if I'm being over-sensitive. I've thought of sucking a mint when I have to speak to him, but that will seem unprofessional. Should I raise the subject with him or suffer in silence?

A: This is always a difficult one. And the fact that not everyone in the office is conscious of your boss's bad breath makes it even harder. Full-blown halitosis (as you so tastefully describe it) is usually the result of a medical condition and is sooner or later diagnosed and fixed - with family rather than colleagues taking the initiative. Some people are clearly more sensitive to bad breath than others - and you're one of them. As it happens, so am I - and my answer has always been to suffer in silence.

Not very satisfactory, I agree; but I've never been able to find a better alternative.

- Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. His book Another Bad Day at the Office? is published by Penguin at £6.99. Address your problem to Jeremy Bullmore at: editorial@managementtoday.com. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

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