Stanley Bing

Ask Bing: The stinky co-worker

Should you tell the boss about your coworker's odor? Fortune's Stanley Bing gives you honest solutions to workplace dilemmas.

By Stanley Bing

NEW YORK ( -- Q: A new guy started at the office. He works hard, but he smells. Bad. I think he suffers from both halitosis and no-shower-tosis. Should I tell him? Talk to our boss?

A: The problem of the stinky co-worker afflicts just about every person during the course of their career. There are two kinds of stinky people, however, and each needs to be treated differently.

Type A is the nice person who has simply become anti-social after a lifetime in the world of business, where people are often defined by function rather than by physical or moral scent. Such an individual often has some friends who are willing to overlook his bouquet. An intervention group must be formed to meet with that close associate and beseech him to act as an emissary to the fragrant one. This will not solve the problem of the random piece of mayonnaise -encrusted tuna in his moustache - smelly people are often slobs at the table. But it will see results.

Type B is the mean stinker. This person uses his disgusting personal aura to keep people at bay. Give him what he wants.

Q: I'm up for a promotion, but my boss has been stalling. How hard should I kiss his ass?

A: Ass kissing is a lifetime practice, a discipline and an art, and certainly can't be encapsulated here. I refer you to my classic work on the subject, "Throwing The Elephant: Zen and the Art of Managing Up" (Collins), which not only deals with tuft-hunting, brown-nosing and sucking up as a professional issue, but suggests a wide range of comprehensive boss-management strategies as well.

That said, and briefly - you should employ a clockwise/counter-clockwise action on this task. It involves one part of sucking up (clockwise) and an reverse-motion (counter-clockwise) action involving guilt, disappointment, almost imperceptible work slowdown and general withdrawl of subordinate affection until the object of one's desire is granted.

Your boss wants you to be happy and to love him, believe it or not, even if he is not worthy of it. A cessation of back-slapping and mutual coffee-slurping until you are promoted, mingled with a smile and a stroke now and then, will almost certainly grant results. If you deserve them, Sparky. Do you?

Would you like to know how you could be more profitably useless in the workplace? Stanley Bing will answer readers' career questions. E-mail your questions to Top of page

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