How Can You Tell Someone They Smell Without Being Rude?


Telling someone they smell is no easy task. We are unsure of how the individual will react and if we will come out sounding rude. However, we really want to let them know that they smell because we care for them. So how do you tell someone that they smell bad without sounding rude? We are going to share the steps you should take and then provide a few conversation examples by individuals you might come across.

Don’t Be Rude

The most important part of telling someone that they smell is to not be rude. Think about how you would feel if the tables were turned and someone told you that you smell. You would want them to not be rude and be discrete with their message. We want to make sure it is done in a private setting, you are taking their feelings into consideration, and you are primarily helping them out.

Keep It Short & to the Point

Don’t make it a bigger deal than it really is. Start the conversation by asking if they have a few seconds and you need to share something with them. “I have noticed that you have an odor”. It is that simple and that short. Obviously, it might feel a bit awkward now, so make sure you let them know that “this might be an awkward thing to hear as it is awkward for me as well”. Then sympathize with them, “I care for you and I wanted this to come from me than having you hear it from someone else”.

How Will They React?

There might be a moment of pause or a little bit of anger. But you will be surprised how many people already know that they smell but just don’t know how to handle it. At this point, you can offer some advice or help if you feel the individual is open to it.

Reasons Someone Can Smell Bad

There can be multiple reasons that a person can smell bad. Most of them are controllable but others might require medical attention.

Why someone might smell

  • Sweat from exercising or being nervous
  • Something they had eaten
  • Medical Conditions
  • Hot weather
  • Genetics
  • Being overweight

What if it is a medical condition?

There could be the possibility that someone smells because of a medical condition. This should not prevent you from helping someone and letting them know that there is an odor. In some instances, individuals might not be aware that a medical condition can lead to bad body odor. And if they are thankful and willing to listen, you could help advise them that it could be a medical condition as well.

How to Tell a Friend They Smell

“Hi friend, do you have a second, I have something I want to talk about. This might sound awkward, but I obviously care about you and don’t want someone else bringing this up. I noticed a bad odor coming from you.”

How to tell a sibling they smell

“Hi sibling, let me know when you have a minute. Don’t want to beat around the bush, so I’ll just come out and say it. There is an odor coming from you”.

How to tell a coworker they smell

“Hello, a coworker. I wanted to talk to you about something if you have a few seconds. I was passing by your cubicle and noticed an odor coming from you. I know this might sound awkward coming from me, but I obviously care and wanted you to hear it from me instead of someone else.”

How to say to a stranger they smell

“Hi, I know we don’t know each other but do you have a moment. This might sound weird coming from a stranger, but I noticed an odor coming from you and just wanted to let you know.”

How to tell your boyfriend/girlfriend they smell

“Hi, can we talk real quick? I obviously care about you and I noticed an odor coming from you.”

In Conclusion

At the end of it all, it will always be difficult to tell someone they smell. But you are doing the right thing by letting them know. They might be embarrassed or angered at first, but trust us when we say they will be glad that you let them know.

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