How to tell your boss he/she has bad breath!

A reader writes…

My boss has really bad breath! We have a good working relationship, and I don’t want to seem rude or hurt his feelings… but how can I politely let him know?

Dear “Altoids,” 

This problem stinks (literally)!  I’m sure others in your office have also noticed his case of halitosis, but nobody wants to say anything.  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. I’ve heard of a website where you can send a “virtual mint” anonymously.  Sure, receiving this information may upset or embarrass him a little – but it may also bring subtle awareness…  without getting anyone in trouble!  Here’s a link so you can check it out:
  2. You can get into the habit of having mints around – offer them to everyone (not just your boss) so it doesn’t seem that obvious.
  3. Find out what type of candy your boss likes best, then place a candy dish on your desk (with a variety of treats… including your boss’ favorite).  If anything, that may take care of the immediate problem.
  4. Bite the bullet and say something.

Hey readers… what would YOU do?

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. additional info
    Apr 23, 2013 @ 07:45:18

    Hi there! I know this is sort of off-topic but I needed to ask.

    Does managing a well-established website such as yours require a massive amount work?
    I am completely new to running a blog however I do write
    in my journal daily. I’d like to start a blog so I will be able to share my personal experience and views online. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or tips for brand new aspiring bloggers. Thankyou!


  2. m. capriola
    Jun 01, 2011 @ 11:34:44

    #2 seems the best — hand out breath mints to everyone and see if that works.

    #1 isn’t bad, but it will humiliate and anger the boss. Even if he doesn’t know who sent it, do you want a moody, angry boss on your hands?

    #3 I don’t like. Candy is not the answer unless it’s peppermints. Candy just makes your teeth go bad and can worsen the problem.

    #4 only if you are on really, really good terms with your boss.


  3. MJ
    Jun 01, 2011 @ 07:03:20

    I agree, that is a little mean. Were’s the compassion in the work place? Gum, w/zytol helps kills bacteria. Bad breath can indicate a serious dental/medical problem. The same bacteria that can cause bad breath, can also led to serious heart problems. Perhaps, you could say to you boss, Hey, I just learned that not going to the dentist and getting my teeth cleaned, can led to heart problems. Then ask him/her if they would recommend their Dentist. That way, you’ll find out if they have a Dentist or not. Due to economy, even Dentists are offering deals for new patients. Call around, check out prices for annual exams. Check online, or in phone book for deals. Perhaps, take up a collection, and get a gift certificate from a local Dentist for a yearly exam, and cleaning.


  4. Cheryl Mills
    May 31, 2011 @ 09:49:06

    I had a boss that had really bad breath. I’m sure everyone noticed since you didn’t have to be in his face, to smell it. I just dealt with it. The thought never crossed my mind, to tell him since I would be embarrassed if someone told me that I had bad breath.


  5. elizabeth reupena
    May 24, 2011 @ 12:27:35

    That’s mean you just need to suck it up and deal with it maybe he/she don’t have dental insurance. Maybe the parents didn’t take them to a dentist when they were a child.


  6. hakim
    May 24, 2011 @ 10:17:53

    I think you should ask your boss if I had a odor would you tell me? Then you would say I really thought long and hard how to tell you and not get on your bad side. SO on and SO on..


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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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