How NOT to handle bad breath


We’ve all been there.  You round the corner to your cubical ready to start the day’s work when you are suddenly accosted by the familiar stench of a co-worker’s bad breath. 

“Here we go again…”, you think.  “Another ‘H’-filled tirade that won’t ever permeate my ears because I’m too busy trying to keep it from permeating my nose.”

“So anywahhhhy,” continues your co-worker, “Hhhhank Hhhhenshhhhaaw from Hhhhuman Reshhhhourcess told me ouhhhhhr 401k plahhhhn is an outstahhhhnding invehhhhhstment optiohhhhhn…”

Somehow, we’d like to think that our forced smile and wilting eyelashes might tell the offending party that there’s something less than stellar about the way they are coming across.  Unfortunately, that’s simply wishful thinking.  The problem is that no one knows they have a problem.  We seem to be immune to our own stench, and unlike Willy Nelson’s muse, it’s never on our minds.  

So how do you tell someone that their breathe is causing you to have a problem differentiating their head from their derriere?  Sure, if it’s someone you know and are comfortable with, you can try honesty.  Still, even honesty has it’s own set of problems.  Do you play it off like it’s a one-time occurrence you just noticed and hope that mentioning it takes care of the situation for good?  Do you sit them down and have a serious discussion which could ultimately embarrass them or make you look like the bad person?  How will they react to either scenario?  You’d want to be told if you had bad breath, wouldn’t you?  Would you feel comfortable being told by this person that you have bad breath?  Do you really know them well enough to be discussing this situation with them?

These are all important questions whose answers will vary with each unique situation.  Still, there are some things you can avoid saying that are universal across all situations.  I have taken the liberty of listing a few of them below.  Remember, honesty is the best policy, but brutal honesty is often unnecessary.

# 1 Gee, is that your breath or did I blow my nose right after wiping my ass?

# 2 And now here’s me with the weather:  Thanks, me!  Well it looks like there’s a stank front moving due east from wherever     your mouth happens to be.  We’re looking at a 100% chance of Halitosis throughout the rest of your life.  Sports is next followed by todayís lottery numbers.  Stay Tuned!

# 3 I don’t mean to be rude but your horrible breath is melting my face.  To have to stand here and listen to you is agonizingly painful.  Hey, you ever see that “Alien” movie where the alien is breathing in Sigourney Weaver’s face and she just cringes because the thing is so scary and because it’s saliva is an acid that can eat through metal? This is a lot like that because even though your saliva won’t eat through metal, I’m fairly certain your mouth-stench will and that is scaring the crap outta me, my friend.  Again, I don’t mean to be rude…

So you see, dear reader, one must choose carefully when approaching a subject this sensitive.  Perhaps honesty is not always the best policy.  Better yet, why not just leave an anonymous note…and a breath mint.

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