OFF-TOPIC question about an office thing?

Subject: OFF-TOPIC question about an office thing?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, James Jones <doc-x -at- earthlink -dot- net>
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2006 16:26:35 -0400

James Jones wondered: <<My long-term girlfriend works as a manager in an office of a foundation and a co-worker of lower rank has been complaining that her (my girlfriend's) perfume makes her sick or nauseated. My girlfriend does not wear heavy perfume. You can hardly tell that she's wearing any perfume at all. Her perfume does not cause complaints from anyone else. Is this kind of thing an issue in offices?>>

Regrettably, yes, it is an issue in offices and elsewhere. Some people have significant allergies to perfume, and the fact that you or other workers have no issues with the perfume quantity isn't relevant; it's a real, often somewhat serious medical condition for some people. Think "peanut allergy" and you'll get the idea, though they don't usually fall over and suffocate if they smell perfume.

So in most cases, it's an issue of concern for someone else's well-being: you don't need perfume to function at the office, and if it's seriously inconveniencing someone else, why bother? (Caveat: I'm biased here. My take on perfume is that it's all a scam and sends entirely the wrong message. "Yes, dear, I love you more than life and chocolate, but frankly, you stink and I'd prefer if you covered up your natural scent with a gallon of synthetic chemicals. But don't take that the wrong way." <g>)

On the other hand, if other office workers wear perfume (particularly the same perfume) and get no complaints, there's a decent chance that this has nothing to do with the perfume and everything to do with a personality conflict. If you're an empiricist, you could suggest your girlfriend borrow someone else's perfume at the office or (even better) wears no perfume at all for a couple days to see whether the problem goes away; if it does, it's the particular brand of perfume, but if it doesn't, odds are good it's actually a personality conflict.

This is not at all an uncommon type of behavior for subordinates who have no power to shape their own destiny, and who rightly or wrongly blame the situation on someone else and take out their anger over this situation on the person who seems most likely to be the cause of their misery... like a boss. It's a safer form of aggression than many others because it doesn't result in direct consequences such as a poor performance appraisal.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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OFF-TOPIC question about an office thing: From: James Jones

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