Your employer doesn’t allow smoking at work, but what about perfumes? Synthetic fragrances trigger migraines, exacerbate asthma symptoms, and cause severe allergic reactions in many people. Here are some tips for getting your coworkers to lay off the fumes without getting fuming mad!
Our first installment, Migraine-ous Fragrances at Work: Know your Rights, dealt with your right to work in a migraine-free, scent-free environment. Here, we suggest some tactful ways to approach coworkers about their perfume and ask them to stop.
Here are some opening lines, suggestions, and coping mechanisms that may help you breathe easier at work and avoid further migraines:
1) Go straight to the “offender,” but keep it cool.
2) Say something like,
“I love that perfume you’re wearing (even if you don’t), and I wish I could wear it, but unfortunately I get a migraine every time I’m near any kind of cologne. Is there any way you could wait until after work to use perfume?”
3) Apologize for asking her to alter her regular morning prep-up.
It’s likely that she’s been wearing the same perfume for decades, and won’t take kindly to being asked to stop, even if it means preventing headaches.
4) Use words that are passive. Instead of, “Your perfume is giving me a migraine,” say something like, “I keep getting horrible migraine headaches from perfumes.”
5) Appeal to her in a friendly email. Write something like,
“I hope this doesn’t offend, but I need to tell you about a medical condition that I have- migraine disorder. It causes me to get headaches, nausea, and stomach upset for days, and all it takes is a whiff of perfume to set it off. I’ve noticed that you enjoy wearing perfume, but I’m asking you to, please, avoid wearing it to work.”
6) If she takes offense, explain that this isn’t about her personal scent; it’s the chemicals contained in the perfume.
7) If she doesn’t get the connection between migraines and perfume, compare it to an allergy.
Most people are hip to respecting other people’s rights to avoid allergens, even if they don’t appreciate the disabling effect migraines can have on a person.
8) Ask your boss if you can change your hours, perhaps show up an hour early, so that you can avoid getting a migraine from certain “environmental factors.”
9) Ask your boss to move your desk away from the offender, or away from restrooms and conference areas.
10) Ask for a seat by a window.
11) Ask to be relocated to another office.
12) Ask your employer to institute a fragrance-free policy.
13) Get more technical about work; avoid live interactions whenever possible by using email, video conferences, social media, SMS’s, and good old-fashioned phone calls to get the job done.
14) Appeal to human resources if your boss is unresponsive.
16) Drink plenty of water to clear your sinuses, and use a nasal spray.
17) Wear a surgical mask. (Don’t forget your migraine glasses!)
18) Carry smelling salts.
19) Set up an air purifier by your work desk.
20) Threaten a lawsuit. One woman won a $100,000 settlement against her employer who refused to address her fragrance sensitivity.
Please tell us…
How do you deal with migraines in the workplace?
Have you ever approached a coworker about her perfume? What was her response?
Do you have any questions or suggestions? Please leave your comments below.
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