Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Overweight Co-Workers Impacting Reader's Diet

DEAR HARRIETTE: I work with a number of extremely overweight people. They do their work well and seem to manage fine, but they move slowly and complain incessantly about what ails them. One woman can’t walk more than down a hall without stopping to catch her breath. I feel for these people. I can see them growing unhealthier by the day. At the same time, I realize that I have slacked off in my exercise routine and my eating habits. I need to turn this around for myself. Do you think I need to find a new job? Do I dare say anything to my co-workers about their weight and their choices? That feels weird and judgmental. I need to do something. Help! -- Off the Scales, Cleveland

DEAR OFF THE SCALES: Trust your instincts -- do not point out your co-workers’ weight or movement challenges. That is not your business. People change their habits when they are ready. Yes, some people wake up to prompts, but let your prompts be your actions for your own life.

Rather than quitting your job, quit adopting their behaviors. Instead, recommit to your health and fitness plan. Take a walk every day at lunchtime. Bring your lunch and snacks to work, and choose lean, healthy options. You can also invite work friends to walk with you on occasion so that you make space to include them in your commitment to making smart choices for the long run. But do not get upset if nobody joins you. Just keep doing it for yourself -- without talking about it.

Read more in: Work & School | Health & Safety | Etiquette & Ethics

Co-Worker's Smelly Feet Getting to Reader

DEAR HARRIETTE: The man who sits in the cubicle across from me has stinky feet. I’m not kidding. He usually takes off his shoes when he is sitting at his desk, and then the whole area near my desk begins to smell. We have no walls, so the air wafts up and over the little half wall and permeates my area. I feel so uncomfortable about it. When people come by my desk, I worry that they may think that this funky smell is mine. I work hard to keep a tidy work space, and this guy is blowing it for everyone. I wonder if he has any idea that his feet smell? I say this because he dresses well and is always neat and seemingly clean, but it all changes when he kicks off his shoes. Can I say something to him? -- Stinky Feet, Boston

DEAR STINKY FEET: If you are certain that your neighbor is the culprit and you believe he is nose-blind to his foot odor, tell him what you suspect -- in private. Let him know that you have noticed that when he takes off his shoes, foot odor permeates the office and travels in to your cubicle. Appeal to his ego, saying that you can tell that he is conscientious about his appearance, so you figured he wasn’t aware of what you think is his foot odor. Tell him you thought he would appreciate knowing so he can do something about it.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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