How do I tell a workmate she is inappropriately dressed? - Fashion Police, Auckland.

This depends on what constitutes "inappropriate".

If you work in a fashionable environment and your colleague is simply unstylish to the point of drab (think pre-makeover Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada), it's okay to be upfront and say she needs to up her fashion game for the sake of clients, and you're happy to throw in some Stanley Tucci-esque sass and help with the shopping.

If your workmate's inappropriate dress is less a style issue, and more an issue of corporately-acceptable taste (i.e. she's showing too much skin), pull her aside out of office, e.g. over a drink. Tell her she looks great, but it wouldn't hurt if her "sexy" attire was toned down before 5pm. By starting with a compliment, the slight doesn't sting as much.

Keep the conversation light and jovial by using colloquialisms such as "the girls on display" (if, say, you're referring to excess cleavage), but make sure you're not slut shaming. Enforce the implicit of office dress codes and the importance of not giving superiors any reason not to take her seriously. Tell her in an ideal world she should be able to dress however she wants, but, unfortunately, work is a place to show SOME of her personality, not ALL of her personality.


Note: I assumed you were also female with the answer to your question. If you're male, doing the above probably constitutes sexual harassment and you should keep your trap shut. Wait for another female co-worker to inform this person of her attire issues.

Is it okay to blow your nose at your work desk? - Nasal Nuisance, Auckland.

Don't spread your germs at work. Photo / iStock
Don't spread your germs at work. Photo / iStock

In contrast with farting or spitting, blowing your nose (like coughing) is more socially-permissible and is okay to do in public, whether you're at work, on the bus, or at dinner. But there are limits.

If you're sick, you shouldn't be at work. A cough or a sneeze or two is okay, but as soon as it develops into something more you need to go home. You might be busy, but the effects on office productivity when you make others sick - not to mention the sheer self-righteousness of being sick at work - should make you think twice about spluttering across your Excel spreadsheets all day.

If fluids are continually coming out of your body, you definitely shouldn't be around other people. So, while one blow of the nose is fine, doing it several times over the course of the day will enrage your colleagues and you may soon have a printer thrown at your head. Let's not even go into the concept of a hanky, and how others will feel watching you put your own wet nasal mucus back onto your person. Use a tissue. Always.

If, beyond your first nose-blow you feel the urge to re-clean your nasal pipes, just go to the restroom. It's not that far from your desk. Never, under any circumstances, put this off and sit in front of your computer sniffing. This is even more infuriating to your workmates than actually expelling your snot.

On a recent long-haul flight, I was sat next to a man who stank of body odour. It made the entire trip unpleasant. In retrospect, is there anything I could have done? - Travel Toils, Wellington.

If someone is smelly on a flight there's not much you can do. Photo / iStock
If someone is smelly on a flight there's not much you can do. Photo / iStock

If there were spare seats on the plane, you could have (quietly) mentioned something to a flight attendant and moved to another part of the cabin.

If the plane was full (as most are these days), unfortunately there's nothing you could have done, because there's nothing your fellow traveller could have done. He couldn't shower on the plane. Changing his shirt would have only worked temporarily. A spray of deodorant would only have created a hybrid effect of musk and B.O. (antiperspirant is only effective proactively, not reactively).

If you had said something, all you would have done is embarrass this man, and made him feel uncomfortable. When you take public transportation (yes, airplanes are public transport), you must expect a degree of discomfort. Some flights are better than others, and this goes in the "things you can't control" box with delays, lost luggage, and crying babies.