Today at work one of me colleagues was talking to me but I had no concentration on what she was saying because there was something on her nose and I was thinking about "how am I supposed to tell her?"

I just don't want her to get embarrassed or uncomfortable. I can simply wait until she goes to restroom and check herself but I just wanted her to know it immediately but I had no idea how not to upset her.

Is there any really polite way to say such thing without being rude?

  • It's probably worthwhile mentioning that it's important to be right about it being what you think it is. For a short while, I worked with someone with a birthmark on their nose, which triggered a lot of strangers to suggest they cleaned their nose in various ways. For such a person, there probably is no polite way for someone they're not very familiar with - even if their nose is actually dirty. – Ed Grimm Feb 5 at 4:32

Is there any really polite way to say such thing without being rude?

Not with words, but with a small gesture. It's my way to handle it when I'm in my office. I usually pick a paper tissue1 and offer it to the person. They understand right away. I've never ever witnessed someone not picking up the clue. They say "thanks" and clean their nose.

FWIW: it also works when someone has another problem, like eye or makeup. But then, I mention it. Just like: "your right/left eye". Or pointing the location on the face on my face.

I guess the situation will be weird anyway, no one likes to be seen like that (problem on their face, or open fly, any awkward situation of this kind..), so being as discreet as possible is a good way to not embarass the person. That's also why I say nothing whenever possible.

1. always a box on my desk or a 6-pack in my pocket.

  • this always works? even if that person is 20 years older than me? – BlackCrystal Feb 1 at 10:40
  • 1
    Well, I actually am often much more older than the person, so that's my POV, but I can't see any situation where people wouldn't understand, even if your reverse roles, people can be smart any age ;) and the situation will be weird anyway, no one likes to be seen like that, so... – OldPadawan Feb 1 at 10:43
  • oh boy, i wish i didn't stare for that long time... – BlackCrystal Feb 1 at 12:20
  • 1
    Well, that's why the less you wait, the better, and people will probably thank you for being proactive. – OldPadawan Feb 1 at 19:18
  • 1
    @BlackCrystal I'm not aware of anything that always works. But in my experience, when this doesn't work, it hasn't been a big deal, and usually just adding a detail about where is enough. I have had an experience with an individual who wouldn't take hints and was really annoyed with me until their next trip to the bathroom, at which point they came back without the issue or the apparent irritation with me. – Ed Grimm Feb 5 at 4:28

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.