This one thing that nobody will tell you could be holding your career back

I went to a conference recently, and because conferences are for networking, I talked to a lot of people, and I noticed something about many of them.

They have a lot of really bad breath, a.k.a. halitosis. This is not unusual. I notice bad breath often. But it was heightened because I talked to way more people over the course of a couple of days than I normally do in a month, and it drove home how rampant the problem is.

People smell terrible

I get it. We all get stinky breath sometimes. I do too. But if you’re having trouble in your career, can’t get ahead, or find that people seem to shy away from you, it could be that you smell and that this is a serious problem.

I’m sorry. I feel awkward telling you this. And I’m not even talking directly to you, so you can imagine how awkward someone would feel saying this to your actual face. Talking about these things is awkward, which means that no one is likely to tell you if you stink. Even your best friend or significant other probably isn’t going to tell you. I don’t know why it’s so hard to tell someone they smell but it is.

Assume the worst

So, you should probably just assume that your breath stinks. If the amount of bad breath I encountered at the conference is any indication, there’s a good chance if it. This article says an estimated one of four people suffer from bad breath, but it doesn’t say where they got that estimate and it would be quite difficult to get real numbers.

Now what to do about it? Halitosis can cause make others shy away from you and may affect your life and career. Fortunately, it’s often easy to remedy.

How to fix or avoid halitosis

To fix bad breath or decrease your chance of it developing, try the following:

  • Brush your teeth twice daily and after meals – particularly if you’re eating smelly foods like onion and garlic
  • Floss twice daily
  • Drink a lot of water
  • If you drink alcohol, also drink water. Booze causes dry mouth and bacteria loves a dry mouth
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Don’t smoke
  • Use mouthwash
  • Get regular checkups. Several health conditions can cause bad breath
  • Visit your dentist for cleanings once or twice a year

Many people avoid the dentist because of the cost. If you haven’t got insurance coverage from an employer the dentist can be expensive, but avoiding these visits can cost you a lot more in the long run, when things get worse and you need surgery or other more expensive treatment that could have been avoided with regular cleanings. It happened to me, and I heartily recommend doing whatever you can to avoid this outcome. You can also purchase private dental insurance.

Finally, tune into the people around you. It could help to learn to read microexpressions. These are split-second facial expressions that tell you a lot about what people are feeling – learn more here. If I see someone make “disgust” expression while I’m talking, I assume I’ve got bad breath and try to do something about it.

And if someone offers you a mint or piece of gum, take it. They could be trying gently to tell you something.

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