This is the same as someone who has food stuck in his teeth or a booger in his nose. If you are not in contact with the person frequently you might hold in your breath and not breathe in anything. If he or she is your colleague and is always standing over you at your desk to discuss a file and this is the first time I would not say anything. If the person has a problem with bad breath and is in close contact with you, you might try the following;
What to do
• Offer the person a stick of sugarless gum. If the gum works and the breath is less toxic, buy two packets of gum and give her one packet. If she is embarrassed and suspects you have smelled her breath, you might say something like, “I also had garlic for lunch. Yuk!”
• If on the next day her breath is still bad and she is a friend as well as a colleague you might say that you have something to tell her. Say that you once had a problem with bad breath, and you have a great product you could recommend. Pray that she does not react badly, and continue. Do this in a private place such as the office bathroom facilities or speak to her after work. Say you are sorry for telling her this but that she probably doesn’t realize she has a problem. Don’t bring up the name halitosis. It might alarm her if there was actually a name for it.
• Trust that the person receiving this news does not take offence although it would be hard not to. You will have to find a way to do this and at the right time at the right place. This would be the same as telling a colleague who sweats profusely and is always smelling, or someone who has spinach or food stuck in his teeth after lunch. You can do it by leaving a note in an envelope on the person’s desk or where only he or she would see it, but this would be much more hurtful as the person might think everyone knows about it. These are not pleasant measures to resort to but it still has to be done unless you can live with it.