Our sense of smell is ten thousand times more powerful than any of our other senses. We smell immediately, the olfactory response extending directly to the brain, whereas other senses like touch and taste must travel through the body via neurons and the spinal cord before reaching the brain. Powerful!
When something smells good, this is not a problem. But when something smells bad, it’s incredibly disruptive! Especially when food is involved. Not only does smelly food send a direct negative message via your sense of smell, it also affects your sense of taste. A double whammy!
You can imagine the affect this olfactory process must have on the people with whom you live or work. Just because you enjoy a certain food doesn’t mean that others will share that affection.
If you share a space with someone, particularly a work space, your mindfulness of that person’s odor sensitivities will be appreciated.
Some of the most common foods that send a strong message are:
In a spouse, family, or roommate situation, it’s easier to get to know food preferences and the smells that can be tolerated or not. You might even come to an agreement on when you can enjoy the foods unappreciated by others.
Work situations require more diplomacy. If you work in a small office and know your coworkers pretty well, it may be okay to ask if they mind if you reheat your garlic chicken in the microwave.
However, in larger work environments, it’s probably not a good idea to be the culprit who spread the smell of garlic and other pungent spices throughout the third floor.
In most cases where a large number of people are involved, there is always one or two who are either not very mindful, or just assume they won’t be a bother no matter what they do.
When visiting various professional environments, I enjoy taking note of how they handle certain situations. Anytime several people regularly share the same space, boundaries will eventually be crossed.
Some solutions I’ve observed put in place are:
Showing consideration for those who share space with you makes for a pleasant environment – as well as pleasant relationships. Civility through mindfulness of the needs of others, and the awareness that “space” is more than mere personal proximity, is anchored in etiquette rules.