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Submitted by cummy on December 3, 2021

I work in upper-middle management at a large business and entertainment events company and recently we got back to regular face-to-face client meetings. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been having some intense and lengthy meetings in our office with a potential local client, which could really take our company to the next level if it works out. However, a rather awkward problem has arisen.

During these meetings, which tend to last all afternoon, someone breaks wind, silently, usually more than once. The odor is, frankly, overwhelming, yet there is not much in the way of any clear reaction from anyone in the room. I have noticed some people very, very discreetly eye each other suspiciously. But it’s quite a formal and stiff atmosphere, with several very serious and no-nonsense senior executives present from both sides, so it appears if people are just doing their best to ignore this rude interruption. 

During one of the wind-breaking incidents, a junior member of staff sat with her elbow on the table and put her hand over her hand and mouth trying to make it look like she was just resting her head, while another junior member looked uncomfortable but kept her head down and stared at her notepad. On another occasion I noticed one of the clients frowning and looking out of the corner of their eye, but frankly I dare not catch anyone’s eye, so I always quickly avert my gaze to avoid any awkwardness or, god forbid, suspicion. 

Everything at our company is business-like and relations are generally good. I know everyone reasonably well on our side, so I had assumed the culprit was from the would-be client’s team. But imagine my horror when, after the clients had left our last meeting leaving our team to continue the discussion among ourselves, the silent boardroom farter struck again! I was incredulous — there were three senior male executives in the room and two junior female members of staff who were not always present at other meetings. So I am fairly certain the culprit is a senior management figure at our firm.

I’m completely at a loss as to how to deal with this. I’m quite ambitious and have invested a lot of energy into making this project happen. So I can’t believe that a senior company member is behaving in such a rude manner and potentially jeopardizing it by acting so unprofessionally towards potential partners. The potential clients cannot have possibly failed to notice the smell, and I can only assume they are simply being polite and professional by ignoring it. However, I am just afraid that there are limits to anyone’s tolerance and that sooner rather than later they will decided one way or another to end their interest in working with us.

This is just such a strange problem. How on earth can voice my concerns to my superiors?