Just a pat on the back, compliments, a jokey remark – what can start out as be friendly gestures only can sometimes become a cause for concern? So what should you do if your boss is a little extra friendly towards you?
While most of us enjoy a little friendly office jokes, you shouldn’t have to put up with anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Whether your boss is male or female, gender doesn’t matter, sexual implication or unwanted attention can soon turn to harassment.
If this attention from your boss is making you uncomfortable, then let them know about it.
By telling them face to face that you’re interested in them professionally but not romantically will make the message clear to them. If you don’t say anything, the attention is likely to persist or even increase as they test how far they need to go in order to get a clear response from you.
While having a conversation it might get difficult to get started, but keeping quiet could make the situation worse.
It’s been noticed that many people especially women don’t like to make a fuss and let go of the flirting. Keeping quiet could even be taken as a sign of encouragement.
Cause of the attention
Sometimes it can get difficult to tell what’s appropriate and what isn’t – especially if the flirting is at the early stages, when your boss maybe is observing you for a reaction. If you feel a little uncomfortable, but your boss hasn’t made any unconcealed gestures, you could always try diverting their attention.
‘Take every opportunity to mention a partner whether you have one or not.
When you book time off work, mention the exotic holiday you’re going on together. Or say your partner’s birthday is coming up and ask for his advice on what to buy as a gift. Drop enough hints and let him know that you’re in a relationship and he should soon get the message.
And if your manager is married, make a habit of asking after his/her family, particularly if you’ve met them in the past.
Reduce opportunities towards the boss
If your manager continues in coming on to you, try to reduce any opportunities for flirtation and entertainments. For an example, make sure any meetings take place in the office and aren’t scheduled at lunch time when it can be difficult to refuse coffee out or lunch in the pub.
Try to avoid situations where you know your boss is likely to flirt with you when around.
if one-to-one meetings get a problem, try to book in an open office area or leave the door to the room open.’
It can be difficult to know how to react over that situation; especially when comments take you off guard, so have a plan of action ready for the next time something happens that makes you feel uncomfortable.
For example, if your boss sits very close to you, just move away. If he makes personal or vulgar comments, rather than laugh it off nervously (which he could take as encouragement), stare at him blankly and change the subject to something work related at that moment.
While you’re likely to dress smartly for work anyway, dressing traditional will help underline your professional status and avoid there being with any mixed messages. The relationship you have with your boss is the most important one you have at work – so of course you’ll want to handle the situation with care. If dropping hints hasn’t worked, you may need to spell it out another way.
To express your disapproval without attacking on their behavior, you can always say something like, “I make it a rule that I never mix business with my pleasure. I know you’re only kidding, but sometimes I feel uncomfortable when you mess about things with me. You should then take the conversation straight back to work and ask for his professional advice on a current project and get busy with some work like this rather than getting into personal talks.
If you’ve been made to feel uncomfortable on different occasions, consider keeping a written record – including the date, time, location, what was said at that moment and if there were any witnesses. You should also keep a note of your actions to try and stop the harassment you went through. Hopefully you won’t need this, but you should decide to file a complaint, it will help make a case.
If you’ve told your boss directly that you’re not interested and he continues to behave inappropriately, it’s time to look into your company’s sexual harassment policy.
Don’t be afraid to talk with your company HR – you can ask for an informal chat to raise your concerns before you decide whether to file a complaint or not. If your boss is behaving inappropriately with you, there’s a chance that he’s on note for having done something similar in the past.