About last night, Can I flirt at work without appearing sleazy or inappropriate? 14-01-18

January 25, 2018

Q: I am 26 and single. I’m quite shy, and am not much of a party animal, so I don’t find it easy to meet women. At work I have a large team of colleagues, and many of them are attractive women I would like to get to know better, but I am worried about how best to flirt, or give them compliments. I do not want to seem sleazy, or inappropriate, especially in the current climate of exposing sexual harassment. How do you walk the line?

A: Attractive women do not exist for men’s delectation. Young women enjoy dressing well, and making the most of their looks. This does not mean that they are setting out to be like cakes in a baker’s window, a tasty selection vying to be chosen. Even if they are single, and available that does not mean they are available to you, and they are not responsible for any desire they might inspire.

The best way to become comfortable around women is to practise engaging with all the women you meet in a friendly way, without a hidden agenda. Most women can pick up on insincerity or sleaze. Make sure that you interact positively with all women, regardless of their age or looks. If you only acknowledge the pretty ones it will not reflect well on you.

Women are human beings who go to work to earn a living, further their careers, climb the ladder of success … just like men. While they might look attractive, the workplace is not a dating site. You need to interact with them with respect. They are not at work to be picked up.

Obviously, there are times when people who work together find themselves drawn to one another, but it is important to tread carefully. Just because an attractive woman is friendly and approachable it does not mean that she wants to be more than a colleague, and she should not have to fear that any warmth on her part will be taken as encouragement to woo.

If you do sense a connection developing, take it out of the workplace ASAP. You might suggest going for coffee, so that you can get to know each other better, but do not have “deep and meaningfuls” in work time. If a relationship does develop, make sure that your behaviour is professional in the office. It is not appropriate to sneak off to the photocopy room for a pash. Make sure you do not make your other colleagues feel embarrassed or uncomfortable.  Relationships can fizzle out quickly, so think about how it would be to go to work with someone with whom you had a disastrous romance.

Avoid making comments about a woman’s body. I assume that you realise that it is inappropriate to tell a woman she has great tits, or a cute bum, but even commenting on her lovely eyes or pretty smile is still too personal. If you want to give a compliment, especially in the workplace, ask, “May I give you a compliment?”. Frame your observations as ‘I’ statements: “I like your dress/shoes/new hairstyle”. When you make a “you” statement it can give the impression that you feel entitled to make a judgment.

Make sure that you listen, and pay close attention to the response you get. If the woman says “no”, or is otherwise underwhelmed, respectfully back off. Do not take a negative response personally. It is not an attack on your manhood, and it is pathetic when the rejectee turns nasty (she must be a bitch or a lesbian). All that response exposes is your insincerity, and the fact that you were only chasing sex.

Be aware of the power dynamic between you and your colleagues. A woman under your management might not feel able to reject your advances because you have the power to affect her work prospects. As a rule of thumb, if you would not say it, or do it, to your boss, don’t do it. Some say that a pat on the bum is harmless, but, if your CEO were a woman, would you pat her bottom in passing?

Email your questions to abtlastnight@gmail.com

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