When two people spend a lot of time together, for instance, working together, it is common for a few lines to get blurry. People in close connection to each other develop a rhythm, a way of speaking, joshing around, and often times a set of inside jokes that perplex the outsiders. Human’s make connections, it’s what we do. We bond, and create social order out of chaos, which if any of you are currently working have had experience with at least one job that needed a sane shoulder to lean on to get you through your days. As a result, the bond you create with this comrade in arms, often grows beyond the friendly co-worker stage and into this hazy, maybe not quite on the up and up territory.
Now here is the thing about this, if this type of relationship is mutual, then by all means, you do you and love it. I personally know a great many people with whom this pair bonding extended far beyond the workplace and into lifelong friendships, and in a few cases, incredibly strong, full on, relationships. While many may judge a sexual relationship developing in the workplace, the reality is, it happens, and let me tell you first hand, the majority of them work so well that you have no idea they are even happening. However, that is not what this post is about. I want to discuss what happens when one party is not on board with anything happening outside of the workplace, and in fact, wants to put the brakes on the intensity of the workplace bond.
It took me years to learn how to be my assertive, and defined self. It was not how I was raised, and I fought hard to find the balance between being a bitch, knowing what I want, and finally figuring out to say no, in a way that made me comfortable. If you read my post about The Nice Guy, you already know that this type of dynamic really throws me for a loop. Having an adult man cry because I asserted myself is a feeling that can leave me feeling drained, and horrible. It also makes me question if I am borderline bitchy, which is not a sensation I enjoy. As a result, I have more than once, been in a position where I have to walk this fine line because I have a co-worker who is crossing that line.
In regards to this post, the so called Nice Guy, is showing the true colours that I knew were going to come out. Since my last post, I have told him no. I have texted him (so he has in writing in case he forgets) that talking about personal stuff, touching me, or sharing feelings at work is completely out of question and I do not want any part of it. And yet, he reverts back to the same behaviour after only a few days of “trying” not to be that creepy, touchy, feely dude.
How do you explain to a boss, that someone just makes you uncomfortable? How do you get through to an individual who has a lifetime of feeding off the negative feedback loop of rejection, poor me, and ultimately tears? How do I ensure that I am worth keeping at the job, and not just one of those troublemakers who is complaining about feelings, rather than tangible violations of policy or procedure? Why am I writing this post? Because it is something that I have faced at every single job I have ever had, even when working with an all female staff (Yup, this is not a gender specific problem, but for the sake of clarity in this post I have written it that way). It is something that countless women have faced in their workplaces. It is a question that we all ask, and more often than not, choose to keep our feelings to ourselves, and try to find ways to work around the uncomfortable situation. In short, we enable the problem. We do not call the individuals to task, and we get creative in how to avoid the person, overcome our emotional discomfort, or worse, our denial hacks away at our self worth because if there is no evidence maybe it is all about perception and just in our heads.
Men, if you are reading this, and you feel like a female co-worker is avoiding you, I want you to pause a minute. Or if you have notice a co-worker that you used to feel close to has changed the dynamic and frequency of being near you, breath, and reflect. Could it be possible that you have made them uncomfortable? Have you perhaps over stepped your boundaries? Have you at some point made a personal question there financial security at work? By that, I mean, are you aware of processes and procedures that a personal can comfortably use if they felt that something was making them uncomfortable? If you were ever called into HR, how would you react? Would you be in shock? Defensive? Would you lash out, and destroy that person’s career? For you see, that is what I have feared in the past. Losing my livelihood over something without tangible proof. Something that made me not want to even go into work, and yet, I couldn’t prove happened. Could it be merely a misunderstanding? Did that invite for drinks, or brush of my butt, or lingering look that just squicked me out be all in my head? Was it all accidental?
If I say no, to anything sexual happening in the workplace, or even discussing my personal life while on the clock, I want that to be the end of it. Graciously accept my assertiveness and NEVER cross the line again. Don’t plot, how to get me alone, or plan ways for us to hang out after work. Just be a co-worker, who respects your job, and much as you respect your fellow employees. If you have a cutie in the workplace, just appreciate that you have a little eye candy on the job, and move on. Do not obsess over the fact, because I guarantee that the person on the other end can tell! As someone who frequently crushes over co-workers, I assure you, it can be done in a healthy, sex positive way, that does NOT turn you into a creep.
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