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Workplace boundaries and the chronic flirt

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Workplace boundaries and the chronic flirt

Postby FrayedEndOfSanity » Fri Sep 25, 2009 7:47 am

Hello, my name is Roxie, and I'm a chronic flirt.

Humor and flirtation are my defense mechanisms. Fortunately, I've managed to shift my humor from making fun of myself to actual comedy. The flirtation is another thing.

Most of the guys at my workplace have been warned up front with "I'm a flirt; my fiance knows this, but he also knows where I sleep." Most of them understand what this means. However, one young supervisor doesn't seem to get it. So there you have two people with boundary issues.

Lately, he's been making comments about how nice my hair looks. When I ask him questions and add that I ask a lot of them, he says, "That's OK, I like seeing you in front of me." I laugh it off and go on about my business.

It didn't dawn on me that this was more than typical warehouse banter until a girl who enjoys talking to him asked me to stop flirting with him. She was absolutely cool about it--straightforward, to the point, and very polite. I told her that I will do my absolute best to respect her wishes--but added that I have a problem, and it may take a while, and I might need to be reminded.


Now, my question: what is the best way to approach this situation?

I'm personally not uncomfortable with the situation, but I value my co-worker's feelings. However, I also don't want to antagonize the supervisor. I was thinking of approaching the supervisor with something like this:

"Hey [Tom], remember when you processed my paperwork and I told you I had a disability? Well, trouble with boundaries is part of it. Can you help me be more appropriate in the workplace? If you catch me flirting--or if you catch yourself flirting with me--can you help me nip it in the bud?"

I don't see him saying no.

This way, if he compliments me again, I could say, "Hey--you're supposed to be helping me break this habit, not encourage it!"

I'm thinking that, this way, I could diffuse the situation before it gets any deeper, show my co-worker that I'm trying my best to respect her feelings, and accomplish both without causing too much stink. I fear that if I just came out and said, "We can't be flirting like this in the workplace!" might put him on the defensive, he could ask her what she said to me, cause problems, etc.

Like I said, I'm not uncomfortable with the situation beyond my co-worker's needs. I know where I sleep.

Any advice, thoughts, comments, and/or input would be awesome. Thanks, folks. :)
Do not take my advice before talking to your doctor/counselor/other professional. Depending on where you live, you may be able to find free, confidential care. Most importantly, sometimes your shrink can be wrong. Get a second opinion.
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Re: Workplace boundaries and the chronic flirt

Postby Kezza » Fri Sep 25, 2009 9:12 am

Sounds like a good idea to me. Obviously you trust your supervisor enough to say about your issues and disabilities, so this would seem to be a comfortable next step.
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Re: Workplace boundaries and the chronic flirt

Postby FrayedEndOfSanity » Fri Sep 25, 2009 4:10 pm

Thank you. *Whew.* I couldn't sleep last night. I REALLY don't want to lose her work-friendship over this.

Should I talk to her before speaking with him, and let her know my (lack of) intentions--to make sure she understands I'm committed to resolving this?
Do not take my advice before talking to your doctor/counselor/other professional. Depending on where you live, you may be able to find free, confidential care. Most importantly, sometimes your shrink can be wrong. Get a second opinion.
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Re: Workplace boundaries and the chronic flirt

Postby AoW » Sat Sep 26, 2009 10:04 am

There is a boundary you may not be aware of. It is called Sexual Harassment. Unfortunately the boundaries with it, is quite hazy. Many people in the workplace has fallen into this trap by the smallest misstep. Also unfortunately there are also many misunderstandings and misconceptions. Why am I telling you this? Because I have seen things go horribly wrong for people.

I also agree with you proposition of resolving the issue. It is a good plan. Maybe you could arrange with another person that knows you well to discuss the issue with the supervisor. Clarify the situation to him.

Lastly, examine the reasons you flirt. People do have reasons for doing it. Find your reasons, and perhaps see if you could fulfill those needs outside of the workplace.
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