Dear W. Smith
I read an article some time ago that said flirting was a networking skill and, when done right, it is a sign of confidence and superb negotiation skills. I didn’t agree with it then and I don’t agree with it now!
I do not support “flirting” in the workplace. I think it is unnecessary and will eventually have negative effects on the work environment and working relationships.
It is clear that your friend does not see how her behavior is affecting you or others in the office. And like your friend, many people consider flirting to be harmless. Especially if they do not “cross the line.” But I believe flirting automatically crosses every line for what is deemed appropriate in the workplace.
Not only may you not be aware of a person’s relationship status, you may not be aware of their boundaries when it comes to communication.
Though flirting may seem playful and harmless, it can send the wrong message and be very damaging. And if flirting at work is inappropriate behavior, flirting with your boss is disastrous behavior. It can put everyone in the office in an uncomfortable or compromising position. Your feelings of embarrassment and the chatter of others in your office is a prime example.
With sensitive issues surrounding sexual harassment and hostile working environments, we have to be more responsible when it comes to our actions and how they affect others. Many flirters claim that they are just being sociable and friendly.
Well there are definite ways to be friendly without flirting and/or making others feel uncomfortable. And what may seem innocent and harmless to some, may greatly offend others.
Tamara Hartley is Your Advice Guru giving REAL advice from REAL experience. She uses her personal life experiences and lessons learned to give others a different perspective and help them make critical decisions in their life, relationships and careers. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Tamara on twitter @drtamarahartley and check out her column and archives at http://www.youradviceguru.com.