Statue with Gull

No romantic interest co-worker

Tracey Columns

Dear Tracey,

My company holiday party is coming up and I don’t know what to do. One of my co-workers, a very nice man, has seems to have a crush on me. His wife died two years ago. He’s so sad and lonely. He’ll say things that make me very uncomfortable, like complimenting my blouse or telling me what a nice smile I have. He’ll often tease me about why I don’t have a boyfriend. (I’m sixty-three and haven’t had a ‘boyfriend’ in years.) I try to be polite and get away.

The other day he told me he was looking forward to the company party so that we can “get to know each other better.” He said he thinks about how nice it would be to be friends outside of work and wondered if he might drive me to the party?

I blubbered out something like I didn’t think I would be going. Regretfully, I told him I’d think about it.

Now what do I do? I would never date anyone I work with, nor  would I date this man under any circumstances. He’s nice but he’s not my type. I hate to be blunt and hurt his feelings but I really want him to leave me alone.

A woman I work with says I should tell our manager  and let her deal with it but that seems like it would blow things way out of proportion.

I really do enjoy our company holiday parties. The owners are generous people who appreciate their employees. I want to go but not if I have to dodge this man all night long.

How do I tactfully get him to leave me alone?

Awkwardly Trapped

Dear Reader,

What a difficult situation you find yourself in!

It makes sense that your female co-worker recommended  telling your manager about this. Why? Because technically, this behavior could easily be considered sexual harassment and that is against the law.

But from what you have said about this man, noting his sadness and loneliness, it may be premature to bring your manager into this situation. It would be better for both of you if you could muster up the courage to represent yourself to him directly.

My guess is that this option may strike terror in your heart? Okay, that may be a little strong but you probably would have done this by now if you were comfortable, right?

But here’s the deal … this doesn’t have to be in a face-to-face exchange! Enter the mighty power of a well written note! There is no law that says all communication has to take place in person and, in fact, some difficult conversations are often better achieved through the written word. A note can be far more easily digested because the emotions of direct exchange are eliminated.

Now, what to say? After much thought, I am going to advocate you break one of my most revered rules. Why? Because it strikes me that honesty may not be the best policy here. So, how do you feel about fibbing?

I can’t believe I’m even recommending this but here’s why; this man is sad and lonely, therefore, he’s vulnerable. To be perfectly honest with him might only make things worse for both of you. Instead, by being kind and by stretching the truth a wee bit, you get yourself out of a difficult situation and this man retains some dignity.

Consider writing a note like this: “Dear John, I appreciate that you would like to be friends but I am interested in someone else who lives out of the area. Naturally, you could not know this because I prefer to keep my private life separate from my work life. I wish you the best.
Sincerely, _____”

After this, stand firm. If he approaches you again, look him in the eye, smile and say “remember my note!” Repeat this regularly if necessary. He should get the idea.   By all means, if this escalates in any fashion, run, do not walk to your boss!

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