How to help a girl who is being made to feel uncomfortable at work?
April 17, 2011 7:42 AM   Subscribe

This afternoon, a girl at work confided in me that a male colleague of ours has been making her feel uncomfortable. I want to help her, but I find myself questioning my own motives. I don't want to be one of "those" guys...

Today, at lunch, this male colleague made some comments that were out of line. He asked this girl, "if someone dreamt about you, would you want to know?" - then, before she could answer - "Because I've dreamt about you". It was awkward, so I jumped in and said to him, "I dream about you all the time [wink]", in an attempt to break the tension.

After lunch, the girl came to me to tell me that he was making her feel uncomfortable. She told me that this wasn't the first time he'd made comments like this. I advised her to tell her (female) boss, and she said she had. If he's making you feel uncomfortable, I told her, someone superior needs to tell him to lay off.

I have lunch with them both (and one other guy) at least once a week. Whilst the conversation is usually friendly and innocent, I've heard similar comments once or twice before, from both of them. They make me feel uncomfortable, let alone her. I wish I could say I call them out on it, but instead I just wince and change the subject. That said, I don't think it would help the situation if either she or I were to confront this guy. Really, that's for his boss to do.

They go for lunch together almost every day. She explained to me that she sometimes feels she is being forced to go against her will. He calls her every day, and won't take no for an answer. I think she also feels trapped in the routine - the three of them joined the company at roughly the same time, hence why they became friends - and I think that's why she's asking me for help/advice. I told her to do what I do - make your excuses, say you have too much work, and sit and read metafilter instead - and that, in time, they would stop asking. Or, since she doesn't know many people there, I told her she could spend her lunch walking to the shops with me, if she wanted to.

The trouble is, I've had a minor crush on this girl myself for a while now. She's incredibly attractive, and probably has to deal with this kind of behaviour from guys all the time. I'm pretty sure she's seeing someone, so I've kept those feelings locked up the whole time, but I still question my motives in wanting to help her. In short, I don't want to be one of "those" guys. She's shown she trusts me: I don't want to betray that inadvertently.

Best suggestion I can come up with is that she try befriending some of the girls from the office, and hanging out with them instead. Ideas?

If it's of any use: throwaway.login.name@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (36 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Send her to HR and don't get wrapped up in it.
posted by TheBones at 7:48 AM on April 17, 2011 [14 favorites]


Good way to find out if she's dating someone: Next time she brings this up, ask, "Hey, does he know you're dating someone?"

voilĂ , now you know.
Also, don't get involved directly, but if dudes say these things in front of you, it's okay to act offended in that "that was awkward" way and not a personal one. Social shaming and peer pressure does wonders for this, jokey comebacks or posessiveness escalates it. It's a subtle line; try to make an expression of distate or end the conversation rather than re-directing their attention to you, if that makes sense.
posted by Nixy at 7:49 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


She explained to me that she sometimes feels she is being forced to go against her will. He calls her every day, and won't take no for an answer.

I find this creepy, but I also think she needs to deal with this herself, and not drag you into it. She's a professional colleague, not a damsel in distress. If she can't negotiate her way out of lunch, how can she function on the job?

Does your company have an HR dept? Is there a handbook? Does she know about HR? I'm sorry if I sound short with you, but I think she's trying to drag you into this, because she probably knows you think she's adorable and can get you to run interference for her.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:50 AM on April 17, 2011 [30 favorites]


Tell your coworker that if her boss won't do anything about it, she needs to go to HR. You shouldn't be involved, anyway.
posted by elpea at 7:58 AM on April 17, 2011


I don't think you did the right thing by joking about you dreaming about your male colleague. It makes it seem like that sort of conversation is okay at work (because we are friends, right? It's just jokey jokey), which it isn't.

A simple "Dude, seriously?" or "I sure as hell don't want to hear about it" is the direction you should go in, IMHO. Escalate as needed.

He won't take no for an answer

Yes, he will. He's not Congress. He can't override her veto if two thirds of the voices in his head say it's okay. If she says "No" and means it then there's not much he can do. One thing he can do, of course, is outlast her by continuing to make requests until he wears out down. The problem thus is not that he won't take "no" for an answer, but that she won't give "no" for an answer and mean it.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 8:06 AM on April 17, 2011 [19 favorites]


I don't think it would help the situation if either she or I were to confront this guy.

She should definitely notify HR and a superior, but she also needs to be assertive and tell him off - firmly - to his face. I don't say that to blame the victim (it's by no means her fault that he's harassing her), but for her own sake she needs to be empowered to make her feelings and position clear, and to be able to learn to say no to people who it sounds like are overpowering her decisions.
posted by you're a kitty! at 8:13 AM on April 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


You need to learn to speak up, and say,"Hey, that kind of comment makes me feel really uncomfortable." She does, too.

It this is a situation that can be resolved by grown up people just using their words, as God and polite society intend for us to, there is no need to involve HR.

If she ask him to stop, or you ask them to stop, and then they continue --that's when you go to HR, not before.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:15 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


She needs to go to HR. You both need to go to assertiveness training.
posted by mleigh at 8:19 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whoops. I got stuck on the line: Whilst the conversation is usually friendly and innocent, I've heard similar comments once or twice before, from both of them. And thought that she was making inappropriate comments to him as well. Please disregard my comment above if that is not so.

Slightly more careful reading shows "He calls her every day, and won't take no for an answer."
She needs to stop going to lunch with him, and call HR if he persists.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:21 AM on April 17, 2011


She explained to me that she sometimes feels she is being forced to go against her will. He calls her every day, and won't take no for an answer. I think she also feels trapped in the routine - the three of them joined the company at roughly the same time, hence why they became friends - and I think that's why she's asking me for help/advice.
She's charming you with feigned helplessness. Direct her to HR and find someone OUTSIDE of work to date, since you have a crush.
posted by pink candy floss at 8:33 AM on April 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


SLC Mom, I gather that 'both of them' means the other guy who joined at the same time.

I'll Nth the consensus that she needs to go to HR/superiors (depending on what's available), and assert herself with saying no in a final manner. There's not really a better answer.

On your end, with regards to being that guy - would you want to help someone in a similar situation if you didn't have a crush on them? Would you invite them to join you wandering the shops?

Personally, I don't think there's a conflict there. You can make that invitation, even though you have a crush on her, and (less so, but still true) even though you might not invite everyone to rescue them. Don't use it as a way to get "closer" to her, but you know that already.

And yeah, definitely not your place to confront him, other than the basic calling out for bad behaviour at the time, which I think your joke about the dreaming was a good example of.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:34 AM on April 17, 2011


Everyone has already said what I would say - direct her to HR and other superiors (since her own boss didn't want to address the issue).

And I'm in the same situation as you (e.g., falling for a coworker) and I am promptly looking outside of work for some lovin'. It's just not the way to go (thank the heavens he's leaving soon - it can be tough to hold out....oh wait, that's not really helping you).

And I think Lemurrhea is right about you asking yourself if you would be as involved if you weren't attracted to this coworker? If you would then that's really nice of you, but I think it's time for a higher authority to oversee this situation.
posted by neitherly at 9:01 AM on April 17, 2011


I could not more strongly disagree that this should go to HR.

That's fucking with the guy's career just because he's inept at romance, and bringing the attention of a large impersonal corporation to bear on an interpersonal relationship problem.

"Feeling uncomfortable" is a personal feeling that the girl has an adult obligation to attempt to resolve herself. She has to be the one to let him know that she is not interested. She has not yet said that, so he keeps inviting her to lunch and trying to romance her. She keeps accepting. At some point she has to understand that she is not a princess in a castle forced to endure the depredations of an evil count merely out of social obligation, and that there are no white knights in this situation to come to her rescue.

Strongly, strongly advise her to take the guy aside and say:

"look, this is embarrassing, I apologize if this is all wrong, but it seems like you're flirting with me pretty hard, and I just want to apologize if you thought that I was flirting with you or anything, but I am in a committed serious relationship and it would never work between us."

Desired results: he, without losing face or being "shot down", can either manfully accept that or plausibly deny that was his intent. Nevertheless also, he understands his position vis a vis the woman clearly and directly via that last sentence. And, woman has gracefully put an end to the flirting without harming the work relationship and possibly not even the friend relationship.

Additional results: HR doesn't fuck the guy for being romantically incompetent or too besotted to untangle the mixed signals this woman is giving him. The woman learns an important lesson about how to interact with other human beings in a calm and successful manner with a minimum of damage caused. You, the OP, are not the fuck involved.

Now, if he keeps up the flirting after she has said that, NOW it's an HR issue, because now it's unwanted attention after a clear and direct declaration of disinterest, which is the yardstick for sexual harassment.

OP, find another love interest, as well. This one may be beautiful, but look at the interactions here between her, you, and this other guy. Is that beautiful? Is that what you want to have happen in your relationship with her?

Disclaimer: I've attended about 15 sexual harassment in the workplace seminars and web presentations because I manage people and it's required in my line of business.
posted by felix at 9:02 AM on April 17, 2011 [16 favorites]


Felix, I've had to attend countless sessions on this, too, and I have to disagree. SHE is not "fucking with the guy's career" if she chooses to involve HR rather than confront him; in fact, HE is fucking with his OWN career by choosing to behave in a way that's considered inappropriate in the workplace of most largish companies today. The harassment laws are there precisely for girls like this one, who don't feel comfortable confronting the guy on her own... Besides, a competent HR person (oxymoron?) would also point out that her own behavior - going to lunch with him all the time even though she says she doesn't want to - is stupid and self-defeating.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 9:21 AM on April 17, 2011 [31 favorites]


Felix said what I was going to say. Going to HR--ie giving someone a "record" at work--is for AFTER you've already let the person know they are making you uncomfortable. It sounds like she is playing both sides of the fence. If she's soo uncomfortable, she is obligated to tell him, then take it a few steps back with the lunch and talking on the phone and whatnot. Imo, going to HR is premature. Give the man a chance to back off before taking such a drastic measure.
posted by GeniPalm at 9:32 AM on April 17, 2011


OneMonkeysUncle, given the information we have from the OP, he is not fucking with his own career. He is flirting with a woman who repeatedly accepts his invitations for lunch, which is not any sort of offense. The fact that she doesn't want the behavior needs to be clearly communicated to him; that is her job as a fully functioning adult human being.

Involving HR is the step you take after you have turned down someone's attentions and they continue. That has been on every session you have attended and will be on every session in the future.

There are several reasons for this.

First, this could easily be a case of misunderstanding, trivially defused with minimal effort by the woman making a simple statement.

Second, any escalation in a workplace environment immediately creates a controversial and charged workplace. The fact that the company can fire him (which is the usual purview of HR) will make him feel betrayed, singled out, mistrusted, and mistrustful. Assuming that he and the woman ever have to work together again on anything, this will create a poisonous and unpleasant environment for both of them that might have been trivially defused.

Third, the law (in America, in California) is that sexual harassment occurs when the victim has rebuffed the advances but they continue. Not that the victim has ever been advanced upon, but that the victim has made an effort to stop the advances and they have not stopped. HR can do little until they reasonably believe that the law has been broken, which it clearly has not.

Fourth, great HR departments might successfully defuse the situation without making the entire thing into a fucking bureaucratic nightmare mess. But shitty incompetent HR departments outnumber the great ones 10:1 or more. It's more likely that everyone and their dogs will be brought into this, that rumors will fly around the company, that humiliation and long lectures will be constant, that a permanent cloud will hang over everyone involved, and that people will quit or be fired.

That said, again, if the problem is cut and dried -- the woman tells him no thanks, he continues and it doesn't feel right -- then even shitty HR departments will do the right thing because at that point it really is against the law and the book is clear.
posted by felix at 9:41 AM on April 17, 2011


Oh, and one other addition to my extremely long note: I've managed a lot of software developers and introverts, and very often these people (mostly guys) have poor social graces and think that making coarse flirty comments to women are either (a) collegial in a haw haw fraternity sort of way or (b) the ultimate key to getting them in bed by showing them how interested you are in them. I might've seen this pattern about 20 times. Maybe about 10 times, their target was unsettled by the behavior enough to talk to me about it.

When shut down in the way I described above, every single interaction ended successfully. Some guys were hurt and discouraged, some were affable about it, but they stopped, and the situation was resolved.
posted by felix at 9:49 AM on April 17, 2011


It's hard not to overlay one's feelings onto this situation, which I think explains the disparity in "go to hr NOW" and "She's putting you on" responses.

A lot of time women (yes, even incredibly beautiful ones) have a tough time responding as many would expect a male to, because there are consequences for that. Getting branded a bitch, getting passed over for opportunities, etc.

It is definitely not as simple as "she's playing both sides of the fence".

My opinion is that she likely doesn't want this attention, but it's a tightrope to walk to continually have to reject people. And do not assume that because she is beautiful that she sees herself that way and has maximum self confidence.

I think your best bet is to submit to HR as anonymously as possible, and then step away as much as possible. My guess (note: guess) is that she has turned this guy down in every way possible, but he is just one of those types of people who continually assault you with their advances. "Want to go to this event, Cashman?" No "Sure?" yes "Come on, go with us". Thanks, but you guys have fun! "Come on, you wanna go?" nah. "We're leaving in like an hour - why don't you just come?" That's alright, It's not really my thing. "Come on, you'll have fun" OKAY, FUCK.

And then, perhaps once you get older, or realize that people will still mostly like you even after you say no, you get better at it.

But I've know women who were doing all sorts of things at their job that they had no business doing. Educated women who were literally getting sent for coffee for someone they worked for. Who were doing things for men that even that guy's spouse would be like "do it your damn self".

Send it to HR as anonymously as possible, make sure you get confirmation that the parties were notified or engaged by HR, then step back. What happens next is probably its own post.
posted by cashman at 10:34 AM on April 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


OP, one of the most helpful things you can do is, when other guys at work make inappropriate comments, simply state "Dude, no one wants to hear that." It's usually good if you can follow that up with a quick change of subject, so that the people you're trying to gently chide don't get too sensitive about it. It's pretty awesome when other men help out with keeping inappropriate hitting-on-you comments to a minimum.

If you can separate that behavior from your feelings about her, that would be even more awesome, as you'd just be acting in your belief that no-one needs to go through this b.s. at work, rather than your crush on her.

That said, I do think felix has a point: if she's never asked him to stop, she really needs to. Without being at your workplace, it's hard to say if these guys are geniunely being creepy, although that it seems to be more than one guy making jokey advances, in front of each other, makes me think there's a little bit of a general environment problem. But I could also envision scenarios like felix outlines, where she's only giving him subtle signals to back off, which most people would get, but this guy isn't. And unless this guy is showing penis or something, he probably deserves to be firmly and clearly told to back off before going to HR.

(Again, this does really depend on your work situation. It's hard to say without being there, and I'd see my comments above as the most generous interpretation.)

If she can learn to politely but firmly turn people down, that's a great skill to have. Helps sift out the real jerks, too, as anyone who keeps pursuing after a clear "no" is more obviously a jerk.
posted by lillygog at 10:42 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cashman, respectfully, I have been in the girl's situation more than once. She has NO right to continue to have lunch with the guy and talk to him on the phone if he creeps her out. She is absolutely playing both sides of the fence, and it is NOT too much to ask that she be a woman and back off. She won't get branded the b-word if she backs out gracefully and starts distancing herself.
posted by GeniPalm at 11:05 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


OneMonkeysUncle, given the information we have from the OP, he is not fucking with his own career. He is flirting with a woman who repeatedly accepts his invitations for lunch, which is not any sort of offense. The fact that she doesn't want the behavior needs to be clearly communicated to him; that is her job as a fully functioning adult human being.

Sorry, but lack of sense of appropriateness is not an excuse for sexual harassment. Going to lunch with someone is not an invitation for those comments. It'd be one thing if he said something like "You seem really cool, we should hang out sometime," but saying "I dream about you all the time, how do you feel about that?" in a sexually suggestive way is just creepy and totally inappropriate for work.
However, once this started, she needed to stop agreeing to each lunch with him and tell him firmly "I can't go to lunch with you anymore because your comments make me uncomfortable." Women are still adults. She might have some underlying reason why she's afraid to do this, and that might complicate things, but I don't think going to HR after telling him to stop is inappropriate.
posted by elpea at 11:35 AM on April 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


And not to keep commenting, but I meant to add that OP, you need to tell this guy that he makes YOU uncomfortable, too. Stand up for yourself, man.
posted by elpea at 11:36 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


GeniPalm, as someone who was branded "a b-word" for doing exactly what you're suggesting... I must respectfully disagree. I'm also gonna have to disagree with your assertion that she simply must be "playing both sides of the fence". We don't have enough information to assert that this woman deserves our disdain. Dial it back.

OP, don't get involved yourself. There's no need for you to step in and talk to the guy on her behalf. If you are around when you hear him make comments that make you uncomfortable, then you should say something to him. Since you're not "standing up" to this guy by telling him when he's made you uncomfortable, I do think you need to do that first before you can really tell this woman she needs to do the same -- you know, follow your own advice. But it is not your responsibility to step in here. If your coworker doesn't feel comfortable telling this guy herself that he's making her uncomfortable, then it's HR's job to do it. That's one reason why HR exists.
posted by palomar at 11:51 AM on April 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hold up, hold up. I missed this line in my original reading:

She told me that this wasn't the first time he'd made comments like this. I advised her to tell her (female) boss, and she said she had.

She told her supervisor already? What happened with that? I think we need more context, because that could lead to the inference that her boss doesn't care or knows there is nothing that really can be done (HR won't care).

It kind of makes it seem like the atmosphere is kind of hostile to women. You calling her girl (unless you're 17 and working at McDonalds) kind of makes it seem like it's not all that great of a place for women. Obviously I don't know, because we need more context if you can offer some more up.
posted by cashman at 11:53 AM on April 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


OP,

Go to HR and register this incident. Tell HR that you don't want them to talk to anybody about your report. Its not cool for ANYBODY (male or female) to make you uncomfortable in your place of employment.

BUT, also tell them that the female has complained to you about the dude, and perhaps they should do some investigating.

After that, RUN. Don't try to date this girl, don't try to befriend the dude. They are a walking pot of disaster. You have done your duty to ensure the workplace a safe place by talking to HR.

Just forget about them and move on. Sorry this is so messed up.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:56 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


"that could lead to the inference that her boss doesn't care or knows there is nothing that really can be done (HR won't care)."

OR

That the boss thinks the lady is not serious because she CONTINUES TO ENGAGE HIM IN LUNCH AND PHONE CONVERSATIONS. Her words are clearly not congruent to her actions. I'm not saying she's a bad person, just that most people don't continuously CHOOSE to hang around someone who makes them uncomfortable. And how dishonest is it to pretend to the guy that you like him, give him no inkling that he's making you uncomfortable, then go to HR behind his back? Something is just wrong about that.
posted by GeniPalm at 12:01 PM on April 17, 2011


just that most people don't continuously CHOOSE to hang around someone who makes them uncomfortable.

It depends on the positions they hold as coworkers. Does she end up having to interact with him? Is he a team member she repeatedly has to go to for some part of her job? Did the previous person in that position do lunches as a way to get some part of work done?

I want to agree with you, GeniPalm. I really do. I am of the same opinion as you. I wouldn't have believed these situations have more complexity to them than you allege, until I saw it, multiple times, in real life.

It would be great if it was as simple as rejecting advances and moving on. Real life, however, is different. Gender is playing a part here, and I suspect there are other factors at play. I sure wish we could get more of the story.
posted by cashman at 12:05 PM on April 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


"look, this is embarrassing, I apologize if this is all wrong, but it seems like you're flirting with me pretty hard, and I just want to apologize if you thought that I was flirting with you or anything, but I am in a committed serious relationship and it would never work between us."

I would not be this polite in this situation, because it sounds like the guy is not the kind of person to read subtleties - I bet you he'd take this as "maybe if you try harder I'll dump my boyfriend for you." I'd say something like, "You're making me really uncomfortable, and I'm not interested in you whatsoever. If you don't stop calling me and harassing me, I'll move this up to HR."
posted by you're a kitty! at 1:47 PM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I advised her to tell her (female) boss, and she said she had.

Did you get to hear what the boss's response to her was? In those same trainings felix attends (in CA in the US), they tell you that a person's manager has certain affirmative duties. If that person is involved and well-trained on this issue, presumably things are in hand? If I had a buddy-buddy relationship with the supervisor, I might mention the exchange I'd witnessed and see what she says. If I didn't think she was providing good oversight and guidance of the situation, then I'd be more concerned than if she was.
posted by salvia at 1:50 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I agree that it probably isn't as simple as it seems. I've gone into jobs and been told on my first day, or even at interview, that the place has a culture of making obscene propositions to each other and that if I was going to work there, I'd have to be okay with it. Other places, it's simply been clear that certain boundaries aren't respected and that accepting various kinds of violations is a condition of continued employment. You can say as much as you like "go to HR" or assert that there is recourse, but the reality in many workplaces is that it's your choice to put up with it or leave - and they're not obligated to give you a good reference either, don't you forget.

I've also had management directly witness the most outrageously abusive behaviour and do nothing at all to intervene. I've seen other people ask directly and publicly for help and, with my own eyes, seen management tell them "sort it out between you" even in cases of very clear imbalance and abuse of power. If there's meaningful support out there, I've yet to find it. If there's any possible way that a target can respond with impact and not be told "ur doin it rong", I've yet to find it.

I would suggest that if this woman feels that she can't say "no" to her colleague, it is probably because she is getting cues from her environment that tell her that. The fact that she has gone to her boss about it and is still left to deal with it on her own suggests to me that she probably has good reason to feel unsupported. After all, having lunch with your colleagues is all part of being a "team player", right? Now, maybe she has read this all wrong and she would get away with saying "no" to the guy. But she obviously thinks she wouldn't. Her approaching the OP is one way of trying not to have to cope with it totally on her own and I don't blame her.

One of the things that's missing is a supportive culture for not having to put up with being told that your male colleague dreams about you. If everybody around her seems to think this is just fine, who is she to say it isn't? And it certainly negates the predictable HR/management brushoff of "nobody else has complained". Showing your disapproval for this crap whenever it happens isn't "getting in the middle", it's upholding a civilized work environment. It's good for teammates to have each other's backs. I can count a number of occasions where my teammates stood up for me out of rational self-interest and it made all the difference.
posted by tel3path at 1:57 PM on April 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh, and by "showing disapproval" I mean as and when it happens, not by taking the guy aside. Just something like "what?" or "what kind of a thing is that to say?" in a sharp tone of voice when he says something he shouldn't.
posted by tel3path at 2:02 PM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


While she -should- stand up for herself, this isn't some guy fumbling at a romantic interest. He sounds like a prick who realizes the power he has over her and therefore keeps pushing her further into a corner. While he might never be the kind of person to make a move in a physically threatening manner, he does sound like someone who needs to be put in his place.

Tell her to go to HR AND to stand up for herself. She needs to start saying "no", if she can. Though it's not for us to say if she feels like she's being put in a threatened position by him. HR will clear up everything.

And yes, socially embarrass him when he tries that nonsense.
posted by DisreputableDog at 3:49 PM on April 17, 2011


Sorry, but I can't get this out of my mind. I really wish we lived in a world where a woman could solve her problems by handling her harassment in the correct manner, and the rest of the world would respond in the correct manner.

But take a look at this post and the strong opinions in favour of the OP's duty to disclose.

Then take a look at this post and see how alone the OP was, both in regard to the original assault and in regard to her "oversensitivity" to remarks in the wake of it.

Unfortunately we aren't living in an episode of Law & Order: SVU. It's a harsh world and Mariska Hargitay ain't gonna come swooping in and save us from it. We can start by focussing less on the mote in the target's eye, and more on the plank in our own eyes.

It's good that the OP has been willing to stand up for this woman so far. The fact that he has a crush on her is a MacGuffin, a distraction from the real issue. It may be the thing enabling him to see the wrongness here, and if so that's okay in my book.
posted by tel3path at 3:49 PM on April 17, 2011


Mod note: From the OP:
Thanks to everyone for the responses. Apologies for not following up sooner, but I wanted to let the advice sink in and see how things went on Monday first.

Firstly, I should have pointed out that she is only around 21 (hence why I referred to her as a "girl", no condescension intended) and I'm only 24 myself. Hopefully that goes some way to explain why we both sound so clueless.

Second, I think the reason she came to me on Friday was for reassurance that she wasn't taking things the wrong way, which I was happy to provide. I hope that validation gave her the confidence to stand up for herself a bit more.

Third, I know her boss, and she most definitely will make sure the right thing happens. The workplace is female-dominated, and as such, casual sexism usually gets shot down pretty quick. If I sounded at all blasé, I hope that explains why.

Today she didn't go to lunch with these two guys, for the first time in quite a while. They didn't hassle her about it either. I sent her a quick one-liner to ask if she fancied a walk, but she said she'd decided to stay in (to work, and for "other reasons"), and I left it at that. So, whilst I don't have any real information, I think it's pretty safe to assume the situation has been dealt with. Nonetheless, now that I'm aware, I'll be more alert in future.

Again, thanks for the advice, and I'm sorry I couldn't give more detail, but I only really know what I've seen and been told about it. I think that's probably for the best, though. I don't really want to get involved, I only want to do the right thing. If that means calling out behaviour like this in future, then that's what I'll aim for.

Cheers.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:03 AM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well that's good to hear. Thank you for the follow-up. Hopefully she learns that she can say no, and funny enough, it sounds like she used your advice (against you). It's also great that there is no toxic atmosphere there. The "she needs to buck up" crowd was right on this one, I think.
posted by cashman at 11:45 AM on April 18, 2011


Great, OP, excellent news.

Too bad that "it sounds like she used your advice (against you)"... alas, virtue tends to be its own reward.
posted by tel3path at 1:04 PM on April 18, 2011


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