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Office etiquette: Is it flirting or just being friendly?

by on
in Your Office Coach

Question: “People at work seem to think I’m a flirt, but I don’t agree. My husband and I are happily married, and I’m just a naturally friendly person who likes people. However, I know that if others think I’m flirting, my opinion really doesn't matter. Do you have any advice?” — Friendly Gal

Marie's Answer: Some women flirt to get attention, while others find that flirting helps them get what they want. Gregarious, sociable types can easily appear to be flirting when they’re not. Here’s how to assess your own behavior:

•    To differentiate flirting from friendliness, consider one simple question: Do I communicate with men the same way I do with women?  If you smile, laugh and flip your hair with the guys, but adopt a more businesslike attitude with female colleagues, that’s a pretty good clue. 

•    Since self-assessments are notoriously biased, solicit objective feedback from trusted friends or co-workers. Ask them the above question and have them describe any behaviors that might be sending the wrong message.

•    If the “flirt” label seems appropriate, you would be wise to change this perception. Flirting can produce unintended consequences ranging from unwelcome invitations to stalking. Try to drop any words or actions that seem like a come-on.

Don’t go too far in the other direction, though. You want to keep your outgoing personality, because friendliness is a wonderful asset. 

To consider what may happen when flirting turns serious, see Dangerous Workplace Romances.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Des March 25, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Whether or not she thinks she’s flirting, others seem to think so. I think she should adjust her behavior……and still be pleasant and sociable.

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Revelation June 20, 2009 at 2:45 pm

A girl in my class had a problem with boys
She played with them all as if they were toys
She’d get very upset if they made too much noise
And tape up their mouths to silence their voice

She locked them away in a room with a key
And led them to think, ‘How lucky are we!’

She used them like puppets, pulling their strings
And had them doing all manner of things
They gave her money, cars and fine clothes
Took her to restaurants and expensive shows
One even bought her a brand new nose
That she said she hated, just to keep him on his toes

When she got bored she would throw them away
And call them again on a rainy day
They had no feelings, as she as she’s concerned
All that she gained she thought she had earned

She has all that she wants and nothing she needs
Squeezing them dry, her heart never bleeds
And she turns a deaf ear to all of their pleads
Off their innocence and ignorance she voraciously feeds

The girl in my class is not all that she seems
She gets what she wants by any means
And why not? She’s the girl of your dreams…

© Revelation-Peter Freeth-Stepheni Smith 2009

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