Let boss handle flirty relationship

July 15, 2007|By MARIE G. McINTYRE

Q: I am an administrative assistant in a small company. One female employee is constantly touching the boss, who happens to be married.

They have worked together for six years.

I have seen her pat his hair, rub his shoulders, and lean her very large chest over him as he sits at his desk. She bats her eyelashes and caters to his every whim.

I don't think this is at all appropriate. It might be harmless, but it doesn't look that way. What's your opinion?

- Tired of Watching

A: To put it bluntly, I think you should mind your own business and focus on your work. You are an employee, not the manager or the morality monitor. If these people are doing something improper, they will have to suffer the consequences in their personal lives.


Your boss could discourage this attention if he wanted to, but he apparently likes it. So if their flirty relationship makes you too uncomfortable, consider taking your administrative talents elsewhere.

However, if someone ever starts touching you inappropriately, you should immediately report the situation.

Q. Because I am much older than my co-workers, the owner of our company has often referred to me as "mature" when talking to clients. Even though this felt like an insult, I told myself that he was clumsily highlighting my years of experience. However, a recent incident left no doubt that he is referring to my age, not my professional background.

How can I let him know these comments are inappropriate?

- Offended

A. Instead of telling your boss that he's thoughtless and rude, tactfully let him know how you feel. For example: "I'm a little sensitive about the age difference between me and the rest of the staff. I'd really appreciate it if you would not point that out to clients. But if you want to discuss my extensive work experience, that would be great."

Unless your boss derives sadistic pleasure from needling people, cut him a little slack and assume that his tacky comments are not mean-spirited.

People sometimes joke about things that others don't find very funny.

Marie G. McIntyre, Ph.D., is a workplace coach and the author of "Secrets to Winning at Office Politics." Send questions to and get free coaching tips at

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