A guide to not giving women ‘the wrong idea’

Rob Lowe as Chris Traeger is literally a good example of a man in the workplace.

Rob Lowe as Chris Traeger is literally a good example of a man in the workplace.

It's so difficult these days to know whether or not you're flirting with someone. You might think that it might be fairly obvious whether you're sexfully interested in a person, but it transpires that we can't always control those cues that we're sending out. And in these complicated times, when men and women are working together as equals – equals who aren't paid the same or anything – we need to be extra conscious of not firing up the loins of our easily mis-cued colleagues.

Fortunately the ladies have had it all explained to them recently in the US by Jhana, an employee training and education service, via their excellent piece “What if a male colleague gets the wrong idea?” (which they sadly and inexplicably took down – but not before Jezebel took some helpful screenshots. The piece explained to the ladies that sometimes chaps get the wrong idea, which is their responsibility and definitely not just the dudes' problem.

In a perfect world, women would feel free to dress however they want without being stigmatized for it. But know that revealing clothing and certain verbal tics, such as ending statements with an upward inflection in your voice or struggling to accept a compliment, can affect others’ ability to take you seriously.

But ladies, don't think that you've been failing to take responsibility for the actions of your colleagues because you're some sort of harlot – hey, maybe you're just an idiot!

Don’t say or do anything you wouldn’t say or do in the presence of your grandmother. If you sense that you could start unconsciously flirting (you’re human, and sometimes it happens), imagine that your grandmother is in the room. If you’d feel embarrassed saying or doing whatever you’re about to say or do in front of Grandma, don’t go there.

And that's the sort of helpful, not-at-all idiotic advice that helps everyone get along without conflict, let alone challenging any of those statuses or quos. But what about the poor, baffled men out there worried that they're sending “the wrong signals” when they're confronted with terrifying women? Don't worry chaps, I've used Jhana's insights to help construct some similarly helpful tips for the confused Y-chromes.

 

1. Watch what you wear, whore!

Oh sure, you should be able to wear whatever you like – if this was Shangri-la! Anyway: the point is that you might think that you look quite smart in your suit, but what message are you sending, really? We've all seen Mad Men, and thus we know that wearing a suit basically means that you're totes DTF.

Casual clothes also send the message that you're easy, and avoid anything that clings to your body and shows off things like arms or legs or necks or hands. Basically, cover your entire body in such a way that makes it appear that you're not at all sexual, while also ensuring you look hot. But hey, have fun with it!

2. Watch what you say, moron!

We've all been in that awkward position where we've realised too late that we've said something flirtatious in the workplace, like, “Would anyone like a coffee?” or “Is someone trying to use the printer?”  Now use your “common sense” to determine whether you merely think the idea, or yell it out of your mouth like a crazy person. Imagine that your grandmother is watching, except that she's very, very small, lives in your skull, is entirely under your control, is part of your brain, and isn't your grandmother. If what you're about to express is inappropriate, threatening or batshit insane, we say: don't go there!

 

3. Nudity? No-dity!

This is connected with the first point about appropriate clothing, but this is more specific to your flirtatiousness and attitude, and whether you're the sort of guy that is a bit touchy-feely and maybe likes to wander around the office with your junk dangling proudly like a fleshy windsock. Strangely enough, many people find the sight of naked colleagues to be somewhere between “distracting” and “the very stuff of nightmares”, so it's best to use your discretion to determine whether or not you genuinely believe that No Pants Thursdays is likely to get enough organisational support to become a regular thing. Rule of thumb: if you need to ask someone if they're down with seeing your penis, they're not down with seeing your penis.

Next week: other handy negotiating-the-workplace tips, including “when is it appropriate to start a fire?” and “running through the office screaming and slapping people: faux pas, or faux plus?”

You're welcome.

11 comments

  • It is up to the Women not to send the wrong message... why? Because men are still expected to do the asking out.

    When females start asking out men 50/50, it won't be up to them not to send the wrong message.

    Commenter
    cecil
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    August 29, 2013, 1:23PM
    • Andrew, you are fantastic, what a hoot!

      Commenter
      Legally_Pink
      Date and time
      August 29, 2013, 1:56PM
      • so the only part of me that is confused about this generations comedy of manners is why can a politician get away with saying "shes more than a pretty face" about a female employee, in front of the whole country and still smart men and women all over the country still think he and it is acceptable?

        Commenter
        blakeavon
        Date and time
        August 29, 2013, 1:56PM
        • You might be jumping to conclusions about the intellect of people who think that Tony Abbott is acceptable...

          Commenter
          Legally_Pink
          Date and time
          August 29, 2013, 2:47PM
        • I like the irony that he thought that this was his way to recoup from the "she has sex appeal" comment.

          Commenter
          Oscar The Mild
          Date and time
          August 29, 2013, 2:55PM
      • Most men don't speak 'Flirt' so all of this don't make any sense.

        Commenter
        Knee Jerk
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        August 29, 2013, 3:01PM
        • Advice on preventing a woman from receiving undesired sexual advances in the office is ludicrous, and rightly deserving of mockery.

          But an upward inflection at the end of a sentence in English indicates a question. If a person is adding this to the end of every single sentence, it sounds like they have no confidence in anything they are saying.
          If you are trying to get people to respect your input, sounding like you have no idea what you are talking about is not a good start. So actively avoiding such a habit in the workplace is actually very good advice.

          Commenter
          Markus
          Location
          Canberra
          Date and time
          August 29, 2013, 3:17PM
          • I don't think it was the advice so much as the 51% of the population to whom that advice was directed that was the subject of the ridicule, Markus. Pretty sure women don't have a monopoly on sounding like they have "no idea what [they're] talking about".

            Commenter
            Legally_Pink
            Date and time
            August 29, 2013, 4:06PM
          • I never said women held a monopoly. I also never saw the advice being offered on the assumption that all women exhibit this trait.
            But unnecessarily adding an upward inflection at the end of sentences is a social trait witnessed far more often in young women than young men, and it does give a distinct impression to listeners that the speaker has no confidence in what they are saying.

            There are hundreds of self-help books and workshops out there on the topic of communicating with influence, aimed at both men and women. It is not a gender issue.

            Commenter
            Markus
            Location
            Canberra
            Date and time
            August 29, 2013, 4:44PM
        • Some people are just naturally flirty. A new guy has started at my work and for a while there you'd think we were headed for the nearest hotel room! But he has a girlfriend. So he's either a cheater in the making, or just a flirty kind of guy. Same can go for women...

          Commenter
          Lauren_H07
          Date and time
          August 29, 2013, 4:28PM

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