Are you the office flirt? If so, career counselors warn, the only thing you’re likely to pick up is a reputation for flakiness.
“It will cost you credit for the work at hand, even if you deserve it and you’re working hard,” says human resource lawyer Courtney Anderson.
Even in the 21st century, the stakes remain unfairly steep for women in some industries, notes “Office Mate” author Helaine Olen.
“We still have a lot of sexist assumptions about flirting in the office,” she says. “If you do it often, you’re going to be perceived as less serious — that’s just a given.”
But gallivanting men, Anderson adds, would be wrong to think that they could play cubicle footsy and still win the respect of their co-workers.
“It’s the same basic risk for men and women,” she cautions. “You are either seen as a professional, or you are not.”
And even with pure intentions, sometimes a compliment can come off like a come-on, Olen warns.
“Should a guy go into the office and start complimenting women on their clothing? Probably not,” she says. “At best, that will make a lot of women feel like they look less serious, even if it’s well-meant and not intended as flirtation.”
What not to wear
Dress codes have loosened and dress shirts have tightened since the era of pencil skirts and all-business suits.
But that doesn’t mean, Anderson says, that they have vanished entirely. Dressing like a professional is still important. “You don’t go into a nightclub in your work clothes, and you shouldn’t go into a meeting like you would go into a bar,” she explains. “Too many people think they can mix them.”