Are you the office flirt? If so, career counsellors 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 Courtney Anderson, a human resource lawyer.
Even in the 21st Century, the stakes remain unfairly steep for women, notes Helaine Olen, author of Office Mate.
“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.”
Anderson agrees. “For women, the gender issues are quite significant.”
But gallivanting men, she adds, would be snookering themselves to think they can find their kicks playing cubicle footsy and still win the respect of their co-workers.
“It’s the same basic risk for men and women, and for people who are straight, gay, or lesbian,” Anderson cautions. “You are either seen as a professional, or you are not.”
“You cannot be both,” she continues.
Watch What You Say
Alas, for the most dashing among us, even the most innocently-intended 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.”
Watch What You Wear
Dress codes have loosened and dress shirts have tightened since the era of post-war pencil skirts and three-piece suits.
But, Anderson says, that doesn’t mean that they have vanished into thin wear.
“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.”