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Urgent!! Need Boundary Advice! Asap!!

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Scorpio2310 posted 12/17/2013 12:57 PM

While at work I have told my female coworkers that I want to keep all conversations to a professional level. I realized last night that I work with a woman that will not respect the new boundaries that I am working on. I have told her that I do NOT want to have personal conversations, yet even last night she spent extra time trying to get my attention so that she could say hi. I have talked this over with my BSO when I got home this morning, and for the first time I am actually angry at the fact that someone is so persistent in breaching my boundaries.

I am now turning to here and asking for advice. I have worked so hard to start putting these boundaries up, and I have not had a lot of time to reinforce them that I am afraid that if she continues to be persistent in breaching my boundaries that they might fall. I need advice TODAY on how to handle this situation tonight, as I am supposed to work with her and she is my supervisor tonight.

knightsbff posted 12/17/2013 13:05 PM

I don't see saying hi as a breech of boundaries. Can you tell us how she spent extra time trying to get your attention? That might help us to give suggestions.

ThoughtIKnewYa posted 12/17/2013 13:17 PM

I am afraid that if she continues to be persistent in breaching my boundaries that they might fall.
See, this isn't about her, at all, it's about YOU. It's about fear of loss of control, but the problem is that you can't control everyone around you, you can only control YOURSELF. So, your worry is that you might do WHAT??

I don't think saying, "Hi." is crossing boundaries, it's common courtesy. I don't suggest telling your supervisor you aren't willing to speak to her because you might find yourself out of a job.

What you have to do is become comfortable and secure enough with yourself that you KNOW nothing bad will happen, regardless of what others do.

Unagie posted 12/17/2013 13:20 PM

TIKY is right. You can only control you and hold firm in your boundaries. If she chooses to attempt to go beyond the professional you can say that you'd prefer to keep conversations professional only and that is a personal preference for work acquaintances. Simple and respectful. Dont try to mold others, only yourself.

Jrazz posted 12/17/2013 13:22 PM

ETA: I'm going to go against the grain here. I don't think there's anything wrong with telling someone that you want to keep your conversations professional. I don't want you to lose your job either, but you can't legally lose your job over requesting that someone limit their work conversations to WORK. What follows is my $0.02.

Hey Scorpio. We went through this exact case scenario, and a few others, after DDay and while we were trying to set up good boundaries.

Crazz ended up confronting a couple women who were persistent in getting his attention. Sometimes, people are just friendly. One woman in particular saw his rebuffs as a challenge and used her position to call a meeting with him to force him into personal conversation. It was a nightmare. He emailed her to let her know he was not interested in personal conversation, and she freaked out and involved HR, trying to get other women on the band-wagon that he was sexist as he was a "woman hater."

Fortunately, he had an impeccable record (at the new company) for keeping good boundaries. His direct supervisor is a woman and she went to bat for him. HR even ended up formally reprimanding the woman that caused all the issues.

I don't want to see you have to go through all this hullabaloo... but you have every right to stand your ground. If this other woman is just saying the words "hi", well, I think that there's not much you can do about that. Saying "hi" back is ok. Since you have verbally told her that you do not want to have personal conversations and she is ignoring that, I would recommend sending an email from your company address to hers. Make it business-polite and positive.

For example:

"Hello 'coworker',

I wanted to make sure that I was clear that I strive to keep my relationships in the work environment professional. For the sake of good boundaries I would appreciate it if our conversations are business related only.

Thank you for your understanding,

'Scorpio' "

If she is really and truly seeking attention, there's a chance she's going to freak out at this. Here's the thing, though... you will have done nothing wrong. She can take this to whomever she wants and you will come out looking professional and appropriate.

If she's really a trouble maker, she may try to corner you to have a conversation about this. Simply tell her that if she has an issue with it she can email you her response so that you have a copy. That will hopefully put things in perspective.

I would hope that she wouldn't become unpleasant to work with - but if she's going to take issue with your request then she is a drama llama and you were going to have issues no matter what.

Hopefully she will take this as a cue to back off.

Either way, you are championing this project by talking to your BSO about this and by coming to us. You CAN have good boundaries even if someone else is being an idiot. I have faith in you.

[This message edited by Jrazz at 1:25 PM, December 17th (Tuesday)]

Secrets Kept posted 12/17/2013 13:33 PM

Hey Scorpio,
I went back & read a couple of your posts before answering you on this one. this is your supervisor you are talking about, correct? Is there a reason with your supervisor that you are concerned about sticking to your boundaries? (ie...there is an attraction to her, etc)

And really either way, if you feel there may be issues with boundaries, ask to speak with her in private & be honest. Let her know you are in a serious relationship & you have crossed lines on friendliness in the past with women which made your SO uncomfortable. So you are being extra careful on keeping everything on a professional, work level only to avoid getting too friendly again.

BUT....IMHO, I would hold off & just see how it goes with her first. Especially if she is your supervisor. Did you feel she was coming on to you in more than a professional way??? Or was it just her wanting to have a friendly chat type of thing??? You don't want to piss her off or offend her, if she isn't being flirty in any way, but you also need to look at it with "outsider" eyes & make sure you aren't just freaking out because of the past issues this caused. But if you truly feel it was more than that, I would definitely have the above talk I mentioned. And if not, then just be somewhat friendly back but don't initiate convo with her, etc.

Sadly, my friend, this is where it pretty much falls on you to just be strong!!! You know what is right & wrong in relationships, so if you have those red flags start waving in your mind....take action to stop them immediately.

So what if your COW's think you are rude or an ass? You aren't there to make are there to work & then go home to your SO & "real" friends, etc.

Best of luck to you!!! Stay strong!!!

knightsbff posted 12/17/2013 15:15 PM

ask to speak with her in private & be honest. Let her know you are in a serious relationship & you have crossed lines on friendliness in the past with women which made your SO uncomfortable. So you are being extra careful on keeping everything on a professional, work level only to avoid getting too friendly again.
this would be majorly crossing boundaries for me.

I would recommend against asking to speak with her in private, this could put you in a my word against hers situation.

She does not need to know about your relationship or your history of crossing lines. That would be giving her a window into your private self and establishing some intimacy.

Also you don't want to make your SO's comfort level an issue for her. It gives the impression that you are doing this only to appease your SO. Your SO's comfort level is between you and your SO.

Jrazz posted 12/17/2013 15:27 PM

I'm in complete agreement with knightsbff here.

You're worried about two things here, appropriate work boundaries and keeping your job.

You've stated that you've already asked this chick to back off and she's ignored your request.

Suck it up and let her push at you? Hell no. Politely document your request in a work email. Concise, professional, firm.

To responders here, he's not complaining about someone saying "hi" in the hallways. He feels she is persistent in breaching his boundaries. Would you tell a woman to suck it up if a man was chasing her around the office? I don't want to start gender wars here. My family has been on the less-visited side of gender harassment in the workplace, and it is sickening.

Scorpio, you have every right to a non-hostile working environment. If you think that oversensitivity might be an issue here, just keep communicating with your BSO and feel out how this unfolds. If, like you stated, you have asked this woman to keep it professional and she is deliberately seeking personal attention from you, it's time to put your request somewhere where HR can review if she ever kicks this up a notch.

SurprisinglyOkay posted 12/17/2013 15:46 PM

I have told her that I do NOT want to have personal conversations, yet even last night she spent extra time trying to get my attention so that she could say hi.

Saying Hi is polite. Strangers say Hi, sometimes. Was it more than Hi?

I'm curious about the extra time trying to get your attention. What did she do?

Justgreatnews posted 12/17/2013 16:07 PM

Don't make this more difficult than it is. You're a grown man, you can speak.

Keep you pants on and your conversation appropriate.
Basic stuff.

In the unlikely event she tries to rip you clothes off say "No. Not interested."

Show some resolve.

Scorpio2310 posted 12/17/2013 20:43 PM

Thanks for the responses. This woman is already having an affair with a supervisor, and rumors have it that she is having an affair with another coworker.

She didn't just say hi. She was waving wildly to try to get my attention for 30 seconds to a minute or so. After I asked her to keep it professional, she still keeps trying to talk personally with me. I mostly just ignore her, but the wild waving was uncomfortable so I gave in and said hi.

Mrs Panda posted 12/17/2013 20:59 PM

If she's a little crazy (sounds like it), might I suggest my You Crazy and I Hates You look.

Tilts head to side. Mute. Scowls. Then resumes ignoring .

Insert grumpy cat pic here.

Jrazz posted 12/17/2013 21:55 PM

Oh yes. This is one gigantic ego-boost game to her.

She DID break you down to say hi, even though saying "hi" hardly registers as an infraction. You're presenting a challenge and a threat to her record of "having any man she wants."

Be very VERY careful around her. Man pants alone aren't going save you when she dials up her game... I believe scorn and retribution are in this type of woman's playbook. She's probably ready to file sexual harassment on any man she's hooking up in the office, just to cover her behind.

You're doing everything right, scorpio. I still say that getting your "back the fuck up" in writing will give you some leverage.

painfulpast posted 12/18/2013 05:13 AM

Jrazz is so right on with everything

Oh yes. This is one gigantic ego-boost game to her.

Nailed it, completely.You said you didn't want to have non-professional conversations. She views this as a challenge, not a request.

I would first remind her of your request. Let her know it is not about her in any way, but that you'd really like her to respect your request. Have another person there, one that saw her waving at you. Another female or two would be best, but anyone will do. If this doesn't work, then...

I would go to HR and inform them of the request you have made, and her response to it. I would further request they confirm this with other workers to ensure that it doesn't become a he said/she said game. Ask them to verify first, so that there can be no claims of you asking for others to back you up because supervisor claims you never made such a request. Let HR know exactly who was around when you asked her to keep conversations to a minimum, but say they are free to ask any female that you work with about your request.

i would then request that she not be allowed to supervise you any longer. Put this in writing. You do NOT want this woman as your acting supervisor, for the reasons that HR is aware of.

Good luck. This woman is feeding her ego off of the men she works with. She is needy and desperate inside, and needs external validation. She will do whatever it takes to 'win' with you now that you are a challenge. Stay away from her, seriously.

Scorpio2310 posted 12/18/2013 07:18 AM

The night went alright. She actually respected my boundaries except for two incidents. Near the end of our second break she started to talk about her financial situation and getting X-mas presents for her children. I had my head buried in my phone playing a game and ignored her. After a minute or so she switched back to work talk, then left. I looked up at that point and realized that we were the only ones in the break room. Looking back I now realize that I should have paid a little more attention to when everyone left the room, so I could have left with them.
The other time was near the end of the shift, she asked me if I wanted a hug. I told that I was good and did not need one. She the said,"Oh yeah!" and apologized.

[This message edited by Scorpio2310 at 7:21 AM, December 18th (Wednesday)]

TennisTC posted 12/18/2013 07:59 AM

The offer of a hug is way over the line. And then the follow up statement confirms that Jrazz hit the nail on the head: she sees your boundaries as a challenge.

You should be proud of yourself bc you were so cognizant of someone who was a threat to your boundaries (even when it didn't seem glaringly obvious). Continue discussing this with your spouse and your relationship will get stronger bc of it. Also, I would definitely think the hug offer should be addressed with HR.

How large is your company? If it's large enough that there are multiple supervisors I would definitely try to get moved so that she is no longer your direct supervisor. I think she will only step up her actions with each rebuttal, and then she may get fed up and try to fire you when she finally realizes you aren't going to feed her ego.

Brandon808 posted 12/18/2013 08:21 AM

Late to the thread but my advice is do not give any reasons for wanting to maintain this distance. Simply cite how you believe in maintaining a professional environment and want to avoid even the appearance of any questionable or unethical behavior.

Citing your BSO or any other past issues is a bad idea imho. If anyone does cross boundaries and HR or management gets involved then they'll be looking at you as if you're already. After all you've "been inappropriate" before, right? So if you're asked why you're worried about boundaries just say "I've seen instances where employees professional relationship was mistaken as something else. It had a negative effect on their reputation and I want to avoid anything that could reflect poorly upon the firm."

pointofnoreturn posted 12/18/2013 08:48 AM

I had a similar situation. Usually, most coworker conversations just go "How are you today?" And me discussing work related matters. Also, no giving personal details, especially your relationship. You seem to do that already, so that's good.

In the incident that I have a situation like yours where an employee or customer hits on me, I have prepared a statement.

"I am in a committed relationship and I'm not looking to start another." In one fell swoop, they know they can't just sway me away and that their advances aren't welcomed.

I'm pretty sure she'll try to cover her tracks with "I'm just being friendly!!" Or "it's just a hug!" though. But just let her know that while it may be "just a hug", it wouldn't be perceived as that from everyone else, that you're not looking to give fodder to the rumor mill, and that a supervisor of all people should know that. If THAT doesn't sink in, I think it's time to visit your friendly neighborhood HR.

ThoughtIKnewYa posted 12/18/2013 11:27 AM

The other time was near the end of the shift, she asked me if I wanted a hug.

ETA: WHY would she ask that? I don't understand. I work from home now, so I don't deal with "people" , but that just seems so strange to me!

[This message edited by ThoughtIKnewYa at 11:44 AM, December 18th (Wednesday)]

tushnurse posted 12/18/2013 11:53 AM

Dude don't know what kind of company you work for but I would sure bring HR into this fold if possible. She is dangerous, and if she is your boss, you need to protect yourself. I would tell anyone this, not just a WS.

good luck

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