RE: Coworker who won't take no for an answer

Subject: RE: Coworker who won't take no for an answer
From: "Lauren" <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
To: "'Blount, Patricia A'" <Patricia -dot- Blount -at- ca -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 30 Jul 2008 11:44:07 -0700

> From: Blount, Patricia A

> That stops now.
> I am done making excuses for him. My manager's been aware of
> this since
> the project started but I spoke with her again yesterday to make sure
> she understands I don't find this cute, and plan to stop it
> or escalate
> it if necessary. She is a hundred percent with me. The plan is to wait
> until he approaches, stop him with a direct command (not a
> question that
> starts with "I'm sorry, but could you..." ) so that there are
> witnesses
> to the exchange.

I mentioned following up your discussions with emails. You should probably
email your manager with a follow-up indicating the plan that you two agreed

Your concerns of being labeled "emotional" are valid, but you can learn to
be assertive without being emotional. I used to have difficulty expressing
my concerns at work and would just become withdrawn or have private meetings
with managers and become emotional.

These days, I have learned to state my concerns directly and without
unnecessary emotion. Being direct can seem harsh, but it is more harsh to
not let a person know that he is crossing boundaries and then suddenly tell
him that he is. In his mind, he will feel misled. It is OK to say, "Do not
approach with personal interests. I do not find this cute and I will
escalate this matter if you do not stop." There is nothing hurtful in that
statement, there is no rejection, there is just an explicit interest to keep
the professional relationship professional.

There is also no reason to ever say, "I'm sorry but..." An apology here
could lead to hurt feelings because you are acknowledging that there is an
attraction and you are rejecting the other person. Apologies are generally
viewed as negative anyway, so they should be avoided, especially because
they open the door for excuses and rationalization. You have discussed some
of the rationalization that you've heard already, like, "some of these geeks
are cops."

It is OK to be direct and to state exactly how you feel. You are not
responsible for somebody who cannot understand simple social interaction and
the clues that most people do understand that indicate, "Stop."



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re: Coworker who won't take no for an answer: From: Blount, Patricia A

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