How To Deal With A Flirtatious Co-Worker

By Haley Hinkle
Chicago Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr)  Haley Hinkle of the Chicago Tribune, asks two relationship experts their best advice for dealing with a flirty co-worker. We hope this info helps you to be one of many empowered women in your office who know how to deal with a difficult situation in a firm, professional and forthright manner.

Chicago Tribune

Q: One of your co-workers is consistently flirtatious with you, and it’s uncomfortable. How do you shut it down without making things awkward around the office?

Answer from Cynthia Kane: “The best way to shut this down is to address your co-worker directly. When speaking to him or her, you want to focus less on the act of flirtation itself and more on the emotion you feel.

First, identify what specific actions your co-worker is doing when you feel uncomfortable: talking too closely, touching your side, making comments about your appearance. Second, note how you feel during those actions: uncomfortable, uneasy, nervous. Now think about your co-worker: Is his or her intention to have you feel nervous and uncomfortable?

Ask yourself what you need to have happen to feel better in this situation. What action do you need to ask of your co-worker to make this happen? Be specific. The more precise you are with your words, the less room there is for misunderstanding. After you’ve mapped out the above, put it into a sentence.

‘When you (insert action co-worker does here), I feel (insert feeling here). I know your intention is not to make me feel this way. From now on, could you (insert what you need to feel better here).'”

-Cynthia Kane, meditation and mindfulness expert and author of “How to Communicate Like a Buddhist”


Answer From Sofia Milan: “If you or the other person is married, engage in a discussion about your spouse(s). For example, ask some basic questions. ‘I see that you are married. For how long? How did you meet?’ If you are both single, a similar conversation could ensue. ‘So, do you have someone special in your life?’ If you do, mention it. This should provide the person with food for thought, and he or she may dial down the flirtatiousness.

If you are both single, you could ask, ‘How do you feel about co-workers dating each other?’ No matter what the response is, you could clearly state that you believe under no circumstances is it a good idea, and stand firm in that regard.

Office gossip is as cruel as it was in middle school. It is especially important to ensure that others in your workplace never have a reason to doubt your dedication to the job. Do not flirt back, do not touch the person, and if he or she asks you to a one-on-one coffee or lunch, find a way to bring someone else along. It is important, especially for women, to be viewed as focused and respected in the workplace. Unfortunately, men are not viewed as negatively in these circumstances.”

-Sofia Milan, relationship expert and blogger at

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