It started with just a cheeky wink, which you had quickly deemed as harmless. However, soon the winks evolved into repetitive compliments and suggestive jokes, which often left you feeling uncomfortable.

Working with someone who is regularly and excessively flirty or inappropriate can be a challenge.

Your colleague’s comments and behaviour, although they may have any bad intentions, can easily leave you feeling trapped and uncomfortable. So what do you do?

Before you can begin solving this problem, you must first take a step back and determine the seriousness of your colleague’s behaviour, and whether his/her actions require formal action. To help you with this matter visit your human resources (HR) department to learn more about your employer’s policy on sexual harassment. If however, you have come to the conclusion that the issue is best handled by yourself, then there are steps which you can take to change to behaviour of your co-worker.

Hint at your unavailability
One of easiest ways to let any undesired admirer know that you have no romantic interest in them, is to let them know or believe that your affections belong to another. Place photos of your partner/family around your desk and mention them casually during conversations. This will let your admirer know you are happy in your relationship, so their efforts to seduce you will likely fail.

Avoid and ignore
If the flirty behaviour continues from your coworker after these efforts, it is likely that they perceive the situation as a game. To reinforce your stance towards this person it is important to avoid engaging with them, if they wink or flirt with you simply ignore them. This method may appear rude or extreme, but by simply turning your head away after they have said or done something which you don’t approve of, will send a clear message that you are unwilling to take part in their game.

Talk to honestly
Sometimes, through stubbornness, ego or just plain stupidity, your colleague can miss all of the signals that you’re just not interested; in which case your only solution is to talk to them directly about the matter. Professionally and politely take them to one side and explain that you are not looking for a relationship, and that their persistence is making you feel uncomfortable.

Take the formal route
If this honest talk doesn’t work, then seek the advice of your HR department. Be clear about wanting to speak anonymously and find out what the options are. If you feel there is no better solution than to make a formal grievance then it might be your only option.

A website worth visiting is Acas. It also has telephone helpline that you can call to seek advice for workplace issues such as this.


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