How to Turn Down a Flirtatious Boss

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While some companies have firm beliefs about fraternizing in the workplace, not every organization does. Your boss is human, may find you attractive, may wonder if you two can go out, and this doesn't necessarily have to be reported. Just about everybody who approaches you doesn't know for sure whether you like her or not, but it's not illegal to ask someone out. However, if you turn down the advances and your boss continues to pursue you to the point of being uncomfortable, that's when the sexual harassment reports can come into play.

  • Change the subject when your boss becomes flirtatious. People don't tend to do that when they are interested in someone because they've been waiting to have this person ask them out. Changing the subject could be perceived as being nervous, though, or trying to hide the conversation while someone else is around. Make sure to change the subject when it's just the two of you to make it clear that there are no outside distractions, and your reason for talking about something else is obvious.

  • Explain to your boss how you feel about fraternizing on the job or dating someone from your job. This may be a challenge if you have dated someone you've worked with and your boss knows about it. However, if you're not interested in anyone at the company, this is an easy way out. It's common for people to not want to mix business with pleasure.

  • Be honest with your boss, and tell her you're not interested in her in a personal way. She may ask you why not, and if she does, try not to be cruel when responding. If you're not physically attracted to her, saying, "You're not my type" can make her think all kinds of things. Try a safer way of saying the same thing: "I don't think we mesh well" can be taken as a physical or mental reason for turning her down. Try as best you can to avoid specifics because if she truly likes you, no matter what you say, she's going to be offended. Not being a jerk about it also helps to soften the blow because if you say, "You're a little too big for me," this can start an unnecessary argument. It can also lead to her being just as mean to you when the tables are turned.

  • Do not take advantage of your flirtatious boss by leading her on when you don't like her. If you know you don't like her to begin with and will eventually turn her down, don't give her any false hopes. Asking for favors, getting the favors and then saying you're not interested in her will probably cause tension in the air, especially if your boss is vulnerable.

  • Make sure you avoid physical contact. If your boss is interested in you and you are not interested in her, don't touch her shoulders or hug her before you leave or initiate any physical contact that can be misread as a change of heart or you flirting back. Whereas you may be a compulsive hugger or affectionate to everyone you get along with, including your boss, it's important to keep those physical barriers between you two once both of you do not have equal goals for your relationship.

Tips & Warnings

  • Talk to your boss first about what you may feel as harassment. Whereas you may feel she is being persistent with you, this could just be her personality or her real thoughts. If you got a bad review after turning her down for a date, ask in detail why your performance review is the way it is. If she has a good rationale and Human Resources and her boss will believe it, it may be a good idea to improve on your work skills. But if she has no good reason for this review or any other backlash, that's when it's time to report the previous issues.
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