Two weeks ago a fretful reader left a note for Miss Mentor in the Cubicle Etiquette area asking about a behavioral situation. Here’s how it goes:
Reader: I think my boss just asked me out. I’m new to the workforce and married. What just happened?
Miss Mentor: Tres uncool. From the conversation you shared, yes, your boss did just ask you out. Did he mean to? Well, that’s anyone’s guess and not the real question to answer.
Here’s how this breaks down. If you are approached by your boss to spend time ALONE as a pair after work hours for a social activity, well my friend, you have been asked on a date.
Is it appropriate? H-E-double-hockey-sticks NO!
What to do??? This is a potential bomb of a situation. First off, you may feel that it is very awkward for you to say no, particularly as the new employee, BUT you MUST SAY NO. Even if you know that there will be no physical component to the evening, etc. You must say no. This is less about the dating dynamic and more about YOUR POSITION within the company.
While you may want to seem like a good sport, oftentimes the boss in this situation is making a power play – consciously, subconsciously or unconsciously – doesn’t matter which one. By agreeing, the boss knows you are easy and that you feel vulnerable. It is more akin to hazing than proper work behavior. Sadly this ends up making you look weak. That does not instill confidence in the boss. Unbelievably enough, the boss is less likely to be honest and forth coming with you.
Remember being in school? If you say yes, it’s basically like failing your first two exams for the semester. It takes an amazing amount of work to dig yourself out of that hole.
Miss Mentor’s advice, say no. Have plans or be ready to make plans with non-work friends for at least the first 3 months when you start a new job. PLEASE! You need at least 3 months to understand how the company really works and to begin to understand the motives of your peers and bosses. I even suggest that you avoid after work happy hours for a few months – not because you would drink too much (please tell me you won’t, but because your peers and boss may . . . and that’s when TMI goes into overdrive. Do you really want to know that the repulsive guy in accounting has a picture of you on his bulletin board? No. Not yet anyway.