In my previous post I wrote about a job I had generating corporate contracts for salespeople.
Salespeople are charming, charismatic, entertaining folk. Okay, maybe that’s my biased opinion. I happen to think they’re some of the mentally strongest people around and I admire their strength and persistence.
They are often awarded for being outgoing and tenacious. In my experience, I’ve had one sales manager be outgoing enough to make an unwelcome advance toward me.
This particular person and I were, per my understanding, platonic friends. When I visited his territory during a trade show, we coordinated to go out after to have a friendly meal and watch some live music.
The meal was delicious and I felt comfortable. While at the club watching music, the dancer in me was so compelled by the blues band I had to get on the dance floor. He and I danced together but separately in the crowd facing the band. I was especially sure to keep my personal bubble intact during that time, as we had run into a few other coworkers at the club and I didn’t want anyone to have the wrong perception. I was enjoying myself and the company in an unfamiliar city.
Until the taxi ride to my hotel room. When we said goodnight, he asked if I wanted him to come up and tuck me in. I declined. As we said goodbye we hugged, because I come from a generation of friendly hugs despite my personal bubble. As we hugged I felt him kiss my head.
I was very uncomfortable after that, but made it up to my room safe and alone. He addressed the incident days later in a phone call and subsequent text message in which he ended our friendship.
Where did I go wrong? In fact, I’m pretty sure I did nothing wrong. Was the rejection to tuck me in not heard? I know it was.
I’m yet another example of a woman’s rejection that was heard by the aggressor and not heeded. I’m also another victim where intentions on my side seemed apparent, but were not made clear on the man’s side. Why should it have been my responsibility to confirm his intentions? Why wouldn’t I just assume that we are friends, not something else?
The Me Too movement has highlighted the subject of communication among consenting adults. Between corporate interactions, however, is there ever an appropriate time for this sort of conversation? I’d have likely been less offended and kept my distance if he had made his intention clear from the beginning. I also recognize that one of the funny things about human feelings is that we don’t always know when we feel them. Sometimes it’s hard to be so self-aware that you’re developing a crush for someone until you’re full-blown in that crush. But what do you do? What if that crush is on a coworker? What if you’re both single consenting adults?
I don’t have answers to any of these questions, but I know these are areas in which corporations need to open conversations and create tools for their employees. It’s unrealistic to think that people can’t find love with one another in a workplace, but it’s also unrealistic to think that employees know how to navigate those conversations on their own. Egos around potential rejection aside, there’s also much fear about what could happen to your employment and confusion as to how one can move on.
May good things come to you always.