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13 Aug 2010

workplace issue
Hi there. I am a 20-something married woman. I work in a large corporate, in a male dominated environment - which i have no issue with. Having studied (male-dominated) engineering, i am comfortable with men and have no issue -i see myself as being " androgynous"  at work as i believe this attitude to be the most positive one in this environment - as such this means that every colleage is a " person"  in the way i see it, not as " man"  or " woman"  - for this reason, to me, who my " friends"  are at work is independant on gender.

To get to the point: There is a male colleage at work, whom i know from varsity days (so i know him for close on 9 years now), who also works in the same section as me. A few years ago we were assigned to the same project. So naturally we interacted often. I am aware that interaction at work can become " more"  and that isnt what has happened - from my side anyway - he mentioned at some point that he is dealing with confused sexuality issues and may well be bisexual - to me though, it seemed more likely that he is actually homosexual.

This gave me a sense of reassurance wrt our conversations and interactions - like he was " safe"  to speak to. Lately though, i have noticed that he seems like, dependant on speaking to me constantly, constantly updating me on his depression issues and other personal, subjective matters which shouldnt really be in scope of general discussion. He is either emailing me constantly (if not about work topics, then about his mood, his diet, gyming) or just shows up at my desk and plonks himself down there and asks for " updates" . He goes on and on about himself and tries to analyze everything i say. It doesnt seem like he respects my workload and often asks for me to help him, give my opinion etc, and tries to " officialize"  it by sending meeting requests - sure, if the guy needs help, i will help - but when i show up for the meeting - he takes 20 minutes before getting to the point - cos he starts talking abour personal matters. I think he is crossing a line.

I am very happily married and my husband is my all - our relationship isnt perfect - no one''s is - but i adore him and cherish what we have - whenever i talk about my husband, this guy looks disdainful and tries to psychoanalyze what i say with a negative spin to it. When i comment about something romantic my husband has done for me, he is sarcastic. When this guy says " lets go for breakfast, i just wanna talk"  - this irks me - i dont want to do this - its wrong in my eyes to do this - but he doesnt respect that. He nags a lot and seems to fuss when i indicate that i cannot listen to non-work matters at the present time. A bit like he has entitlement issues. I dont know how to create more of a distance without being overly rude. I cannot cut ties with him because our skills together woork together in an already fragile project team - in other words, we HAVE TO brainstorm at length - so if i say anything (and remember he is quite " sensitive"  and gets moody when someone defies him) i could risk disrupting the balance in the project team. What can i do?? He just shows up and demands attention.
Thanks. Sorry for the length of this post.
Answer 360 views

01 Jan 0001

I understand your view as to sexual politics at work, and such a policy works quite well IF all the participants are similarly adult and intelligent. And your colleague is not. He apparently has a range of personal problems which he is improperly pling on you, expecting quasi-therapy at work, interfering with your ability to do your own work and surely he with his.
Calmly but very firmly tell him this is not acceptable, and goes beyond normal collegial relationships and boundaries. You are concerned that he has some problems and issues, and are entirely unqualified and unable to help him with them. He should arrange to see a proper psychologist for an assessment and advice, and you hope this will prove very helpful for him.
But that you will NOT accept any further long personal discussions of these issues in the office ; and outside the office, in your private life, you are happilly married and won't accept any intrusion from office matters or people.
If he refuses to accept this good advice, speak to someone in HR about this, as he needs assistance and official encouragement to get the help he needs, rather than the instrusive chat he seems to want.
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