Friday, November 16, 2012

The Line

OK, I'm ready to consult with the masses. Remember this blog post about being a woman in the accounting program? I mentioned some stories about male BYU students being super weird (verging on creepy)? This story is the one I want to talk about:

"In public accounting, you are usually assigned to a peer mentor who is a couple years ahead of you who can help answer your questions and is basically there to help you succeed. Apparently one student told his female peer mentor that No, he couldn't go out to lunch with her, because he is married and shouldn't be alone with other women. How. Awkward."

I want to know your thoughts on this situation, and on this general theme. I've heard men my age talk about how their parents have advised them to never be alone with a women. I think it's incredibly important to be careful in your relationships with members of the opposite sex because there is a real risk of developing feelings and making poor choices. But how does this apply in the workplace? Where is the line between being appropriate and inappropriate? Where is the line between being appropriate and being weird?

Personally, I think some people are way too intense in walking the line between appropriate and inappropriate. Naturally, you don't want to get anywhere close to "Inappropriate," but do you have to be so perfectly "appropriate" that you are pushing people away and making people uncomfortable and just being awkward?

Are you comfortable with the idea of having a business lunch with a member of the opposite sex? What about a lighthearted lunch with your supervisor to discuss your adjustment to your new job?

Can you be friends with members of the opposite sex at work? Can this friendship extend to getting lunch sometimes? If you say that's inappropriate, then is it appropriate to eat lunch in the break room together? Is it ok to talk at your cubicles?

How do you personally handle the "line"?

For me, the way to stay on the "appropriate" side of the line is as follows: Never bad mouth Greg to anyone, especially other men. Don't vent to them when I'm upset with Greg. Don't share deeply personal emotions with other men. Other than that, don't flirt with other men. Be nice and willing to talk and develop friendships. Other than that, I don't do anything I would be uncomfortable with Greg doing or that I would be uncomfortable with Greg knowing I was doing.

I am comfortable going to a business lunch with a mentor or supervisor of the opposite sex. I'm comfortable grabbing lunch from time to time with coworkers of the opposite sex. I'm not ok with the idea of me having a buddy at work that I'm always going out to lunch with, just the two of us. For me, I feel like if people know I'm married and know that I'm very happily married, that will be speak volumes in defining my relationships with my male coworkers. 

Now it's your turn. Men and women, married and unmarried, business professionals and students, moms and dads, employed and unemployed, etc. Where do you draw the line?

1 comment:

  1. I like your line. Once, I had the opportunity to carpool from Provo to Salt Lake City with my best friend's husband. At first, when it was me, him and Jonathon, it was fine, but when it became just me and him, every day, for an hour or more each day, he called and decided we shouldn't do it anymore. I think it was the right call. The thing is, if staying on the "acceptable" side of the line is hurting your career, you need to budge a bit. But my opinion is that if you *can* stay on the safe side of the line with no ill effects, you should. I personally wouldn't feel comfortable spending my lunch break with a single male coworker. In a group is different. If my boss insisted, I might. If I was in the situation mentioned (opposite sex mentor for my major wanted to meet with me), I'd suggest meeting at my house while Jonathon was home if I felt uncomfortable. Or maybe at the library in a semi-private location. I think there are ways to be super safe without being stupid.