Love can develop anywhere and in the workplace, it is a common trend. Since you spend a lot of time at work, your colleagues will find it easy to get to know you and may want to progress from colleagues to a deeper relationship.
However, if you don’t feel the same way, it can be pretty awkward to reject them. You may even send them unintentional signals and end up accidentally leading them to a goose chase.
So, how can you decline your colleague if they reach out to you? Here are some tips on what to do:
Ignore their flirting
The first thing you can do when they start flirting with you is ignore them.
If they see that you are not responding to their actions, they will get the idea and leave you alone. Adjust your body language to show you are not interested.
Stay professional if you need to speak to them
When you do have to speak to them, keep things professional.
Don’t do any unnecessary comments that would make it sound like you are indirectly flirting with them.
Only talk about the business and nothing more.
Go as a group if you don’t get what they were saying
If they ask you to go out but the words they used are unclear like “let’s grab a bite to eat sometime”, say that you would love to and invite your other colleagues to join you.
This will give your colleague an idea that you are not interested in whatever intimacy they are planning when you go out.
If they decline and say why they wanted to go out with you alone, you can then speak to them about why things won’t work out.
Talk to them in private and explain why you can’t return their feelings
If they cannot be dissuaded from their attempts to ask you out, speak to them in private. Let them know that while you are flattered by their affection, nothing will happen between you.
You can take the chance to explain to them why the relationship won’t work, especially its impacts on your careers. This will let your colleagues know that you aren’t rejecting them, but you are only following your rules.
Make sure that if you do speak to them, you need to make sure it is low-key and you don’t sound like you are confronting them. Be very clear as well so they won’t see your response as an opportunity for them to wait for another chance.
From one of my all-time favourite TV shows Boston Legal, Katie Lloyd gently rejected aka friendzone her colleague, Jerry Espenson with this:
I’ve known you less than a month, and I already feel that you
and I could grow into the very best of friends—a friendship that runs deeper than any I’ve ever had with a lover. You took a chance with the noblest of motives. You should feel anything but embarrassed. Aside from being one of the kindest and most intelligent men I’ve ever encountered, I now know you to be a person with impeccably good taste and high standards.
Promise me you won’t stop being my friend, Jerry.
Get help from your boss
If they continue to persist, you may need to ask your boss for some help. Explain what actions you have done to dissuade your colleague to your boss and they will act accordingly to prevent the issue from becoming a liability. You may also request a transfer if they continue to reach out to you.
It can be flattering if you receive your colleague’s affections. However, before you let it go on, ask yourself if you share the same feelings and where it will go from here.
If you do share their sentiments, speak to them in private and sort things through. If you don’t share their feelings, resolve it before they think you are leading them on.
Is romance suitable in an office environment? Read these articles and find out:
Whisper: In Love With My Boss
Love @ Workplace: A Fairytale?
Whisper: I’m engaged to my boss’s daughter but I don’t even love her
Best things in life are meant to be shared, start spreading MiddleMe around, after all, sharing is caring.