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Am I overreacting re unwanted attention at work?

(55 Posts)
Kaltenzahn Sun 19-Jan-20 11:38:36

I'm having slight problems at work and I'm not sure if I'm making this into something it isn't. I've been in a new job for about 2 months now. It's a very different environment to my previous jobs - I'm used to working in small teams whereas I'm now working with around 200 people (around 90% men).
From the very start I've had a lot of attention from male colleagues. This isn't a stealth boast - I consider myself relatively average looking and keep to myself, this is just due to it being a hugely male dominated workplace.
Until recently it's just been people trying to flirt at work (I always minimise conversation and focus on my work so most of them get the picture) which hasn't been a big deal but in the last week or two I've had a couple of people becoming more persistent. Several people have also added me on Facebook (which is fine, these weren't the same people who had been bothering me at work so I thought it was harmless) but a few of them have started messaging me in a way that makes me uncomfortable - messaging me late at night, commenting on my photos, complimenting my looks, asking why I don't have a boyfriend etc. I've even had someone asking me round multiple times to "chill and get to know each other" late at night. The thing that makes me most uncomfortable is that the worst ones are in their 40s and 50s while I'm in my mid 20s - somehow I'd find it a lot easier to deal with if we were similar ages!
I don't do anything to encourage any of this. I try to shut the messages down as politely as possible but some of them are very persistant and I just want it to stop. I'm wary of offending people as they have all worked there a lot longer than me and developed tight knit social groups (which I don't have) and as I'm still in my probation period I don't want to cause any trouble.
This all seems very minor now I've written it down but it's making me uncomfortable about going back into work on Monday. Am I overreacting? Should I just woman up and ignore it? Can I stop this without alienating myself or rocking the boat too much?

edwinbear Sun 19-Jan-20 11:43:54

OP I understand where your coming from, I work in investment banking which is also very male dominated. I’m old now grin so get far less attention but see similar issues with the younger women.

Their behaviour is completely unacceptable, which of course you know. However, as you are still in your probation period IF you want to stay there, and are enjoying the rest of your new role, I would continue to manage it as you are. Keep your head down, and keep politely but firmly, rebuffing their unwanted attention. They will soon get the message and get bored.

managedmis Sun 19-Jan-20 11:45:34

Straight to HR. Show them all the messages.

Amrapaali Sun 19-Jan-20 11:45:39

It's not minor...that's quite disgusting! You need to have a word with your line manager and possibly HR on how to approach this.

You will possibly be talked about behind your back of encouraging attention, cock tease blah blah blah (even though none of it may be remotely true) hmm

But seriously unfriend and block and DO NOT encourage discussions outside work on FB or Whatsapp. That way lies grief.

A bit of flirting and sexual frisson is par for the course in most workplaces. We are humans after all (any One who denies that is delisional) bit we are adults and should know where to draw the line.

I honestly despair when I think of such men. It is as though Me too never happened

WorraLiberty Sun 19-Jan-20 11:47:18

Just unfriend them and put your settings to 'only friends can message me'.

If you feel that would be too awkward, just stop replying to the messages and they'll soon get the hint.

The chances are they're messaging a few women anyway, so you not answering might not be as big an issue as you think.

mbosnz Sun 19-Jan-20 11:47:48

Do you think perhaps a blanket policy of no work colleagues on social media might help? Just say, I've decided that I'm not having work colleagues on social media, it seems to blur too many boundaries, nothing personal, but I'm deleting and blocking anyone from work, and not accepting any friend requests from anyone I work with.

WorraLiberty Sun 19-Jan-20 11:49:56

I think this would only be a HR issue, if you blocked them and they tried contacting you after that.

Otherwise HR would point out the obvious, which is you're still replying to their messages and you haven't unfriended them.

Purplewithred Sun 19-Jan-20 11:51:11

Unfriend anyone on facebook who oversteps the mark. Anyone persistent in the office have a quiet word with your manager or hr. Polite but zero tolerance response all round.

ringme Sun 19-Jan-20 11:51:20

As pp said Unfriend and block them. Don’t mix your personal FB life with your work.

You don’t have to be nice to them. You don’t have to be unkind or rude but you certainly don’t have to put up with anything that makes you feel uncomfortable just because you’re on probation. Some men are pigs and just try their luck. Sorry you’re having to go through this.

FTMF30 Sun 19-Jan-20 11:51:37

It's understandable that you'd feel uncomfortable.
If it were me I would just block them on social media. I know you say it's a male dominated environment but are there any women you can befriend to help you feel more comfortable there?

You have a right to say "no" or turn down any advances so please don't feel guilty for that. Just let them know politely but firmly that you're not interested, particularly in older men.

MsMellivora Sun 19-Jan-20 11:56:05

Don’t add any of them, I also worked in a male dominated environment for a few years. I ran an engineering library in a University about 25 years ago and it was 90% men in the dept. I was also single but I had come out of a long term relationship and had my heart broken by my childhood sweetheart so was in an absolute man hating stage of my life.

A couple of years later one of my male colleagues who had become a good friend described the excitement that there was to be a woman in the dept but apparently I gave massive fuck off vibessmile

Just be aware that being professional and good at your job is important but you owe these thirsty men nothing at all. The culture of women thinking they have to be nice all the time is to our detriment.

Fatted Sun 19-Jan-20 11:57:44

Block them and don't reply. They are taking any contact as a green light.

You don't have to be friendly. Just polite in work. You don't have to speak outside work.

khaleesiofthegreatgrasssea Sun 19-Jan-20 12:00:52

Hi OP, you said that you politely shut them down but do you think there's a chance you've not been as clear as you think you have? A lot of people soften their statements to keep them on the friendly side. Have you actually asked them to stop?

You could say: "I've told you that I don't want to [come round to chill, go on a date, yada yada]. Please don't continue to ask me, or comment on my appearance or photos. It makes me uncomfortable. Thank you."

If they carry on: "I'm going to block you now because I've asked you to stop making these comments and you haven't done. Please stop contacting me for non-work related things."

Then block. If they carry on, THEN you go to HR.

StripeyDeckchair Sun 19-Jan-20 12:01:58

Change your Facebook settings to keep everything private.
Decline/,remove all who are work related saying you are going to use fb for personal interactions only. You think it is professional to keep your personal and professional lives separate.
If you use it refer colleagues to your linked in profile.

DrManhattan Sun 19-Jan-20 12:02:13

Dont acknowledge or reply to any messages. They will get the hint. Eventually

bobstersmum Sun 19-Jan-20 12:04:56

I've had this when I was early twenties. Predominantly male workforce in a warehouse, I was employed through an agency as temporary admin staff but was based actually in the warehouse floor stock taking mostly. I was quite glam back then but I am average looking I would say! However I dressed down for work in black trousers and dark tops and have never worn much makeup. But the amount of attention was creepy, and mostly from senior staff. In our morning meeting my female manager used to joke with me about it that they were all (married) creeps and should leave me alone, not nothing was done to address it. However one of them that was single and he did become a bit stalkerish, he used to wait for me after work and I found it hard to get away, it was winter so dark outside and I was actually scared! I told my manager and she just told me not to be silly. The man in question then wrote me a very long letter about how he felt about me and I never went back after that. I had a boyfriend at the time and brought him up in conversation from day one so it was well known. I am a lot stronger person now and I would put these idiots in their place if it happened today! (unlikely though as I'm late 30s now with three kids so doubt anyone would bother with me lol)

bobstersmum Sun 19-Jan-20 12:05:26

Sorry op I meant to say, report it. It is definitely unacceptable!

ColdCottage Sun 19-Jan-20 12:07:20

Not acceptable at all.

Screen shot all images.

Delete them as friends and put your restrictions up to max on social media accounts.

I'd say have a policy of not connecting on social media with any current colleagues even if they are friends. If you leave that job and they are still good friends add them only then.

Make sure you are not alone with male colleagues at work.

Make an official report to HR. Keep it very simple, maybe look up the best wording to use. They are there firstly for the company sadly and secondly for you.

Although you are totally in the right sadly some people will want to err on the side of protecting longer term more valuable employees and it's easier to dismiss you than maybe lose them.

Is there a women's peer or mentoring group within the company? If so maybe speak to them first.

If you can I'd simple say next time you feel uncomfortable that you'd prefer if kept their interactions on a professional level. I'd pushed say you don't ever socialise with anyone outside of work.

Cherrysoup Sun 19-Jan-20 12:10:55

Take them all off your social media for a start. Shut the rest down by not allowing them to flirt and ask them if they think it’s appropriate to speak to you in that way. If it persists, you need to speak to HR.

corcaithecat Sun 19-Jan-20 12:20:57

First of all, stop worrying about having to be polite. Men never worry about such things.

Feel angry about being treated as fair game and make sure they know that you’re pissed off.

Anyone that over steps the mark and gets too personal, just tell them to ‘fuck off and mind their own business’.

In my experience, HR staff often don’t want to deal with work place bullying and harassment so will try to minimise it as much as possible and expect you to tolerate the less aggressive advances.

Learn to stand up for yourself because no-one else will!

Drum2018 Sun 19-Jan-20 12:27:57

Yes, delete all work colleagues from social media. You've been there 2 months. There is no reason you should have accepted any friend requests at all given you don't even know them. So what if they're offended. Some probably won't even notice they've been deleted and those who do might think twice about sending inappropriate messages. If anyone did ask why they were deleted just say you keep your work life and personal life separate. If you do make genuine friendships at work add them at a later stage when friendships have been established.

overnightangel Sun 19-Jan-20 12:28:24

“This all seems very minor now I've written it down ”

Quite the opposite.

People like this however will often be all cock and balls sat behind a keyboard but a quick message of “I think HR will take a dim view of this harassment” will soon have them panicking and reverting to best behaviour

billy1966 Sun 19-Jan-20 12:39:23

1. Do not add colleagues to your media accounts ever.

2. Keep your private life private.

3. Take screenshots of their completely inappropriate messages.

4. Block them everywhere.

5. If they persist despite this. Go to HR.

They are sleezebags.

Do not entertain them.

Make it clear that you are not happy with their approaches.

Cease being polite about it.

Make it clear that their approaches are inappropriate.


EnthusiasmIsDisturbed Sun 19-Jan-20 12:40:52

It is unacceptable

I’ve worked in trading very male dominated and this sort of behaviour was often overlooked and sadly agree if you want to stay there you probably just have to deal with it yourself (if gets worse then report)

Block all on FB there is no need to be friends with these men they are work colleagues and don’t bother with politeness for some they see it as a green light or convince themselves they do and just keep conversations to work conversations when asked how was you weekend reply good thanks and when asked what did you do reply nothing much they will get the message sooner or later

It’s difficult and if you are someone who doesn’t like confrontation it takes a bit of extra time to get the message across but you still can

cosytoaster Sun 19-Jan-20 12:41:20

* the worst ones are in their 40s and 50s while I'm in my mid 20s *

As a 50 something woman this does not surprise me at all. It's not minor and you shouldn't have to put up with their unwanted attentions. Start by unfriending and deleting them off social media and ignoring all out of work contact. If it continues go to HR.

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