Sunday, August 25, 2013

Dear Boss, You Can Tell Me That I Look Pretty

Act #237: Foster a respectful, harassment-free work environment (and still have fun at work!)

Dear Male Bosses,

You can tell me that I look pretty.  You just have to mean it, and please don't do it all the time.  That might creep me out.  Just save it for those rare occasions like when we get all jazzed up for a fancy corporate party or a formal presentation.  I know you are probably just trying to foster an environment of personal connectedness and trust among workers, by taking the time to compliment something non-work related (like someone's appearance).  Just make sure you do this with all employees, including men too.  We don't want them to feel left out, and it helps me to not feel singled out.  You know something like this, You look sharp today, man.  You are rockin' that new tie.

You see, I don't want our professional relationship to be stifled by rigidity or fear that I might file sexual harassment charges against you one day.  I thrive off a work environment based on trust, the exchange of ideas and work flow, colleagues who see me beyond my end-product, and who appreciate how my personal story motivates me to contribute to my workplace productivity.

Please feel free to relax, and to even be funny every once in a while.  I would welcome an 8-hour day that is interrupted by moments of celebration and tasteful humor.  Tasteful, of course, being the key.  I know, this is where so many men seem to have a hard time, but I promise you, this is not rocket science.   Just don't share jokes or e-mails that degrade or minimize the value of a human being.  Any human being.

Simple enough, right?

Here's where it get's even simpler.  Truly respect me as a valued contributor to our work together.  That means: respect me as a qualified, capable, credentialed, thoughtful, experienced individual who has something important to offer to your organization.   You wouldn't have hired me if you didn't already believe this, I hope.  Once you can truly and authentically do that, your mind won't even have the chance to go there - to look down my shirt, or to conjure up sexual fantasies about me in your head, to want to grab my body parts, ask me out on dates, or make suggestive comments and jokes laced with sexual innuendos.

Don't degrade humans. 

Respect employees as valued contributors. 

And presto!  You've got a harassment-free work environment that maximizes our chances of collectively accomplishing what we're set out to do each morning.  So go ahead and notice my cute, new hair cut.  You can even make a comment about it.  Trust me, I notice yours.  After all, we're not robots.  And if we are going to spend this much time working side-by-side, day in and day out, it might help for us to actually like each other.

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