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Men and women in the office: Are compliments taboo?

After President Obama lists physical appearance as one of the attributes of a female attorney general, compliments on the job are again scrutinized.

In April, President Obama, when introducing California's Kamala Harris at a Democratic fundraiser, referred to her as brilliant, dedicated, tough and "by far, the best looking attorney general in the country."

Many people, even long-time supporters of the President, were dismayed by the comment. Would he have said that about a male fundraiser? And if so, why should physical appearance ever be listed with personality qualities when speaking about qualifications for a job?

It's not the first time a woman in the political public eye, even peripherally so, has been overshadowed by shallow observations about her appearance. Witness the recent ado over Michelle Obama's bangs. (Seriously, Google "Michelle Obama's bangs," and see the results you get.)

But I digress. A TechRepublic member forwarded me this piece from the AP that asks, "Is it ever OK to compliment appearance on the job?"

It's a good question.

I've heard from guys in IT who lament that it seems like everything they say is wrong and so they don't say anything. I understand the frustration. And I guess if you're that unsure of how a comment will be taken, it's best not to say anything except "good morning." Maybe guys should run a planned comment through their heads quickly and ask "Would I say this/ask this of another guy?" If not, then that gives you a good indicator.

A piece on Slate called How Not To Be An Overt Sexist, states:

"It is probably best to keep your opinion on both the woman in question's sartorial choices and on her general attractiveness to yourself. This is true whether or not you consider her attributes adequate to satisfy your sexual desires."

It's kind of strange. Being the youngest child and only girl in a family of three brothers, there's not much that gets to me. My brothers teased me mercilessly, ignored me, and sometimes used me as a human basketball, and I learned to give it right back. I don't mind the occasional compliment from a male co-worker like "You look nice today!" But there's something about a brief eye scan from a male co-worker that I find a little creepy (and disappointing). And there's a difference between saying "you look nice" and "those jeans look good on you."  One is a breezy compliment, the other is objectifying.

Of course, the reverse happens too--many women think they can say anything to a male coworker and it's all in good fun. That, of course, is not true. The difference is that men, at least at this juncture politically, generally occupy more positions of power, so their statements are a little more charged.

If this all sounds complicated to some of you, then, as the Slate piece said, it's probably best to go with silence.

So let's hear from you. Guys-how have you handled fears about being misunderstood by female coworkers? Ladies-what kind of comments offend you and which ones don't?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

227 comments
teligence
teligence

The Politics angle is to craft your words and actions to minimize negative accountability. However, "Procedures" - as in what actually transpires - are often very different from intention or what is perceived as acceptable. It's been said in this thread that in a male-dominated industry that less scrutiny is given to the minority - in this case, the female gender. Sometimes you gotta wonder if the "career" plan of a female coworker is to string along some unsuspecting male schmuck that she is baiting to say the wrong thing at the wrong time - opening the door for an early retirement - a world of hurt for the guy, but a big, fat check for the gal - maybe even enough to retire on! So, to the "fairer gender" (really - no offense intended) out there - while the guys have the "numbers", the girls have the "power". Tell me - what's a guy to do? How do we stay "safe"?

lassiter12
lassiter12

I can't help wondering how much depends on the guy's attitude. I suspect men who have developed a comfortable friendship with a woman can comment approvingly on a new blouse without stirring up something. The same guy making the same comment to a woman he barely knows can create trouble. Perhaps guys need to develop more friendships where they are comfortable working together and keep their mouths shut with people they barely know. I personally think the prez intended to be gracious, and got hit by those who like teapot tempests.

jrcochrane256
jrcochrane256

Appearance compliments are tactless because almost every woman who's not ugly has fear about what's going to happen to her if/when she becomes ugly. Every woman who's ugly, and every woman who's not currently ugly, has a vested interest in being evaluated on the job based on how well she does the work, not on her looks. For a woman in today's society, losing your looks in a big way can make you functionally unemployable in your field. Since everybody ages and age seldom improves a gal's appearance, it's rational for women to be afraid of having that happen to them. Nobody likes to be reminded of things that scare them. Tact is not "political correctness." It is not some brand new invention that never existed before. It's a garden-variety social skill. Learning it is a key element to successful participation in civil society. Learning tact requires that one either develop empathy or develop very solid rules of thumb for what not to say. The rules of thumb are an inadequate substitute for normal human empathy. Some people are blind, deaf, and dumb to human empathy no matter how hard they try. If that's you, then yes, when in doubt, keep your mouth shut. If being ugly didn't reduce a woman's earning power and ability to find work, appearance compliments on the job wouldn't hit such a sore spot.

mynah
mynah

I think Obama is a real gentleman and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with his remark. (Just introducing the term "gentleman" to remind you that there is, in fact, a culture that enjoys working out how to relate with people around you with comfort and grace). But there is another factor that weighs on our societies quite oppressively. In an age of visual media, you will find very few people in a position of power that do not look exceptionally good. A person aspiring to power no longer only has to wear expensive (tailored) clothes but must also make their body conform to expectations as much as genetically possible. In the office, this is not quite as bad, since it is a more closed environment. But if women there dress attractively, this is not to fish for compliments, but because they will not be respected if they run around like the men, in straight suits (business) or jeans and T-Shirts (where I am in IT). For women, there is really no affordable way to look healthy, elegant and successful without looking "sexy". That is why a compliment at the workplace is not only an interaction between two people (except when it is just that!) but also part of the system that determines who will be respected. Some men here reported being complimented after losing a lot of weight. On one level, that is fine. But on another level, it demeans the heavier person they were before, who was certainly just as nice and just as professionally competent. So maybe the bitter woman resenting your comments is really crying for the young girl who fought with diets instead of enjoying her youth.

mcumbee
mcumbee

I have had so many sexual harrasment classes I want to puke. Basically most anything that a man does just by nature can be misconstrued as harrasment...keep your mouths shut..purchase a set of blinders cuz that top that she wore to the office will get you in trouble and not her. It has digressed to the point of stupidity. Basically this thing has made work even more boring than it already is and people are overreacting to it. I only discuss work with female employees and make sure I stand a good distance away from them. As a matter of fact you cannot discuss the goodlookin new girl with another male either..so eyes down and mouths shut, A fear reaction I guess but men can no longer act like men except when "they" want you to and you really cant figure out when that is, so work is definitely the place not to.

rexrich2k
rexrich2k

Now I hate this world.. again! Its this PC bs that makes living today suck. It's everywhere and its just dangerously - un-human - right?? Most of all this Offensiveness going around today is just another form of 'Get one up on the other guy' ..or girl, or whatever I should say. :(

tkole2002
tkole2002

: Don't talk to, around, about or before a woman. Any and everything you say can and will be misconstrued in the court of social media and public opinion. Now sit down and look straight with a glazed over look ... There, that's better

cbeckers
cbeckers

You're right, it's all about who has the power. "The difference is that men, at least at this juncture politically, generally occupy more positions of power, so their statements are a little more charged." And this is one area in which the women can game the system to gain the power over the men.

TRgscratch
TRgscratch

that you see a fundamental difference between saying you look nice and those jeans look good on you.

minstrelmike
minstrelmike

I don't think it's gender so much as personality. Some people, both men and women, are always on edge and looking for a fight. Most aren't. If you can't tell the difference, then keep quiet.If you can tell the difference, stay away from the grouches. imo, it's like being a geezer. Most folks think geezers are old but if you pay attention, you can see geezerhood in 30 year olds. They are the one who will turn into old geezers. The rest are pleasant people regardless of their age.

Slayer_
Slayer_

I mean, it slightly bothers me when a gay guy does it to me. But do women like it?

frhynhart
frhynhart

OMG. This is so ridiculous. What is this world coming to when you can't say something nice to someone in the office! I can tell when someone is sincere or being snide or rude, can't you? Use your own good judgment and respond accordingly. This world over reacts about everything. Gone are the days when people were polite, considerate and friendly. Now we have to go through life worrying about offending people by most anything we say. Please take me back to the 60's, 70's and 80's where life was more pleasant. By the way, I am female.

gdomingo
gdomingo

I've been on both ends of the spectrum and have said the same thing. "You nice today" and open the door for every woman, young, old, pretty or not. When I weighed 200 pounds, I got the rolled eyes, the flat, polite smile, was even accused of being a chavantist a couple times. I now weigh 155, am known for being a health nut, and now, I get a blush, a full smile, and invites to sit next to them during lunches or office get togethers. Who else can do things like that? The Directors and Vice Presidents. It's men and it's woman. An office doesn't turn off our biology. I'm not saying work out, become successful and that gives you license to be a pig. I treat woman exactly the same way as before. But the beatiful, popular and powerful get away with more. Rage against it, deny it, do what ever you want to do... The world will keep doing what it does irregardless.

Computer LUser
Computer LUser

Every person is different. Some people will be open to compliments and some will not. If you are looking for general rules about what to do it seems logical to err on the side of caution. If that means society is broken then so be it. But, society is made up of individuals who have their own preferences. The "rules" of what each person thinks is appropriate will be different to everyone and for some people they only want the rules to apply. Perhaps there is a reason that we have evolved our communications to the point they are now. The comments about being from the South or being from a certain generation are valid points. We must understand that it takes certain skills to determine if compliments will be well recieved and if you don't have them you may be better of keeping them to yourself. Does that mean in certain situations this "rule" is bad? Of course it does. In my own experience, when this is all confusing, and it certainly will be, I refer to the first sentence of this post.

ssaulino
ssaulino

Any He/She that stands for this should stay out of the kitchen, and then go to the kitchen after he joins the gender he always wanted to be. Or get a job with the men who don't take guff from woman in a workplace, or any other place but mom's.

doloresmercado
doloresmercado

I agree with ashepard..compliments are a natural thing men give To women..it has always been like that becaise men are the ones who approach women... I as a woman love it and dont feel diminished or undervalued for that... Men are lookers and women are feelers...we are born that way that is why women try to look attractive.. so is kind of sad prohibiting men to be themselves and gallant...

aaron.cross
aaron.cross

The company I work for has about 70 people in the I.T. Dept, there is a 60/40 mix of Men/Women. There is a 43 year old women that sits near me that has a picture in a frame of one of the young lads from twilight and other pictures on her desk of half naked men(no tops). The managers are aware of it but do nothing about it even though we have a very strict sexual harrasment policy. I even over heard another women (41year old) say to the 43 year old when 2 electricians walked by them "hey look fresh meat". Another time two women were talking about how perky their breast were. for me, I put my headphones on :|

cpetit
cpetit

Granted, there are definitely real life Don Drapers who deserve to be fired, but I'd like to think, idealistically, men and women have the self-confidence (which is a key trait to have in life in general) to politely but clearly confront the person and clear the air before taking more drastic steps. Misunderstandings are a part of being human. Now, if the offender in question continues, after being clearly informed, that's different. However, until all people are consciously telepathic, we don't automatically have any idea if someone is offended. And, if this extremism is pushed to that point, will people then be fired for having "uncomfortable thoughts?"

cougar.b
cougar.b

@cougar (me) concerning my previous post. (entitled: I was being tested for mental deterioration, and this came up) On the PASAT, which stands for Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test, I rarely missed a single presentation. My scores were almost always perfect. Almost all of the doctors giving the test would say, after I was done, "Wow. I couldn't have done that." With the young lady in question, my scores were down over 25%. Since I worked in the lab processed data, I knew that the Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite score was used to place patients into a variety of groups for the purpose of analysis. In other words, the PASAT score, which was just one that exhibited the most extreme departure from my normal functioning level, could have moved me from one category to another. Thus it was vital to indicate to the researcher that I was not at my top level, because my overall scores that day, were all down, and all for the same reason. My wife and I have been married for fifteen years, which means that we've lived from a polyamorous perspective for a very long time. From my perspective, this entire discussion is framed by the fact that we live in a repressive society in which everyone is afraid of their sexuality. People who are married monogamously are scared of the feelings that come up for them, and sometimes they project these hated parts of themselves on others. Throughout history, the most repressed parts of a person has always been projected onto the hated "other." Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt Psychology, writes very elegantly about this, and knowing about it, I see it in this discussion and in many other discussions of sexuality in our society. In politics and in religion, you can see that the people who most stridently oppose gay rights are the ones that are most likely to get caught in compromising gay situations. Their hatred of gays is an expression of their hatred of themselves. This dynamic is in this discussion here today. We still live in a patriarchy where men enjoy the benefits of male privilege. (Women also enjoy some benefits of female privilege, but that's a complex conversation.) In the late '70s, radical feminist Andrea Dworkin stirred up great controversy with her statement that in a patriarchy, all sex is rape. She was quite correct; coercive patterns of relationship do not shut themselves off when the bedroom door closes. If any form of gender-based coercion exists in a relationship, it is present during sex. Because of patriarchy, sexuality is both feared and repressed regularly by both genders, and that repression and fear leads to a great deal of unhealthy projection. That projection is marbled through this entire forum discussion. Many of you are either afraid of some aspect of your sexuality or victims of the repressive aspects of our society. There are a lot of oppressive a**holes in polyamory as well, by the way. However, one of the principles of polyamory is finding a way of being committed in a relationship without ownership mentality. Ownership mentality is the basis for most domestic violence and other forms of gender-based abuse (including sexual harassment by a boss). Polyamory is still in its infancy as a movement, and it holds no answers to these issues for most people. Patriarchs in polyamory remain patriarchal. Oppression remains. But the seeds of our evolution also reside in the movement, even for those who never embrace the movement.

jshozen
jshozen

I appreciate any work related compliment from a co-worker male or female. examples: "I'm glad you brought that point up with your comment at the meeting." "You did a good job on that report." Non work related and totally not creepy compliments: "Nice color" "Delicious dish you brought to picnic/party" "Where do you find that nice handbag?" "Is that a new haircut?" - There are plenty of non risky compliments you can make to a co-worker and having having conversations about your weekend outdoor recreation interests, your hobbies, your children or pets aren't dangerous subjects and can help you connect to co-workers of either sex in a positive, non gender specific social context. Silent, unsocial, secretive types may actually come across as creepy to the opposite sex. "What is his or her psychological problem?" "What makes him or her think he or she is too good to talk to us?"

cougar.b
cougar.b

I was working in a research lab for multiple sclerosis, and I have multiple sclerosis. Through diet and other lifestyle choices, I've been able to hang on to many of my faculties, and I'm proud of it. As both an employee and a guinea pig of an ongoing research study, I was both patient and coworker at the same time. One of the tests was called PASAT, and I always scored very high. In almost every instance, I could outscore my doctors, and for me, this accomplishment had great personal relevance and caused me great satisfaction. Then one day, I was given the PASAT by a very attractive woman. I have never scored that low before or after. In the interest of accurate medical history--and because it was personally distressing to me to have scored so low, I said, at the end of the test, that I was distracted by my reaction to doing the test for a very attractive woman. I felt that I needed to explain the difference in my performance so that the research that my test scores would be part of could be accurately interpreted. I also was simply flabbergasted by my results. I was in shock. At this point, I was speaking as a patient, not as a coworker. I would not have mentioned it if I did not see a scientifically important reason to do so, in spite of my personal distress about my scores. Later, however, I got hauled on the carpet for "sexual harassment." I explained and defended myself, and survived in the job, but I've never considered it an appropriate response to my disclosure to the person who had delivered the test. It is true I could have waited until talking to my supervisor, but when undergoing a battery of tests as a patient, I was not thinking of myself as a co-worker but as a patient. I did not choose to be distracted in taking the PASAT. I did not choose to have low scores. My body and amygdale makes those choices for me, and they happened below the surface of my consciousness. This illustrates something else about me. I am aware that my physiological responses are different, depending on the gender of the person I'm talking to, though in most cases, I mask that difference in physiological response. But the reality is that the difference in physiological response is always present, no matter how successful I am at masking it. In my life, I have realized that when people lie, there is usually an unconscious "tell" of some sort. I believe that one of those unconscious "tells" is the eye scan. I also believe that there are many others. My wife and I have always been polyamorous (We even met at a poly pool party.), and we discuss our reactions to different people as part of our agreements on staying authentic with each other. She tells me constantly that I talk differently, hold myself differently, listen differently, and in general attend to the other person differently if they're attractive to me. In my marriage, there's no guilt involved in this observation, so I've come to realize that my decisions are different than my physiological reactions. I can control my decisions. I can't control my physiological reactions. Just because I feel attracted doesn't mean that I have to act on it overtly. However, I cannot help the inadvertent "tells" that my wife observes. They are completely outside of my awareness and control. I consider some of the dialog around this topic to be inhumane censorship by people with a political ax to grind. Humane acceptance of our human nature would accept that everyone has choice about their decisions, but no one has choice about their automatic physiological reactions. Let's stop abusing people for their automatic and unintended emotional and physiological reactions. Being committed to professional behavior doesn't turn us all into robots. We are flesh and blood, not metal and plastic.

bdulac
bdulac

I've found it best to keep interaction to a minimum but only because most women will eventually take some of your actions as flirty. It doesn't seem to matter how innocent a compliment is or how sincere you are in your motives, it all gets taken out of context eventually. It almost makes me think that maybe women read more into men's actions than what's really there. Some guys are jerks that take every opportunity to objectify women, but I think most are just misunderstood and too quickly judged by defensive females.

mla_ca520
mla_ca520

If you want to compliment a co-worker, compliment them on their work or their idea. I rarely compliment someone on their appearance, unless they have a very cool shirt or some of those toe shoes, which I covet. Chill out folks! If a female co-worker has new glasses that I like, I'll say something, "are those new glasses?" if she says yes, I say, "I like them!"

BuckG
BuckG

Sure, you acknowledge that reverse sexism is an issue, but from the justification you use to pretty much dismiss its relative impact in the workplace it's clear that you don't consider it to be a very serious matter. I can't count the number of comments about my looks, haircut, clothes or general appearance I've had to endure from random (often married) females - not to mention the number of times I've been solicited to provide them with some sort of validation on THEIR looks, haircut, clothes or general appearance; all of which makes me feel VERY uncomfortable, yet I feel pressured to participate in these interactions without objections - and give positive feedback that I don't really mean and would rather not have to provide, just to avoid tweaking some poor emotionally-needy little thing's feelings - lest I appear to be standoffish at best or hostile at worst. It didn't used to be like this. Gender politics are ruining the workplace; it's gotten to the point where I hate to deal with female coworkers at all.

kburmaster
kburmaster

A few years ago, a coworker was dismissed from his job, and the unofficial reason was sexual harassment. To this day he still doesn't know what he did wrong. Afterwards, the company had a staff training session on sensitivity, and what constitutes sexual harassment, or offensive behavior, and the point driven home was that basically if the other person is offended in any way, what you did was by definition offensive, regardless of your intentions. In my office where females make up 85% of the staff, you really have to be on your toes not to say anything that could be taken the wrong way. I met my fiancée at work, and although I was trying to be professional when I first met her ( to fix her computer ), she said I originally came off as aloof ( She ended up asking me out for lunch sometime later - heaven forbid I make the first move - don't want to offend ). But you can't win, unless it's in a Sadie Hawkins kind of way. And the double standards are infuriating. Apparently, men aren't really allowed to be offended, because women can spout off all sorts of sexist BS all day long, and we're ridiculed if we act offended, but if you simply compliment a woman on how nice she looks ( or apparently even look at her below eye level, regardless of that skimpy low cut blouse she's wearing to work pulling my eyes downward ), they might think you're hitting on them, or ogling them, and can get you fired. In my role as IT support, I remember explaining how to best implement some keywords on a coworker's spam filter, because she was complaining about certain suggestive emails she kept getting. While I thought we were both adults, and could talk about the subject as adults, apparently some of the words I used offended her, because the next thing you know I was getting a lecture from HR. How do you discuss offensive spam without using the words in the emails she wants to block?!?! I later found out that she had an axe to grind with the IT Director, and was just using our discussion as an excuse to complain. But at the risk of appearing aloof, we men have to be extra cautious in today's workplace, while women, it seems, can pretty much get away with anything.

therlacher
therlacher

Maybe I will say "Gee you sure look ugly today." and see if that goes over without any sexist innuendo.

jbarksdale
jbarksdale

The key is knowing the relationship that you have with each co-worker whether they are men or women. Compliments can be beneficial to the work environment when appropriate. Great teamwork comes from familiarity and support not from keeping your distance. If you as a man feel that you always say the wrong thing than I suggest an interpersonal skills course. My guess is you offend men as well.

larryalobo
larryalobo

It all depends on women's view and feelings at the moment - they'll accept them from some they want to hear it from and not from others they don't want to hear them from. Though there are rules now, women don't follow them either - they pick and choose who to complain about. There is also jealousy involved - who gets more attention than others or than they do and why its not fair and their own jealous feelings creates the hostile environment. Women forget or don't like to acknowledge that they are 50+% of society and when they talk about how society does this or that to badly affect them, most of the time its other women involved a lot, though men can be pretty rotten and have been. Men may notice certain things about how women dress but its usually other women talking about it behind her back or to her face.

DedaEda
DedaEda

isn't there something called first amendment? It used to have something to do with freedom of speech...

Jianju
Jianju

One year at a large outdoor festival, a group of women decided to create a safe space, free from the "playful" comments & other objectifying actions of men. The men in this group agreed: no flirting, no checking women out visually. And so it went, maintaining the safe space. Men spoke only of the work to be done, & kept their eyes at eye-level or sky-level. This lasted about four days until the women of the camp revolted against their own guidelines & demanded that the men resume noticing them & flirting with them again.

Oracle Architect
Oracle Architect

It's probably not the random innocuous comment that will get HR's attention (nice dress, you've changed your hair, etc). Rather, it's the demeanor and perceived meaning. Remember, the message you send isn't necessarily the one received. If you're perceived as a pig (whether male or female, I've known both), just shut up. Nothing you say will be left alone. The receiver (and it may be everyone else in the office!) will find their own meaning(s). If you're the office "nice person," you get the latitude to say something that might get the pig in trouble. And, please, watch the reactions you get. If you get feedback that you've crossed a line, step back. Don't do it again. An apology might be in order of it could get you in even more trouble. My thesis is that you don't treat other people in the office differently than you'd want your children treated. If you're comfortable with the guys treating your sixteen year old daughter like their next conquest, go ahead and be the office pig.

martinwtaylor
martinwtaylor

I don't see anything wrong with complimenting a female staff member for looking good or dressing nicely, and their reaction tells me that they are happy to receive it. No, I wouldn't say the same thing to a guy and neither would I tell someone they look terrible. Who cares about notions of equal treatment or political correctness when we should feel more free to express ourselves? I have no intention of changing my ways.

Komplex
Komplex

Here's a game to play. Pretend you make a statement commenting on a woman's appearance. And her first reaction is "Who the hell are you to say that?" If you can answer the question easily and confidently. i.e. "I've worked with you for a few years, I have had you over to my apartment for a several parties during that time, hung out after work at a bar and we are friends." Then you have nothing to fear, you've been proven to not be a sleazy b@$tard, and even if you say something like "Nice T*ts" she'll give you the benefit of the doubt, because you've earned it. If you answer "Well I'm the guy who sees you once a month, says nothing more than an awkward 'Hi' and I'm not even sure you know my name." Then you should keep your conversations as professional as possible. Because you are obviously a sociopath without any basic understanding of human interaction.

buchajaa
buchajaa

As a retired old guy looking back on this foolishness and I do mean foolishness, I remember when all of a sudden you could not whistle at a girl. On that day I said "okay, no problem." as I knew that some whistles were not of the best intended. Then when all of a sudden you were called sexist for opening the door for a female. I no longer do. They can darn (d-a-r-n) well open it for themselves. Then you were not to give compliments to any female, especially at work, for fear of being labelled a sexist or a pervert. Or other female thought that all you wanted to do was get into her *s, so I no longer did that. It became so bad that all you could do around a female was say hi with your eyes averted and hope you said it nicely. Then came the big one that really shook me up. Being a teacher at the 7 and 8 level, you often got hugged by the girls if they appreciated anything you did. We were told not to allow that and if by chance they did get to hug you make sure your hands were in plain sight. Well, if you want to see something ridiculous it is a teacher standing in the hall with his hands in the air over his head while 2 or 3 female students are hugging you just to see what will happen. But the females teachers felt they were not under the same order. Then you were not allowed to check out an older female with any sort of glance. So you go around with your eyes adverted so as not to get a sexual charge against you. The worst thing is that another female way off to the side whom you don't notice could charge you with a sexual charge. So do I think it is all foolishness? Most of it but not all. there is a place and time for everything.

dkramer3
dkramer3

like a LOT of men are uncomfortable in the workplace due to the threat of being taken to HR for saying the wrong things. Just an observation.

glwright1262
glwright1262

I can tell you exactly what the real issue is. We are sexual beings. When thrown into a situation where sexuality is removed, or perhaps a better term is forbidden, then it creates a high degree of stress. We don't know how we are supposed to act; we don't know what we are supposed to say. We become hypersensitive to what is normal in any other setting and thus begin to act irrationally. This issue is not a new one. I recently watched a Gomer Pyle episode where Gomer tipped his hat to a lady officer. He got into all kinds of hot water for doing that. His punishment was to do that lady officer's bidding in all kinds of menial tasks. All the while he continued to treat her like a lady. He regularly complimented her on her appearance. She pretended to be put off by his complements and gentlemanly behavior when around him but she contemplated it all when alone. She eventually asked him why he wouldn't change and he told her "Well, ma'am, you were a lady before you were a marine. You should try to remember that." In the end, she softened and learned to enjoy compliments from men. That was filmed almost 50 years ago. The only thing that has changed in 50 years is the degree of hypersensitivity. Men are no longer allowed to be men because of it. Many women play both sides of the fence--they dress sexually but then rain down fire when men "look at them wrong" or in some cases look at them at all. In fact, it seems you don't even have to be talking about or to them at all. Remember the discussion on dongles a few weeks ago? Case in point. The level of irrationality has gotten to the point that it is a no win situation. My solution? I work from home so the only woman I see is my wife. There is no opportunity for me to look at someone wrong or give any kind of compliment on how someone looks.

dollymadness
dollymadness

@teligence oh yes, you're totally right (complete sarcasm). because every time i'm alone at work, a man takes the opportunity to say something inappropriate like "i have fantasies about women in glasses" and yet i can't report it because i'm alone and can't prove that he said it. or he is my boss and i don't want to start any drama by reporting it. OR (this is the worst) if I do report it, the women in my office who I see as mentors tell me "oh, that's just Jim. just ignore him" and brush it off as if it is nothing, enabling the behavior to continue. or if I say something to Jim, he plays it off as if i'm over-reacting. so yes, you're right, women such as myself have the advantage at work. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? I just want to go to work and be able to do my work and receive recognition for...um, i don't know...my WORK without some older man with ego issues giving me a backhanded compliment that i can't report--you know, ones like "you're beautiful, it's too bad you're married otherwise we'd be lined up for you" can't report that, he said it while i was alone! on a side note-- that statement implies that women who are unmarried are just asking to be hit on in the office and that the only thing stopping them was the fact that i was married. is it really impossible for some men to understand that single or married, we may not want to be hit on? do statements like these belittle me to a sexual object? yes! does it disrespect me and put me in a submissive state and imply that he has control in our professional relationship? completely. maybe you should talk to more women about this issue and try to understand why it's STILL AN ISSUE IN 2013. really, it's not that hard---if it's personal and you wouldn't say it to an interviewer, don't say it to me.  if it's related to my appearance in any way, don't say it. simple--compliment me on my work ethic or if you want to make it personal, compliment my character "i admire your ability to negotiate with clients" that implies that you respect me as a coworker and understand that i have a brain and know how to use it, that i am not a sex object. besides, filing a sexual harassment lawsuit is so difficult that most women would rather ignore the remarks and internalize them without speaking out for fear of losing their jobs over it.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Please don't dig up zombies.

rexrich2k
rexrich2k

Well yeah they like it. If you look good, its all good! But you shouldn't do it to the gay guys if you don't want them doing it to you. Or just do it - slightly :p

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

people some time ago. People are going to be offended no matter what you say or do. Makes life less stressful. Having said that, I don't consciously try to offend anyone. I agree with you.

rexrich2k
rexrich2k

Dude you are so right! This is all bs. I have been on both sides too. Im one of those guys that looks good to woman and sometimes then I don't for a while for some reason whatever. A little younger ago I was tough, I had money, a surfer, I got lots of chics. What you say is exactly the way it is.. When I look good I can get any girl, I just went and talked to her for 5 minutes and we were dating. When I don't look good they just don't want anything to do with me. Its all phony pc bs, that's why I say its really too bad for Real men. Check this out. You know how girls with boobs would complain that most men had no respect cause they couldn't stop looking at their chest. Well when I would workout at the gym and I would look over at a woman there working out and she'd be just checking out my crotch. They wouldn't even look up not once! I know, no I didn't mind at all lol But it just goes to show that all of this is just for the lawyers and liberal politicians, who have our women all caught up in this pc lie for votes and money. If you don't like what I said here. ..Then don't worry cause I was just kidding :p

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

are you? So am I. You can right-click on Reply/Edit ad select open in new tab. Then type your reply or edit. Close that tab and refresh the original tab. Screwy, but it works. TR needs to fix their code.

MMarble
MMarble

"finding a way of being committed in a relationship without ownership mentality" What? And not react to everything with our primitive monkey brains? What do you take us for? Some kind of sentient creatures? Away with you sir!

patrick642
patrick642

Good point. I was at a security meeting one night last week and I had two different guys compliment me on my 'red' sneakers. I finally got tired of wearing the basic gym shoe colors and wanted to branch out (though guys don't have nearly as many choices as women as far as color goes). Then towards the end of the meeting, one guy in back had dyed his hair green - so I just had to give him a compliment.... Sometimes, we guys have to do something a bit different, outside of work that is, where it is somewhat safer.

patrick642
patrick642

Yes, agree. The source of the compliment and the timing of the compliment.

djlenzyd
djlenzyd

Wish you luck bro, but watch out for HR though!

aiabx
aiabx

Is that why you can't restrain yourself from saying the wrong things?

djlenzyd
djlenzyd

HR is the gestapo of our age!

teligence
teligence

Zombies are MEANT to be dug up!