Kissing Colleagues

6 Sep

Letterbalm Man Puckering UpDear LetterBalm:  A married colleague who is like a mentor to me has had a weekly lunch with me for the past year. It’s always been nothing but cordial and business, but last week he leaned across the table and tried to kiss me. This is the first time he’s ever done anything like this, and I’ve never shown the slightest interest in flirting with him or encouraging him. It was awkward, and he apologized profusely. I need to say something, but I’m so embarrassed I don’t know what to tell him.

–Pucker Up

Ms. L.B. says this is one of those inelegant social moments that happen to everyone and cause more discomfort than they’re worth. Your embarrassment is a small price to pay. You want to soothe the situation, reassure your colleague – and, to nip any thought of romance, reassert yourself as a colleague and nothing more. Be calm and businesslike. Go to lunch with him again and speak up first:

Walter, about what happened the other day at lunch, what you did was inappropriate and threatened the good rapport we’ve had for two years. I always thought we had a good business relationship, and I thought you valued our lunch talks as much as I did. I trust that is still true. I also trust that you understand we are nothing more than business colleagues. I want to assure you that all is forgiven and we need not speak about it again. But if this is uncomfortable for you, we’ll have to end our lunches, which would be regrettable but necessary.

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