DATING

Your Questions On Polite Rejection And Retail Woes

How do you tell your coworker you're just not into them?

GREY Journal

Who is Alex and what is this? This is an advice column where I, Alex, answer your questions about dating and about life. Got a question you want to see featured? Submit it in the comments below!

Working Too Much Overtime

Businessman working overtime at office
Businessman working overtime at office
I work as a manager in a retail store that has locations all around my state. Pretty much all of our stores are short staffed at the moment and as a result, our district manager is constantly asking me to go in and work at these other stores on days where I’m not scheduled. He gives me very little notice and tries to make me feel guilty when I say I have plans already. The pay is the same as my usual hourly even though many of these stores are much further away from where I live. Worse yet, I just started seeing a guy that I really like and I don’t want him to think I’m not interested in him. It feels like no matter what I choose to do in these situations, someone is going to be upset with me. What should I do?

When I was first starting out as a freelance writer, I had a prospective client call me at 9pm and talk at me—without interruption—for over an hour. I was desperate for gigs at the time and I ended up taking on the project anyway. Unsurprisingly,  I never got paid for that work.

If you take these shifts, you are stepping up for your company and while you aren’t making more money in the shorter term, you might be setting yourself up for a better position within the company in the longterm. But I think you need to ask yourself if this employee shortage—and the way your district manager is handling it—is a result of incompetence or just an unfortunate circumstance. Because if your employer is incompetent, there’s a good chance they won’t notice you stepping up. Or worse yet, they might not be around long enough for you to see any of those rewards.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being intentionally vague with your district manager and saying you’ve got something important going on on these days he’s asking you to drop everything and fix his problems. You like this new guy and there’s nothing wrong with making him a priority. If your district manager asks what your plans are, tell him it’s personal. If he asks if you can reschedule them, tell him no. Don’t let him make you feel bad for having a life outside of work.

Ultimately, your district manager isn’t doing the company you both work for any favors by putting you in this position. If you keep taking these shifts for him, your work will begin to take away from you the things that are important to you, resulting in you being a less happy, less motivated, and less productive employee. You’d also be an employee that’s more likely to quit.

Making Inappropriate Comments at Work

Uncomfortable businesswoman speaking with male coworker
Uncomfortable businesswoman speaking with male coworker
A coworker of mine recently saw that my partner (female) and I (male) are on a popular dating app as a couple seeking thirds. This coworker won’t stop making jokes about it. These jokes are almost all hinting at his interest in seeing us in that capacity. It’s problematic because we aren’t interested in him in that way. I also don’t want everyone at work to know this about my personal life—it’s not a secret per se, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for work. I worry that calling him out on this will make me seem conceited since these have just been jokes and he hasn’t actually made a pass at us. I also worry that telling him not to talk about it will make it seem like something I’m ashamed of and therefore something he has “over” me. Am I overthinking this? What should I do?

You are overthinking this. The next time he makes one of those jokes, simply say, “I don’t think this is an appropriate topic for work.” You aren’t saying you’re ashamed of it and you aren’t saying that the jokes bother you.  You’re just doing the work to create a healthy and comfortable work environment for everyone.

If this does ever escalate to him expressing a direct interest in you two as a couple, respond with the same level of detached professionalism. Simply tell him that his status as a coworker violates a boundary that you two have as a couple and that you’d prefer he didn’t bring it up again.

It is also possible that your coworker has never met anyone in the type of relationship that you’re in and has a lot of questions but doesn’t know how to talk about it. I’m not saying he’s entitled to answers from you about it, but it could be what he’s after. Sometimes when people find out that someone they know is in an open relationship of any kind, they lose all sense of social graciousness and start treating that person like a cheap phone sex line or a novelty. But you obviously shouldn’t have to put up with that at work so I’ll refer you to my first paragraph.

How to Turn Someone Down Politely

Businesswoman looking seductively at her colleague in the office
Businesswoman looking seductively at her colleague in the office
I feel like one of my coworkers is going to ask me out and I’m not interested in her. I feel like no matter what I say, it’s going to be an awkward situation. What should I do?

You’re right, it probably will be a little awkward no matter what you say. So you might as well be as honest as possible without being cruel. As tempting as it may be to make up a little white lie, this is a person that you’ll have to see very frequently and as such, those lies will have a way of biting you in the ass. You might be tempted to say something along the lines of, you don’t date coworkers, but then what happens when you get a new coworker who you’d really like to date?

So like I said, quick, simple, honest—but not cruel. A simple, “I’m not interested in you in that way,” should do just fine. The awkwardness will dissipate over time.

Have a question for Alex, our advice expert? Tweet him or leave us a comment down below!

This article originally published on GREY Journal.

Alex Stone
Alex H Stone and his cat Jeff live in Minneapolis, MN. Alex H Stone has an MFA in Creative Writing. In his free time he enjoys taking pictures and sneaking into places he shouldn’t sneak into—but don’t tell anyone. For more Ask Jeff’s Dad, visit us on the web at www.askjeffsdad.com

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