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  1. #1
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    Inappropriateness at Work

    I have a male coworker who often talks to me. He's a nice person but he has a problem in that he doesn't know when to be quiet. I mean, I'm all for a good Michael Moore discussion or a good Fast Food Nation/Supersize Me discussion... but there's a time and a place. Often he chooses the wrong time and place... like when I'm trying to focus on my work (aka database vortex). Plus he just goes on and on and on and on. And he's a conspiracy theorist at times.

    Anyway, last week, he started a conversation with me. I should have seen it coming, but I was only half paying attention... because I was working... he starts telling me he just bought something through Paypal for the first time. Then he tells me that his girlfriend went to a slumber party the previous night. Then he tells me that it turned out to be a Tupperware-like sex toy party. The whole time I'm uh-huhing him because I'm staring at my computer/working at the same time.

    So then he tells me that his girlfriend brought a catalog home with her and asked him if he liked anything in there. So fast forward to the point of this whole conversation. He bought a tongue ring/tickler thing (I'm sorry I don't know the proper name as I was still only half paying attention) off eBay and paid for it via Paypal. He proceeded to show me the picture he printed.

    He did all of this at work. I'm not easily offended so I wasn't offended by the item or the fact that he bought it, but I was shocked that a) he bought it at work during worktime and b) he was telling me about it. I don't really think I'm a prude but there's a time and a place. We don't hang out outside of work and I don't think we're on a level where I want to know these sorts of things about him. And I don't think he should have bought it at work. I mean, everyone slacks off at work, but you can slack off without buying sex toys.

    So, I'm curious, do you think this type of thing is inappropriate?

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  3. #2
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    Yes! Completely inappopriate! Not only in terms of bothering you when you're trying to work, but telling you about his sex toys purchases. That's just TMI in addition to interfering with your work. Besides, what's he supposed to be doing that he's instead buying sex toys and repulsing you with the details.

    Dunno how you wanna handle it, but personally I'd tell him that was not cool and specifically why it's not cool. And if he keeps up, keep a record of it (like what you posted). If management is flaky enough to allow that sort of behavior, having it in writing backs up what the problem is. And you can always bluff and tell them that its ground for a sexual harrassment complaint.

  4. #3
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    As far as being appropriate to talk about such things in the workplace, my rule of thumb is not to do or say anything that would cause a freak out if you turned around and saw your superior standing behind you. That includes posting on the internet as I'm doing now....(shhhh). I think this qualifies him, in my opinion, of inappropriately buying the item and discussing it at work.

    Personally, I don't find sexuality talk offensive, if I'm familiar with the person doing the talking. It's a big part of our lives. Most people would choose to have these conversations privately. I would. I might have it at work with a friend but it would be behind a closed door.

    Seems to me that this is a matter of personal boundaries. Sounds like he's a motormouth who lacks the discrimination to know which topics to spare aquaintances and to share with friends. Either that or you're his best friend and only he knows it. I've had my (former) boss talk to me about being dissatisfied with his sex life (in graphic detail) and how he felt the need to cheat on his wife. This was inappropriate AND damn offensive to me.

    Some people just aren't good at judging other peoples' limits. It's important to make your boundaries known. If, after that, he continues I'd involve management. I've always preferred to give someone a fair chance to correct himself before that. It isn't always intentional and I have never had to take an issue like this to a supervisor.

    Not that I'm considering it your responsibility to protect the numbskull from his own big mouth! Don't be made uncomfortable in your own workplace. If you feel that way then he has definitely been inappropriate.

  5. #4
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    If you feel uncomfortable with it, it's inappropriate. Completely. I can't imagine discussing sex toys in the office, ever, under any circumstances. This guy sounds like he has very few people skills.

    Snufkin's advice was right on, and I'd like to add to it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Snufkin
    Dunno how you wanna handle it, but personally I'd tell him that was not cool and specifically why it's not cool. And if he keeps up, keep a record of it (like what you posted).
    I would talk to him, as well, although I'm pretty uncomfortable with confrontation, so I'd probably do it in such a way that it sounded like I was feigning concern for my own job and for his. Something along the lines of: "You're making a lot of conversation with me during work hours, and I'm personally concerned that I'm not getting enough done during work hours, so I'd like these conversations to stop. I'd also like to ask you not to have conversations of an extremely personal nature with me like the conversation we had the other day, because I'm not comfortable having this kind of conversation at work. And I'd like you to think about being careful about who you have these conversations with, because it could be bad for you job-wise if you had this conversation with the wrong person."

    And then, like Snufkin, I'd document *everything*, including the date and time of when I confronted him and what I said and how he responded.

  6. #5
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    Completely inappropriate--and I've worked in one of the most liberal companies in San Francisco.. One trick I use to shut out chatty co-workers are headphones. I have one of those large-ish headphones, nothing discreet because I want people to see that I'm can't hear. You don't have to have the music full blast, just loud enough so you can hear your phone ring. It's worked--I just keep my eyes glued on my screen and when people come over to chat, I simply ignore them and they don't feel offended. When they're really trying to get my attention, I pull out one of the earpieces off and tell them I need to finish something up real quick and will chat later.

    Works like a charm. Funny thing is, everyone started doing it too--I wasn't alone..!

  7. #6
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    It's a touchy subject. I've worked in bars/restaurants most of my life, and chatter like that with someone is so common.

    BUT - I've also worked in a very laid back advertising company, and there is no way I would take that from a co-worker, unless it was someone I would pee in front of. Does that make sense?

    Sex is normal, nice, and most everyone has it. A lot of people have kinks that they are willing to discuss. Personally, I would not discuss THAT kink or any other in an office or even a regular bar position. Most of the people that I work with and have worked with, know that I used to be a Dom, and ask me discreet questions away from other little ears. But to just rattle on in my cube and thrust (no pun intended) a photo of it in front of me is a different thing. What I would do is make a hard copy note of it and put it in an envelope with the date. Talk to the guy and tell him that there is no way you are putting up with that and it makes you uncomfortable. And if it happens even ONE more time, make a hard copy of the event, and have a private sit down with my boss, and hold nothing back.

    Yes, I understand sex talk in the workplace, but there ARE LIMITS. And I feel that this person has gone beyond them. And if that doesn't work, I'd ask for a copy of the Ebay thing he got and hand them out to every woman in the office, letting them know.

    But I'm not so nice...

    Oh, and one last bit. Most offices have IT people that can moniter what the employees are surfing on the web. I always make nice nice with them and they tell me everything. And I tell them any total waste of time that people do. Not only is this guy wasting company time and money (and your time), but if I'm not mistaken, it is illegal.

    Can I call him a jerk?

  8. #7
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    I am glad I am not the only one to find it inappropriate. Not to bore you with the details, but I have two desks at work. One is behind a closed door, but I had a meeting that morning at the workstation next to the coworker in question. After it happened, I told another male coworker who I feel more comfortable with the story and I ended it with, "I think I'll be working at my other desk this afternoon."

    And funny enough, the large headphones that candice mentioned, I have some of those because it's an A/V workstation, but unfortunately I was not working with them at said time. My supervisor and I very purposely chose the huge ones due to the problem with Mr. Chatty.

    Most offices have IT people that can moniter what the employees are surfing on the web.
    Yep, we do, and I would be so afraid to do something like that. We have a very heavy porn filter (meaning it filters good stuff too - same problem public libraries have) also but I'm assuming since it was eBay, nothing was filtered.

    I am awful at confrontation because I am too nice/shy. It's a problem. I should have just said something like, "Holy Shit. I can't believe you bought that at work! You should be careful!" But I was so stunned that I just sat there. I am on a casual basis with my supervisor -- to the point that I can tell her what happened and it would feel normal, even funny. So I think I will tell her today and let her do with it as she feels necessary. The person in question's supervisor reports to the same manager that my supervisor reports to, so... we'll see. I wish I felt more comfortable with just directly telling him it is not OK to do that sort of thing at work, but unfortunately I do not.

  9. #8
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    I had a very similar situation with a co-worker. We worked alone together in a secure area and he would make me feel verbally held hostage. It was awful. He would. not. stop. talking. And most of it was about the details of his messy divorce. We'd take coffee breaks together and I would zone out behind my sunglasses 'uh-huhing' him too...until the words 'mutual masturbation' popped out and caught my attention.

    He was telling me that this supposed love affair his wife was having ended up only being 'mutual masturbation' and thought he should share that with me. Man, was I pissed. Not offended, just sick of his inappropriate blabberings.

    Yes, I would find a way to talk to your supervisor, not him, about it. And, I would keep a record of the incidents. Your not being a prude, your being annoyed and interfered with at work in a way that makes your job unpleasant. Maybe you can be moved away from him?

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by peppermintsquare
    And funny enough, the large headphones that candice mentioned, I have some of those because it's an A/V workstation, but unfortunately I was not working with them at said time. My supervisor and I very purposely chose the huge ones due to the problem with Mr. Chatty.
    Wow, this guy sounds inappropriate on way too many levels. I mean, right there, that's a huge problem -- you and your supervisor had to get special headphones so that you get work done during work hours? And your employer hasn't done anything about him before now?

    Ugh.

    Yes, go to your supervisor about this. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.

  11. #10
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    All I have to say is that you should report it to upper management. This is wayyyy inappropriate. I have been working in a factory atmosphere for the greater part of my professional life. I have had my shirt ripped opened, an attempt on pulling my pants down, and numerous inexcusable comments made to me. Management will (should) do all they can to change the situation to protect you and at least them selves against a major lawsuit. You are working in a hostile environment, meaning that the comments made to you are preventing you from doing your job effectively, because you are thinking about the situation. Or at least document it and tell someone else at your work about it.

    Good luck!


 
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