I work at a minimum-wage job and sometimes talk to an older colleague. We only talk about some political issues, some things about psychology, about his child (such as “what subject does he like at school?”)and sometimes about black magic (if you believe in this or not isn’t my concern; therefore, I don’t think that aspect of this should be an issue). I guess you could say we’re co-workers who are somewhat “friends”. He knows that I am a psychology major, and he also told me that his wife is majored in psychology. So a few days ago, as we were talking, I pointed out something about his behavior. I said, “It seems like you are very careful about what you say, meaning you only say certain things if someone mentions it first…”. He said, “No one’s ever pointed that out about me before” and that I was correct about his behavior. So in turn I asked him, “What do you think about my behavior, then?” but he couldn’t understand my question. Part of it may have been that he was stocking shelves while we were talking. His reply was “Are you asking me if I think you’re attractive or something?” and I said “Of course not! That’s not at all what I was asking”. This went on for some time as I kept trying to re-phrase my question in a way that he would understand – I really didn’t want a misunderstanding between him and I. Next, he asked me “Are you asking me why I think you hang around me?”. I said, “I guess, yes?” and he said “Because you like me.” in a very matter-of-fact tone. I stared at him and said “Um… yeah? You remind me of a friend and you’re interesting to talk to”. He replied “Hm. Okay”. Later I asked him again and he said “I think you’re cute”. I wrinkled my nose and he said “What, you don’t like that?”. Finally, I said “If you were my psychologist and I were your patient, what would you think of me?” and he finally understood. He said “I don’t know, neurotic is the first thing that comes to mind. But I also think you’re flirtatious.” I asked him “Did you think I was hitting on you?!” and he said “I don’t know, I don’t care” and “It’s not a bad thing – use it to your advantage”Unsure What Would Be the Best Manner to Respond to this Colleague
Unsure What Would Be the Best Manner to Respond to this Colleague
Your coworker seems to believe that you’re attracted to him. That may not have been your intention, but as evidenced by his response that is his conclusion.
Your offering your opinion about him may have given him the impression that you care about his well-being. Your asking his opinion of you, might have given him the impression that you are interested in what he thinks of you. If you are not attracted to him, then your conversations have become too personal.
If you were my client, I would inquire about your motivation for your interactions with him. Why are you interested in his view of you? If you want a professional opinion about your behavior, it’s best to ask a therapist, who has expert knowledge in human behavior.
If you are not attracted to your coworker, then tell him directly. That will clarify this situation. Going forward, refrain from discussing your personal lives. Only discuss mundane, “safe” topics like the weather or the news. That should significantly reduce the likelihood of any future misunderstandings.
This experience demonstrates the importance of being cognizant about how we interact with others. It’s also an example of how easy it is for others to misinterpret our intentions. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle