January 24, 2012

Flirting | Office Distraction or Destruction?

As I mentioned in a tweet last Saturday, I was reading this article on how flirting at work can actually lead to poorer performance.

Now, I have always joked about playing the role of Office Distraction, but this particular study from the University of Nebraska kind of ticked me off; mostly because the focus tended to be on women and how their performance dropped. It suggested - or perhaps just the manner in which it was reported - that women tended to show lower levels of productivity and made more workplace mistakes when the element of flirtation was introduced to the environment.

Obviously, I disagree; but like most statistics, they can be manipulated to support the point trying to be made.

Flirtation is a fine art, and to be successful takes two willing participants. Otherwise, it just becomes a bit weird and creepy. It's not just about women ... and, truth be told, it can make a work environment a much more tolerable situation when handled properly.

And flirting has a lot of psychology behind it, and some of it women need to be aware of. Counter to the UofN study, there is another suggestion that women should not be overly flattered by office flirtation. A University of Surrey (England) study revealed that women who flirt are happy with their professional and personal lives, while men who flirted at work tended to be less satisfied in their lives.

Chadi Moussa, a business psychologist said: “Previous research has shown that people flirt for various reasons, which include increasing their self-esteem, fun and romance.

“If men are feeling unsatisfied in their roles, then they may resort to flirting to keep them entertained and this would partially explain the negative relationship. While flirting can have benefits, excessive flirting at work may be a sign that you’re unsatisfied with your job or simply bored.”

In another bit of research into office flirtation, Heidi Reeder says: "It's an esteem booster for both men and women to have a little flirtation in their day - it makes them feel a little better, gives them a little more energy."

Reeder, associate professor of communication at Boise State University in Idaho, says liking your coworkers also enhances the work experience - as opposed to those sentiments of "Ugh, I can't stand these people."

Flirting is not always designed to land someone in bed ... although, unfortunately, its reputation tends to suggest that in office environments, it is the precursor to affairs or romantic hook-ups.

In my personal case, flirting with my Office Guys tends to be much more of a bright spot in the day. Dealing with incompetent coworkers, malicious gossipers and the stress level associated with working in the Canadian health care sector is more than enough motivation for me to seek out ways to engage a completely different part of my mind.

Well, that and stroke the ego a little too. Let’s be honest, at 37-years old, married for 18 and not exactly as stunningly fit as I would like, an ego boost gained by flirting at work and the occasional lustful stare when I dress up is a delight. I might push the envelope every now and then, but don't think I cross the line. I guess I like to think of flirting as a vitamin for the libido.

The more important point is understanding the motivation and that flirting is not an invitation to a quickie in the supply closet. The latter seems to be the hardest part for some to overcome.

But back to the point of boredom; like flirting, it is a complicated state of mind - and equally dangerous if dealt with in a not-so-rational mentality.

Boredom in a marriage can't be dealt with through flirtation. It needs to be addressed through communication and a heightened level of intimacy. Not just of the sexual kind, but also of the intellectual kind.

Boredom ... comes on Wednesday!
Andee     xoxo

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