I work with in a hospital department with a group of about 15 people. I'm not particularly fond of two of my coworkers, one male and one female who'll I'll call Joe and Janice. Don't get me wrong, they're nice people, but they're both a little on the bossy side and somewhat annoying. The thing that bothers me about these two is that Joe brings Janice gifts all the time and she's a married woman. He'll show up with chocolates, flowers, trinkets, and other small gifts. In return, she'll shower him with compliments and sexual innuendos. She claims it's just harmless flirting and she would never act on any advances from Joe, but I think it's crossing a line. Their obvious flirting bothers most of us in our department, but since both of them have somewhat overbearing personalities and we all want to avoid workplace conflict, no one will say anything to them. How can we end this inappropriate behavior in our workplace?
Annoyed at Work
Dear Annoyed at Work,
It sounds like someone in your department needs to grow a pair and just tell these two that they're acting gross and inappropriate. I understand not wanting to create an even more uncomfortable situation by calling them out, but if it's bothering you and the rest of your coworkers that much then it needs to end.
The best solution would be to let your supervisor know how you and your coworkers feel about these two love birds. It should be your supervisor's responsibility to resolve conflicts, especially ones that are making the majority of the staff uncomfortable. Just explain the situation and why you feel the way you do in a professional manner and let your supervisor know you'd like the issue resolved as soon as possible.
If for some reason your supervisor speaks to Joe and Janice and they still continue their inappropriate behavior, you can either try to talk to your boss again or start dropping some not so subtle hints that they are grossing you out. You could ask Janice how her husband feels when she brings home these gifts. That might make her realize that the gifts are inappropriate. You could tell her there's a rumor going around that she and Joe are having an affair (even if there is no rumor) and it's being fueled by their constant flirting. Maybe the embarrassment of being known as a cheater will knock some sense into her.
If subtleties don't work, then just come out and say it. It sounds like your coworkers would back you up. Maybe if a few of you confront Joe and Janice together you can tackle the issue. There's strength in numbers when faced with a difficult situation.
If all else fails, you can pull a total jerk move and let Janice's husband in on what's been going on at work. Maybe an anonymous email or phone call??? A pissed off husband can end this nonsense real quick.
Lots of love,