Most people have experienced unwanted advances from a co-worker. While you would hope that the person gets the hint pretty quickly, especially when you make your displeasure obvious, this isn’t always the case. Psychology Today looked into one study that probed the issue of why some people seem oblivious to the discomfort their unwanted advances cause others. The study group, which was comprised of 942 participants, were asked about a time where they rejected someone’s advances or had their own advances rejected by someone else.
Researchers found that those making unwanted advances were not aware of the level of discomfort experienced by the target of their affection. In fact, these people reported being quite stressed by the continued attention, to the point where some even considered changing jobs to get away from the activity. They also reported taking great pains to avoid the person making the advances, which can be difficult in a work setting.
The people making the advances also stated that they were unaware of the negative impact of their actions. For instance, these people failed to understand just how distracting their behaviors were, while the people on the receiving end stated that their work productivity was affected by the increased attention. Unwanted advances were also claimed to create a feeling of worry and concern for the recipient, which again was not immediately recognized.
The results of this study show how challenging it can be to rebuff unwanted attention at work. The first step is to report the problem to a supervisor or the human resources department at your work. If the matter is not sufficiently dealt with, you should consider contacting an experienced attorney, who will advise you on the next steps. Keep in mind that these behaviors could be construed as sexual harassment under certain circumstances.