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Getting "vibes" from much older coworker... uncomfortable


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Well, I'm in an awkward situation at work, but I'm not sure if it's all in my head or if there's really something going on. Any opinions would be GREATLY appreciated, because this is driving me insane...


I am a web designer, currently making a site for someone who works for my company. (It's a professional site, not a personal one.) Lately, he's been requesting to meet with me quite often so we can "look at the site together" and discuss changes. Usually these are really minor things that should take 5 minutes to look at and make a decision about.


However, this is what happens when we "meet." I generally work evenings, but even when I offer to come in during the day to consult with him (he's supposed to go home at 5), he chooses to come into my office at 5:30 or so when everyone else has left. So when we are meeting, we are completely alone together. The office is REALLY dim, and the atmosphere itself makes me a little uneasy.


So he'll come in, pull up a chair (sitting at a distance that feels a bit too close for my liking), and we'll talk for five or ten minutes about whatever changes he wants. But when it's clear we have nothing left to discuss... he does not leave. I'll say something like, "Alright, I'll work on this tonight and let you know when I'm done," as a way to convey he can go home -- but he just stays in his chair and does not take the hint.


Last time we met, he sat there for nearly and HOUR, while I awkwardly typed away at some HTML coding, feeling completely uncomfortable. He was just watching me and making small talk. Asking about my personal life, etc. I'd said I liked journalism a lot and he mentioned a well-known magazine he had "connections" with and told me if I wanted a job there, he could help me get one.


He also bought me a cup of coffee and gave it to me last time we met. It was a nice gesture, but I had not asked for coffee and felt a little weird taking it from him.


And a few times when we've been looking at the site together, our legs have brushed by accident (and he didn't apologize or move away). I have to stay scooted way on the side of my seat to preserve my bubble of personal space. Maybe I'm reading too much into that, but we are not at a level of friendliness where physical contact/sitting so close would just be a sign of friendship and comfort with each other -- if that makes sense.


And the kicker -- he's almost 30 years older than me. He is a single father, but has a daughter nearly my age. However, someone else in our office (who is in his 50s) just married a 22 year old, so maybe that kinda thing is common around here?! The age thing is what weirds me out most of all. I graduated college early, and I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm a few years older than I really am... not that it makes a huge difference when the age gap already spans decades.


I am trying to schedule our future meetings so there is always someone else in the office when we meet. But I'm worried I may be freaking out about nothing. This guy is really well-respected, and he is very kind to everyone... not a creepy person at all. I will feel awful if he is just trying to be friendly and I'm taking it the wrong way.


Any thoughts?

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I think maybe being more obvious that it makes you feel uncomfortable would be good.


When he creeps near you, tell him, oh, I get a bit clausterphobic, I would really appreciate maybe if you sat a little away so I can get my work done.


Or you can try the typical, oh, do you mind if I hurry and finish my work, I need to meet my bf later today since I am taking him out for his b-day, and I don't want to be late. Thanks for being understanding. That's a bit nicer and more subtle.


Be polite but also do not let him cross any boundaries here, you may be too passive right now and that's what is bothering you.


If it makes you uncomfortable, you really need to say it, he doesn't have the right to make you feel that way.


Hugs, Rose

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Well all the things you mentioned seemed a little creepy. But I also think it's nice of you to be giving him the benefit of the doubt. If you can be more assertive in telling him when he may or may not come to discuss the job, then you won't even have to find out where he's coming from. Maybe you could also be blunt and ask him if there is any reason that he needs to watch what you're doing? Or better still, tell him (once the brief consultation has ended) that there's nothing you need his input in now, and that you'll contact him as soon as you're done with this particular stage of work. I know you've tried that, but It sounds like you need to be even more firm with him. It doesn't need to be about you accusing him of being creepy, it can just be that you are organising your work life the way that works for you the best. It's what all professionals do after all isn't it?


Good luck

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yeah, it's a bit creepy. or he is just socially inept and wants to date you but doesn't know how to bring it up. sitting there watching you work for an hour is WAY over the top. most people will take the hint if you turn and start working, and for him to sit there doing that is not appropriate at all for the workplace.


something i learned to do if you get an office stalker like this. be polite, but be on the move!! one place he can't follow you is the ladies room, so once you've gotten the info from him, get up, excuse yourself and head to the ladies room. if you come back to your desk and he's there, then go to the copier. just jump up everytime he tries to approach you about non-work issues, and cut short the conversations that are personal and tell him you really need to get to work. go looking for someone else in the office and start chatting with them. don't 'reward' his visiting behavior at all, or indulge it. he'll feel dumb sitting there alone after a while.


also change the subject to work whenever he tries to make the conversation personal... he may eventually get the hint.

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