I’ve had a crush on a girl at work for ages. Just recently it was her birthday and I bought her a present – just a small piece of jewellery.
Now it has all blown up in my face because her fiancé (I didn’t know she had one) found out and thinks something has been going on.
When we both denied it, he said she must have done something to give me the wrong impression. She’s furious with me, he’s complained to our boss and no one at the office is speaking to me.
How can a harmless gesture go so horribly wrong?
This is why companies are often required to give “sensitivity” training and courses in sexual harassment.
It seems harsh to say it, but just giving a gift – and especially jewellery – to a colleague you hardly know is inappropriate. And clearly you don’t know her very well at all if you weren’t aware she was engaged.
You should have subtly tried to find out a little more about her, and perhaps asked her for a coffee outside of work before making such a declaration of “love” – because that is what it amounted to.
You may feel her fiancé has overreacted, and it’s certainly wrong he is now blaming her when she did nothing. But this is how small mistakes can snowball into giant problems.
How do you now make it better with everyone? Well, for a start don’t make things worse by pushing yourself and your side of the argument at her or him.
Go and have a serious chat with your boss, or someone from Human Resources, and ask their advice. This happened at work, so they have a responsibility to sort it out – and you shouldn’t have to endure being ostracised in the office.
They may advise a meeting with all three of you, so you can explain yourself, clear the air and apologise. You will have to admit your behaviour was unprofessional and show them you understand it was inappropriate, perhaps by taking a course.
If no one helps at work you will have to write letters of apology and explanation to your colleague, her fiancé and your boss.
And do take a course – it’ll help you understand what happened, and how to avoid it in future. ACAS run online courses. Ask their advice – their helpline is 0300 123 1100.
You must be feeling very low but getting it sorted will make you feel much better and able to move on with a smile.