Shoot Your (Carefully Aimed) Shot

Send questions about the office, money, careers and work-life balance to [email protected]. Include your name and location, or a request to remain anonymous. Letters may be edited.

Crushed by My Work Crush

I have a crush on a co-worker. But this isn’t a normal crush. I’ve had crushes before and I usually either confess or just ignore them till they go away. Not this one, though. I really, really like this person, far more than anything I’ve felt in a long time. I’m aware when he’s in the room and I notice all sorts of details about him. I’ve tried to put it out of mind, and I know work and romance don’t mix, particularly when I have no idea if he returns my feelings. But this crush just won’t be crushed! Do you have any advice on navigating a painfully intense crush on a colleague?

— Anonymous

There is something exhilarating about a crush when it’s just you and the object of your affection and your imagination and everything is still possible. I hope you’re allowing yourself the enjoyment of the best parts of having a crush, while feeling so overwhelmed.

Work and romance don’t mix, but many, many people have romantic entanglements with co-workers. If you’re not dealing with a power imbalance that would make one of you vulnerable to exploitation, the only real harm in dating a co-worker is if the relationship doesn’t work out. Admittedly, that can make things pretty awkward.

You’re not giving me a lot to go on here. Does he know you? Do you guys get along? Is he … single? Do you want to make a romantic overture? Why is this particular crush so intense? I’d love for you to sit with that question, because if you are clearer on why you’re so overwhelmed by these feelings, you might find some clarity on how to better deal with them.

A crush is a healthy thing, so try not to overthink this. At the end of the day, if you really, really like this person, why not shoot your shot? The worst he can say is that he’s not interested, which will hurt, yes, but you will handle it, and have new information about how to proceed. And if he says yes to a date, well, like I said, everything is possible. Good luck, and be good to your heart.

Blurred Boundaries

I work as tech support at a small asset management firm. As the lone support person, people come to me with all their random requests. Recently the C.E.O. stopped by and handed me an iPhone he wanted to be wiped and restored. Then he sent me a link to a spyware app he wanted installed on it without anyone being able to detect its presence. The phone wipe was successful but unfortunately it could not be activated.

I convinced him to take the phone to an Apple Store to get it activated, hoping he would forget his earlier request. Knowing his child is far too young for a cellphone, I can only assume this device is for his wife. When he returns with the phone, how should I handle this? Should I help him potentially spy on his wife, state my opposition or not install it but say that I did? He’s a petty man so I’m sure I could lose my job for refusing. But do I risk any legal actions against me?

— Henry, New York City

Your C.E.O. seems to be asking you to do something illegal. Installing spyware on someone’s phone without that person’s knowledge or permission is wiretapping. In New York, there are any number of offenses attached to installing spyware on someone’s phone without consent, including tampering with private communications, unlawfully obtaining communications information and failing to report wiretapping.

You’re being put in a terrible position here. I would tell him that you can’t install the spyware because it is considered wiretapping, which is a felony. If he wants to spy on someone, he is going to have to watch a YouTube video or something to figure out how to do it, like everyone else.

Sisterhood and Solidarity

I am a woman in a male-dominated technical field. In my industry, we frequently collaborate with academic researchers. A colleague introduced me to a professor who works at a top university and she has the background and tools to tackle a research problem we are focused on. During our meetings she suggested interesting, unique and insightful ideas.

I am excited to work with her and think she will be a great collaborator. I recently invited some colleagues to engage in this collaboration. After the first group meeting with her, two of these colleagues expressed that they did not think she was the right collaborator for this project. They said they had recently met with a different (old, white, male) professor and thought compared to him she was not as inquisitive as an academic should be. They would prefer to work with a more established professor.

The professor I want to work with is a young woman of color, which is rare in our field. The implicit bias is glaring. I have continued to express my support for working with her but I have not pointed out their bias for fear it would backfire. How can I best support this woman? While I truly enjoy my work, I face situations like this, where I see bias against myself and others, frequently enough that it can be exhausting. How do I continue to fight without burning out?

— Anonymous

The most important thing you can do is continue to be vocal in your support of this woman. When relevant, offer evidence for why she is the best person for this collaboration. And sometimes, yes, point out the implicit bias of your colleagues. They may not be receptive to having their biases pointed out, but that’s their problem, not yours. When they say they prefer to work with a “more established professor,” what they’re saying is that they prefer to work with someone they are more comfortable with, someone like them. They want to work in an echo chamber, and it would behoove you to point that out.

Your exhaustion is understandable. Constantly having to prove yourself and deflect microaggressions and stand up for what’s right and withstand nonsense is beyond tiring. It should not be the price of doing business. The most important thing you can do to avoid burning out is to pick your battles. Energy is finite. I wish I had a better answer for you, but honestly I, too, am trying to figure out how to fight the good fight without running myself ragged.

Bomb(ed) Speech Away

I was honored to speak at an event in a professional capacity. Peers from my very niche field whom I greatly respect and interact with all the time joined me on a panel afterward. I am not sure what happened, but I completely bombed. I spoke way too fast and stumbled over words. I kept seeing weird looks on the audience’s faces, which made it worse. This has never happened before. I redeemed myself on the panel — I spoke clearly and the audience responded well to my commentary.

I am mortified and am not sure if I should say something to my peers or the woman who invited me, who I fear is in trouble with the head of her organization who was in attendance. Should I apologize? Say something to my fellow panelists when I see them again? And I know this is not a therapy column but any advice on getting over a professional embarrassment? I feel like a complete failure.

— Anonymous

As mortifying as it can feel, these things happen. We are human. Sometimes we have a bad professional day, and sometimes there is an audience to our failures. I’m sorry this happened, but you have to forgive yourself and move on. Bombing a speech is not the end of the world, even though it can feel that way. I’m impressed that you were able to regroup and perform well on the panel afterward, and you should be heartened by that.

Instead of completely collapsing, you were able to persevere. I understand your inclination to apologize, though I am not sure an apology is necessary. If apologizing would help you move forward, I’d suggest reaching out to the woman who invited you. Explain what went wrong as best you can, and perhaps send a modest bouquet or something similar, with a thank-you note to express your gratitude for the opportunity.

You don’t need to say anything to your fellow panelists. You did well on the panel. Please remember that you are not a failure, not by any stretch of the imagination. You gave an awkward speech. It was terrible. It’s in the past. Look ahead to better days and a better performance the next time you speak publicly.

Roxane Gay is the author, most recently, of “Hunger” and a contributing opinion writer. Write to her at [email protected].

Source: Read Full Article