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Let’s Talk About Sex in the Workplace: Do You or Should You? October 10, 2008

Posted by dapinoyemployee in Da Pinoy Employee, Sex in the Workplace, Working with Bosses and Officemates.
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No, this post isn’t about doing it in the workplace.  It’s about the topic of sex, which can be alternately entertaining, informative, surprising and annoying, depending on the circumstances.  Generally, as a newbie in the workplace, you probably won’t be teased or brought into conversations that deal with sex.  But once your co-workers become familiar with you, the subject of sex will inevitably find itself in one of your topics at lunch or during your coffee or cigarette breaks.  So how do you deal?

Talking sex
First of all, the topic of sex doesn’t have to be rife with malicious sniggering.  Unfortunately, there are still people who treat it in the same manner they did in sixth grade or senior high school.  And these people are fully grown men and women.

My recommendation for handling this is simple: keep away from people who make fun of the subject of sex, their own and/or other people’s sex lives.  A danger here is that they could go overboard.  You know how it is – someone makes a dirty joke, you laugh or make a dirty joke of your own and before you know it, they’re zeroing in on you, treating you as if your character is questionable.  And that’s only because you laughed at one silly dirty joke. 

If you can handle it, then do so but watch what you say.  It could boomerang at the least convenient moment.  If you can’t, then simply avoid or decline to comment. 

Some people are so narrowminded they’ll actually take it against you if you happen to laugh at their dirty jokes.  They get a positive response from you the first time and they’re bound to try again.  Best avoid or just simply ignore.

Draw the line.
So maybe you’re not the type who likes to talk about sex in the workplace.  That’s perfectly all right.  Let your co-workers know that they are treading on hallowed ground.  If they have the class and decency, they will respect you for it.  If not, their insistence will only expose their vulgarity.

I once worked with a woman who was teased about her husband and their sex life.  Instead of giving in, she calmly said, ‘I don’t want to talk about our sex life because it’s private and sacred.  Besides, it’s none of your business because you have nothing to do with it.’

Needless to say, that was the very last time someone asked her to share her intimate moments with her partner.

If you’re uncomfortable with it and your officemates prod you, put your foot down.  It’s okay.  Do this once and you’ll probably never have to deal with it again.  After all, your sex life is private territory.  Nobody has the right to pressure you into spilling the intimate things unless you give them permission.

If you must joke, don’t do so at someone else’s expense.
If you can, avoid making sexual jokes about your officemates.  This, regardless of what they tell you they can do and how they look like naked or what you suspect they do behind closed doors.  The workplace may be a jungle but it doesn’t mean you have to act like some wild animal.  Whatever you hear from other people, just listen, laugh at it if you may but don’t spread it around like a virus. 

So can you handle it?
The subject of sex IS a private matter.  If you wish to air your or your partner’s lingerie or underpants for the public to examine and gossip about, that’s up to you.  Just make sure you understand the consequences.  Know who you’ll be sharing your secrets to.  Some people just cannot be trusted with the juicier tidbits of your life.

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