I hate office huggers.
After last week’s article I’ve been getting lots of questions about how to spot the workplace predator. It’s not always obvious, but there are a handful of common behaviors that I’ve dealt with that should raise red flags (sorry guys, but the perp is almost always a man):
The Hugger: 99% of the time it’s a man, and 99% of the time he only hugs the women. His excuse, “I’m just an affectionate person.” Really. Then why not hug guys too? I’ve only known one office hugger who hugged (and kissed) EVERYONE. He was a giant of a man who would pick me up and hug and kiss me too every time we saw each other. I truly believe that he was the only non-predator office hugger I’ve ever met. That doesn’t excuse his behavior, but at least I got him to stop kissing me on the lips.
The Back Rubber: Variant of the Hugger and closely related to “Hang Around the Women’s Desk Guy” (see below). Constantly angling to rub women’s shoulders.
The Inappropriate Gifter: the guy who gives risqué cards, inappropriate presents, and/or sexy clothing (isn’t any clothing for a coworker inappropriate?), to a woman in the office who’s not interested in him.
The Weanie Wagger: I’m dead serious, that’s what we call them. I think the modern term is “sexter” but I think that implies mutual consent. This is the guy that sends pictures of his “stuff” to women in the office or shows them pictures on his phone.
Porn Guy. Close relative of the Weanie Wagger. Feels it’s his duty in life to share explicit clips with everyone in the office. Usually pollutes the office server with viruses from all the junk he downloads.
Hang Around the Women’s Desk Guy:” The guy who is never where he should be and always hanging around women’s desks trying to make small talk. Usually morphs into a Back Rubber.
The Travel Agent. This guy is always trying to maneuver female subordinates into out-of-town trips with him (conventions, meetings, etc.). Rule of thumb: one guy should not travel on a business trip with one woman, especially if one is the boss and the other the subordinate.
Creepy Weird Guy: this is the guy that imagines he’s involved in a romantic, mutual relationship with a female coworker because she was polite to him once. Often sends rambling letters or cards to women who have absolutely no interest in him (see “Inappropriate Gifter”), above. Can morph into “Stalker” quickly.
Stalker. Can be a co-worker, but not always. Oftentimes he works for someone else in the same building, he’s a delivery person, or a customer/client. Usually hangs around the reception desk.
The Weinstein. The big boss who abuses his power. Usually pesters the newest female employees until they give in, quit or reject him and get fired. Women spot this guy immediately. Men should.
The “Repeat Offender.” Or to plaintiff’s lawyers “Punitive Damages.” This guy is the office “player.” Has (or attempts to have) affairs with coworkers at every opportunity. Usually oblivious to prior discipline or threats of termination. Based strictly on volume this guy is an employer’s nightmare, especially if he dates subordinates. The Repeat Offender is often a Travel Agent, a Porn Guy, and Back Rubber.
These are just some of the regulars, but the biggest clue is often the simplest and the most reliable: someone complains about inappropriate behavior. Take it seriously.