Dear E. Jean: I have a team of senior-level engineers, all men, who work for me. In the past few months, one of them has written three short emails to me proclaiming his affection. I ignored them. Then, while he was away on business, he sent me a two-page handwritten letter about his longing for me, but also how he knew it could never happen. (I’m divorced, but most of my employees assume I’m married.) I’m not interested. When he returned from the trip, I met with him to tell him this was unacceptable, unprofessional, and inappropriate. I didn’t realize how angry I’d become until I was sitting there. I told him that I did not desire his attention, that it was harassment, and that if he sent another email, I would take it to HR. I left, shaking. This was yesterday morning. Yesterday afternoon he sent an email apologizing, but he continued talking about his love. I am livid. I now want to offer him early retirement (or severance only) and get him out of the company as quickly as possible. Is this overreacting? —Furious
Furious, My Favorite: Turn the matter over to HR. Let them decide what to do. As for “overreacting,” woman! I’m all for love, but the rage boiling within your brain is righteous! This man is coming at you from all sides, defying your orders, destroying a congenial workplace, bombarding you with unwanted declarations again and again. You are his boss. You ask, “Is this overreacting?” Own it! Honor it! Be angry! Be infuriated! Don’t swallow it. Don’t question it. It is confusing because beneath your anger, I’m guessing, is some sadness. He’s risking so much to declare his love, and your rejection is causing him pain. I’m sorry you have to go through this. And I’m sorry for the poor chap, too. But we’re living in a time of revolution. In the end, it will be angry women who change the world.
This letter is from the Ask E. Jean Archive, 1993-2018. Send questions to E. Jean at E.Jean@AskEJean.com.