Q and A With… Ronna Lichtenberg

Ronna Lichtenberg,

author of Pitch like a Girl

By Judy Dutton

Should you flirt at work? And, if so, how? Are there times when it's just plain wrong? Learn the new rules for love among the cubicles from the author of the acclaimed book, Pitch Like a Girl: How a Woman Can Be Herself and Still Succeed.

We've all heard that flirting at the office is a big no-no. Do you agree?
It can be dangerous if you get it wrong... but I know a lot of you are going to do it anyway. In the grand scheme of things, it's more likely to be fun than an invitation to a lawsuit.

What's the one thing women should know about flirting at work—the risk that awaits them?
That if they flirt too much, people will assume they're not competent enough to get what they want any other way.

And how about for men?
Men should know that they aren't so great at picking up signals correctly. She may be flipping her hair back to get your attention, guys, or she may just want to keep it out of the salad dressing. If you can't get a direct indication that she's interested, assume that she isn't.

Can people flirt to get ahead at the workplace?
I've heard people accuse others of getting ahead by flirting, but I think that's the exception and not the rule in today's performance-driven business world. I do think that it's better to be nice than to be cranky, and people who accuse others of flirting might want look in the mirror to see if they're guilty of carrying a chip on their shoulder.

OK, so let's say two people at an office start dating. What's the one thing you want them to know?
Don't think it's no one else's business that you're sleeping with a colleague. It's everyone's business, because it has the potential to impact all kinds of things: compensation, favorable treatment, more information, and other goodies in addition to booty. And, please, don't assume that no one will ever know about the relationship. Most of the time, people figure it out.

Does our fascination with the office lovebirds change if they get married?
Office romances are scary because they disturb the balance of power and often start out secret; marriages are in the open so it is easier to talk about and for everyone to deal with. They don't make for as much tension unless they are making each other crazy…but that's another story!

Judy Dutton is a freelance writer living in New York City. She often works from home, where there's no one to flirt with from 9-to-5 but her mutt, Toby.
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