If you’re a woman in the business world, you’ve almost certainly been in situations where men have made inappropriate advances. It’s just something that happens, unfortunately, and dealing with it is a pain in the neck, at best.
In the entrepreneurship world, dealing with men hitting on you when they should be conducting business is just as common and can be even tougher to deal with than in a corporate environment because you can’t expect your company to protect you (you are your company) and there is nothing illegal about someone who isn’t a boss or a coworker trying to use his position as a potential client, mentor, or partner to try to “get in your good graces.” Yet it can have a huge affect on your business if you need to pass up opportunities because of someone else’s inappropriate behavior.
I do not claim to be an expert on this in any way and I would love for other women (or men) who’ve come up with strategies to deal with this type of behavior to share below so that I can learn. I’ve just found that this behavior seems to happen way too often and is incredibly annoying and sometimes threatening, so I wanted to address how I usually deal with the situation.
My number one tip for women entrepreneurs is to just never be alone. Try your best to bring an assistant, a colleague, an employee, a business partner – whomever – with you when you’re having meetings. Usually, if a man can’t get you alone he won’t be so bold as to make suggestive statements or get handsy when there is someone else around.
I also often simply make myself look a bit less attractive than I’m able to try to discourage the behavior. Now, do not twist what I am saying. I absolutely do not think that anything a woman might wear means she “deserves it,” but sometimes it just takes less energy for me to wear loose-fitting clothes and tie my hair up than to deal with certain men coming on to me.
Another suggestion is to always wear a wedding ring – whether you’re married or not. I have a lot of friends that use this technique to stop unwanted advances while they’re at work as only the boldest of men still try to hit on a married woman. If you’re not married, just get a cheap, simple wedding band and slip it on your left ring finger before heading to meetings where you think there’s potential for some unwanted attention.
The fact that I feel I have to do a video like this is beyond annoying to me, and I know there are a number of women who will say that I am playing into the man’s game by coming up with any strategy other than being myself and putting an inappropriate man in his place if he crosses the line. That’s something that I struggle with, however, I’ve found that in the world of business, you sometimes need to sacrifice a little bit of giving someone what they deserve to maintain your reputation and professionalism. If I told off every guy that hit on me when we were supposed to be talking business, I would probably get a reputation as “that crazy, hot-headed chick” real fast.
And to all of you gentlemen out there that are not like this – and I know that you exist – please don’t get offended by this video. If you think this doesn’t happen, I’m glad that you spend your time around a group of classy guys, but it does happen and we ladies need to deal with it. So if you have any suggestions for how to fend off the creeps without looking “overly sensitive” or “bitchy,” please share your tips in the comments section below.