Sunday 4 December 2016

Next week's problem

Published 03/09/2011 | 05:00

I recently got a big promotion at work, which involves a lot of schmoozing and socialising with clients. As my boss explained to me on the first day in my new position, it's crucial to keep these guys happy as they are worth millions to our company.

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I probably shouldn't have been surprised to discover that a lot of these clients are very full-on with me, as I've heard stories from other women in the office who have had dealings with them.

On one of my first assignments, I brought three male clients to an upmarket bar near work. We had dinner and a few bottles of wine, and I was proud that I was well able to hold my own. One of them kept putting his hand on my knee, but I gently and professionally laughed it off and tried to keep out of his way.

But later in the night he grabbed my behind and said he's very much looking forward to working with me and hopes we can spend more time together again. I was shocked, and really upset to be honest.

I went home and broke down in tears to my boyfriend. He's supportive, but he said that I knew this would likely be a feature of the job and that I'd have to get used to it. My mother also told me that I come across as being too vulnerable and have to learn to toughen up.

My boyfriend encouraged me to talk to my boss about it, as I count him as a friend. He listened to me, but advised me not to take it any further as I will just be stone-walled by the top brass and might even lose key accounts.

So I guess I have to figure out how to operate in this kind of environment. How can I work with clients like these, but still have them respect me? How tactile should I be, and let them be? How much flirtation is too much? It's all so new to me.

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