Hi Aunty B,
I hope you can help with this sensitive issue. I am a young female business owner and have a male supplier, a few decades older than me, who insists on kissing me hello and goodbye every time we meet.
I’ve tried to step away, shake hands, wave, move my face away, and even make a sour face in the hope he’ll get the hint. I’m now sure he does get the hint but enjoys trying to “get one in”.
Obviously while I continue to let it happen, it will. So it’s time for me to take more affirmative action. However, I don’t want to cause any unnecessary embarrassment to him, as he always attends the meetings with one or two of his staff.
How do I politely and professionally handle this? I’m tempted to invent some exotic disease that makes me highly contagious, or buy some stick-on cold sores, but these are temporary measures at best.
Ms Too Nice,
Dear Ms Too Nice,
If he was a customer who paid ahead of time, in cash, you might well kiss him back. But a supplier? It’s simple. You say to him in a serious voice: “Do you think it’s appropriate behaviour in a workplace?”
Female entrepreneurs who addressed this problem in our recent webinar said that after raising that question, they never have a problem again.
If however he says yes, that is is appropriate, tell him quite sternly a handshake is sufficient.
If he continues to “get one in”, ask to deal with someone else. Or find another supplier.
Remember, you’re the boss.
Your Aunty B.
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