"How Do I Know If It's a Date or Just Business?"

by - 6:00 AM


I am a single woman who works at the top level of management in a traditionally male business. Professionally, I come into contact with a lot of men each day. Every so often, I will be asked to coffee to talk business, to tour another organization or to take part in some other activity by individuals who do not work for the organization but are business partners, committee members, etc. Many of these men are unmarried and of a similar age. I have taken these meetings, and have acted professionally and have stayed on the topic of the business throughout our interaction. However, I have had the feeling that perhaps some of these men had actually asked me on a date. In appropriate situations (when they are not closely involved with the organization), I might consider dating them. In other circumstances, it is not appropriate and I do not want to give the impression of having done anything that does not seem right. How can I better tell if they are asking for a date or if it is indeed business that they are interested in before I accept a "meeting"?

—Confused Professional

"A vast majority of interpersonal messages are transmitted 
through body language (55 percent) and vocal intonation (38 percent)."


Dear Confused,

Career professionals often refrain from pursuing personal interests because of sexual harassment lawsuits and other complications. Despite that, plenty of couples do meet at work. A vast majority of interpersonal messages are transmitted through body language (55 percent) and vocal intonation (38 percent). These nonverbal vibes trump the meager impact of words. So if you sense interest, trust your gut’s veracity. When appropriate, encourage interest by smiling and extending eye contact beyond the cordial five seconds. If you’re still uncertain, request the agenda of a suggested “meeting.” But even then, note that words are easier to spin than nonverbal cues. Surely a departure for successful concrete thinkers, proficiency in reading messages without words is a vital skill to hone.

 —Dr. Gilda

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