Monday, October 11, 2010

Should you edit your in-office behavior?

I work in an office everyday, though it is not for my editorial position. Being a pre-25-year-old female, people often seem surprised when they learn I also hold a position as an editor. There is always room to wonder if part of this reaction comes from my young age or my California-girl appearance (a la Clueless). Part of me feels even more proud of all that I have accomplished as a 20-something due to the possibility of this being the cause of surprise.
As Working Girls, we know that office stereotypes are always possibility, no matter what we wear, how we act or what position we hold. That statement really could hold true for everyone. So how do you determine how to present yourself at work?
According to, to stay on top at the office as a Working Girl, maybe a little flirting is in order?
This article is very interesting. You can never quite gauge where the writer is coming from, with the editorial tactic of leaving the conclusion to the reader in full swing. It starts off with outside quotes stating that flirting at work may be necessary, travels into the realm of it being wrong and finally heads into the discussion of the process of flirting being inevitable. It is that last point that interested me the most.
That final paragraph includes a quote from Denise Frost that says, "In that age range, if you're an attractive female and smile at a male colleague you are automatically assumed to be making a pass at them or alluding to the same." The point is, does it matter if workplace flirting is right or wrong, if it is assumed by the other party?
It was in my Cultures of Glamour class in college (that was somehow considered a class fit for the Literature Department) when I first learned about "the gaze." The idea was it didn't matter how women portrayed themselves in old European black-and-white films, it only mattered how they were perceived by the men watching them (or something like that).
Ultimately, though, us Working Girls need not despair (or flirt our way to the top). You are in control of you, and believe it or not, your actions can shape the thoughts of others. Yes, I may be young, but I do my best to not come off that way (at least, unless we are discussing things as my first concert to which I must confess *NSYNC or my love of teen novels). If you dress professionally, come prepared to meetings and maybe even need to act a bit older than you really are (because lord knows no one thinks Agnes the bookkeeper is winking at them because she wants to smooch behind the copier), you can avoid the inevitable "flirty Working Girl" stereotype.
Maybe now is the time we all treat our workplace behavior like a manuscript. You will find places you may want to edit and some parts of the narrative will flow perfectly. Either way, eventually, it will tell the story of a Working Girl who succeeded.


Bailey said...

Definitely. My office skews young, but working with faculty across the university campus, I can only assume they're wondering what the heck I know.
Our office dress code is relaxed (basically, non-existent) but I tend to dress on the higher end just because I want to make sure people don't mistake me for a student (wait, they do anyway).

Amy said...

I think there's a really fine line between flirty and friendly that can cause issues/awkwardness - especially at the office.

Anonymous said...

I think I look a lot older than I am - despite being Asian - so that's a bonus in the workplace.

But yes, to my friends, having the word 'editor' in my title is definitely a bragging point!

P said...

Excellent post! Enjoyed the application of our profession, that is, editing, to life.