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No-Flirt Zone

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When someone flirts with you, don't get mad . . . get professional.

"Your husband must be very proud of you." When Gilda Piccoli hears that phrasefrom a man, she knows exactly what's happening.

"He's flirting with me," says the owner of Warwick, Rhode Island, IDKPromotional Specialty Co., which imprints company logos on creative promotionalproducts. "I run across this all the time. I do a lot of trade shows, and whenI'm in the booth, men come up to me, acting as if they're interested in theproduct. But they really want to know more about me--my background and whetherI'm married."

Instead of getting angry and confrontational, Piccoli firmly steers theconversation back to business. And that's exactly what she should do, saysMarina Grant, president of Grant Communications, which specializes inemployment law and conflict resolution. When someone makes an improper comment,"You need to proceed in a professional way and show you're not shaken by hisunprofessional behavior," says Grant.

Here's Grant's advice for dealing with unprofessional behavior:

* Ascertain whether the action is truly an improper advance. People from othercultures have different customs that could be misinterpreted.

* If you're not sure whether the behavior is inappropriate, try to clarify whatthe person is doing. For instance, if the individual is touching his lips, youcould ask, "Do you want me to lower my voice?"

* If someone brushes against you, apologize and say, "I didn't mean to bumpyou."

* Try to acknowledge behavior that is appropriate and thank the personfor his professional manner.

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