ASK AMY Banker in­structed to ‘flirt’ with client

Orlando Sentinel - - LOCAL & STATE - By Amy Dick­in­son [email protected]­dick­in­ Twit­ter @ask­ingamy

Dear Amy: I brought a big client to the bank where I work. I part­nered with a “re­la­tion­ship rep­re­sen­ta­tive” (a fe­male col­league) to build the ac­count.

The rep in­formed me that she was hav­ing is­sues with the part­ner­ship and said she needed my help.

I spoke to the client, and we agreed to speak again at a later date.

Some­time af­ter this, the rep and I saw him at a pub­lic event. I was truly shocked when the rep asked me to go “flirt” with the client. I am gay, as is the man in ques­tion.

I am afraid to say some­thing, as my po­si­tion is too low, and I may be ter­mi­nated. What should I do?


Dear K: You don’t say how you re­sponded to this re­quest in the mo­ment, but your col­league’s sug­ges­tion is to­tally in­ap­pro­pri­ate, and you should reg­is­ter your dis­com­fort.

Write down your ac­count of ex­actly what hap­pened, so you have a record, and take this to HR.

If you were ter­mi­nated for bring­ing a very rea­son­able con­cern to the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s at­ten­tion, then you would surely have a case of wrong­ful ter­mi­na­tion that I as­sume any em­ploy­ment lawyer would be happy to take.

I un­der­stand that bank­ing is a “go-go” in­dus­try. Your bank’s “re­la­tion­ship rep” might skirt all sorts of bound­aries in or­der to keep ma­jor clients happy, but if she can’t man­age this pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ship without call­ing upon you to flirt, then she isn’t very good at her job.

She could very eas­ily claim that this was a joke.

The word “flirt” can have non­sex­ual con­no­ta­tions. Re­gard­less of her in­tent, she should not make com­ments like this, or at­tempt to use you in this way.

You brought this big client to the bank, and your do­ing so means that you are valu­able to the bank. Don’t un­der­es­ti­mate your own value, both as an em­ployee and as a per­son.

Dear Amy: My sis­ter com­mit­ted sui­cide af­ter a com­pli­cated life, con­tentious di­vorce and cus­tody bat­tle. Her hor­ri­ble ex-hus­band has al­ways blamed me for her sui­cide.

I tried to help her and was ded­i­cated to her (not him) while liv­ing abroad.

Their daugh­ter, 21, who I am in touch with and see when I am in the U.S., is get­ting mar­ried, but she did not tell me, which is dis­ap­point­ing. Her dad for­bade her from invit­ing me. She ac­ci­den­tally re­vealed it on Face­book. Should I get her a present?

— Lov­ing Aunt

Dear Aunt: I’m very sorry for this loss to your fam­ily. When peo­ple die by sui­cide, their death creates tremen­dous trauma, heart­break and re­la­tional chal­lenges for sur­vivors.

Af­ter your sis­ter’s death, your niece was left with one par­ent, whom you de­scribe as “hor­ri­ble.” She is only 21 years old and has al­ready been through a lot.

I don’t think this ques­tion is re­ally about a wed­ding present. But to an­swer your ques­tion — yes, you should def­i­nitely give her a gift.

Your gift to her could be some­thing as sim­ple as just get­ting in touch to say how happy you are to learn that she is get­ting mar­ried. The choice to start a fam­ily with a beloved per­son is a pos­i­tive one for her, and this should be cel­e­brated.

Ex­press your de­sire to meet her sig­nif­i­cant other and don’t put any pres­sure on her re­gard­ing be­ing in­vited to the wed­ding.

Ex­tended fam­ily mem­bers can be im­por­tant he­roes to their younger fam­ily mem­bers — es­pe­cially when there is loss and grief in the pic­ture. You may never know the ex­tent of your pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on your niece, but you should con­tinue to at­tempt to keep the re­la­tion­ship go­ing.

Dear Amy: More feed­back to “Seen it All” about how cus­tomer ser­vice per­son­nel should han­dle irate clients. I was in cus­tomer ser­vice for over 30 years.

The best way to get past the ire is to let the ag­grieved cus­tomer have their say (rant), apol­o­gize and then ask, “What would you like me to do?”

This ap­proach re­li­ably de­fuses the sit­u­a­tion. The com­plainer is dis­tracted and taken “off their script” in or­der to re­con­sider their de­mand.

— Re­ally Seen It All

Dear Re­ally: I re­ceive a lot of up­set, irate and (some­times) abu­sive “feed­back” to my work. I agree that how you re­ceive this can trans­form the ex­pe­ri­ence. Peo­ple re­ally do need to be heard. “What would you like me to do?” is the per­fect re­sponse.

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