How to Speak to Women at Work Who Are Not Your Wife
Because sometime you’ll need to.
I am a happily married man.
And I’m not saying that just because I’m contractually obligated to once a day, though that is also true. (Always read the fine print, fellas.)
I love my wife, but she isn’t the only woman on the planet. Good thing, too. Fighting off the other 3.5 billion men would be a full-time job!
The single greatest challenge of marriage is being nice to other women, women who are not your wife, while also avoiding all double entendres and other suggestive language that can land you in either hot water or lukewarm water, depending on how long the water sat there while you made an ass of yourself.
Here are some common things that a married man might say to a woman at work that could open a can of worms… with my very important corrections that leave nothing to the imagination and make the man’s intentions to be kind, yet removed and potentially robotic, clear.
“You look nice today”
What you should say instead: “You look nice today, in much the same way as a freshly-painted fence, a short line for the washroom, or a partially-cleaned living room does. Keep up the satisfactory work.”
“You smell wonderful. Is that a new perfume?”
What you should say instead: “If I took the average of all people’s scents that I will smell today, and I will, you are above average. Well done.”
“You look great in those jeans. Have you lost weight?”
What you should say instead: “The person or persons who selected those jeans for you are clearly at the top of their field. And let us not forgot the designer and third-world employees who tirelessly crafted those pants. Kudos all around. And you have either greatly curtailed the amount of foodstuffs you have placed inside your mouth since the last time I saw you, or surrounded yourself with trick mirrors that give the appearance that you have lost weight.”
“Ha ha ha, you’re so funny!”
What you should say instead: “Ha ha ha, you are so mildly amusing in absolutely the most nondescript way conceivable!”
“I really enjoy working with you.”
What you should say instead: “I really enjoy working here with my computer, the various potted plants, the photocopier, my desk, and you, in that order.”
“Do you want to grab a coffee after work?”
What you should have said: “Do you want to grab a coffee after work while I also grab a coffee at the same coffee shop, at the same time, while we exchange the most banal and mind-numbingly non-personal small talk that can’t be misconstrued in any way whatsoever?”
“Having a hard day? It looks like someone needs a hug.”
What you should say instead: “Hard days happen; they are part of the human experience. The sooner you accept that, the better. It also looks like someone needs a hug, but my therapist advised me not to come in contact with any other female humans for the next 10–15 years for germ-control and emotional-security reasons, unless it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that it was for solely lifesaving purposes.”
“Are you seeing anyone?”
What you should say instead: “Whether you are or are not in a relationship with someone outside of work is not my business, so please excuse me while I smite myself for even wondering about this. A thousand apologies.”