I work in marketing for a mid-sized company, and I’m the youngest person on my team. One of the older guys has been kind of a mentor for me, and we get along well. The other day, a bunch of us went for drinks after work. I told him how I was disappointed that a couple of my ideas were rejected, and he told me, with this pitying look, that maybe they just weren’t good ideas. As the night went on, he started telling me how I was the “total package”–brains, beauty, talent–and as the night went on LONGER that got whittled down to just “you’re so gorgeous.” Nothing happened, and neither of us has said anything about it since, but now I feel weird around him. Should I tell somebody? He has more pull here than I do by a lot.
-“The Total Package”
Ugh. Just ugh.
It sounds like this guy has taken on the role of “mentor” for all the wrong reasons–or just the one wrong reason–and is using it to try to swoop in.
Trying to break you down first (so he can seem like the older, wiser, caring one), then halfway building you up again (so you feel just confident enough to be grateful, but not so much that you’ll say “wait, you’re being a dick”) is classic asshole-predator stuff, and you have every right to feel upset, even if the conversation hadn’t taken a turn towards “completely and utterly inappropriate.”
Which, of course, it did.
The question is what you do about it. Presumably, a lot of his (bad) behavior can be chalked up to the booze, so the most obvious first step is not to get post-work drinks with this guy again (or at least don’t let yourself get crammed into his corner of the booth on group outings).
The next step is up to you. If you feel like he’s acting differently towards you at work, or that your work is suffering because of the tension he introduced, absolutely go to HR or a manager and explain that Mentor crossed the line, and you’re not comfortable working with him anymore. At the very least, it might get you a spot on a different “team.”
However, if you think it was really a one-time, drunken fuck up, consider the dynamics of your office before making a move. If there’s not another team to switch to, for example, you might just make your situation MORE uncomfortable, and he may become openly hostile. If that sounds like your office, or if you just don’t feel like getting “higher-ups” involved, try pulling him aside, telling him in no uncertain terms that he crossed the line massively, and that you’ll let it go this once, but not again.
He set out to make you feel weak and vulnerable so he could take advantage; use that to your advantage, and his idiotic move might just give you the upper hand.