Remember last week when you flipped out on your girlfriend/wife/ FWB because you thought they were flirting at the office? They may have called you irrational and begged you to not cause a scene, but your anger was justified.
Last December Confused.com, a British insurance website that clearly has its mind in the gutter, surveyed 2,000 men and women about flirting in the office. Female respondents were more likely to flirt, and 21% claimed that they flirted in hopes of getting preferential treatment. Apparently 2012 was a red letter year for learning about office flirting statistics, since this past October a study co-authored by a University of California, Berkeley professor revealed that that some friendly and flirty chatting with men gets women a better deal in zero-sum negotiations. The study had women greet used car salesmen with varying degrees of friendliness. Women who were flirty on average had 20% more taken off the final asking price than others did.
There are different reasons why flirting has become common in the workplace. The changing environment and social attitudes at work play a considerable role in the proliferation of office flirting. People in the younger generations have made the average office a lot less formal, dress codes have become more flax, bosses have become more flexible, and the attitudes about what makes certain things “work appropriate” have drastically changed. Co-workers also socialize with their peers a lot more outside of work because of social media, so many of their office peers may seem more like friends than their fellow workers.
This new attitude towards flirting in the workplace doesn’t mean that your office will be getting a make-out closet or condom dispense anytime soon. Flirting has become more common, but common decency hasn’t changed. The cute new temp may be smiling and twirling her hair a little more than usual, but that doesn’t mean that anything will happen beyond some PG interaction.