There can be multiple meanings to a wink. It’s ambiguous and hard to decipher. Is it a gesture of good fortune? A flirtatious message? A simple way to say hello? In some parts of the world, a wink can mean anything from a sexual innuendo to an indication it’s time to go to rude behavior. So, with the controversy that exists around the wink, is it really appropriate in the workplace setting?
I was recently winked at during a training event and, for the life of me, cannot figure out the intentions of the giver of the wink. Background information: I am a 25-year-old petite female with blonde hair. The “Giver” was a moderately attractive mid-aged man, say 35ish, wearing a wedding band. He was manning a booth to discuss his service line with other employees as a part of one of the training sessions. Two of my male colleagues and I approached him to talk about his work. The conversation consisted of him giving a background of what he does with a few questions from me and my two other colleagues. The conversation lulled at points in which all parties were awkwardly trying to fill in the silence with useless banter. The conversation came to an end, and the Giver shook the hands of my two male colleagues. As they walked away, he shook my hand, winked, and turned away. I was taken aback for a moment, slightly stunned and confused by the gesture, and then walked away.
A number of thoughts flew into my head as I made my way to another booth. What was the purpose of this wink? Was it a reaction to the somewhat awkward conversation we just had? Was it a friendly ‘nice to meet you’? And if so, why didn’t he wink at my colleagues? Was it a compliment to my looks? Was I giving off signs I was interested in him? No one will ever be sure.
As I recounted the event to my friends, they asked “Are you sure it was a wink?” Thanks guys. Do people normally blink one eye while looking directly at another person? Did this guy have some rare condition in which he involuntarily blinks and it just so happened to occur during the moment I shook his hand? At this point I’m still 85% sure it was a wink.
Maybe my Giver meant the wink as a friendly gesture or maybe it was something more. With the incessant amount of winky face emojis that fly around dating apps and texting these days, I almost immediately connect winking with flirtatious behavior. So, what did he mean? Either way, I’m taking it as a flirtatious way of saying “you’re cute.” To me, that’s a win. I guess I’m doing something right.
But the real question is: Does the wink belong in the workplace and how should we react to it? I say the best bet is to give them a taste of their own medicine and send a wink back. Initiating a psychological warfare must be the best way to ensure no one will mess with me on my way to the top ;). .
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