Office oddballs are rarely dangerous, but they can be unnerving. Before you resort to a restraining order, try this approach.
Step 1: Identify creepiness Identify exactly what it is that makes your coworker creepy. Does he stand too close? Stare at you during meetings? Subscribe to more than one magazine about knives? Or more than five magazines about cats?
Step 2: Speak to him in private Ask to speak to Creepy in private. It might be unnerving, but confronting him in public is not only bad form, it will most likely backfire.
Step 3: Ask for behavior to stop Speak in a calm, nonthreatening, nonjudgmental way. Simply ask that the specific behavior stop because it is making you uncomfortable. Keep the talk short and direct.
TIP: Rehearse 'I' statements, as in, 'When you do [insert creepy behavior], I feel [insert creeped-out feeling].' No one can argue with how you feel.
Step 4: Speak to your supervisor If Creepy isn’t open to talking about the problem, or becomes openly hostile, speak to your direct supervisor.
TIP: Tell your supervisor how Creepy’s behavior is hampering office productivity. ('When Creepy stares at me in meetings, I can’t concentrate.') You want to emphasize that you are complaining on a professional level, not a personal one.
Step 5: File a complaint If things don’t change, go to your supervisor’s supervisor or the human resources department and file a complaint.
Step 6: Request a transfer If the company is unable or unwilling to rein in Creepy, request to be transferred to another department, assuming that’s an option.
Step 7: Look for a new job If all else fails, look for a new job. Continuing to fight and fear Creepy is not worth the ulcer you are no doubt developing.
FACT: True crime author Ann Rule worked with the creepiest coworker of all time at the Seattle Crisis Clinic’s suicide hotline in the 1970s: serial killer Ted Bundy.