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Is it ok to flirt at work? Yes, and no

By Lauren Said-Moorhouse, for CNN
November 19, 2012 -- Updated 1032 GMT (1832 HKT)
A businessman reads a document over his secretary's shoulder, circa 1935
A businessman reads a document over his secretary's shoulder, circa 1935
  • Recent study found that women who flirt get a better deal
  • CNN polled online community: Is flirting at work is acceptable. No: 57% Yes: 43%
  • We've curated some of the strongest comments for and against

(CNN) -- So, it turns out that flirting at work really can get you ahead -- at least according to one study, which says that with no serious intentions, it can really pay off in negotiations.

But would any woman use these tactics in the real world? Should she?

We asked one successful entrepreneur, Victoria Pynchon, co-founder of She Negotiates Consulting, which helps women get better at asking for raises and promotions.

Pynchon thinks it's ok and, in fact, necessary. She told us why in this opinion piece: Why it's ok for women to flirt at work.

It got a huge response from CNN readers and on social media -- with strong opinions both for and against.

Nearly 200 people took part in our quick vote and we found that there was an almost equal number who were ok with flirting at work and those who weren't.

We also asked our friends at The Levo League, an online community for women in the first decade of their careers, to see what the next generation of professionals think.

Below we've collated a selection of the best comments from our users and The Levo League community.


It means we, as women, can be charming but in a positive way.
Martina Lundardelli

ChrisMay: "Whether anyone likes it or not, sex sells. And when a woman puts herself through school and gains competence, when she discovers that she is in an environment where her competence has taken a back seat to her bust size, then she is given a license to pull out the big guns; it becomes a tool. If she abuses it, it can bite back. If she's smart, she'll strike a balance that sends the brainless male side spinning like a top as she climbs the corporate ladder. I see it every day. It's an art form. You go girl."

Martina Lundardelli: "It means we, as women, can be charming but in a positive way. Our attitude towards problems and life in general is charming. Since work is a part of our lives, we should just remain women. We still continue using our brains, our skills and our competitiveness, but with elegance and an attitude that is a feature of our gender. So yes, I do agree."

Lila Barton, 22, on The Levo League: "It's no secret that women have a certain "feminine charm." Since the beginning of time, men have been captivated, confused, and absolutely in love with it. But when it comes to using this charm to get what you want, women have to be extremely careful ... Every woman understands when they cross the line between being warm and friendly to flirtatious."

I think it (is) a very slippery slope to view flirting as an asset to negotiation and getting what you want
Maxie McCoy on The Levo League

Zac: "Women will use their charms, not because its right or wrong, but because its a part of their toolset. As a guy, I think it's unfair, but the world is an unfair place and I know that if I had the opportunity to juke the system to get what I want, I probably would."


Guy: "I worked with many women below, beside and above me, and the most successful and respected women managers were acting just like themselves and not trying to emulate men and never used charm or their beautify to manipulate the situations ... in some respects women have a natural tendency to be good managers, they can also endure hard work better than men and they have better abilities than men to talk themselves out of trouble."

Russell Conner: "Sure they can (flirt at work), and I can put them in the same category as butt-kissers and yes-men. I have followed, mentored, supported and even stepped aside for competent and talented women. Some of whom I never met in person, no 'female charms' in play. If any of them had tried that, they would have lost my respect."

Maxie McCoy on The Levo League: "I think it (is) a very slippery slope to view flirting as an asset to negotiation and getting what you want ... However, looking at female charm as a skillset that involves winning others over, being authentic, warm and personable is a relevant and useful conversation to have."

Yosisme: "Isn't saying it's ok to make vague sexual references (flattery/flirting) to co-workers to gain influence, sort of like saying it is ok to intimidate people to get what you want as long as you don't follow through on the threat? ... Both are using a vague promise of something to emotionally manipulate someone. Does it really matter if the false insinuation is sexual or violent? I don't condone either method."

What do you think? Is it ok for women to use their feminine charms to improve their chances of success at work? Tell us in the comments below.

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