Last year, when he was running for Vice President, Mike Pence caused a lot of angst by saying he went by the Billy Graham Rule–that is, he was never alone with a woman who wasn’t his wife.
Like most things, the application of the Billy Graham Rule is more complicated than the snap judgements that seem to accompany every issue. It is unfair to women and guys working with attractive females should be professional first and always. In other words, you should be able to walk through a Victoria’s Secret dressing room and keep your hands and private thoughts to yourself.
That said, it’s the Al Franken situation that clouds things up. If you look at the picture (displayed below), you easily see that Senator Franken isn’t touching Leeann Tweeden in this picture. And, at the time, Franken wasn’s a Senator.
But, in this case, you can clearly call him a schmuck. And the charges Ms. Tweeden lodges about his stuffing his tongue in her mouth during rehearsal are clearly in the he-said, she-said range. If Senator Franken had been, say, Dennis Miller or Tom Selleck, most of the people defending him would be condemning him and vice versa.
Fortuanately, most of us exist in a work environment where French kissing your co-workers without clear consent is obviously way over the line. That said, were I rehearsing a scene that even called for simulated kissing, someone would damn well be there.
For the rest of us, there’s still risk. Sometimes you have to have conversations with women and they have to be private. Sometimes you have to deliver a message that’s not going to be well-received. Sometimes, you work with some who lacks scruples, but not lust for revenge.
In those cases, at least on my opinion, unless someone has clearly shown they aren’t trustworthy, you have to take that chance.
I’m not really anyone’s boss right now, but I have had to deliver difficult messages to people. Depending on the circumstances, sometimes, it’s best to deliver those messages in private. In every circumstance, regardless of context, there’s always a danger someone’s going to throw down the two words that can kill almost any career: hostile workplace.
And if you’re the guy delivering the message, that’s part of the gig. If you really care about the job you’re doing and the people you work with, you have to take that chance. (Unless, someone has a reputation of abusing such a charge, in which case, common sense rules.)
The key is to conduct yourself in a way that such charges are simply unbelievable.
I’ve worked with people who’ve regularly played hopscotch with that line. They haven’t (to my knowledge) raped or groped people, but they’ve done things most would consider to be in questionable taste.
In most cases, it’s your own reputation that puts you at risk, not some shrew with a Fatal Attraction fetish.
In the end, it comes down to love. There’s too many people making too many problems, and not much love to go round.
It’s not that hard to care about the people around you.