DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am by nature a very private person. I work in an industry that more or less requires a certain level of charisma to succeed, and I am very good at it.
The nature of my position has me working with clients in a one-on-one setting several times a week, and some of these clients feel as though they “know” me, when, in fact, they really know only the “work me.”
My top-paying client, with whom I’ve been working for a number of years, has on numerous occasions expressed having feelings for me, and every time I have expressed to him (as politely as possible, of course) that I am uninterested. It is not uncommon in my profession to have an occasional drink or coffee, etc.; however, he is insistent to ask me every time I see him.
He gets irritated when I decline too often and insists to know what I’m doing instead and who I’ll be with. While this makes me extremely uncomfortable, there is a certain level I am willing to put up with in order to maintain my job (there is no one else to take this person from me).
How do I answer such probing questions without being rude? Currently, I tell him I have prior obligations or I’ve got personal business to attend to. These answers are not sufficient for him, and he continues to probe. I honestly believe that he is the one being rude here, but I do not wish to answer rudeness with more rudeness. Please advise.
GENTLE READER: The name for this behavior is harassment. Furthermore, your relationship with your client being professional, he has no business inquiring into your personal life. Miss Manners recommends your replying to each such inquiry with “That’s personal” until he understands that.