Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

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.

Part of complete coverage on
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1011 GMT (1811 HKT)
These 12 fashion experts have millions of followers, but who is the most social woman in fashion?
September 3, 2014 -- Updated 1014 GMT (1814 HKT)
Mindy Grossman has been the driving force behind making the Home Shopping Network both hip and profitable, but she still makes time for herself.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1318 GMT (2118 HKT)
Nelly Ben Hayoun speaking at NASA Ames research center
Nelly Ben Hayoun is on a mission to convince the world to take threats such as asteroid strikes more seriously.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 0233 GMT (1033 HKT)
Shenan Chuang turned Ogilvy China into the world's third biggest ad agency, CNN's Kristie Lu Stout asks how she did it.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1045 GMT (1845 HKT)
Imagine a gadget that knows your mind better than you do.
August 5, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
When your grandmother is one of the most famous cosmetics moguls in history, it might put a little pressure on you to succeed.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 2041 GMT (0441 HKT)
When Bobbi Brown set out to create her eponymous makeup line in 1991, she had one thing to her mind -- to make a lipstick that looked like lips.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 0914 GMT (1714 HKT)
The Cornell educated executive, who is hotly tipped as the successor to magnate Steve Wynn, is about to unveil the latest Wynn Palace in Macau.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 1154 GMT (1954 HKT)
From Coco Chanel to DVF, CNN takes a look at celebrated fashion designers and the iconic pieces which launched their careers.
June 17, 2014 -- Updated 1349 GMT (2149 HKT)
2 Caption:Avignon, FRANCE: Serb artist Marina Abramovic performs in 'The Biography Remix' directed by Michael Laub from Netherlands, 10 July 2005 at the Benoix-XII house during the Theater Festival held in Avignon southern France. AFP PHOTO ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT (Photo credit should read ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images)
CNN meets Serbian-born New-York based performance artist Marina Abramovic, as she embarks on the most controversial show of her career.
June 10, 2014 -- Updated 1506 GMT (2306 HKT)
She turned her bohemian beach style and love of ballet shoes into a billion-dollar brand. This week on Leading Women, fashion designer Tory Burch reveals her ultimate style guru.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1623 GMT (0023 HKT)
Meet Mo Abudu, the talk show host portraying a very different Africa. As a glamorous presenter, she also heads up Ebony Life TV network, based in Nigeria.