I work in a very public job at a front desk, and I come into contact with about 100-200 people per day. Most people are fine, but there are others who make me feel very uncomfortable. They linger at the desk, lean over the desk, ask me personal questions, sometimes want to discuss inappropriate topics, etc.
I've tried saying, "I need to get back to work," I've changed the subject, and I've made myself busy with work. This hasn't deterred some guests. I am not able to step away from the desk, and I am the only staff person at the desk during regular business hours.
My supervisors are very big on front desk staff coming across as friendly, approachable, and "nice." I'm to make eye contact with all visitors and smile. I feel like this invites unwanted attention, like it's a big welcome sign for some of the inappropriate behavior. I've discussed this with my supervisors, and they are firm on the friendly, welcoming, smiling, polite, the-guest-is-always-right approach.
As an aside, I am currently in therapy--I grew up in an abusive household, and I am learning how to set and enforce boundaries. One of my big themes in therapy has been safety. I don't feel safe much of the time, and this is due partly to my lack of boundaries. I wonder if I am inviting some of this behavior--like can some people tell if someone has thin boundaries?
Overall, I feel like I can't set any boundaries or feel safe at the desk when I have to appear friendly, approachable, smile, and so forth. Can anyone recommend approaches?
That must be pretty annoying to have people hover over your desk, even after they are done getting answers for the their questions.
Using your experience, maybe you can get a job elsewhere?
Or apply for a different position within your company?