DEAR AMY: I have been working off and on as a freelance consultant for a nonprofit organization. I work from a home office and take occasional meetings with clients. Recently, the organization hired a new director when I was working as a consultant on a project for the organization. Soon after his arrival, he asked to have lunch with me. We went to a nearby restaurant to talk about possible projects. As we were saying goodbye outside the restaurant, I reached my hand out to shake hands. Suddenly, he pulled me toward him and kissed me on the lips. I was so shocked that I said a weak goodbye and left him standing there. I completed my assignment feeling awkward and wondering if I wanted to work with him. This is not a decision I can make lightly as there are very few job opportunities in my area of expertise. I wonder if he has a problem that should be reported to the board of trustees. I also wonder if I am making too much of this.Kissed ConsultantDEAR KISSED: Addressing the question of whether you are making too much of this: Do your other clients kiss you on the lips after a business meeting? There is a very common-sense boundary around business meetings, and it's not really that challenging or confusing to stay within the boundary. Physical contact after a business meeting should be confined to a handshake.
You should write a letter to the board of trustees. Explain simply what happened: "At the end of our business lunch, when I extended my hand to shake his, Mr. Smith pulled me toward him and kissed me on the lips. I was shocked at the time, and upon reflection continue to be concerned about his conduct. In my experience consulting for this organization, I have always conducted myself professionally and until now have always been treated with respect." If the board handles this well, you could expect to revive your business relationship and work with the organization in the future.