If a coworker winked at you, you’re right to be taken back and wonder what it means.
It’s not exactly normal to be winked at by a coworker, although it’s almost certainly going to be something positive.
If you take into account the situation, context, and all of the possible reasons a coworker would wink at you, I’m sure you can figure it out!
And yes, it might mean that they really like you!
To help you figure it out, here are the possible reasons behind a coworker winking at you:
What Does It Mean When a Coworker Winks at You? (10 Possible Explanations)
1. They Like You!
Winking is most commonly used as a way of flirting and letting someone know you like them without them having to say something out loud.
So, if a coworker winks at you, it’s possible that they have feelings for you and are trying to let you know in a covert way.
Of course, it’s also possible that they’re just joking around and there’s nothing serious behind the wink.
I wouldn’t act on this without more evidence, but it’s certainly a possible reason!
2. They’re Making You Think They Know Something You Don’t
Winking can also be used as a way to make someone feel like they’re in on a secret.
If your coworker winks at you and then starts talking about a project you’re both working on, they might be trying to make you feel like you’re part of the inner circle.
This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you feel about being in the “know.”
3. They’re Letting You Know They Got Your Back
If you’ve been debating something with your boss or a coworker and another coworker winks at you, they might be trying to let you know that they’re on your side.
This is a way of showing solidarity without actually having to take a side verbally and let everyone else know.
It can be helpful in a difficult situation – but it is certainly hard to interpret!
4. They Just Did Something and Think You’re Impressed
Winking can also be a way of showing pride in oneself for doing something good or even being a little mischievous or funny.
If your coworker just did something impressive or made a great sale, they might wink at you to show that they’re proud of themselves.
Or, if they just did something a little naughty, like putting Post-It notes all over someone’s computer, they might wink at you to share in the joke.
You should be able to get a feel for someone who behaves like this over time.
5. They Wink at Everyone
I know you want to feel special and like your coworker likes you or is trying to tell you something.
But if you watch how they behave around other coworkers you might find they wink at everyone.
In this case, it’s probably just their personality and how they interact with people.
6. It’s Just Innocent Flirting
There are two very different types of flirting, one is because someone likes you and wants to let you know.
The other is just because they like flirting and enjoy the attention it gets them.
Innocent flirting is perfectly harmless and you shouldn’t take it too seriously.
If your coworker winks at you and you don’t want to encourage it, ask them if they have something in their eye.
7. They’re Just Being Friendly
Some people also use winking to try and get to know someone better and become friends.
This might be true if either you or they are new in the workplace.
Or, if you don’t know each other that well and they wink at you as a way of greeting you, they might be trying to break the ice.
8. It’s Normal in Their Culture
Winking means a lot of different things in different cultures around the world.
So, if you have a coworker who is from a different country, they might wink at you as a way of greeting you or showing appreciation.
In some cultures, winking is also a way of saying they have an inside joke or are asking you to keep a secret.
It’s certainly worth looking into what it might mean based on where your coworker is from.
9. They’re Trying to Embarrass You
Winking can also be a way of trying to embarrass someone, especially if they know you’re attracted to them.
If your coworker winks at you and you feel your face flush or get butterflies in your stomach, they might be trying to fluster you on purpose.
This isn’t appropriate workplace behavior, but it happens!
10. They’re Saying ‘Thanks’ on The Downlow
In some workplaces, winking can also be a way of saying “thank you” without having to say it out loud.
It’s another way to communicate without speaking out loud and is often done between coworkers who don’t want to let their boss know what they’re saying to one another.
So, What Did It Mean When Your Coworker Winked at You?
As you can see, there are a lot of different things that winking could mean when it comes to coworkers.
It might be difficult to figure out what it meant in a specific instance, but if you know your coworker well, you should be able to get a feel for what they were trying to communicate.
Do you have a story about a time when someone winked at you and you had no idea what it meant?
Please share your experience in the comments below!
Image credits – Photo by Jonathan Safa on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.