|It goes without saying that today’s business world is different from what it used to be twenty years ago. We spend most of our time at the office and we interact with colleagues just as much as we interact with the outside world and maybe more. The amount of hours you spend in your office may vary accordingly to your job, your seniority and your company. However, you would at least be spending 8 hours within your work environment interacting with others outside your family, close friends and agreed upon comfort zone. You work groups will be diverse and you may make friends from work. You could also be seeking something more than a friend at work; you can meet an emotional partner. Where does all of this take us?|
To date at work or not to date at work?
The answer is not with me, it is all yours! The most important aspect to begin with would be to double-check your employee handbook, and check to see if your company has a policy on this! It may sound humorous, but many companies are instituting explicit written policies either prohibiting or expressing they do allow work/dating relationships. Some companies I have heard of permit peers to date, but not those in a direct boss/subordinate relationship with you. Therefore, you can date those who are laterals to you in the organization, but not those above you who report to you or you report to.
Next, I encourage you to consider, “How will you feel if it doesn’t work out?” While we like to give people the benefit of the doubt, let’s assume the worst here. Will you feel awkward being around this person in staff meetings, embarrassed because he’s seen you in love and could share very intimate details with other co-workers and worse, management, or angry or sad if it turns out “he’s just not that into you?”
Let’s say you have considered the odds and would like to go ahead with this step, it would eb best if you consider the below tips:
1- Recognizing a strong attraction: You must be genuinely convinced that your co-worker is interested in you. He or she may be sending signals, like taking detours to be near your cabin, singling out your reports for compliments, trying to share lunch and coffee breaks with you, staying near you during office parties and making inquiries about your personal life. She may even send flirty e-mail messages to you. You must try to watch, learn and think before expressing your interest to him/her.
2- Keeping it discreet: One of the most important lessons, which people have learnt, is to keep an office romance discreet. Rumor mills and grapevines thrive on the grist of possible- ongoing-failed romances. Your office may contain many people who are inimical to you and waiting to speak ill of you. It’s a dog-eat-dog situation and an office romance is the best way to feed the rumor mills. Especially if a romance sours, it may be very unpleasant and embarrassing for both of you at the workplace if you have had a very highflying public romance. Your decisions, motivations, actions, all may be weighed in terms of your romantic interest in a co-worker. Be prepared for co-workers to be talking behind your back. So the best policy is to keep your romance low key and quiet until it turns really serious. It will avoid complicating relationships with other co-workers.
3- Try to date someone in a different office or a floor: You may work in the same company but your romance has a better chance if you work in different offices or on different floors. For one, you are not always bumping into each other the whole time. You can keep the romance discrete and avoid feeding the rumor mills. You are also not likely to bore yourself with full time interaction. Because if you are in the same office, you may have nothing very different to share with each other on the daily goings-on and intrigues and you may lose the spark in your romance. As someone said, familiarity breeds contempt. But more important, you may escape being the target of office intrigues, accusations of favoritism, and character assassination.
4- Avoid public displays of affection: Even if you don’t want to be too discrete, it is better to avoid public displays of affection in the office. Save the handholding and caressing for after-hours. Cloying displays of affection spoil the office atmosphere. Also the habit of sending electronic messages or e-mails containing love declarations is best avoided. Most office employees have access to all office e-mails on the excuse of checking for suspected pornographic content and illegal material. And in the process, all your intimate letters will be the joke of the office.
5- Keep your quarrels at home: Being discrete also means that you do not carry to the workplace your disputes and quarrels. Shouting and abusing each other at work destroys the peace of the work-place and affects negatively the productivity of individuals. Co-workers can mess up work because they have had a lover’s tiff, and vitiate the atmosphere by setting up rival camps in the staff. It results in back-biting, stalling of work and confrontation.
6- Come clean about other affairs: Before you start a new romance with a co-worker who happens to be the partner of your dreams, you must confess to them about previous romances in the workplace, if any. This is the problem with the work-place. Dating co-workers seldom escapes anyone’s attention, and remains in everyone’s memory to haunt you forever. The details maybe exaggerated by back-biters, so it is important that you come clean with your partner before others try to spoil things between you.
7-Develop a strong personality: Only those with a strong personality can successfully date a co-worker, as you encounter a sea of troubles once you start an office romance. You must be ready to fight the odds – company policy, office gossip, fear of blackmail, and the general tempest of affairs. There is the possibility that she will accuse you of harassment or blackmail, or the office will question your every decision as a sign of favoritism. Either way, you must be ready to face the flak.
Truth be told: It is a RISK! But sometimes we are willing to take it. Sometimes we just haven’t met that special someone outside our work environment and we are willing to look inside. And some other times we just have to get out of our comfort zone to get a taste of something special that we craving for.
Senior Staffing Specialist