Don’t let another Valentines Day slip by alone and regretful just because your Valentine happens to be a coworker. Although dating in the office is often considered to be a bit taboo that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Guest contributor Jay Gast explains how to go about successfully making romance work in the office, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
According to a Careerbuilder study, nearly one-third of workers who had office romances married their co-worker and nearly one-in-five have dated their boss. The time for office romance is just around the corner – Valentines Day!
With the follow tips and suggestions anyone can successfully start an office relationship.
That’s right, I said it and now I’ll tell you how, but first a necessary disclaimer: everyone is responsible for adhering to his or her company policy on sexual harassment, not doing so could result in disciplinary action or loss of a job, of which this author claims no responsibility. Also, more practically, nobody will want to be your Valentine if you sexually harass him or her.
With that disclaimer out of the way, here’s how you can happily engage in, maintain and enjoy a romantic relationship even if it happens to intertwine with your career.
First Confirm You Are Both On The Same Page
The difficult part about not getting sued for harassment is the very beginning, the time spent figuring out how to test the waters without seeming out of line. Firstly, this will require you revisit your employer’s official policy on the matter, to brush up on just what is officially acceptable and what is not.
Secondly, you will need to take into account your company culture and the confidence percentage your feelings are reciprocated by the other person. Gauging these things can be difficult and may require consulting with other friends in the office; tap into the gossip mill. With these risk calculations in mind it’s time to decide how to go about pushing the corporate boundaries.
“The best proof of love is trust.” –Joyce Brothers
After carefully measuring the policy, cultural and reciprocation odds you will have to find a way to ever so subtly express interest. The best way to do this is by starting with trust.
Letting someone know you like them within the confines of hyper restrictive office environment can be like walking an elephant through a china shop: difficult, but not impossible.
*Actionable Tip: Take care to communicate your interest in a way that can be interpreted as just professional friendliness if they aren’t interested, but also interpreted as subtly suggestive if they are interested. Pour a glass of water half way and let them decide if it’s half empty or half full. Know how to flex company policy, and do it in a friendly way that allows the other person to feel they can trust you.
“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.” –Dalai Lama
Being on the same page and trusting each other will be the only way to ensure safety for both parties involved and longevity of the relationship as you navigate office politics and break select rules together in pursuit of plain, pure, simple love.
Finding The Perfect Location & Timing Are Key In Turning Up The Heat
Because openly hitting on a coworker is unacceptable in today’s modern office environment you will have to be careful in how and where you establish a non-professional connection.
This is where location comes into play. Careerbuilder has reported that the most common place to start an office romance is running into each other outside of work (13%) while happy hours are a close second at 12% followed by lunchtime at 11%.
The only way to get down to the business of complementing physical appearance safely is to get out of the office and away from official work events. Essentially, to not violate company rules you have to be off the companies time.
Finding a place where you can both take off your office masks and show your smiles is important for building trust and separating professional and personal lives. A change of environment can make all the difference in progressing from interest to flirtation.
“Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” James Baldwin
*Actionable Tip: Don’t be a recluse. Maximize your interaction with co-workers you’re attracted to by always participating in after work activities and group lunches. This will increase your opportunities to make a connection.
Relationships Mean Working Together
Once you’ve established a relationship and decided to go forward together as a couple it’s time to strategize. You will both have to be on the same page in the office to avoid alerting coworkers to your relationship (if it’s covert) and make sure everything continues as normal.
Maintaining professionalism in the office is paramount, but doesn’t mean that it has to be all work and no fun. You can still discreetly express your infatuations with a bit of planning and creativity.
“Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” –Mother Teresa
*Actionable Tip: When you’re on the same page even the most cordial office interactions can become special. Something as simple as a good morning or a smile done with enough emotion or at the right moment can still be a heart touching action. Even something as simple as extended eye contact could be enough to make hearts flutter, whatever you and your Valentine like to do.
“Officially” Keep Work Out Of Love And Love Out Of Work
The biggest danger in office romances that aren’t restrained is that when the relationship ends so can office harmony, even though according to PayScale, one-in-ten employees have reported actually having sex while at the office. To avoid office conflict, it’s best to avoid office-based sexual encounters and instead work together to separate.
“Love is a game that two can play and both win” – Eva Gabor
Keep work issues at work so that they doesn’t risk damaging your personal relationship. Do the same at work; it’s not only smart to do so in order to maintain your own career but also a courtesy to your partner because it protects their career as well.
*Actionable Tip: Make a game out of your secret romance, pretend to be CIA agents. Communicate only through personal phones and emails, never leaving a traceable evidence trail such as physical notes or email with a work email.
“Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.” – H.L Mencken
Hopefully by taking the above cautionary bits of information into consideration when pursuing your secret office Valentine you will find yourself all the more happier this coming Friday. Remember, with a bit of precaution and a lot of determination anyone can make a “forbidden” office romance work out for the best.
What are you waiting for? Bend the rules and make the most out of your office situation, because as Will Smith stated in the hit hook-up movie “Hitch” – The first rule to dating is there are no rules!
*The views expressed in this guest post dont’ necessarily reflect the views of Resume Genius or any of its affiliated businesses, employees or policies.