January 15th, 2007 02:50 EST
Seven Steps for Romance at the Office
Caramel creams, raspberry hearts, hazelnut truffles " the tastes of romance abound! As we approach the depths of the winter season, pink and red boxes of chocolates pack the shelves of drugstores and specialty stores throughout the country. And if you have a steady love interest, you may already know if you are giving or receiving one of these calorie-packed, new-year`s-resolution-breaking boxes of goodness. On the other hand, if you don`t have a special someone in your life, you may be feeling the urge to find him or her as soon as possible.
Now for the million-dollar question: Where to look? For most of us, work is a logical hunting ground. But beware! Before you venture into chocolate, roses, and wine territory at the office, you must do a little homework and decision making.
- Check the Rules of Engagement
First, does your workplace have a no-dating policy? If it does, think about making your love connection somewhere else--the gym, the grocery store--anywhere but work. It`s not worth risking your career for a mystery date. Besides, after going out, you may not even like your office crush.
- Consider the Breakup
Assuming there is no problem with rule one, the next issue you must consider is the break up. What? Yes, that`s right--the breakup. If you hate the idea of seeing your ex-love daily or if you think he or she could turn into a Fatal Attraction bunny boiler or worse, you should strongly consider passing on office romance. However, if you think you and the other person can stay professional if the relationship goes sour, it`s time to take the next step.
- Verify Availability
Once you have targeted your Romeo or Juliet, you should verify that he or she is not already involved with someone else. There is no need to show your cards if Romeo is happily married. For that matter, even if Romeo is unhappily involved, he is off limits. Scandal at the office is not good for your career. You would be better off buying yourself a box of chocolates and spending the 14th with unattached friends or alone.
- Keep it Casual
If you discover that she is unattached and you want to put the moves on Juliet while still keeping it professional, make it easy for her to say no. " You don`t want her to feel as if she has to go out with you. You may say something such as, I`m thinking of going to the Blue Crab for Valentine`s Day. Would you like to come with me? " If she says yes, " then great. If she declines, you can still save face. Say something such as, That`s too bad. I really thought you would enjoy the food there. If you ever want to go some other time, let me know. " One word of caution here: If you are turned down, do not ask Juliet again. The last thing you want to do is run the risk of a s*xual harassment charge.
- Avoid Shoptalk
A major danger of an office first date is talking about work. Try to avoid this trap for two reasons. First, you need to find out if you and your date have any personal interests in common. Since you won`t be dating during work hours, a hobby or two you could enjoy together wouldn`t hurt. Second, when the conversation relates to work, you risk saying something you normally would not have said simply to have something to say. Put another way, you may end up saying something about your coworkers or the business that you will later regret if the romance fizzles.
- Mind Your Tongue
Just as you should watch what you say about work when out on a date with an officemate, the reverse is also true. Keep your personal business personal. Some of your coworkers may speculate about your date, but you don`t need to fill in the blow-by-blow details for them.
- Plan for the Future
If your relationship gets serious and the two of you work closely together, one of you may want to consider transferring to a different department or even changing jobs. By doing so, you keep your work life and personal life separate. Furthermore, if worse comes to worse and you do break up, you won`t have to work on top of each other.
The bottom line is Cupid can make you stupid if you think only with your heart and not with your brain. When it comes to dating people at the office, follow some basic advice, and you can avoid getting stuck with an arrow where it hurts.
Founder, Kate Zabriskie and her team of trainers at Business Training Works, Inc. work with the Fortune 500, government, and small businesses to improve business results. Choose from dozens of onsite training courses: communication, customer service, business etiquette, business writing, cross-cultural communication, presentation skills, time management, stress management, train the trainer, supervision skills, and more.
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