Finding a 'partner' in the workplace usually not so cut and dry
May 05, 2018
What do you do when Cupid shows up at your work place? Whether or not to date someone from your office has been a hot topic that's been debated for many years.
There are good arguments for both sides of the issue, according to Jodie Vesey, an etiquette expert who works with us at Laurie Richards & Associates.
"For some of us, there is nothing to discuss; the employee handbook clearly states that you will not date anyone from your company," Vesey noted. "However, for most of us, the answer is not so cut and dry."
For every ten "dating a coworker" disaster stories, there seems to be one or two "happy ending" stories. Many people have met their spouse at the work place. Conversely, many people have met their worst nightmare at the workplace. So how should you handle your desire to get to know the person in cubical 2B? Vesey suggests that you tread lightly, and follow these tips:
- First and foremost, do not ever be romantically aggressive with coworkers. If you ask someone out and they decline, let it be. Do not continue to hound them or you may end up with a date with a judge rather than a date with a coworker. Sexual harassment is a very real issue for those who cannot accept a no for an answer.
- If you are looking for people to casually date, or if your motive is simply to see if you can get someone to go home with you, go trolling elsewhere. Do not take dating coworkers lightly. The stakes are too high for the both of you, and you will most likely end up with a file cabinet full of regrets.
But what if there are sparks flying between the both of you? Discretion is the name of the game. Be subtle about the fact that the two of you are seeing one another. When you are at work, others should not be able to tell that you are a hot item. Consider these items:
- No physical contact! This means no kissing, hugging, or playing footsies under the meeting room table.
- Do not use pet names at work. You will be teased unmercifully if someone finds out that you now answer to the name "Snuffy Bear."
- Keep all intimate stories in the vault. Do not share your sex stories with anyone at work. The stories will come back to haunt the both of you, and your status as a polished professional will be greatly diminished.
- Remember that nothing that you send through email is private. Nothing. Do not send each other racy or mushy emails. Your boss may very well read them.
So, you both gave it the old college try, but now you have decided not to date each other any more. What now? A new job? A transfer request? How about a more mature approach:
- Try to quickly separate work issues from personal issues. Do not allow the personal issues to dictate your performance at work. This will be tough, but you must do it for the sake of your professional reputation and for your future with the company.
- Do not bad mouth the other person. People quickly tire of mudslinging and they will start to run the other way when they see you coming.
- Do not be vindictive at work. Avoid trying to sabotage a project or trying to make the other person look bad in front of the boss. This plan always backfires, and you are the one who ends up looking bad.
In summary, Vesey says that you should thoroughly think through both the positives and the negatives of dating a coworker before you take the plunge. Sometimes it is a wonderful experience, but more often it ends up being a poor choice. Whatever the outcome, the decision will affect you, your career and your future. Bottom line: don't let Cupid make you stupid; consider yourself warned.
Laurie Richards is an accomplished international speaker who works with thousands of executives and association leaders. Known for her practical, interactive, and entertaining approach, Richards works with leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, sales people, and other professionals on improving communication at every level. She also lends her voice to video and audio programs in voice-over work. Richards’ experience as an international speaker and speaker coach comes into play as she helps clients strategically plan outcome-based presentations, put power into a PowerPoint (no more bored audiences), prepare for media interviews, manage crisis (before, during, and after), grow morale, build stronger teams, and improve everyday communications to directly affect the bottom line -- including new business pitches, state-of-the-organization addresses, sales presentations, and meetings. Many of Richards’ programs include personality profiling using proven Myers-Briggs, DISC, Social Styles, and other valid instruments to help clients work better as teams, improve efficiencies, select best candidates, and coach employees. Richards began her career as a legislative correspondent for Public Broadcasting. She managed leader communications for the National Pork Producers Council—the nation's largest commodity organization and originator of the successful, “Pork. The Other White Meat” campaign. Richards has hosted radio and television shows, managed one of the nation’s fastest growing public relations agencies, launched award-winning public affairs programs, and managed highly effective grassroots lobbying efforts, and facilitated professional development programs for Fortune 500 companies and associations. Richards is described as "enthusiastic, professional, effective, practical, savvy, inspiring, and enlightening." Clients note her strengths as “an innate charismatic style coupled with the ability to really connect with her audience and bring practical real-life experiences we can use immediately.” Her business clients span throughout the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia giving her first-hand experience and cross-cultural awareness. To remain relevant, Richards’ learning material includes current information reflecting today’s high-speed lifestyles, cultural changes, technological advancements, and shifting priorities. Richards has degrees in communication and business management and has earned masters’ degrees in business management and psychology. She has a variety of certifications in micro-expressions and psychological profiling. Richards is currently working toward her PhD in industrial and organizational psychology.