It’s nearly Valentine’s Day.

That day when restaurants charge exorbitant (far too high) prices for a set menu, a bouquet of roses costs you half a month’s salary and yet you feel obliged to spend money you don’t have on an over-commercialised display of love or risk upsetting your loved one.

Does this seem familiar to you? Here’s a post I wrote about the lucrative business of Valentine’s.

In this post, I want to explore the office romance. I am sure that at some stage in your career you’ve had a secret or maybe not so secret office romance.

  • How did it go?
  • Did it last long?
  • Did it end happily ever after?
  • Did you have to leave your job when the relationship end?
  • Was it strange around your other co-workers/colleagues?

Some companies have a strict no office romance policy and others are more relaxed. Most of the time, people manage to avoid getting romantically involved with their co-workers. However, with the best will in the world we are only human and we are not always in control of our emotions, right?

How many of you have found yourselves involuntarily attracted to the new member of the team or more awkwardly, to your boss? Or maybe you’ve worked for years with a colleague only to discover suddenly a mutual attraction after working closely on a project? What do you do? Do you ignore the signs? Or do you go with your instincts?

I was searching on the internet for articles for guidelines around office romances and came across this article. In the article, the author shares six tips of what to do if you happen to be involved in an office romance or thinking of one.

Before I go any further, I’d like to point out that I’m not making any judgments about people’s marital status (if they’re married or not or in another relationship). It’s not for me to judge how other people manage their relationships.

What I do know is that the longer hours people work, it seems only natural the serious relationships they forge will be in the office. So, it’s best to be prepared and follow some rules.

Rule One: Socialise outside work

If you think you’re becoming more and more attracted to a co-worker and are not comfortable with the idea, you may want to start socialising more outside work to get another perspective on the situation. This is especially true if you spend very long hours at work and most of your social interaction is with your co-workers. It’s also refreshing to meet people outside your sphere of work so that you have a broader view of the world.

Rule Two: Don’t look up or down

Whatever you do, try not to date your boss. Imagine if the relationship were to fail and you were hoping for a promotion?  Very uncomfortable. Similarly, imagine if you were the boss and you dated a junior and there’s a problem where you need to have a serious talk with them or worse still, have to sack them? How would you feel?

Rule Three: Be careful of gossip

An office can  feel unsettled by your office romance so you want to keep it as low-key (quiet) as you can. However, you may think you’ve managed to keep your relationship a secret but believe me, your co-workers will know exactly what’s going on and you’ll notice a lot of office whispering around the water cooler, side glances and nudging of elbows as you go past. Avoid saying too much on social media especially if your co-workers can see your timeline. Discretion is key in office romances.

Rule Four: Everyone is equal

There’s always a danger that you could favour your loved one over someone else who could be better for a task you assign them. Or you may back their every decision in a meeting thereby being biased towards them. This could create bad feeling amongst your other colleagues so be mindful of that. You must try hard to be fair and to stay professional every time.

Rule Five: Not in the kitchen

You should avoid any public displays of affection (PDAs) when in the office. There’s nothing worse than trying to get to the kettle for a cup of coffee and being blocked by a couple having a ‘secret’ kiss in the kitchen! Don’t use emotional language and don’t bring your arguments to work. That will only create an extremely uncomfortable atmosphere for everyone else.

Rule Six: Over and out

There may come a time when your relationship ends and you need to tell your boss or you have to decide how you’re going to continue working with your ex in the same office without causing friction. You need to keep things professional and how easy will you be able to keep your private life outside your professional life when they are connected?

At the end of the day, we cannot always help ourselves if we fall for a co-worker. All we can do is be clear on how we’re going to behave at work, stay professional and ensure the office dynamics are not disrupted more than they need to.

Have you ever had an office romance? What was it like? How did it end – happily (with wedding bells) or sadly?
Do you approve of office romances or do you think they should be avoided at all costs?

Share your thoughts with me in the comments box below.

Happy Valentine’s, folks!

Shanthi

Could “office romance” be a subject of small talk?


What do you think? Perhaps.

In the meantime, don’t forget my new ebook “Small Talk To Go” is on sale. You can get your copy by going to this link. The e-book comes with a workbook to practise what you’ve learned.