It's February: Love is in the Air (& Office?)
f thou remem’brest not the slightest folly
That ever love did make thee run into
Thou hast not loved.
William Shakespeare, As You Like It
It’s no surprise that people date those they meet at work—I have and you probably have, too. Estimates vary, but it appears that about twenty percent of married couples met on the job. Up to eighty-five percent of affairs began with a workplace encounter. Demanding that colleagues not be attracted to each other is a fool’s errand; as the song goes, love will find a way.
At the risk of being a buzz-kill to romance, there are warnings to heed if Cupid’s arrow strikes you on the job. Take it seriously if your company has a policy against dating coworkers, especially if it’s a relationship between manager and direct report. Beyond the hierarchical power differential that smacks of coercion, this causes all sorts of problems within a work team. There will be assumptions of favoritism and shared insider information whether it is happening or not. If you are determined to have that relationship, one of you needs to move out of the reporting structure.
It's ideal if the couple doesn’t work in the same department because during the beginning phases of lust, good judgment flies out the window. It’s not all that enjoyable for colleagues to watch a romantic relationship progress under their very eyes. And heaven forbid a break up occurs. Of course, the emotional maturity of the participants is the biggest factor in how that plays out. The less mature have been known to spy on their exes at work and attempt to recruit allies. It’s not fair to put those who labor side-by-side with both parties in that position. And coworkers do not appreciate listening to tales worthy of a country western song.
Then there’s the issue of one who is smitten when the object of their affection is not. If you expect to work successfully together, you need to graciously let it go and not moon around on company time. Hopefully, you have a supportive group of personal friends who will soothe your bruised heart and ego. During work hours, distract yourself by doing your job. After work, take care of yourself by making plans to do something with buddies.
Serial daters need to be aware of the dangers posed by casual hook ups with colleagues. Don’t assume your seductions will go without notice or comment. Gossip flows faster and more predictably than any other form of communication, guaranteed. Yes, people are talking—and probably comparing notes.
We’re sweetly human, vulnerable, awkward, and sixteen all over again when we fall in love. It’s a delightful feeling so enjoy the heck out of it. Just be aware of your location and act accordingly.
Love may be in the air—but you can use your common sense, too. Happy Valentine’s Day!