Office romance is always touchy. Pun intended.
On this sensitive topic and others, I am a fan of author Barbara Pachter's humorous and practical office etiquette tips for every season.
For all you closet - or copier closet - office romance fans out there, here are some words to the wise about Valentine's Day:
Sharing a copier by day and a bedroom by night?
8 Valentine’s Day Rules for Workplace Relationships
Valentine’s Day is coming and that means there can be romance in the air at your workplace! According to business etiquette expert Barbara Pachter, author of NewRules@Work: 79 Etiquette Tips, Tools, and Techniques to Get Ahead and Stay Ahead, ($13.95, paperback, Prentice Hall Press), work is the place where more and more people meet their dates and mates, because that is where we spend most of our time.
But Pachter warns, “Be careful! If you don’t behave properly, an office romance can cause conflict and have a negative impact on your career.”
So as Valentine’s Day approaches, how do you share a copier by day and a bedroom by night with someone without hurting your professional image?
Here are 8 guidelines from Pachter:
1. Continue To Keep The Relationship Private. Just because it is Valentine’s Day, it doesn’t mean that you can start broadcasting your relationship or sharing information about it with others in the office. Even if your company takes a liberal view of office romance, it just isn’t professional to share details—good or bad—with others at work.
2. Keep Your Romance Offline. Don’t post comments about your romance or photos of your Valentine anywhere online. You never know who will see them.
3. Don’t E-mail X-Rated Valentine’s Day Cards. E-mail is not private. Also, do not mail an unsigned Valentine’s Day card to a coworker. Being a secret admirer is not a corporate concept.
4. No Romantic Displays. No physical contact in the office. No secret kissing, caressing, hand holding or sex in the office. People get caught and careers can get ruined.
5. Send Any Flowers Or Gifts To The Home. One man sent his girlfriend a huge bouquet of balloons to her office. Coworkers wanted to know who sent it and spent time trying to figure it out. She was embarrassed. Arrange for late delivery if no one will be home to accept the package.
6. Your Boss Shouldn’t Be Your Valentine. Relationships are tricky enough without your boss or subordinate being your Valentine. If you are dating your boss, have your reporting relationship changed.
7. Remember That Business Rules Apply In Business Social Situations. At any office party or business social event do not dance too closely, use seductive language, drink too much or wear seductive clothing.
8. If The Relationship Fails—Be Professional And Adult About It. Even if you have been jilted and the relationship ends badly you cannot vent your negative feelings in the office. This is the risk of office relationships. They sometimes don’t work out and then you have to continue to see or work with the person.
Barbara Pachter is a speaker, coach and author of 8 business books, including "The Power of Positive Confrontation" ($14.95, paperback, Marlowe & Co.) and "When the Little Things Count" ($13.95, paperback, Marlowe & Co.). She specializes in business etiquette and communication. Her client list features major organizations worldwide, including Microsoft, Pfizer, Chrysler, and Cisco Systems.
To view my other blog posts featuring Pachter's tips, visit "Santa says don't get soused at the holiday party" (December 2008) and "Book’s tips show how a hello and a handshake can further your career" (March 2008).