Can I flirt with a colleague? Business Etiquette

The most acceptable office romances are between singles and only if handled respectfully and discreetly.  At no time confuse an office romance with an office affair. An office affair is when either party is married – this will always raise strong feelings in fellow workers and in my mind is a complete no-no.

Maintaining professional relationships  and displaying the correct business etiquette with your colleagues is vital to the success of your future, if you jeopardise this it could affect your career path.  A very public romantic affair could also influence the company’s reputation.

Keep personal relationship actions out of the office even if you are in a relationship with someone from the office. Work time is for work; personal time is for after hours. Watching staff members groping or flirting with one another may be distracting, embarrassing or disrespectful to many fellow colleagues. Most cultures respect loyalty and devotion.

Cupid In the Office

  • Ensure you know the company policy on internal dating before you embark on an office romance. You certainly don’t want to get fired or lose the respect of colleagues because of it.
  • If the company accepts dating amongst employees, make sure you don’t get involved with someone within the same division or in a managerial/executive position. This could certainly complicate matters.
  • Don’t get involved with someone you share the same workspace with –  if the relationship goes sour remember you will have to see that person every day.
  • Don’t be naïve or blinded by the romance, keeping it a secret will not last forever.
  • Be discreet, no goo–goo eyes over the boardroom table,  no long, lingering lunches at the canteen or blowing kisses in the passage.
  • If the relationship begins to distract you from your job or your work performance is being affected by the romance, then you need to consider putting an end to it or moving jobs.
  • If you work in an open plan office; be more aware of your body language, actions & conversations.
  • The relationship may provoke strong feelings with co–workers. Be prepared to deal with jealousy, gossip and backstabbing.
  • If it ends-avoid public scenes and don’t indulge in “ex–bashing” with your fellow colleagues.

“I was horrified when one of my co–workers told me I was a flirt.
What is acceptable in an office situation?”

  • Watch your body language – gazing dreamily into your co–worker’s eyes, ear whispering conversations, seductively playing with your hair, even smiling for too long may send out the wrong messages.
  • Be careful (women) of casually tossing your hair, dangling a crossed leg, or touching a man’s elbow–these are flirting signs.
  • Men be aware of how you touch a female colleague – an arm around the waist or a stroke of the cheek is a definite no-no.
  • Revealing clothing – adhere to the office dress code at ALL times.
  • Be careful of after hour functions-where alcohol and late nights away from the office are involved. You will regret it when you become the office talk on Monday.
  • Avoid all techno-flirting, sending flirty SMS’s, BBM’s or emails could be disastrous if sent to the wrong person by mistake or if your “partner” decides to share it with one of his/her colleagues.

“Is it acceptable to socialise with my boss?” Lindy

  • The time, venue, other guests-are all critical in your decision to accept–is it only you and him/her? Saturday dinner at a romantic private venue? Or is it a lunch with other colleagues during the week at the usual company chosen restaurant? Use your intuition.
  • If you feel uncomfortable–ask if you may bring a partner or decline graciously.
  • Should you feel all is above board, accept – keep things on a professional business level don’t feel you have to reveal too many personal details.
  • Always drink moderately – a drunk employee is never a professional employee.
  • Friendships between people of different ranks can lead to nasty gossip and talk of favouritism so endeavour to limit your socializing with your superiors.
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