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Archive for Monday, February 9, 2009

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Seeing someone at the office? Use caution

February 9, 2009

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Rainn Wilson  and Angela Kinsey co-star as Dwight and Angela, a star-crossed couple on NBC’s “The Office” — if by star-crossed one means the U-turn the relationship took when Dwight euthanized Angela’s cat Sprinkles. Among the dangers of workplace romances is figuring out how to maintain a professional relationship when the fun ends.

Rainn Wilson and Angela Kinsey co-star as Dwight and Angela, a star-crossed couple on NBC’s “The Office” — if by star-crossed one means the U-turn the relationship took when Dwight euthanized Angela’s cat Sprinkles. Among the dangers of workplace romances is figuring out how to maintain a professional relationship when the fun ends.

More and more people are meeting their dates and mates at the office, etiquette expert Barbara Pachter says.

Pachter, author of “NewRules@Work: 79 Etiquette Tips, Tools and Techniques to Get Ahead and Stay Ahead” ($13.95, Prentice Hall Press), says people should be careful, since office romances can hurt your career.

Here are eight guidelines from Pachter for managing love in the workplace:

• 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.

• 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.

• 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 co-worker. Being a secret admirer is not a corporate concept.

• 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.

• Send any flowers or gifts to the home. One man sent his girlfriend a huge bouquet of balloons to her office. Co-workers 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

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