Should You Court Your Co­worker?

MAK­ING A MOVE ON YOUR COL­LEAGUE MAY HAVE CROSSED YOUR MIND BE­FORE, BUT THERE ARE SOME RISKS TO CON­SIDER BE­FORE PUR­SU­ING RO­MANCE IN THE OF­FICE.

Men's Health (Singapore) - - CAREER - THIS AR­TI­CLE ORIG­I­NALLY AP­PEARED IN WOMEN’S HEALTH.

When you’re sit­ting in a cu­bi­cle or work­ing the regis­ter next to an at­trac­tive per­son all day, ev­ery day, it’s al­most in­evitable that sparks will fly.

Not ev­ery­one will act on it, but the thought of ro­manc­ing a hot­tie at work has prob­a­bly passed through nearly ev­ery em­ployee’s mind.

That’s a rel­a­tively nor­mal sce­nario – peo­ple have even coined the term “work hus­band/wife” to de­scribe the pseudo-ro­man­tic friend­ships that de­velop in the of­fice. But ac­tu­ally act­ing on your feel­ings can be a tricky and some­what risky sit­u­a­tion, per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally.

Still, bond­ing over com­mon­al­i­ties, whether they’re work-re­lated or cheer­ing for the same sports teams, can be a cat­a­lyst to a friend­ship that sparks into a ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship, says Michele Kerulis, a clin­i­cal ther­a­pist, dat­ing and re­la­tion­ships ex­pert, and fac­ulty mem­ber of North­west­ern Univer­sity.

If you’re de­cid­ing whether to give it a shot with that cute co-worker, ask your­self these ques­tions first be­fore you make a move.

AM I JUST AT­TRACTED TO THIS PER­SON, OR IS IT TRULY AN EMO­TIONAL CON­NEC­TION?

If you’re al­ways in the same meet­ings, work­ing on the same pre­sen­ta­tions, or com­mis­er­at­ing over the same workplace gripes, it’s not dif­fi­cult to de­velop a flirty re­la­tion­ship with a co-worker.

“Peo­ple can be­come at­tracted to each other in the workplace when they see co-work­ers suc­cess­fully com­plet­ing tasks, es­pe­cially when that task takes a high level of skill,” Kerulis ex­plains.

But there’s a way to tell the dif­fer­ence: When you have just a phys­i­cal at­trac­tion, you think about that per­son (maybe a lot) when you’re to­gether.

How­ever, if you think about the other per­son of­ten when you are not to­gether, you likely have de­vel­oped an emo­tional con­nec­tion, Kerulis says.

DO I KNOW WHAT HE OR SHE IS RE­ALLY, TRULY LIKE?

Be­cause of the afore­men­tioned “rose­c­oloured glasses” you may wear at work, it’s prob­a­bly a good idea to take a step back and make sure you like this per­son for who she re­ally is – gold stars and awe­some sales num­ber aside.

The good news? Chances are you have seen that per­son in her nat­u­ral, au­then­tic state, says dat­ing coach and match­maker Bon­nie Win­ston – since you’ve seen how she acts as she han­dles pressure, dead­lines and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. What hap­pens un­der those flu­o­res­cent of­fice lights makes it a lot eas­ier to see some­one clearly than when the lights are dim over a glass of wine.

WHAT KIND OF HR POL­ICY DOES MY COM­PANY HAVE?

This one may be a given, but it’s im­por­tant to be aware of your hu­man re­source pol­icy re­gard­ing re­la­tion­ships at work, Kerulis points out. Many work­places ad­vise em­ploy­ees against en­gag­ing in ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships with peo­ple they su­per­vise, for ex­am­ple. Law firms are also typ­i­cally against in­ter-of­fice re­la­tion­ships, Win­ston says.

If you’re not sure, con­sult your em­ployee hand­book or ask an HR rep­re­sen­ta­tive. You don’t want a po­ten­tial en­counter to get ei­ther one of you in a sticky sit­u­a­tion with your com­pany.

WILL A RO­MAN­TIC RE­LA­TION­SHIP IM­PACT MY ABIL­ITY TO DO MY JOB OR MOVE AHEAD AT WORK?

If en­ter­ing a re­la­tion­ship might af­fect you or the other per­son’s abil­ity to gain re­spect at work, you may need to re-think it. “Some co-work­ers might view the per­sonal re­la­tion­ship in a neg­a­tive light, which could im­pact their pro­fes­sional opin­ion of you,” Kerulis says. CAN WE SET – AND OBEY – BOUND­ARIES? If you de­cide to go for it, be sure to dis­cuss bound­aries, Kerulis sug­gests. Re­mem­ber, even though it’s a per­sonal re­la­tion­ship, it shouldn’t af­fect your pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ship, or your pro­duc­tiv­ity and de­ci­sion-mak­ing at work. “Set bound­aries around dis­cussing per­sonal mat­ters when you are at work, and do the same for dis­cussing work is­sues while at home,” she sug­gests. Plus, set­ting these types of healthy bound­aries will help you to main­tain a good work-life bal­ance as well.

IF EN­TER­ING A RE­LA­TION­SHIP MIGHT AF­FECT YOU OR THE OTHER PER­SON’S ABIL­ITY TO GAIN RE­SPECT AT WORK, YOU MAY NEED TO RE-THINK IT.

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