Mixing Business with Pleasure: Avoiding Drama in the Workplace

School might be over, but the hormones are not, and it seems like the workplace is becoming the next best pick up bar in town. Though your place of employment may seem professional on the outside, it can be easy for things to get out of hand and slip from professional to downright disastrous.

TV shows like ‘Suits’ have us all panting like wild dogs on heat when it comes to pashing in the filing room or even something as innocent as perving on the new guy or girl from accounts. However innocent it may seem, it can be very, very wrong and even illegal in some cases.

If you think hooking up for a one night stand with your consenting colleague is not hurting anyone, think again. No matter how grown-up you think your workplace is, chances are it’s just like high school: drama is never far away.

The Innocent Flirt

We all know the casual touch of an arm, the flick of our hair or the cheeky grins that come with even cheekier comments can seem innocent enough, but what happens when it’s read the wrong way? What if that touch made someone feel uncomfortable or confused about how you felt about them?

When it comes to the workplace, the last thing you need is someone getting the wrong idea and complaining to management that you’re sexually harassing them.

The best thing to do is keep your hands to yourself, unless you need to shake one in greeting, of course.

Be careful what you say to others about how someone looks or how cute the new boss is. You never know who you can trust. This is business after all and there could be a multitude of people just waiting for you to slip up so they can get their nasty hands on your job. Yikes!

Cheeky comments, even amongst your closest of work buddies, can get you into all sorts of trouble. Again, you never know who is listening, so if you just can’t keep it in, keep the dirty talk for Friday night drinks, away from the office.

But be mindful still, especially after one too many wines. If you’ve over shared, Monday morning won’t feel so great for you.

 The One Night Stand

If you’ve gone from innocent flirting to Friday night work drinks to waking up on Saturday morning next to the new guy from accounts, then you’ve probably taken it one step too far. But it’s happened now, so what are you going to do about it?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a true romantic at heart and if you think he or she is the one, then go for it. However, if it was just the result of the 5 tequila shots you downed, it’s going to take more than just a few Panadol to fix the problem.

The reason sleeping with people at work is not idea is that you have to face them every day. There’s no escaping, so pull him or her aside as soon as reality has kicked in and have a serious chat about how you are going to continue to work together and how you are both feeling about what happened.

If you’re lucky, you can both laugh it off as just one of those silly mistakes we all make and get back to being professionals.

If you’re unlucky, he or she has fallen head over heels and you now have the tricky task of letting them down very gently. If this goes badly, you could be facing some awkward discussions with management, so make sure you know your rights, there’s no harm in seeking legal advice if the situation is especially dire.

The Office Affair

If you’ve done all the above and realised you are both madly in love with each other and decide to start a relationship, then decide quickly if you would rather keep it under wraps from people at work or share the happy news.

Both choices have consequences. On one hand, telling everyone you are a couple is good because you don’t have to try and keep it a secret; which could be tricky if you’re still in the puppy love stage.

Keep in mind that just because you are “official,” even on Facebook, it doesn’t mean you can go around smooching in front of your co-workers. No one wants to see it. You will not only annoy the people around you, but you will quickly be judged as highly un-professional and that will get you nowhere fast.

If you decide to keep it a big fat secret for a while, or at least until you know where the relationship is going, then make sure you do just that. There’s no point in keeping a secret if one of you is going to have a giggle about it to all the ladies at the water cooler. You need to take it seriously.

This is your workplace after all, so act like professionals and keep your cool when it comes to working with your secret lover.

What to Expect

Here’s my advice to all the office love triangles, squares and circles out there. Workplaces are for working, and even though we will inevitably meet people who push the limits from time to time, ask yourself; is your job important to you and do you care what people think? Because at the end of the working day, you can be darn sure some people will be fine with your sexy scandal and other won’t be.

People love to judge, be jealous and be absolute jerks. It’s these people that will turn your one-night pash between work mates, your sly wink across the meeting room table or even your true blue love affair into something which is nasty, dirty and very bad.

And it won’t be these people who get scorned, it will be you. You will be known as that girl or guy who did those naughty, naughty things.

On a happier note, it’s great to bend the rules a bit, just be super careful who you bend them with.