Here are a few tips to help keep you out of hot water:
1. Before launching into an office romance, know the company's policies regarding office relationships. Some companies have rules against it. If relationships are forbidden, you have to ask yourself if it's worth it. If it is, be discreet and prepare for any consequences. If it's not against the rules, evaluate whether your company's corporate climate is generally accepting or looks down upon such relationships.
2. Weigh the benefits against the career risks. Your current job may be less important to you than finding a life partner. Or, it may be an important stepping stone in your career path that you aren't willing to risk.
3. Maintain decorum and professionalism. Keep social and business lives separate and that means not letting a romantic relationship affect the quality and efficiency of your work. If there's evidence that your office romance is affecting your work, recognize that you may be asked to end your romance or maybe find another job.
4. Avoid dating someone in a higher or lower position. Office politics and hierarchy should concern you. Choosing an entanglement with someone at a different seniority level could dramatically affect your salary or movement within the company. Avoid unwanted scrutiny and drama by avoiding dating those with whom you regularly work.
5. Save the romance for out of the office. Absolutely no public displays of affection at work. Maintain proper distance. Keep in mind that in today's world of blogging, YouTube and Google, and even instant messaging, the line between public and private is increasingly blurred.
6. Plan for the worst. Agree in the beginning of the relationship how you will handle a potential break up. A messy break up affects you, your partner and perhaps the entire office. It could prompt the company to change its dating policy.
7. Consider leaving. If the relationship does get serious, one member should consider a new position outside the company.
Sources: Dale Carnegie Training and Spherion Corp.
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