If you're crushing on a colleague, you're not alone: A CareerBuilder.com survey found that 40 percent of workers have dated someone on the job during their career, proving that it's a hookup hot spot. Here, advice for turning a flirtation into a potential relationship.
1) Test the waters
Before making a move, it's a good idea to suss out whether your work crush has the hots for you too. Some tip-offs are "if he starts hanging around your work space a lot or asks you to grab lunch or after-work drinks," says Stephanie Losee, coauthor of Office Mate. It's also promising if he's in an unrelated department yet asks your opinion on a project of his - it indicates that he is looking for an excuse to talk to you and values your opinion, notes Losee.You can do your own digging by jokingly saying, "Everyone thinks we're seeing each other, ha-ha. Crazy, right?" If he casts a wide grin or seems into the idea, the coast is clear to start flirting and see what happens.
2) Avoid getting busted
Once you've gotten together (we know you'll get this thing moving), keep that info on the DL. "If it turns out to be a two-week fling, nobody needs to know about it," says Helaine Olen, coauthor of Office Mate. And monitor how often you bring him up. Olen says coworkers often intuit a liaison when one person mentions the other too frequently - for example, "Here's that report...John helped with the graphics" or "Where'd you go for lunch? Oh, John loves that place."But if you were chummy before, don't ignore him now - that draws more attention than the occasional friendly moments does. No matter how covert you are, people are likely to catch on, but there's no need to broadcast it. Avoid these other work habits that could end up hurting you.
3) Know When to Come Clean
The workplace has change (for better and worse) and these days most companies are lenient about dating except between supervisors. If your boss is into you, find out how to turn him down without losing your job. "They recognize its ubiquity." But there may be rules about whom you have to inform and when.If it gets serious (i.e., several months), it's wise to tell your boss - even if you don't have to - before she hears it from someone else, notes Frankel. Just say "I wanted to let you know Brad and I are dating. We'll be sure not to let it interrupt our work."
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.