- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 29, 2004

Microsoft Chairman and World’s Richest Man, Bill Gates, met his wife Melinda French at work, as did General Motors Chairman John Smith. Former GE CEO Jack Welch, met his new bride when she interviewed him while working as editor of the Harvard Business Review and I met my wife, Anne-Sophie, while consulting at her company. But for all the happy stories, there is Ed McCracken, CEO of Silicon Graphics, whose at-work romance with his eventual wife (and now ex-wife) caused great uproar among his staff and Board of Directors, not to mention the many “non-famous” people who have been fired, demoted or lost their edge because of indiscretions. So, what is the best way to deal with attraction and your workstyle?

Last week, I sat down with Tommy “the matchmaker” Curtis (TTMC) who just celebrated 15 years at The Yacht Club of Bethesda (www.yachtclubofbethesda.com) where his “on the spot” matches have lead to 157 marriage and/or engagements. According to him, even with some career risks, he still believes the office is still the best place to find your soulmate. Here’s why:

“The job environment is where you see each other under storm and drain, on good and bad hair days, hung-over, crabby, both confident and intimidated, humorous and serious. If you still like him or her thereafter then you should think about taking the next step.” - TTMC

A few months ago, Tommy “the matchmaker” Curtis, was invited to read and respond to your emails on this subject of romance workstyle. With “love in the air” again, please enjoy the encore Q&A; below.

Ellen in Silver Spring:

My office was out celebrating a new account and I let my guard down. I’m married but still got heatedly flirtatious with my co-worker (albeit from another department). Word will get out, what do I do?

TTMC:

I’m not sure what “heatedly flirtatious” is but clearly you put yourself in an inappropriate and compromising situation. First, let it be known how mortified you were by bringing it up yourself through casual conversation in the ladies room, at the water cooler, and canteen areas. Make it clear it has never happened before and blame it on the alcohol. If you diffuse it, time will act as it always does, but don’t let your guard down again or your reputation and/or upward mobility in the company may suffer.

Jesse from Fairfax:

At my company, we are allowed to date each other and many co-workers are involved. I am currently free and so is someone else in my division. His birthday is coming up and thought that would be a good way to test the waters. What is best way?

TTMC:

The most important thing is to be sure you get his attention without wearing your heart on your sleeve. Otherwise, it could be embarrassing for both of you if his feelings are unrequited. Don’t do anything big and ostentatious like balloons, a singing telegram or flowers. Instead, give him a card with two tickets to a baseball game, golf tournament, or local concert. This gives him a chance to decide what the next move should be. A simple “thank you” or inviting you to join him. Even with a “dating okay” office policy, you still want to protect yourself. Keep your feelings with your co-workers quiet until something more concrete occurs

Richard from Kensington

How do you feel about company rules on no dating between associates? We have a policy but my gal and I are seeing each anyway just sneaking around. We are a start-up and our hours are into early evening and weekends, so how are we supposed to have a social life with others when we are only spending time with each other.

TTMC:

You may be able to hide the romance from the office but don’t hid the truth from each other. The sneaking around might be giving you both a false sense of excitement and passion in the relationship. Secrecy and the forbidden fruit dynamic might be the appeal as opposed to what you both share. The best test is for one of you to work elsewhere. Good luck.

Lydia from Vienna:

My husband and I run a company but after working all day together and watching each other in action during business conflicts (where we don’t always agree), doesn’t lend itself to end-of-day romance. We both need to work there so how do we keep our love alive?

TTMC:

You will work and live better together if you have some time apart. One work day, keep your schedules completely separate (meet with different people, vendors, etc.) and one week night do the same (girls night out, go shopping, etc.). Then plan one weekend night (without your cell phones) and see what happens. It may not always be easy but give it a try.

Jay Whitehead is America’s most-read, most-watched and most-listened-to expert on workstyles. Email your questions to [email protected]

Listen to Jay Whitehead on web-radio every Tuesday 5pm to 6pm EST when he hosts Won on Won with Whitehead on www.businessamericaradio.com. This week the topic will be the new overtime regulations. Email your questions in advance to [email protected]

NEXT WEEK… Jay Whitehead’s TrumpOnomics column returns! Stay tuned…


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