- The Washington Times - Friday, May 14, 2004

Microsoft Chairman and World’s Richest Man, Bill Gates, met his wife Melinda French at work and so did General Motors Chairman John Smith. Former GE CEO Jack Welch met his new bride when she interviewed him as editor of the Harvard Business Review. I even met my wife, Anne-Sophie, while consulting at her sports magazine company. Unfortunately, not all office romances have happy endings. There are thousands of others who have been fired, demoted or lost their edge because of dalliances, indiscretions or affairs on the job. The American Management Association’s famous 1994 survey reported that every year 8 million workplace affairs happen, with over half of them resulting in marriage or long-term relationships and half resulting in sometimes tragic breakups.

With so many of your emails asking the best way to measure your workstyle love potion, last week I sat down with Tommy “the matchmaker” Curtis 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 career risks, the office continues to be the best place to find your soulmate. Tommy “the matchmaker” Curtis went on to say, “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.”

This week, we invited Tommy “the matchmaker” Curtis (TTMC), to read and respond to your emails on this subject:

Ellen in Silver Spring:

My office was out celebrating 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. By diffusing it yourself, 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. Any ideas?

TTMC:

The most important thing is to be sure you get his attention without wearing your heart on your sleeve. 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 like 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 you know more.

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. Do you think it is a mistake?

TTMC:

You may be able to hide the romance from the office but don’t hide 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 here so 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 and vendors) and one week night do the same (girls night out for you, pool with the guys for him). Then plan one weekend night (without your cell phones) where the two of you actually have fun (dinner and movie, fancy dinner, moonlight picnic) 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’s guest will be Edward P. Foy, Jr., CEO of eFashion Solutions, LLC who will talk about running an ecommerce business that sells licensed brand fashion apparel. Email questions in advance to [email protected]

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide