Say This, Not That: How to manage office relationships

Say This, Not That: How to manage office relationships

Say This, Not That?

Each month I tackle a new office communication challenge and provide the precise words to manage it without damaging your reputation.

Can you date a coworker? 

Did sparks fly over the boardroom table or cubicle wall? Good for you. Many long-lasting, beautiful relationships began in the workplace.

It’s okay to date a coworker as long as you are open and honest about the relationship. Unfortunately, many people don’t know how to talk about dating a colleague. They hide it which only fuels the office rumor mill and complicates matters.

The big problem is secrecy. Keeping quiet about a new (or broken) relationship can significantly compromise both parties’ reputations. Rarely is saying nothing the preferred course of action.

The “Me Too” movement further complicates this situation. Some corporate HR departments, including Facebook’s and Google’s, have drafted office dating policies. Other companies have even prepared “love contracts” for both parties to sign, confirming they weren’t coerced into the relationship and that they will act professionally at the office.

Seriously? What we really need is to be better communicators! 

My advice is simple and can be applied to many challenging situations. To squelch rumors and preserve your reputation, simply be open and honest.

At the beginning of a relationship, take your supervisor aside and say: “I want you to be aware that X and I are considering a more serious relationship. This won’t affect our work performance, and of course, we’ll use discretion in the office.” Do the same for key colleagues. This shows that you’re aware of the implications and any repercussions if the relationship fails.

Then stay professional in the office by separating the romance from your duties. Stick to work-related conversations around the office. And if the relationship fizzles, be open about it without pointing fingers or holding grudges.

Honesty really is the best policy.


Do you have an office situation you want me to tackle in a Say This, Not That blog? Submit it here.

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Melissa DeLayRead all author posts