Whenever companies have me help their people build stronger relationships for professional success and personal joy, I always share one powerful point that's quite prominent in my book Never Eat Alone: Business relationships are personal relationships.
I know this from experience. Some of the best personal friends I've ever had have also been my bosses, colleagues, employees, clients and suppliers. Also, two significant others I had were people I worked with. And according to recent studies, there's a good chance you could say the same.
Four out of ten people recently surveyed by the Society of Human Resource Managers and CareerJournal.com reported that they had dated someone from work. Of the professionals Vault.com polled, 58% said they have done the same at some point in their careers. Heck, 43% said there's at least one romance going right now in their offices!
At first glance, this might seem surprising, now that countless court cases have made sexual harassment training (what a funny name!) as common as coffee breaks throughout so much of corporate America. And you'd be even more shocked if you considered expert legal opinions like the following by Los Angeles-based lawyer Ray Gallo in the February issue of California Lawyer magazine:
"The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized a broad right of all citizens to engage in private intimate relationships. But…for now, employers can, with relative confidence, continue to regulate office dating and to enforce anti-fraternization policies that have some reasonably direct relationship to their business goals. And employees should think carefully before becoming intimate with a co-worker."
Despite all the warnings, though, it still seems inevitable that the office will continue to produce romantic relationships. Given how much time, energy and care we devote to our work, there's a good chance that we'll get to know our workmates pretty well. Then, couple the unmistakable monotony of Microsoft Excel with our undeniable human sexual nature, and it only takes a hint of physical attraction to make it more fun to fancy bodies in bedsheets than noses in spreadsheets.