Never f*** the company – true. We all know the unpleasant and more than embarrassing occurrences during company Christmas parties or outside normal office hours. The shy lady from accounting teams up with the hot guy from HR, the CEO makes out with his secretary that he’s been working with for the last 20 years; and all we can do is sit by and watch or look the other way.
But in a world where our office turns into our living room and our friends and family only get to see us for five minutes at night before we go to sleep or early in the morning before we rush out to catch the metro, is it really that surprising that we fall head over heels for some emotional closeness with our co-workers? And what about the fact that for women it still is that much harder to build a successful career, so where’s the harm in finding other ways to push a career? Should we really not f*** the company or is it just a matter of how discreet and grown up we can handle this rather delicate situation?
One of my very best friends Mia, the one who is always so lucky with men, has build her entire career around this saying. Every Christmas party, birthday celebration or company dinner Mia attended she paid very close attention to not get drunk, to not send any confusing signals to her male colleagues, leave at a decent time, to be on time the next morning and to not get involved with anyone at any time. Stories about co-workers that have been caught making out in the bathroom or out in the parking lodge have always been her biggest fear.
And let’s be honest, 90% of these work-affairs are doomed to cause trouble. One party can feel mistreated by the other, one cannot keep a secret, different rules apply according to different situations but the definitions are hardly ever congruent between the parties involved. Hence, misunderstandings and trouble - big time.
After a couple of years in the business Mia met Mr. handsome at a private party. He was tall, funny and incredibly handsome. The two of them spend a wonderful evening together laughing, flirting and kissing in the end, of course; they even started dating for a little while. No wonder it came as quite a shock when Mr. handsome showed up in Mia’s office one day, but not to bring her flowers and chocolate. As it turned out he was the new head of Mia’s department.
What now? Somehow she was stuck in the middle of a situation she didn’t want to be in. She liked Mr. handsome and he wouldn’t stop flirting with her, not directly in the office, of course, but in emails, small little signs only the two of them would understand and when they ran into each other - alone. Nobody would notice. The looks he gave her were just one second too long, every ever so gentle touch was filled with some kind of affection and every word they exchanged she started analyzing for some double meaning. She knew, she shouldn’t do it, but she could not not do it. Left somewhere between harmless flirtation, a work-affair and something that might ultimately turn into something serious, Mia lost herself and Mr. handsome.
Eventually she had to make a choice to either let a man dominate her career or to live her life according to her own rules. She would never find out if Mr. handsome really could have pushed her career any further, but she can look herself in the mirror knowing that every step she takes and every progress she makes, she accomplished all on her own.