Liking A Coworker? How To Handle Office Relationships

There’s no denying it: We sometimes develop a liking for a coworker. 

Despite the awkwardness or inappropriateness of talking candidly about your feelings, you will likely feel like a co-worker at some point or another.

Whether casually checking them out during coffee breaks or struggling not to giggle when they make an unfortunate mistake, the temptation to showboat can be tough to resist. 

The key is to maintain a healthy working relationship with your colleagues while avoiding any embarrassing misunderstandings tomorrow. 

Following are a few pointers to help you handle liking someone professionally without ruining everything.

1. Check-In on Company Policy

For your safety and the safety of others, always check in with company policy when it comes to liking a coworker. 

Usually, guidelines dictate how close a worker can get with another without crossing any boundaries. 

Sometimes things are done informally, and employees may not know about specific policies related to socializing or associating with one another outside work hours. 

When in doubt, it’s always best to ask an HR representative what is permissible and what isn’t before taking action. This way, everyone knows where they stand, and no one gets hurt unnecessarily.

SEE: Understand the employer value proposition

2. Be Aware of the Power Dynamics Between You and Your Coworker

There are always power dynamics in any workplace, but when it comes to liking your coworker, there can be even more at play. 

You may feel a natural or emotional connection to them, making things tricky. The fact that you are attracted to a coworker carries with it the potential for significant conflict should things get out of hand. 

Be honest about what’s going on – both with yourself and your coworker – so there can be no ambiguity or miscommunication later. 

If possible, try not to display any outward signals of attraction until everything has been fully understood and agreed upon by both parties concerned. 

Doing so will likely help avoid any misunderstandings or problems down the line.

SEE: Discover conflict management styles 

3. Respect Their Personal Space

A coworker is someone you work with and sometimes like or dislike. It’s essential to handle professional relationships between coworkers maturely, but respecting their personal space is even more important. 

If coworkers feel they’re not being respected, they may begin to distance themselves from the team, leading to further problems. 

By keeping your physical distance and not invading their personal space, you’ll be showing that you respect them as an individual. 

Address boundary issues as soon as possible so everyone can move forward harmoniously.

4. Do Not Touch Them Without Their Consent

This is a practical tip for handling liking a coworker professionally and maturely. Avoid making physical contact without consent. 

This includes, but is not limited to, brushing up against them or grabbing their arm in a non-threatening way. 

Don’t touch them without their consent; it will help maintain professional boundaries. 

If someone makes it known that they do not want you making contact with them in any way, respect their wishes and back down.

Be aware that different people like different amounts of physical contact and will respond differently if you try too hard (or not hard enough) to connect with them. 

Remember: If it’s not good for the beekeeper, it’s probably bad for the hive.

SEE: Explore the major types of employee harassment and how to deal with them

5. Avoid Making Any Assumptions About a Coworker’s Intentions or Feelings

If you like a coworker, be honest about it. Don’t make any assumptions about what they’re thinking or feeling. Just because someone wants you back doesn’t mean anything will happen due to that liking. 

If you’re not sure how they feel, ask. Don’t assume anything; it can get you into trouble. And remember that even if someone seems cold and unapproachable, there may be a good reason for acting this way.

So, don’t take the attitude that “they must just not like me.” Don’t make overtures toward physicality or affectionate gestures; let your interest know how you feel.

6. Keep Any Interactions with the Person Positive and Constructive

When it comes to relationships in the office, there are a few things you should always keep in mind. 

One of the most important is ensuring your interactions with coworkers stay positive and constructive. 

You don’t want any tensions or conflicts between you and the person, which could lead to problems. 

Do not engage in gossip, either among yourselves or with outsiders. Be polite and friendly; let the other person know what you think without being pushy or confrontational.

SEE: Learn more about constructive criticism 

7. It’s Best to Stay Away from Your Boss and Your Direct Reports

When it comes to workplace relationships, the key is knowing how to navigate them professionally and maturely. 

One of the best ways to do this is by avoiding your boss and direct reports. This will help ensure that any potential conflicts or problems are kept at a minimum. 

The last thing you want is for any romantic tension or awkwardness to develop among you all. 

Keep professional relationships on a strictly business level, focus only on the tasks at hand, and maintain strict boundaries regarding personal feelings towards one another.

SEE: Explore the qualities of a good manager

8. Avoid Coming Across as Clingy or Desperate

There are a couple of reasons why avoiding coming across as clingy or desperate when liking a coworker is essential. 

First of all, it can come off as rude and disrespectful. It’s not uncommon for people to feel uncomfortable around those who are overly emotional and/or overtly touchy-feely. 

So if you’re trying to build a professional relationship with this person, it’ll be better if your demeanor doesn’t make them feel that way. 

Secondly, showing too much emotion in the workplace often leads to misunderstandings or conflicts. 

Letting someone know how you feel right away might prevent any nasty rumors from starting up (for example). So while avoiding desperation may not always be easy, it could pay off in the long run.

9. Take the Relationship Outside the Workplace 

A few reasons why taking the relationship outside the workplace would be a practical tip for handling liking a coworker professionally and maturely. 

For one, it can help both parties stay impartial when working on their respective tasks. 

Also, going out after work may give the impression that you are just colleagues who enjoy spending time together rather than romantic partners.

Separating work and personal relationships makes it easier to maintain professionalism in both spheres. 

Opening communication lines between coworkers can also prevent misunderstandings leading to tension or conflict.

10. If they Aren’t Interested, Move on Gracefully

Sometimes it can be tough to handle liking a coworker professionally and maturely. 

If someone you like isn’t interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with you, how do you go about moving on gracefully? 

Well, first of all, don’t force the issue. Let them know your plans and respect their wishes if they want things to stay platonic between you. 

Additionally, try not to take any matters personally. Don’t overreact when they come up with snide comments or avoid sessions at lunch altogether just because they no longer feel attraction towards you. 

Moving gracefully and showing respect for these individuals’ wishes will make them feel better about the situation and improve your working relationships in the future.

SEE: Explore practical ways to make money as an online dating expert

What is Considered Flirting at Work?

At work, people typically think of flirting as mean­ing getting physical with someone. However, other ways to flirt at work don’t involve any contact. 

For example, you can use wit and humor to show interest in your col­leagues. You can get them coffee every Friday morning or buy them lunch monthly. 

You could even arrange for a team outing together sometime down the road! The point is – there is no one right way to flirt at work, so just go out there and have some fun.

FAQs

Is it normal to have a crush on a coworker?

It’s perfectly normal to have a crush on a coworker. It could be because they’re attractive, helpful, or just interesting.  

Whatever the reason, understand that it’s natural and okay to feel this way towards someone who works with you daily. 

The most important thing is to go about it carefully and professionally.

How do you tell if a coworker is attracted to you?

The easiest way to tell is by their body language. If they start flirting with you or begin spending more time around you, then it’s likely that they’re attracted to you. 

However, many people misinterpret innocent interaction as an attraction, so always be cautious.

How common are workplace crushes?

A workplace crush is a common thing, statistically speaking. According to the SHRM survey, 50% of people have experienced at least one workplace crush. 

This means that there are probably many people out there who feel this way and maybe even identify with it somehow.

Final Thoughts 

When you like a coworker, getting wrapped up at the moment can be easy. But remember that your feelings don’t have to influence your professional relationship with them. 

Indeed, liking someone at work can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or uncomfortable. n this article, I have provided practical tips on how to handle liking a coworker maturely and professionally. 

By following these tips, you can maintain good workplace relationships without sacrificing your productivity.

Read more on practical tips to keep in touch with a former coworker.

Thanks for reading.