Share feelings at work—but not like this!

Yes, you should let people know you care about them and appreciate them as work colleagues, but a recent article in the Wall Street Journal shows how confused some people can be when thinking about how to display caring and appreciation in the workplace.

In an article entitled Does Your Work Wife Get a Valentine? columnist Sue Shellenbarger looks at how some co-workers are showing affection for their “work spouse” with a valentine.  The article explains how men and women—who are already in a committed romantic relationship with spouses outside of work, also want to use Valentine’s Day to show their affection for their “work spouse,” a colleague that they have a close bond with.

And while the employees in the article make a case for why it is okay to acknowledge the special nature of their work relationships with a valentine, the response from readers has been mostly negative with most questioning the wisdom of doing anything that encourages people to combine recognition, caring, and appreciation with anything romantic.

So how does a leader or co-worker show that they care for someone at their company in the best sense of the word?  Here are three tips:

  1.  Do it on any other day except Valentine’s Day.  Don’t confuse a strong professional relationship with a romantic one.
  2. Check your motives.  Are you trying to show appreciation, recognition, and caring—or is there something more that you are trying to say? 
  3. If it feels like you may be blurring the line, don’t do it.

Feelings have a place at work, but it has to be in the collegial sense.  Focus on recognition and appreciation and steer clear of any romantic aspect.  To read Shellenbarger’s complete article, click here.  To share your thoughts on the article, or offer tips on proper ways to show appreciation for co-workers, use the COMMENTS button above.

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