IT'S a night filled with maybe a little too much alcohol, and not enough discretion, where office inhibitions often fall away.
With Christmas fast approaching, so too is the often-loved, sometimes-dreaded, end-of-year office Christmas party.
But alas, this year there's a new guy/girl in the office who you've had your eye on, and suddenly you're a little more interested in going.
Renowned author Allan Pease writes about relationships in the office in his book, Body Language in the Work Place, and says that 50% of people actually meet their partners at work.
So how do you know if your interest is one-sided?
Pease says to look for four main signals:
- Distance - it's all about proximity. If someone likes you, they are more inclined to stand close to you.
- Flirting and Body Language - When people are around someone who tickles their fancy, they are more likely to rearrange their hair and fiddle with their clothes. Women also tend to show the underside of their wrists by waving their hands more, and men will stand up taller, pump their chest out and suck in their stomach.
- Gestures - A clear sign someone is interested in another is when they find reasons to make gestures towards them unnecessarily, like brushing something off a shoulder, even if there is nothing really there. It is also a way of marking territory, telling everyone else, "He's mine, so back off".
- Touch - The space between the elbow and wrist is the most telling part of the body when trying to gauge if someone is interested. If someone is brushing up against that area of your body or touches your wrist, that is an attempt to make contact.
Relationships expert Shirley Cornish says that in office relationships, colleagues must remember to keep their dignity, be confident, and to make sure they maintain integrity.
"Don't party too hard," Shirley said.
"And be mindful if you are drinking, not to drink too much.
"If you want to create a meaningful relationship, both people have to be on the same page."
Pease said that one thing people should never forget - no matter what - was that they were still "at work" when attending their workplace Christmas parties.
"Most people forget at work parties they are still actually at work, and most people are much more likely to do things at a party than they would at work," he said.
So to avoid all the embarrassment of a post-party walk of shame, partygoers should not hang around too long.
"Only stay at the party for a short time, and if you are interested in getting to know someone from the office, arrange another time to catch up for a drink," Pease said.
Tips for maintaining workplace romances once they arise:
- Keep involvement private until you are both sure that it is a long-term relationship.
- Communicate clearly about how you should act with one another at work.
- Don't overcrowd the other person in the workplace: you can catch up when you get home.
- If it's a boss-subordinate relationship, avoid risky situations such as favouritism in the workplace.
Discuss the issues that may arise from the relationship and be prepared to deal with them.
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