Mixing Business With Dating Doesn’t Work

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a business negotiation, and suddenly realized that a new element has been – sometimes delicately, sometimes not—added to the mix? And that that element is no less than– surprise– you?

Now I’m a big fan of business, and I’m a big fan of pleasure. I am not, however, enamored of the business and pleasure mix. For every one situation that works out, there are thousands and thousands of examples of situations gone awry.

And that’s when both parties are interested and free to become involved. Further complications ensue when you’re not interested, and/or when he’s not, in fact, single.

But let’s begin with the fairly straightforward scenario:

You’re single. He’s single. Everybody’s Interested–and No Company Policies are Being Violated.

Let’s tackle company policies first. Before entering into any kind of romantic relationship, you need to know that no ethics/corporate regulations are being violated.

In addition to checking in on the black-and-white version of the company policy, I also recommend doing a bit of asking around to see if there are any unspoken rules and regulations around inter-office/inter-client etc. relationships; not to mention any thoughts on “sleeping with the enemy,” should the person you’re interested in work in a competing arena.

If you get the green light, and the signals are overt–“Maybe we can have dinner tonight?” or “I’d like to see you outside of the office,” etc.–I think it’s important to be both kind and clear.

You might say, for example, “I would like that a lot. At the moment, however, we’re in the midst of a business negotiation/company project, and I don’t want either our deal/ project–not to mention our date–to be impacted by mixing business and pleasure. I’d love to take you up on your offer once we’re not professionally involved.”

If you’re working with someone who’s not as overt about their intentions you might say, “It seems like we’d have a lot to talk about outside the office, but I know you would agree that this deal/project is our first priority right now. Once this is complete, however, maybe we can get together for a drink?”

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