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Smart Advice – October 20, 2009

Are Workplace Romances Safe?

Retired Island executive offers his advice on office life

I’m divorced and so is my co-worker. Neither of us has children. I’m getting the sense she is attracted to me and I certainly am attracted to her. Still, I wonder about the appropriateness of office romances. I’m senior to her in the command chain, but I’m not her direct supervisor. Should I let this develop or is it wiser to find romance somewhere else?

Do you have anything to do with determining what she gets paid? What her assignments are, even indirectly? If so, you’re skating on thin ice. As long as she’s on another leg of the org chart and you’re discreet, it shouldn’t be a problem — unless it doesn’t work out and she has a mean streak. Then it might rise up to bite you.

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I’m meeting a lot of people in my new job, but I’m terrible at remembering names. That includes people inside my office and outside contacts. I’ve had this problem my whole life. Any tips on helping me overcome this problem?

There are any number of systems for remembering names — you can find a bunch with Google or Bing — but I’ve never found any of them to work very well.  One you could try is visualizing people you’re introduced to with their names written in blood on their foreheads.  For people you already know and can’t dredge up a name, a heartfelt “Hi, guy” might do the trick.  That should even work with women now that we live in a world of equality.

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Are greetings and salutations needed on e-mails, especially on e-mails with people in your office that you communicate with many times daily? It seems unnecessary to say, “Hi Jill” every time. Or end with my name. After all, my e-mail program automatically adds my name, title and more at the end.

If you don’t use at least the name, as in “Jill—”, how are they going to know the e-mail is really meant for them? Imagine what could happen if you misaddress a harsh missive you’re sending so you don’t have to chew someone out face to face? Or worse, think of the trouble that could ensue if something meant for a paramour gets to the wrong person? In any event, “Hi Jill” isn’t the best salutation for a business message.

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I hate to say this, but at our weekly planning meetings, I honestly think I have more and generally better ideas than anyone else in the room. But I fear I am becoming something of a pompous bore. Should I let the boss take the lead in coming up with ideas and just keep my mouth shut, or is it my responsibility to give my best at all times?

Sure, just sit there like
a stump and let the boss think you have no ideas. That’ll impress her. Keep in mind that you’re getting paid to have ideas and suggestions. If you have a good idea, share it. Unless, of course, the boss is a pompous bore who doesn’t want to hear from anyone but herself.

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Have a question for the Curmudgeon? E-mail curmudgeon@hawaiibusiness.com or mail it to Curmudgeon, c/o Hawaii Business, 1000 Bishop St., Suite 405, Honolulu, HI 96813. Don’t be shy, he’s heard and seen it all. Your anonymity will be protected.

Popcorn, Broccoli, Durian? PHEW!

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