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How to Avoid Sexually Harassing your co-workers on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day at work can often feel awkward. However, celebrating the holiday too enthusiastically can sometimes could lead to at best toe curling outcomes and at worst being fired.

What is sexual harassment?

Any behaviour, which is sexual in nature and not welcomed by the person on the receiving end of it can be referred as sexual harassment. The harassment can be verbal, physical as well as non-verbal.

If you find someone at your workplace making comments about your appearance, what you are wearing or your body can be deemed as sexual harassment. Any kind of remarks, comments or questions about your sexual life, orientation or demanding sexual favours are absolutely unacceptable, even if they were intended as a joke.

Non-verbal sexual harassment is another form of harassment commonly faced at workplaces and often goes unreported. It includes a colleague staring at a part of your body, sexting, sending you emails of indecent pictures which are sexual or sexually suggestive. This can include calendars displaying naked men or women.

Physical sexual harassment occurs if a colleague tries to make any sort of physical contact with you, assaults you or tries to rape you. Do not sexually harass co-workers ever, including Valentine’s day.

While Valentines celebrates love, statistically, you probably want to skip on the workplace romance. According to CareerBuilder, only 31 percent of workplace relationships end in a marriage. Plus, workplace breakups can be uncomfortable for everyone involved.

This doesn’t mean, however, that Valentine’s Day in the office needs to be dull. Here are some tips on how to show your co-workers you appreciate them without crossing any lines:

1. Keep it professional. On the US sitcom The Office, salesman Jim always had a huge crush on receptionist Pam. While it’s possible that your work crush is just waiting for you to make the first move, the chances are they just want to come to work without awkward tension. Valentine’s Day isn’t the time to find out. Avoid romantic gestures with co-worker crushes in order to stay professional and which won’t make people uncomfortable.

2. Send friendly cards. If you’re going to send a Valentine’s card, keep it light hearted. If you’re going to give co-workers a card, make sure it’s a friendly or funny card, not romantic. Keep in mind not all of your co-workers will share your sense of humour, so make sure to keep it appropriate and not explicit or rude.

3. Sugar coat it. Bringing in cake or sweets can be a great way to appropriately celebrate Valentines day in an all-inclusive way—everyone loves free food. Try to bring in food everyone can enjoy and be sure to bring enough for your whole team. You never know: the way to your co-workers’ hearts might just be through their stomachs. A little sweet-tooth goodwill can certainly go a long way towards improving your working relationships.

4. Keep your office romance out of the office. If you’re in a relationship with someone at work, don’t use Valentine’s Day as an excuse for PDA. You’ll see each other after work, so keep it professional before then.

While Valentine’s Day at work can be complicated, following a few of these common-sense tips can help you enjoy the day without losing your job.

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