Casual flirting at the office: a fun way to make work more enjoyable, or just asking for trouble?


I’m a fan of sexual tension. I think it really has a lot of benefits that go unseen, especially when there is sexual tension at your work. Sometimes I even create tension to make work (when I had a job, at least!) more exciting and productive and interesting. Mundane tasks, such as filing or answering phones, were always more fun when there was a go-to person to flirt with.

Now, I get it. Sexual harassment claims aside, there is much to be said about the unyielding and amazing force that is sexual tension.

I can’t think of a job I’ve had where I didn’t have someone to flirt with. Draining the coffee pots at the local grocery store where I checked was actually fun (and not terribly disgusting) when I could chat it up with the produce boy. Hell, one of the best marketing campaigns I’ve been a part of was birthed over beers with a former coworker after it had been acknowledged that we both felt the sexual chemistry. Granted, there have been times where my flirtatiousness has proved to be a hazard to my work environment, but that’s a whole other blog post.

For now, here are six ways to create sexual tension with someone at your work (or, at the very least, keep it going). Be warned: play it right here. Don’t take these tips and use them on people who aren’t receptive. Have some self-awareness and don’t make anyone uncomfortable. On to the list…

1. Sharpen your flirting skills.

People love to be flirted with. The best way to get anyone’s interest is to show interest in them. It’s this weird, untapped resource that I don’t think most people know about. You don’t have to be the smoothest, best-looking person in the room to get a date. Just show interest, and usually the other person will respond favorably. Truthfully, I hold back around people I know I’m not attracted to, because I know that once I start flirting, they will inevitably flirt back and then (uh oh) I’m in trouble.

2. Make a connection.

At work, people make connections in lots of different ways. Some connect by talking shop. Others connect by completely avoiding work conversations. But whichever your way to connect with someone, use it. It works. I’ve had jobs where I’ve flirted and had tension with different people because I connected with each of them for various reasons. Work was always fun at those jobs, and I never felt frustrated with any task, even when I had to refill the peppermint jar. (Going into the back of the restaurant was an adventure.)

3. Be affectionate.

A simple swipe of the arm or a lingering hug goes a very long way. Subtle bursts of affection are, hands down, the easiest and most covert way to show any person that you have a slight interest. When I worked at the grocery store, I received about 15 hugs a day; it was one of the best jobs I’ve had. Talk about great timing: the ever-brilliant Penelope Trunk has a great piece about hugging at work on her blog today. Also, a couple summers ago, I worked at a restaurant in LA, and I can’t tell you how much fun I had being a hostess because the servers would come to my area and flirt incessantly with me. I received massages and kisses on the cheek and all of it just made filling up the supply of crayons or dealing with frustrating customers so much more bearable.

4. Have inside jokes.

When you have an inside joke with someone you’re attracted to, it makes everything more exciting. It feels like you are in on some secret that sets your relationship apart from everyone else. It’s special and intriguing and fuels the fire. I had a job where a friend and I would flirt over the intercom or whenever he’d call the office. We had an inordinate amount of inside jokes, and it was obvious that both of us enjoyed our job more because of each other.

5. Go out to Happy Hour.

Drinking with people will always loosen up the relationship. The things I have found out from coworkers after a couple of beers really could fill a book. To establish great working relationships, you need to have a vantage point outside of work. It’s difficult to have inside jokes or be comfortable enough to graze another person’s hand when you haven’t spent time outside of PowerPoint.

6. Don’t act on it.

This is a surefire way to ruin whatever mystery and intrigue you have going on with your coworker. Acting on it makes both people question how it will change things or if it will be awkward. Believe me, I acted on a fun flirtation back at the restaurant in LA, and the excitement ended there. He seemed to want to go public with it, and I absolutely did not want to. Needless to say, we spoke very little after that. Keep limits on the tension, because the flirtation should be harmless. The second it starts to get even remotely serious is when there’s a risk for it to go awry. (And that’s the least fun thing to happen at work, believe me!)

The intrigue of sexual tension has much to do with the fantasy. There’s something off-limits about workplace romances. They are always looked at with a shake of the head and a wag of the finger, but so many find themselves falling for their coworkers. So, remember to keep it harmless and light. There is much to be said about how interesting workplace sexual tension can be, so have fun with it! I used to get mad at myself for always attracting and/or being attracted to someone at work, but I know now that it actually helps me to enjoy a job more.

What do you all think? What are your stories of workplace romance? (God, do I sound like I’m writing an article for Cosmo, or what!?)

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