Deck the Office Halls

By Shannon Kelley Gould

A strange thing happened this morning when I ambled into the
office kitchen for my first (okay, fourth) caffeine fix of the day:
I noticed a rather large, definitely prominently displayed, sprig
of mistletoe dangling from the doorjamb. I stopped for a moment,
gazed at the foliage — hanging there so innocently, blissfully
unaware of the drama that might take place at its bequest — and
wondered. Encouraging coworkers to engage in a workplace smooch:
wildly inappropriate or harmless yuletide fun? While no one’s
accusing anyone of sexual harassment (yet), picture this: you run
into a not-so-hot superior under said mistletoe, and he or she
gazes at you, oh-so-hopefully. Perhaps you manage to squelch the
urge to vomit, but the awkwardness will undoubtedly live on. On the
flipside, what if your office crush appears in the doorway, the
mental music swells, and the two of you decide to throw caution to
the wind? And what if the queen of office gossip happens by at
precisely the wrong moment? A kiss may be just a kiss, but, as
Human Resources Generalist Ani Casillas points out, it’s a
post-Clarence Thomas world we’re living in. “I hate when HR has to
be the party pooper, but that mistletoe is just a complaint waiting
to happen,” she said. And even if both parties are into a little
lip service and the holidays have them feeling non-litigious, there
are still the cross-cubicle-canoodling landmines to contend with.
Relationship expert Anna David said that, while colleagues have as
much of a shot at a civil — if not happy — ending as anyone,
“Today’s exciting new partner can just as easily end up tomorrow’s
nightmare — whom you have to sit next to at the conference table!
My advice for a workplace romance is to take it slow, and don’t do
anything crazy — like christen the boss’s desk.” Well put. As for
my coworkers and the mistletoe in the kitchen, frankly, I think
everyone’s a little more interested in the free pizza.

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