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Something scary coming to a personnel department near you - soon...

Although generally an admirer of most things American, we do have a tendency to pick up on the more ghastly developments in management and workplace 'thought', and this snippet from the New York Times (30/4/6) suggests to me that terrible things will be coming our way ere long:

"Go to human resources for advice before you ask a co-worker out. The office can update you on company policy regarding dating and give you tips on how to avoid having your interest be interpreted as harassment. If you are looking to date your boss, registering the relationship upfront may make him or her more comfortable about accepting your advances. ''It helps if you can say, 'I told H.R. that I initiated this, so you don't have to worry about harassment charges if things don't work out,' '' Mr. Ferrazzi said.

Do an emotional prenuptial agreement. If your company won't let married people work together, decide in advance which one will resign if you wed. And decide how you'll handle working together if you break up. ''Every business plan needs an exit strategy,'' Mr. Ferrazzi said.

Don't try to keep the relationship secret. You can't. So be proactive. Call a staff meeting to lay the ground rules. ''Make it clear that your boyfriend will have to work just as hard for promotions, that currying favor with your girlfriend will not curry favor with you,'' Mr. Ferrazzi said.

Realize that exclusive lovers should not be exclusive friends. Networking with colleagues is an important part of building a career. Talk freely about your love life, just as they talk of theirs. You may be surprised at how quickly the subject shifts to the boss's latest tantrum, or the home team's win. ''The more you hang out with others in the office, the less they'll focus on your courting a colleague,'' Mr. Ferrazzi said.

If you do break up, set up mechanisms to keep routine workplace disagreements from turning into perceived harassment. Before rehiring his former lover, Mr. Ferrazzi insisted that he pick an outsider who could give a second opinion, in case Mr. Ferrazzi did anything to make him feel uncomfortable. ''I was being very cautious, but these days you have to be,'' Mr. Ferrazzi said.

Know that you can't get through a breakup alone. This is no time for false pride. Ask your boss for assignments that don't involve dealing with your ex. Ask colleagues to let you vent over after-work drinks".



Be afraid, be very afraid. I'm once again grateful to be self-employed....

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