When you’re a confident, presentable guy, chances are you’ll find women in all walks of life that are intrigued by you. It’s not always within company regulations, but this attraction can – and regularly does – spark up in the workplace, too.
Now, there are very fine balances to strike when considering asking a colleague on a date. A company has a duty of care to make sure its employees feel secure, so picking up signals incorrectly can put you in very hot water.
It can also dramatically complicate the workplace dynamic, especially if you’re in a small office, and especially if the relationship ends on a less-than-amicable note.
However, I’ve seen workplace romances lead to long-term happiness, marriage, and even families – so it’s definitely possible.
The possible risks of an unappreciated approach and its consequences (which can be legal) reduce greatly if you can pick up on strong signs of attraction first.
So, make sure you keep an eye out for these before you make any moves that could cause someone else great embarrassment and backfire on you.
Signs a colleague likes you
While any one of the following signals can be professional courtesy or friendly office banter, when a lot of them come together, you’ll start to feel like you can suggest more smoke breaks or canteen visits together.
Many of these signs aren’t all that dissimilar to the ones you’d see across a nightclub when someone likes you.
However, they’ll be more subtle, as there’s a naughty aspect to giving those signals in the workplace, like passing notes in school. She doesn’t want you to see her looking over, but she really wants you to see her looking over.
The signs you need to look out for are as follows:
- You constantly catch your colleague gazing over or making eye contact as you look up from your monitor. Especially if she looks away as if she’s been caught instead of making up a query to ask you. If she’s looking at you instead of filling up that spreadsheet, she feels some affection towards you.
- She’ll regularly ask you about non-work matters, unprompted. If she keeps asking what you’re up to at the weekend and following up with open questions, it’s almost as if she’s expecting an invitation to join you.
- You get regular updates on what’s happening in her life. In a small, close office, this might mean less as people get a lot more involved. But if you’re in a bustling, fast-paced environment and she chooses you of all people to spend time talking to, it’s a good sign of attraction.
- Most offices have a messenger app, like Slack. If you find yourself getting constant Slack messages, or she’s always at your desk asking for assistance outside of your remit, she may have other motives for being there.
- If she constantly appears in corridors and in the canteen, she’s likely positioning herself near you on purpose, especially if you don’t usually see her where you actually work.
- You may find that your colleague constantly brings you coffee, covers for you when you’re late, and grabs items from the store cupboard for you. She may even notice you’ve run out of Post-Its and bring some to let you know she was looking over at you in a subtle way. If you’re getting a surprising level of favours from them, it’s a method of getting your attention.
- She actively suggests grabbing drinks, maybe with a couple others – but the request comes to you. It’s very likely she’s trying to get to know the version of you that doesn’t quite have the constraints of the workplace reining them in. The first time you get asked for work drinks by her, it’s not an invitation to initiate physical intimacy. However, it is a sign that she’s keen on learning more about you.
- She may offer to walk with you on your route home or catch the bus together, especially if they’re nearby. Again, it could be a matter of convenience, but if she didn’t enjoy your company, she’d’ve simply gone home solo.
- Women are fully owning their sexuality these days, and, to be honest, you might find that one who fancies you but also works with you actively flirts regardless of workplace orthodoxy.
- Attention is a precious commodity in the workplace. If you find that she focuses on you, putting her phone away, or actively walking away from her monitor to continue communicating with you, it’s quite a clear sign that talking to you is a priority in her day.
- A workplace can sometimes have hundreds or thousands of people milling about, all of them extremely busy. So if your colleague actually remembers the information you tell her about yourself and chooses to reference it later on in conversation, you know she’s making an active effort to do so.
- She messages or calls you outside of work – just to shoot the shit. That’s not colleague behaviour. If she saw you as a work friend, she’d chat to you alongside other work friends.
- If you get happy birthday and holiday messages, you’re in her thoughts on special days. (This one’s not so reliable – it could be a round robin for the whole office. It fully depends on the message though. Something really personal should flick on a few lightbulbs.)
- Your colleague checks more than once whether you’ve got a girlfriend – it might be the only piece of information she conveniently ‘forgets’ about you. She’s making sure that no opportunities have slipped by her while she’s been playing the role of colleague.
- Your breaks may mysteriously start lining up more and more often. Scheduling is scheduling, but it may well be that she’d like to spend a lunchtime or two hanging out.
- It might all come spilling out at the office Christmas party or on a work trip away anyway. Alcohol tends to flow at these events, and feelings don’t tend to keep themselves hemmed in for long. It might be that you find out relatively bluntly. It’s no bad thing.
For more general tips on how to read a woman’s body language when they want to kiss you, check this out.
What to do if you find out a colleague likes you
There are a few ways to play this while keeping everything fun and tasteful.
Firstly, there needs to be a clear and firm barrier between the two of you as a couple and the two of you as collaborators and colleagues. Work talk can make the dynamic boring, and PDAs in the office are pretty inappropriate at the best of times and completely sickening at the worst.
It makes sense, then, to take the conversation outside of work. And the great thing about a spark of connection at the office is that it’s really easy to make excuses for hanging out.
Smoke break? Leg stretch round the block? Grabbing a coffee for the team? Work karaoke night? Post-work drinks with the team?
All of these are little pockets of time during which you can get to know each other, form a bond, and deepen your attraction. When it comes to it, invite her to a gig or party (with non-work folk) after a shift.
If she accepts an invitation with just the two of you, you know that chances are at least there that she feels a similar way about you.
After this, you can usually gauge her behavior on a night out the same you would any woman on a date – active listening, taking the lead, and light physical contact to test where her boundaries lay. If she reciprocates any brushes against the arm, it’s something she’s comfortable with.
You may find that the encounter escalates quickly once you remove the trappings of the work environment. However, always err on the side of caution until it’s really about to hit tipping point on a night out together.
To find out more about talking to women in any environment, book a spot on one of my Impactful Connection workshops today.