5 Ways to Screw Up Valentine’s Day at the Office

It’s time for everyone’s favorite Hallmark holiday. On the surface, the big V-day seems like one of the innocuous ones. After all, what could be bad about candy hearts that spell out cute messages?

If you work in an office, however, there are dangers inherent in your observance – or non-observance – of Valentine’s Day.  If you want to make it through February with your reputation intact, steer clear of these actions.

“I have a boyfriend and you don’t – na, na, na, na, na!”

It’s never a good idea to rub your successful relationship in the faces of your single colleagues, but it’s especially tactless on Valentine’s Day, which tends to make singletons feel lonely and insecure. Whether you had a dozen roses delivered to the mail room that morning or have reservations at the hottest restaurant in town later on, keep your celebration on the down low. Mention your plans only if asked, and don’t make a big deal about how cool they are. You don’t want to leave colleagues feeling jealous and resentful or thinking you’re obnoxious.

“Here’s your Valentine, John.  Oh, sorry Marissa.”

Remember Valentine’s Day in elementary school, when everyone brought a colorful cardboard box to school and collected cards from the rest of the class? Remember worrying that someone would leave you out? Remember the pit in your stomach when your best friend got a teddy bear from the class heartthrob and you didn’t? Well, folks, turns out the office is not all that different. Please don’t stir up bad emotions from the past by giving cards or gifts only to select colleagues. If you want to treat your team to something special, bring in food or something everyone can enjoy on the spot.  Feeling amorous toward a particular co-worker? Don’t show it on Valentine’s Day, and think carefully before showing it at another time.

“Meeting after lunch? No can do. Leaving early for the holiday.”

Look, I’m a mom too, and my kid has a Valentine’s Day party at school just like yours does.  So I understand the desire to be present for every holiday party on the calendar. But when you have a full-time job, something has to give. Realize that most people don’t consider Valentine’s Day a real holiday and are not going to be particularly understanding when you decide to take a half day. And yes, it will look even worse to a boss who doesn’t have kids.

“Valentine’s Day sucks.”

I hear that you think Valentine’s Day is the most ridiculous holiday ever invented and that you would like to take Cupid’s arrows and use him as target practice. There is nothing more annoying, though, than someone who slouches around the office muttering Debbie Downer statements like:  “I’m on a Valentine’s Day strike,” and “Valentine’s Day is for cheesy losers.” You will not make any friends with this negative and cynical attitude, and you may downright offend some ardent V-day supporters.

“So how much is Valentine’s Day with the fiancé setting you back this year?”

Your office is not a college dorm. Please don’t use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to pry into your colleagues’ personal lives. Trust me, if they want to discuss their relationships with you, they will. In the meantime, don’t ask inappropriate questions or speculate on those questions with gossiping co-workers. It’s none of your business, and no one wants that kind of attention. Think about it:  how would you like it if you found out the office had a betting pool on when or whether you’d get engaged?

Overall, the best way to deal with Valentine’s Day at work is to treat it like a regular day. If your co-workers do otherwise, smile, act appreciative, and wait until you’re home to explore your true feelings about the holiday.

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