During a recent business trip, I was part of a conversation with some of our client folk about the different tones of flirting. Our discussion focused on flirting as a negotiation strategy and in a business context. A few of our conclusions were:
- There are people who flirt and people who don't.
- Of those who do, there are different kinds of flirting--the "could you do me a favor?," the "I think you're pretty cool (or interesting or funny, etc)," the "if I met you at a bar we'd definitely hook up," and the always creepy unless you're into that sort of thing "let's actually hook up."
- Of those that don't flirt, they don't see a delineation of flirting for business purposes and just flirting.
- Corporate flirting is gender agnostic and is not limited by your sexual orientation. You know you've seen straight guys chatting up other straight guys.
- Corporate flirting can be a powerful and fun tool if not taken to extremes or used for evil. See your latest corporate sexual harrassment videos for tips on this one.
Sure, some people use flirting to manipulate situations or gain an advantage (we used to joke that we ladies would need to show more cleavage and shorten our skirts to hit our sales numbers). Sex sells, as any marketer will tell you, and many people get very successful using flirting as a means to an end. But most flirting is not so strategic or sinister.
Even though people are often brought together for work purposes, sometimes you actually develop strong friendships, relationships and feelings for people that transcend the work experience. Sometimes you actually grow to love people. Not in a "leaving my spouse and kids for you" way but definitely in a "I really care about you as a person, even with all of your faults and quirks" way. It's nice to work with people you like, respect, and care about. It shouldn't be so hard to tell them you love them (in a corporate way).