It seems to me that Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that you either love or hate. For every hopeless romantic swimming in long-stemmed red roses and heart-shaped chocolates there’s a person who would just like to get through the day without being pestered about their love life. And it’s not just singles; I know quite a few couples who see this as merely a token Hallmark holiday.
So, how do you celebrate Valentine’s in the office? A single friend recently raised the point that she finds it intrusive when colleagues ask if she has plans for Valentine’s, especially when they offer pitying looks or say “hang in there” when they find out she does not. To her, February 14 is just another day and she’d appreciate being able to enjoy it without answering questions (however well-meaning) about her private life.
Indeed, many people are uncomfortable talking about their intimate affairs. “Do you have a Valentine this year?” may sound like an innocent question, but you don’t really know which client is in the middle of a divorce or which higher-up might take offense to a “prying” question.
If it’s someone you know well, who is in a long-term relationship, try asking, “Any big plans for this week?” rather than anything specific to Valentine’s Day itself. If they want to brag about the candlelit dinner they’ve got lined up, they will. If they don’t, they may just be trying to keep their personal life separate from the workplace.
I think receiving flowers at work is a lovely gesture, but avoid showing off too much. Decorating your cubicle with huge Cupid-inspired displays and stuffed animals from your significant other is overkill and can be seen as unprofessional. Wearing a splash of red or pink is fun, but go easy on the heart prints, especially if suits are the norm in your office.
And if you are by chance celebrating the holiday, have a wonderful one!