The Berenstain Bears have a message for you–Don’t Sh*t Where You Eat

Workplace Romance

By In Weekly Email 5 Minute Read Time

The Berenstain Bears have a message for you–Don’t Sh*t Where You Eat: Workplace Romance

Check out the Urban Dictionary’s meaning of the phrase above—Don’t sh*t where you eat. It says quite jarringly–avoid romantic relationships where you work! By the looks of it, we’re not doing a good job at heeding that advice. In a statistic that we found stunning, reports that just shy of 40% of us have engaged in a workplace romance. Here, at the Kimono, we’re guilty as charged. But with an Urban Dictionary, we also get Urban Legends. We wanted to Open the Kimono a bit to see if there was, indeed, any truth to this claim.

The Research

Two researchers, Sean Horan and Rebecca Chory, provide some credibility behind this maxim in their study entitled “When Work and Love Mix: Perceptions of Peers in Workplace Romances” published in the Western Journal of Communication. They wanted to understand how we feel and communicate when we know a peer of ours is trying to find love in all the wrong places. To get at this, they surveyed 140 working adults.

Workplace Romance Brings Pain

A major takeaway of their study is that dating the hand that feeds you brings pain. Specifically, employees reported less trust towards a peer when he or she was making it with the boss compared to just dating another peer. Even more, they found that when we know a peer is dating a boss, we’re less likely to have their back and stand strong in solidarity behind our co-worker. You don’t need to be a Rhodes Scholar to guess what’s going on here—hurt feelings regarding special treatment, favoritism, and, just, fairness. To us, the damning finding involves trust. According to these two very smart people, we’re way more likely to watch what we say and to mislead (okay, flat-out lie) to peers that are loving up their boss compared to co-workers that are just, simply, dating a peer.

Dating the Boss Destroys Trust 

Some of us may love our work. Others may work to find love. Doing so, though, involves risk. If you’re going to do it, snuggle up with a peer. Avoid making eyes at the boss unless you’re okay wreaking havoc on trust in the workplace. You’ve been warned. Not by the Berenstain Bears. But by the Kimono.

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere—

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