Valentine's Day at the Office

Valentine's Day is the ideal time to acknowledge those special people in our lives, at home and at work. Given a significant number of couples meet at the office, the way we handle the day will go a long way toward helping boost your image for months ... or more (!) to come, as our manners and thoughtfulness are constantly evaluated and judged - whether consciously or subconsciously. Showing thoughtfulness goes a long way toward making others feel acknowledged and special, while simultaneously distinguishing you.

When it comes to Valentine's Day, ... there are no rules! . .. but there are some guidelines.

Showing appreciation/affection publicly or privately is subjective. ...Will you personally place a special bouquet of their favorite flower/s on their desk, or have a flower arrangement sent to women of the office? The former is infinitely more intimate, the latter, more professional.

Will you send an accompanying personal note and express open affection or chose a more playful, anonymous route?

Whether you are dating, already in love, or just showing appreciation for friends and co-workers, knowing what women and men really want at Valentine's Day will ensure a positive outcome.

Origin: While the Christian origin speaks of drawing names on St. Valentine's Eve, the European origin has more to do with birds who began to choose their mates. .. Chaucer and Shakespeare, among others, wrote about this, which gave way to the notion that young men and maidens would do the same, with the men only, giving love tokens to maidens, usually anonymously, signed "with St. Valentine's Love." This ritual often ended up in love.

While Valentine's Day may be high-season for jewelry, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and champagne, don't assume a box of chocolates or a bunch of flowers, will "do it." Be creative.

Manners, thoughtfulness and the little things go a long way to say you care. The effort put forth is key. Here are guidelines to help both men and women this Valentine's Day.

What we want:

* to feel appreciated. Valentine's Day is the perfect time to show your appreciation to someone you might be taking for granted. Put some effort into thanking him or her for all those days ... and things, you may have taken for granted.
*to be with that special someone, enjoying a romantic evening.

Make a romantic date. It doesn't have to cost a fortune but a special dinner out, or one at home. Dress. Make it a special occasion.

• Card: Avoid the pre-written cards to which you simply sign your name. Write something personal ... write a poem, limerick or a song ... be creative! ... Make a list of all those things you are grateful for in your partner and write them in your own card! Should you find a pre-written card which says exactly what you want to say, get it, but then write something to the effect of, "this card was made for you."

Make the evening memorable by your special attire for this Valentine's evening.

• Give your special someone something they want, not something you want. While a practical sweater may be fine for any other occasion, it probably will not resonate on Valentine's Day. Give something that promotes togetherness, like a romantic getaway for an upcoming weekend at an inn or hotel.

WHAT WE DON'T WANT

• No facial treatments or wrinkle creams ... even if they are expensive.
• No appliances. Home improvement can be fun but it is definitely not an aphrodisiac!

Valentine's Day is traditionally a day seen for lovers. ... and while co-workers undoubtedly expect nothing on Valentine's Day, it is a wonderful time to show appreciation, friendship and affection ... to a potential new partner, neighbor and co-workers.

And, even if you don't have a 'special someone' in your life this Valentine's Day, there are many special people in all of our lives who we might want to reach out to and wish a Happy Valentine's Day. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Judith Bowman is president and founder of Judith Bowman Enterprises and an author ("Don't Take the Last Donut" and "How to Stand Apart @ Work...") speaker, business protocol coach. Email: Judith@protocolconsultants.com.