Help — I’m attracted to a vendor for our company

I’ve developed a crush on someone who deals with our company as a vendor. Do the same rules apply as they do to employees when it comes to fraternization and potential claims of harassment? I can’t believe we have to think this way, but it seems we can’t have feelings at work anymore.
First of all, Cupid, unless you’re still in high school and talking about the girl who supplies the hamburgers to the concession stand where you flip the patties during a summer job, you shouldn’t call what you are describing a “crush,” OK? But seriously, in general, the same rules of conduct apply to vendors and clients of a company as they do to employees — meaning you can’t be a jerk and treat people poorly or make them feel uncomfortable. That said, most companies don’t have policies forbidding romantic relationships with vendors of the company unless it creates a conflict of interest or the appearance of one. And while the workplace is more fraught than ever when it comes to relationships, millions of people still manage to find love at work without creating a hostile environment. Treat people respectfully, paying attention to the social cues about whether someone is interested. If you misread the cues, the worst offense is having asked the person out on a date. Then apologize and don’t make the other person feel uncomfortable. It’s called being a responsible, self-aware, respectful human.

Big fish, little pond or little fish, big pond? Which is better for your career?
Is this a literal question about your career options or an existential question? I don’t hate many things, but I don’t like these trite, binary views of the world and the career journey, which is deeply personal and unique to the individual. There is no right or wrong. The only thing that matters is what situation gives you the chance to do what you love to do and be recognized and rewarded for it. Whatever works for you — and that can change at different times in your career — is what is best for you. So remain open-minded, my little grasshopper, and the world will present many more opportunities for you to consider.

Gregory Giangrande is a chief human resources and communications officer in the media industry. Email your career questions to [email protected] Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande. His “Go to Greg” podcast series is available on iTunes.

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