How Movies Can Help You Deal with Romance at the Workplace

Mixing business with “pleasure” has never been a recipe for a “happily ever after” and sex in the workplace seems to cause pain more often than satisfaction. Every year, an average of 15,000 claims are filed for sexual harassment in the workplace; news headlines about sexual scandals between prominent bosses and work subordinates provoke public contempt and outrage; more families and couples split as a result of an extramarital affair that one of the spouses began in the workplace; and more psychotherapists treat patients experiencing the aftermaths of a workplace romance gone sour. Such aftermaths may range from feeling angry, confused, humiliated and depressed to having been fired from the job, sometimes without even a letter of recommendation.

More companies today are enforcing work dating policies, providing training about work romance, or choosing to show lenience toward romantic involvement among employees, so long as it doesn’t threaten productivity and team effort. And yet, so many people are not clear about the rules of romance at work. Still a taboo and a subject for tabloid gossip, sex and romance at work is considered a thorny issue most of us wish would go away.

Whether you are an employer or employee, here is how to prepare your personnel and yourself to deal with Cupid striking at the office:

Know The Definition of Sexual Harassment. Sexual harassment occurs when one employee makes continued, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, to another employee, against his or her wishes. This unwanted behavior affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with this person’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

The film “Disclosure”, illustrates how sexual harassment is the abuse of power that violates another person’s moral, ethical and emotional boundaries. The films shows how a computer specialist is sued for sexual harassment by a former lover turned boss, whose purpose is to incriminate him and destroy both his career and his personal life.

If you are being sexually harassed don’t stay silent hoping it will go away. This behavior usually escalates if you don’t stop the harasser with a firm, proactive stand. Call the person on their behavior immediately, ask them to stop and warn them that you will report them if they continue. If it continues, report the harassment. Your employer has the responsibility to take each complaint seriously and investigate.

Deal Appropriately with Sexual Advances from Coworkers. A sexual advance may be a straightforward expression of sexual attraction to a coworker, a blunt invitation for a physical relationship, or flirtatious behavior that has gone overboard.

In the movies, Andy, the central character of “The 40-Year Old Virgin”, neutralizes his female boss’s advances by staying loyal to his values. His boss understands. When he gets promoted, it is not because of sexual favors but because of his job performance.

Real life often resembles the movies. If you stay loyal to your values and keep your work priorities straight, you too can achieve success without losing your integrity.

Honor Your Work First, then Your Sex Fantasies. In the film “A Time to Kill” a young and handsome Mississippi lawyer is handling with admirable strength a tough criminal case and a very attractive assistant. Even though the sexual chemistry between them sizzles, he chooses to channel his passion into the case, which he wins.

If you ever feel irresistibly attracted to a coworker, before you give into your fantasies do a reality check. Examine how it would affect your work if you consummated your sexual attraction. If you realize that it would jeopardize your work–and your relationship with your colleague–then you should honor your work and look for a different outlet for your fantasies.

Don’t ever Start An Extramarital Affair in The Workplace. In “The Firm”, young attorney Mitch is the victim of a corrupt law firm that throws its employees into extramarital affairs and then blackmails them to extort their loyalty. He has a company-induced affair that costs him his marriage and his sanity. The movie has a happy ending only because Mitch fights very hard to recover the love of his wife.

In real life, extramarital affairs in the workplace never have a happily ever after. Besides the agony of being discovered at home, the parties involved live with the constant stress of being discovered at work. When this happens be prepared to cut your losses. And those losses may include your reputation, your family, your job, the person you have the affair with, or all of the above.

When You Date A Colleague, Set Post-Breakup Rules from The Beginning.In the classic film “The Apartment” C.C. Baxter climbs the career ladder by lending his apartment to his boss for his extramarital trysts. He’s also falling in love with his coworker, Fran. All seems to work fine, until he discovers that Fran is also his boss’s mistress. How will they all emerge from such perplexed dynamics and keep their jobs?

In real life, a romance with a coworker always has some impact on your work life. Once you know each other intimately, you become more vulnerable to each other. This is why you must draw up a contract in which you specify how you will preserve your working relationship, should your personal relationship not last. Sign it and honor it, in case you break up. It’s a smart thing to do. You don’t want a situation like Baxter and Fran’s.

Stay Away from Office Sex Gossip. In the French comedy “The Closet”, the main character François spreads false rumors at work that he is gay, hinting that he will sue the management if they fire him for sexual discrimination. As sex gossip spreads in the office it creates havoc in his coworkers’ careers and personal lives with consequences that vary from hilarious to severe.

In real life, you should avoid office havoc by staying away from gossip about your coworkers’ sexual orientation and sex life. When a coworker confesses to you an affair with another coworker, politely decline to become their sounding board. Protect your self and your job. You never know how office sex gossip may backfire or used against you, whether you have generated it or not.

When Cupid Strikes at The Office, Keep Your Romance Private. In the movie “Kindergarten Cop”, tough guy detective Kimble goes into a school undercover as a kindergarten teacher to investigate a case. He ends up falling in love with Joyce, another school teacher who is also the very subject of his investigation. But this is true love and it changes Kimble’s destiny. Leaving the police force, he returns to Joyce and her school as real kindergarten teacher.

In real life, if you have found your soul mate in a certain coworker and you want your budding romance to have a happily ever after, you must keep it private until it becomes a serious, mutual commitment. Never transfer in the workplace personal conflicts with the person you date. Always respect each other as coworkers. Make your romance public only when it’s a solid relationship that you know will last. Then, it’s a time to celebrate. Congratulations! You have shown discretion and good judgment!

Knowing how to navigate successfully the dark waters of romance in the workplace, should be part of your job training. Follow these guidelines as rules of conduct to ensure your career and safeguard your personal life, every time Cupid’s arrow threaten to pierce your bubble at the office.

Writing Sales Copy – How to Close the Deal

Dear Business Builder,

OK … So you’ve grabbed your prospect’s attention with a compelling proposition, story, USP, intrigue or advertorial headline.

You’ve intensified his resolve to read your ad with deck copy that illuminates and expands on your head … intrigues him with reasons why, if he stops reading now, he’ll regret it for the rest of his life … and just for good measure, you threw in a heaping helping of credibility elements.

You’ve opened your body copy fast – so fast in fact, that your prospect was emotionally invested and completely committed to reading every word you had to say before he knew what hit him.

You’ve led him through your sales arguments hand-in-hand; showing him how your product will bring tremendous value to his life by granting him his heart’s deepest desires.

Starting from a fact or proposition he can’t help but agree with, you’ve led him, step-by-careful-step through every benefit your product provides and every “reason why” he deserves to have those benefits in his life.

You’ve proved every product claim with testimonials from recognized experts, the media and of course, your customers.

You’ve heaped on tons more credibility; validating your sales propositions with quotes, charts, tables and data from third parties he trusts.

You’ve anticipated and defused every objection he could possibly have to buying this product … from you … today.

And you’ve sweetened the pot by regaling your prospect with a truckload of additional free gifts he gets just for buying the product.

At this point, anyone with a pulse or capable of fogging a mirror should already be cutting you a check or reciting their MasterCard number to one of your customer service reps.

And frankly, because you’ve salted your spreads with action devices that present your toll-free number and/or direct him to your order form, some of your prospects will be.

But you’re not through writing your sales copy yet – not by a long shot.

Because now, it’s time to turn up the heat – with closing copy that’s so powerful, it vaporizes every remaining ounce of resistance and magically transforms mere prospects into paying customers.

You’ve got to close the deal.

Of course, when writing sales copy, how you present your offer and close your promotion will vary widely from product to product and from offer to offer. However, I’ve found that an outline like this one is a great way to get started …


1. DIMENSIONALIZE VALUE: When writing the sales copy, use a few short bulleted paragraphs to remind your prospect of everything he gets when he purchases your product.

Begin with the product itself and all the benefits it will bring to him. Then, move on to each of the extras and each of the free gifts if he buys now. If permissible, be sure to include the value of each of the freebies.

I also know before I begin writing my closing copy the value and savings my prospect will receive on the basic service … the free extras that come with the service … the premiums or free gifts he gets and the total value of the savings and freebies he gets by joining my client’s newsletter service now.

[NOTE: Postal regulations prohibit assigning a value to the premiums offered if the product itself is delivered via Second Class (Library Rate) mail. It pays to make sure it’s OK to use these values before investing your time writing the close.]

2. PRESENT YOUR PRICE – CAREFULLY: When writing sales copy, I typically approach the first mention of my price in one of two ways:

A. Lead with the discount: “Charter Offer: You SAVE HALF – a Whopping $189”

B. Lead with the nominal price: “Normally, XYZ is a bargain at just $379 for two years. But during this Charter Membership period, you save half! You get two full years for just $189 – you save $189!”

3. TRIVIALIZE YOUR PRICE: This is a great way to close the deal. Again – there are many ways to do this, and I try to use several price-trivializing rationales in each promotion …

A. Compare the price with what it gets you. If, for example, a financial service is producing average annual gains of, say 86% on its recommended investments, your price justification might go something like this:

Look: Our average recommendation over the past two years has produced an 86% annual gain. Investing a paltry $10,000 per year would have earned you $8,600 in profits in a year and $17,200 in two years.

That’s 91 TIMES MORE than our two-year Charter Membership rate!

B. Compare the price with what others charge. Example: One of my clients gives full and free access to his world class website to every subscriber. The website offers the same investment research tools another famous website does, and that site charges $480 per year.

So my copy read …

Heck – XYZ.COM website charges $40 per month for the same investment tools you get with your FREE membership to my ABC site. That alone could save you $480 per year.

C. Compare the price with the value of the free gifts and discounts. Example …

And remember: By joining me for two years now, you get $1,091 in discounts and FREE gifts designed to multiply your profits – all for just $189.

D. Break the price down to smaller increments. This is where the second spreadsheet I showed you earlier comes in handy …

Just $7.88 per month … only $1.82 per week – a mere 26 CENTS A DAY for recommendations that can nearly double your money every year.

E. Compare the price to what they pay now for a mundane item:

Twenty-six cents a day: That’s less than ONE-TENTH of what you pay for a single gallon of gasoline!

4. ERASE ALL RISK: Now that we’ve whittled the perceived price down to just pennies, it’s time to crank up the heat again – by pointing out that he gets his lousy quarter a day refunded any time he asks for it.

Now, this is no place to sleepwalk. Think about your guarantee for a moment. What is it, really?

It’s a contract … a promise … a vow your spokesperson makes to the customer. It’s a sacred commitment and it’s personal.

So instead of simply stating your terms, why not present it as a personal letter … an official-looking contract … or as “My Sacred Promise to You”?

This is also the perfect excuse to restate all the benefits your prospect will receive when he becomes a customer – something like …

When you join me in XYZ, I promise I’ll never let you make a high-risk investment. I’ll be there for you every single day, guiding you to stocks that give you double-your-money potential with safety.

If I can do that for you, the twenty-nine cent daily investment you make in XYZ will prove to be the wisest you’ve ever made. If I can’t, I won’t keep a penny of your membership. It just wouldn’t be fair …

Also: Giving the rationale behind your guarantee is a great way to create a bond with the prospect by demonstrating your spokesperson’s fairness and honesty …

If the world was a fair place, no doctor would get paid a penny when his treatments fail to cure you. No stock broker would earn a dime unless he makes you richer. The truth is, if I can’t help you, it wouldn’t be right to keep a penny of your money …

5. OFFER INSTANT GRATIFICATION: Over the years, we’ve learned that when we order something through the mail, it could be an eternity – up to six or eight weeks before the product is delivered.

We also know that in this Internet-driven, fast-food society, consumers have come to crave and even expect instant gratification.

So if your product is delivered quickly, why not shout it from the rooftops?

Sadly, the number one mistake even top copywriters make is forgetting to ask their clients “How fast will new customers receive their purchases?” – and then featuring this fast turn-around in their closing copy.

One of my clients ships within 24 hours – so I include a subhead and short section of body text to let my prospect know that if he orders today, he can be enjoying my product’s benefits in just a few days.

6. ASK FOR THE SALE: It’s the oldest rule in direct response: When writing your sales copy, always tell your prospect, step-by-step what he must do to order.

Assume he’s a three-year-old …

Just pick up your telephone right now and dial TOLL-FREE 1-800-000-0000 and say, “I want to join XYZ for just twenty-nine cents a day – and don’t forget to include my $902 in bonus services and free reports!”

Or, if you prefer, just complete the Free Gift Certificate on page 23 of this report and return it to me today in the postage-paid reply envelope we’ve provided.

7. PLACE YOUR PROSPECT AT A CROSSROADS: The “Crossroads Close” is an extremely powerful device. It helps close the deal by focusing the prospect on the decision he’s about to make. Here’s an example …

In this report, I’ve shown you how you can nearly double your money every year.

I’ve offered you investment services others pay up to $728 for – FREE …

I’ve offered you 6 valuable profit guides worth $174 – FREE …

I’ve invited you to save half – up to $189 – when you to join me in XYZ investment service during this Charter Membership period …

I’ve shown you how you must be thrilled with the profits I bring you, or you’re entitled to a 100% refund …

Now, the decision is completely in your hands.

Only one of two things can happen now. Either we’ll go on from here together, or you’ll go it alone.

Either you’ll join me and begin doubling your money every year like our other XYZ members do, or you’ll continue to settle for the higher risk and lower returns you’re getting now.

I wish I could take the next step for you. I can’t of course; it’s completely up to you.

I urge you: The stocks I told you about today aren’t going to wait for you, me or anybody else. They’re beginning to move now. If you hesitate, it could cost you a small fortune in profits.

Just call TOLL-FREE 1-800-000-0000 now and say you’ll join me in XYZ. That way, I can rush your first issue and your free gifts to you tomorrow, and in a few days, you’ll be growing richer, faster.

Please do it now – there’s nothing to lose and substantial new profits to gain.

Yours for Lower Risk and Greater Profits,


8. LOAD UP ON YOUR P.S.S: Tests have shown that many prospects want to know who your sales letter is from – so they’ll flip through your sales letter quickly, looking for the signature.

For that reason, the copy around the signature – most notably your P.S. – occupies a powerful place in your copy.

It’s important to keep in mind that prospects who check out the signature first have not seen the rest of your copy – so divulging your price or other possible negatives here is a definite no-no.

It’s also OK to have a P.S., a P.P.S., even a P.P.P.S – as many as you need to convince scanners to read the letter and to compel readers to place their orders now.

Here are four of the most powerful P.S. techniques I’ve ever used …

A. Guarantee Reminder: Simply restate your major benefit(s) and your guarantee in a short paragraph.

Remember: Either I double your money in the next 12 months or I’ll cheerfully send you a full refund.

And everything I’ve sent you – including the $902 in free bonus services and gifts I just described – are yours to keep, FREE.

There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain – so please: Call TOLL-FREE 1-800-000-0000 now.

B. Urgency Motivator:

Early-Bird Bonus – an extra $79 Value, FREE: Let me hear from you now, and I’ll also include The #1 Money-Doubling Stock to Buy NOW – my hot-off-the-presses guide to my top pick for 2007 …

This P.S. would then follow with strong sales copy presenting the benefits delivered by this additional gift and asking the prospect to call now.

C. Testimonial: Select one of your strongest short testimonials – one in which the customer relates specifically how you helped him or her – and use it as a credibility-boosting P.S.

D. Final Rationale: This kind of P.S. amplifies and intensifies the Crossroads Close you’ve already used above …

Before you make your final decision, please ask yourself, “What if George is right?”

“How will I feel watching these stocks take off like a moon shot — knowing that I blew the chance to double my money in just twelve, short months?”

I don’t want that for you. Please – your membership is fully guaranteed – there’s simply no reason NOT to give XYZ a fair try: Call TOLL-FREE 1-800-000-0000 and say you’ll join me today!

Hope this helps …

How to Deal With Your Business Distractions

On a recent trip to Canada I read an interesting article in their Globe and Mail newspaper on how to conquer 10 common distractions in the workplace. Here is my take on what I find are my 10 trickiest time bandit distractions, and how I deal (or not… ) with them during the working day…

In the Globe’s article, management writer Harvey Schachter lists the top ten business distractions as portrayed by leadership trainer Tim Millburn, in comfy masculine agreement that does not exactly take into account the realities of women small business owners like me who work from a home office.

All the same here is my summary of the original list, and noble it is, too, in an ideal world…

Unstructured time– schedule ahead so you and others stick to it

Lack of deadlines– give yourself deadlines so you program yourself to get the work done

Lack of a plan– stick to a plan and don’t let incidental things interrupt you

Doing it all yourself-surely there must be some things on your list you can delegate?

Perfectionism – strive for excellence instead as perfectionism can waste time

Pinball urgency– don’t bounce between urgent tasks

Open-door policy– close it when you have a deadline or other urgent task

Always in touch– continually keeping up with email, tweet, text message or update

Too much tech– too many devices running can be distracting

Too many meetings– avoid all but the strictly necessary

Now, here are my own feelings about those points, speaking as small business owner…

Unstructured time– schedule ahead so you and others stick to it.

Great idea and it works if your business is in a well-sheltered office building. But try telling that to the sour-faced electricity worker who bangs on the front door and insists on reading your meter NOW or you’ll get a nice, fat, estimated bill. By all means schedule, but in that schedule allow for the occasional diversion.

Lack of deadlines– give yourself deadlines so you program yourself to get the work done.

I like this one and do it from time to time. But being a lazy, undisciplined cow, I find my own deadlines utterly laughable. The deadlines that work for me, however, are clients’ deadlines. Always ensure those are realistic if you don’t want to be burning midnight oil.

Lack of a plan– stick to a plan and don’t let incidental things interrupt you.

Short-term plans are all fine and dandy if your type of work is predictable and follows some sort of logic. If you work in a hysterical business like mine (writing and editing books, blogs, etc.) you had better be flexible in your planning if you want to avoid sectioning under the (UK’s) Mental Health Act 1983. Long-term planning is realistic and advisable in doing extensive jobs like writing a book, however.

Doing it all yourself-surely there must be some things on your list you can delegate?

To whom, I wonder? As a one-woman-band I can only delegate the laundry and vacuuming to the lovely lady who keeps our household sane, as sadly I don’t have a gaggle of PAs and secretaries waiting with bated breath for my latest best-seller to input or a red carpet appearance to arrange. For the likes of us VAs are worth their weight in 24 carat gold, however.

Perfectionism – strive for excellence instead as perfectionism can waste time.

As anyone who knows me would agree I’m a drooling Grammar Nazi but having been through some slapping-around-the-head-with-a-wet-fish therapy and counselling I’m getting over it. These guys have a good point: excellence is realistic, but perfectionism is boring.

Pinball urgency– don’t bounce between urgent tasks.

I’d like to see this management technique in practice in a domestic situation whereby milk’s boiling over on the stove, the baby’s screaming, the older kids are setting fire to the dining table, the doorbell’s ringing and the cat has just brought in a live squirrel. That’s where we learn to multitask, boys, and we do it at work, too. But the theory is good.

Open-door policy– close it when you have a deadline or other urgent task.

Yep, and while you’re about it add some heavy bolts, chains and a padlock the size of a tractor tire, especially if there are other people in your home during the working day. No amount of door locking works, however, if as the busy solopreneur you hear “Mom, I’ve hurt myself” whispered through the keyhole.

Always in touch– continually keeping up with email, tweet, text message or update.

True. Guilty. That plus checking my website’s stats. But if you balance it and use these activities as breaks from your main work – say once every hour or two – they can bring you light relief. In the old days I would light a cigarette instead. So this is the healthy alternative: thanks, Messrs Schachter and Millburn.

Too much tech– too many devices running can be distracting.

Nah, not in my office there ain’t. Technology and I have the weirdest love-hate relationship since E L James’s bizarre couple in “50 Shades of Gray.” It’s just a PC and a cellphone here (and a Kindle somewhere near the dogs’ beds.)But even girls who have all the toy-toys tend to use them sensibly, not get off on them as so many men do.

Too many meetings– avoid all but the strictly necessary.

YES! By now I must have wasted literally years of my life in meetings most of which were totally unnecessary. At least these days in the home office you have Skype, Google Hangouts, etc. which means you can hold meetings with clients thousands of miles away – and everyone can attend in their pyjamas. Bliss.

What are your favourite – or most hated business distractions? And how do you keep them under control?

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