4 office protocol tips to follow for Valentine’s Day, from experts

Since Valentine’s Day falls on a weekday this year, common-sense rules of professionalism should be followed at work. Interacting with coworkers should be like any other day. Experts recommend to keep things low-key and act as if it’s any other Thursday.

Don’t give gifts or cards

Not only is giving cards or gifts to co-workers unprofessional for Valentine’s Day, it’s not appropriate, says Rachel Wagner, a business etiquette and protocol expert.

“This can send the wrong message and cause awkwardness when you meet in the hallway or break room,” she says.

Don’t engage in Valentine’s Day undertones

Wagner says Valentine’s Day does not give anyone license to “flirt” with coworkers and possibly convey misunderstanding and mixed signals: “On the same note, avoid giving ‘compliments’ that convey the wrong message, like, ‘You look really nice in that dress.’ Instead, keep the compliments professional, ‘Ashley, I appreciate how you ran the meeting today.’ ”

One acceptable compliment, however, is to acknowledge the gifts that others received from spouses/significant others that might be displayed on their desk, such as flowers, Wagner says.

Keep gestures general and generic

Everyone can “share the love” by taking in treats for the entire department or team.

“Great items to share include: heart-shaped cookies, a homemade cherry coffee cake, brownies, bagels with strawberry cream cheese or a box of chocolates,” suggest Wagner.

Everyone will appreciate your thoughtfulness even if they don’t indulge.

Keep your Valentine’s Day plans private

Discussions of personal life and relationship status, hot dates, etc are also not appropriate for work, says Lew Bayer, CEO Civility Experts.

“I’m not sure what the equivalent of a Christmas Scrooge is – but whatever it is, I highly recommend being that at work, at least from 9-5 on Valentine’s Day.”