Fancy someone in your office but too nervous to make the first move? We spoke to the UK’s leading dating guru James Preece about how you can perhaps go from “hnyeurgh” to “YEAH I’LL GO FOR A DRINK”

Make them curious about you 

Haven’t worked up the courage to talk to them yet? Start by talking about really cool things you’ve been doing with other colleagues while in their earshot. “Let them know what an interesting, varied and great life you lead,” suggests James, “it doesn’t have to be as dramatic as saving animals on a regular basis- going to concerts or eating at a great restaurant does the trick.” If you don’t lead an interesting life, start living one. Save some animals. Learn origami. They’ll be hooked, or at least fairly interested. 

Look nice but not try-hard

Not just so they’ll fancy you, but so you’ll feel more confident around them. “You want to look like you would if you were going on a date,” says James, “Be you, but on a really good day” and we can confirm that James isn’t sponsored by Berocca. That’s their slogan, in case you weren’t aware. 

Chat to them. As in actual talking 

Start slowly. Hot drinks are a good place to start – make them a cup of tea/coffee/hot chocolate/whatever they want and then the next day it’s their turn. “They’ve got to speak to you knowing it’s their turn to get you a coffee,” James says. “Don’t just ask what they want and then leave – ask how their day has been, or comment on something in the office.” Watercoolers are also a good place to make conversation: “Everyone’s always after a break from work, so a chat by the watercooler is the perfect opportunity.” 

Body language is important – touch their arm and look at them a bit 

Now you’re talking, it’s time to start flirting. Ooh. James recommends subtly touching the arm or shoulder during your top quality watercooler chat: “Do it subtly and you’ll subconsciously be sending them signals,” he explains. “If they’re sat behind you, use the reflection of your computer screen to see if they’re checking you out. If they’re in your eyeline, a bit of a glance now and then subtly shows you’re interested without being intimidating.” Also, smile. But not in a really creepy, disturbing way. In a nice, friendly way. 

E-flirt

A devastatingly wry comment re: Jan from finance falling onto the scanner (or something similar) is a good place to start. “Keep it short, like a tweet, and it’ll be subtly ambiguous whether you’re just friendly or interested,” says James. “Don’t send massive long emails- that’s a bit intense- you just want to make sure got something in common, like a secret between the two of you. Which helps.” This is a good one if you’re working up to asking them for a drink, but aren’t quite there yet. Fair enough, it’s a daunting thing to do… 

Ask them out 

No wait, it’s not as scary as it sounds! Just mention there’s a really cheap/awesome/great lunch place you’ve just found and do they fancy going? “If they mention they really love, say, sushi – tell them you’re planning on getting some from that cool sushi place around the corner and ask them along,” James says. “That’s ambiguous because everyone likes a lunch partner, but it means you get them away from the office.” If they say yes then, in the words of William Shakespeare, BOOMTOWN.

If they say no, try once more 

Hey, they could be genuinely busy, so give it another go and if they turn you down again – it’s best to cut your losses. “At the moment I’m working with someone who likes someone at work, but won’t take the hint,” says James. “He reads into everything his colleague does, but it’s really best to move on if they say no.” They may just want to be friends, they may already have a significant other, or they may be an android.

To summarise: keep in mind that if someone likes you, they’ll make an effort. “If you show some interest and they’re interested, they’ll respond. If they don’t, they won’t,” he says simply. “You have to work with these people every day, so probably best to keep your dignity!”