We’ve all seen them, maybe been involved in one, but how do you professionally deal with an inter-office romance? In the beginning, the excitement and thrills are present, but how do you handle the relationship as it endures, and then, how do you deal with a break-up?
Commencing the relationship– You’ve been flirting with your co-worker, and subtle little hints have been noticed. The extra attention he pays to your schedule. All the times she brought you a coffee without being asked. The ‘chance’ coming together daily in the lunchroom or in the copy area. You have been ‘eyeing’ each other for days, weeks or maybe months. You feel the physical energy, and you’re sure the other person is experiencing it also, so what do you do?
Enjoy the company, the attention and, as long as neither of you are involved in another relationship, strike up a more personal conversation. Keep it simple at first to get the vibe of the other person’s notion of where this relationship is heading. If at anytime you feel an awkwardness or uncomfortable ambiance, inform the other person of your intentions and that you would like to remain friends. Don’t go down a path you are unsure, or uneasy, about.
Taking the next step- The flirting continues and the two of you decide to take things to the next level. The biggest question and concern is probably, do you make your relationship public? Some offices and workplaces have a solid policy against workplace relationships and romance. Some offices won’t even hire spouse, family members or girl/boyfriends. So before entering the relationship into a unrestricted status, check your company’s policy. Also, don’t forget, just because you don’t personally tell, or show the signs of being involved, your social media accounts and status (which co-workers and employees can possibly see) will give away the connection. So tread carefully, especially when making an update or posting the past weekend’s plans and who you were with.
Concealing the connection- When in a new relationship, all you want to do (especially women) is yell it from the mountaintops and have some girl-talk and share the romance, the sweet nothings being whispered in your ear. If you’re keeping the relation under wraps, talk to outside people away from work. If you’re open about the relationship, then share by all means. But keep the ‘behind-the-doors’ chat out of the lunchroom. Over sharing can create workplace animosity, jealousy and even termination if you misspeak in front of the boss or higher ups. So be careful about who is around the corner when you open your mouth.
The Break-Up Happens- What to do when the inter-office romance fails and the break-up is not amicable? Feelings are hurt, anger rears its ugly head and sometimes, revenge comes to surface. So how do you deal with this while trying to work and remaining calm?
Ignoring the person and situation is the best policy, but is also easier said than done. Distance yourself from the person, don’t take on projects involving the person and most importantly, don’t give into idle gossip. If the other person is speaking ill of you, disregard it. The first response is always going to be retaliation, but take the high road and be the better person. As the days go by, this advice will get easier and eventually the pain, gossip and person’s harassing words and presence will go away.