Getting Involved With Someone At Work

by Susan Jackson - Date: 2006-12-19 - Word Count: 1359 Share This!

We've all heard about developing affairs in the workplace that lead to disaster - the bottom line is that they're true. Two of the interesting aspects of this type of affair are that we often see a male executive focusing his attention on a lower grade worker, a female that would be impressed with his power and money. The other aspect has to do with age, which can work male to female or female to male in which there is a noted age difference.

Many times, the office affair is something that "just happens". In this scenario, people spend time together, may go on business trips together, or become friends in the workplace first. Then as time passes, it soon becomes obvious that an attraction has developed. Again, this attraction may be for the person's position in the company, his or her hard work ethics, or any number of considerations.

Yes, for some people, the thought of an office affair is kind of romantic, thrilling, and a bit dangerous. If the individual were greedy, he or she may be looking for a way to move up in the company, thus flat out using the other person. To give you an idea of how serious office affairs are, consider that approximately 70% of all single workers will at one time or another becomes romantically involved with someone at work. In fact, dating amongst co-workers is quite prevalent, although different from an affair.

The most important thing if you are considering an office affair - the risks outweigh the rewards many times over. This means that you might have spent years in college earning a specialty degree, as well as fallen in love with your husband or wife, only to put everything at risk with an office affair. Then, there is the risk added to the company itself.

Many companies have very strict internal policies about dating and affairs. If such an affair were to leak out to the public and one or both individuals were high-ranking officers of the company, you can only imagine the destruction to the businesses' reputation. The last thing you want is to cause any type of public scandal, which would not just affect your job, but also the success of the company based on sales and the stock market.

If you look back over the past 10 years, there have been numerous businesses affected with situations of infidelity in the workplace. For instance, judges have lost seats on the bench, attorneys have been removed from high profile trials, school principals have been fired, and the list goes on. Then you have yet another factor associated with an in-office affair.

Let's say you and another employee were to start up an affair. At first, the cheating would be adventurous and just downright fun. Passing each other in the hallway while exchanging unnoticed winks or sitting beside one another in an important meeting just added to the thrill of the game. For a while, things are going fine but then it happens. You decide you want the relationship to move forward, possibly developing into something extra special while the man wants nothing more than fun. Before long, the two of you are at each other feeling, frustrated, and people begin to notice.

Because there is daily interaction, the business begins to suffer. Communication breaks down, you side step in the hallway to avoid bumping into one another, and the overall situation has become a serious problem. Career complications from a workplace affair can be tremendous depending on how the two people handle various circumstances but keep in mind that does not necessarily avoid legal issues.

Okay, now here's yet another problem with having a workplace affair. In this scenario, we will say that you are the woman, working for one of the Vice Presidents as his Executive Assistant. You love your job and perform your functions well, make decent money, and intend to stay with the company for many years to come. One day, the VP shows some interest in you with a touch on the arm and a wink. Finding him to be a fascinating and handsome man, you feel flattered.

Over the course of the next few months, the flirtations continue although the intensity is building. Before you know it, the two of you are in a hotel room, which now becomes a regular Friday night scene. The problem however is that you're totally, unaware that the Executive Assistant working for the President of the company is very close friends to the wife of your boss, the VP. Feeling she must be honest, protecting her dear friend, she tells her of the suspected affair. Upon hiring a private investigator, everything is brought out into the open and it's ugly.

Another possible issue when having an affair in the workplace involves promotions and raises. Your entire life, you have worked exceedingly hard to get ahead. You are a driven individual, determined to make something great of your life. You do everything asked, work long hours, keep focused, and have proven to be an outstanding employee. Your determination and dedication have paid off and you're slowly moving your way up the corporate ladder. While the promotions and raises are truly deserved because you've earned them, your affair with the individual in Human Resources is causing many eyebrows to be raised.

Look, career complications exist anyway but when you add in the factor of a workplace affair, real problems will arise. Other potential risks of an office affair include:

- Co-workers becoming jealous, actually trying to sabotage your work or position within the company

- You now become the focus of nasty gossip

- In addition to your own quantity and quality of work suffering, co-workers may also experience problems, feeling as if they work in a demeaning environment

- Again, any type of preferential treatment to include promotions, raises, or perks could damage your career dramatically

- The last thing you want is being know for sleeping with anyone and everyone as a way of succeeding

- Depending on the situation, you might be asked to move jobs as a means of separating you and your lover, which could mean losing a position you love and being put into a position you aren't fond of working

- People fear the ramifications should the two of you stop seeing one another and especially if things turn ugly from the wife or husband of the lover finding out

- You might even be faced with someone vindictive, perhaps going off the deep end to harm you from a career standpoint as mentioned, or perhaps cause physical harm

- Typically, co-workers will look at your work as sub-par

When it comes to an office romance, be wise. If you and the other person are married - hands off. Simply use self-control and if necessary, ask to be removed to another position within the company. Chances are, avoiding this person completely would be hard, but you need to maintain integrity and dignity, refusing to put you, your family, the other person and his or her family, co-workers, and the company's reputation at risk.

One of the biggest mistakes is falling for a person in charge, again as with the Executive Assistant and the Vice President. Having an affair with someone when just one person is married is bad enough but when both of you are married, it is simple a slap in the face to your professionalism and to your family. No matter the size of the company and no matter how liberal the company policies suggest, you can be 100% sure that people talk.

Okay, if you insist on having an affair in the workplace, at least make some good decisions by keeping the affair quiet and low key. This means not going to lunch together, never going behind closed doors together, not showing any public display of affection, and never buying each other flowers, cards, or gifts. In addition, avoid using the company's email system for two reasons. First, this is not your email address but one that belongs to the company. Second, most companies scan emails so your little secret will likely get out quickly. Most importantly, if you insist on having a workplace affair, never use the office as your place of rendezvous.

Susan Jackson offers free advice to anyone who has suspicions -and needs to know more about how to catch a cheating partner From collecting evidence, to keeping your suspicions secret, to the emotional side of dealing with these difficult times.
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