Helping you mobilise your inner resources to achieve your dreams

From Sex and the Workplace to….Ex and the Workplace

Sex-page-0Last week saw Valentine’s Day arrive, and Cupid’s bow was no doubt in overdrive. Love was in the air and whilst most relationships find a way to keep the fuzzy, heady days of passion alight, for some couples, it’s just a fact of life that they don’t work out quite so well.

Last week, I spoke about relationships between co-workers in the same workplace, and whether they boosted morale and made business boom, or if they were something to be discouraged. This week, I want to look at when such relationships turn sour, and how to stop any personal conflict spilling over into your professional life.

Remember that your co-workers were not party to what’s gone wrong between you

Firstly, try and talk to your ex and agree to leave your personal issues at home.

It’s hard to stop your tensions from spilling over, even if you’re a consummate professional, particularly if you’ve to deal one on one with your ex, but it’s also hard for the rest of the staff around you to deal with any animosity.

couple arguing

Remember that your emotions are aimed at one person only, and that the rest of your team neither want nor deserve to know the intricacies of your personal life together. Think ‘team building’ rather than ‘Team Me’ or ‘Team Ex’. It may help you keep some distance between you and your ex within working hours.

Try and imagine your ex as someone in two halves: there’s the persona you had a relationship with – the ‘half’ that’s needling you – and there’s Joe/Jane Bloggs, the co-worker who has no impact on you whatsoever. Separating the two may help you deal with your ex civilly and in a professional manner; how you choose to think or deal with them outside of work is up to you.

Power struggles

It’s hard to keep conflict out of the picture when you’re both on an even keel and as equals at work, but what if one of you is above the other within the firm you work for, and therefore holds influence over your career?

If you believe there’s been some unfairness displayed, contact your HR department. It’s far better to deal with what you may perceive as singling out/revenge on a professional level, and discreetly, than airing your objections in a bitter, public confrontation, or as gossip around the staff room. If things become too unbearable, HR will be able to help with more drastic decisions, such as grievances or a move to another department. If you’re in this situation, and would appreciate impartial advice, contact me for career coaching help.

What if you run a business together?

Many couples start a business then bring their partners on board as it grows. It’s no surprise, therefore, that it’s common when such a couple divorce, that they still have to work alongside each other day in, day out, as business owners.

On top of that, they’re forced to show a united front, so as not to project uncertainty and unease amongst their workforce which could slow production and cause the business to suffer.

It is possible to work together, probably more so than in an environment where you both were employees, for the following reasons:

  • You’re used to the division of roles, and of pulling together to make something work
  • It’s unlikely any ensuing divorce has been sudden; you will most probably have learned how to keep your personal life out of the business’ day-to-day operations for some time
  • Conflict and resolution is something you’ll have had to do as part of your staff’s development, client management and pitching for new business – avoiding ugly confrontations will be natural
  • Your staff won’t be ‘friends’; you will have already enforced a workable distance in order to manage them, which should help keep any personal issues that threaten to spill over hidden from their view
  • Incorporating the good negotiating skills you’ll undoubtedly have from being a business owner, you should be able to arrive at a workable solution with your ex, so that any elements of your daily routine that may cause tempers to rise can be avoided or dealt with in another manner
  • Though your contact with each other won’t be as easy as before and your conversation may become more guarded, remembering all you’ve both put into your company will help you find ways to work round the situation – after all, is a short-term period of adjustment worth throwing away all those years of hard work?

I have been through such a situation myself and although more challenging for a short while, my ex-husband and I eventually worked through the period of uncertainty and awkwardness, arriving at an amiable working relationship. It’s fair to say that no one envisages at the outset what may happen if the relationship turns sour, when it’s exciting and going strong, but it’s not the end of the world if it happens.

With some professionalism, maturity and a mutual agreement to work past the problems that caused the end of the relationship, a more calm, harmonious working rapport can be reached.

If you’re in this position and would like management coaching to help ‘get through it’, contact me on 01302 220221.


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