The workplace can be a breeding ground for flirtations and office romances, and with the likelihood of an office romance or two on the rise, who couldn't use tips on how to work with an ex? With people spending more and more of their time at work, the notion that you should never date a coworker is becoming more and more unrealistic in a place where you spend the majority of your day. When an office romance goes south, don’t go searching the want ads for a new job just yet. Here are 7 tips for working with an ex...
1. Have «the TALK»
One of the best tips for working with an ex is having the talk. Before becoming official you and your significant other might both benefit by drawing up a post relationship prenup. Having an honest conversation and establishing a few rules or guidelines that both of you would adhere to post breakup might work out better for you in the long run, because it ensures that neither one of you are forced into an awkward situation later on down the road, like, sitting next to each other at the next 3 hour meeting. If you’ve already parted ways, a talk can still do you some good. Take your ex to the side (away from prying eyes and gossip-hungry coworkers) and explain that while it may be difficult, your relationship is done and you would like to try to be cordial colleagues. Establishing a positive and mature stance on what you would both do in the worse case scenario now, could allow you to avoid confrontation later, if and when you call it quits.
2. Keep It Professional
While I understand it may be hard, especially if the breakup wasn’t your idea, you need to be mature about this. Channel your inner Mrs. Manners and remind yourself that your ex is just another colleague now and as such should be treated like everyone else in the workplace, with decency and respect. This isn’t to say you should volunteer to spearhead a new project with him; rather, you can take the high road when it comes to working with him, using the same civility and cordiality you would any other coworker. Try to remember the good qualities you liked about them (He gives the most clear and concise presentations) and deal with him strictly on that level. This will help you move past your personal feelings sooner and look at him in a more objective light.
3. Focus on Work
Fact is, your job is just that — your job — and as such, it needs to be your main focus from 9-5. Check your emotions at the door and throw yourself into your work, channeling your energies into doing what you do even better. When your mind is occupied with work and each new task at hand, it leaves little time to dwell on «he who shall not be named.» Remember, there are plenty of hard working unemployed people out there that would make a great replacement for you, especially if the details of your office romance create a bad work atmosphere for the people around you. So try to make the weeks and months following a breakup the most productive by putting your nose to the grindstone, and you may just find yourself in line from a promotion.
4. Silence is Golden
While you may want to blab to everyone every sordid little detail of your relationship (he forgot your Mom's birthday, that insensitive jerk!), keeping a lid on your emotions (and your mouth) is key. Don’t air your dirty laundry at the office, which can be a breeding ground for gossip. Badmouthing your ex, discussing details of the relationship or breakup, and griping about your issues could not only create a hostile work environment for you and everyone in the break room, but it could also get you put on your boss’s radar for all the wrong reasons. Find a friend or family member outside the office to sound off to and confide in — no, your Facebook page doesn’t count as a friend — and you won’t be searching the classifieds or facing a write up any time soon.
5. A Change of Place
While it is completely unrealistic to hope that you can avoid seeing your ex at the office entirely, there are steps you can take to minimize your exposure to him. If you both shared the same lunch hour, try tweaking your schedule to take an earlier one. Little adjustments, like switching your usual route to the ladies room or getting your coffee in the cafeteria instead of the office break room, can make a big difference in how many times a day you have to pretend everything’s fine and minimizes the chances of an extremely awkward run in, or even worse, a break room break down.
6. Honesty is the Best Policy
Patience is a virtue you would do well to practice. Be honest and realistic with yourself. Recognize that this is going to take time and that you simply aren’t going to have the same relationship with your ex that you will with other colleagues, especially if you are nurturing hurt feelings and wounded pride. Don’t bottle up your emotions but don’t dwell on them either. Take measures to get over the break up but do it on a mature and private level. Muster up your courage, be strong and don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Go about your day as if it's business as usual and stick with your workplace routine. This will ensure things remain as normal as possible and will allow you to move throughout your day with the utmost poise and professionalism.
7. Know when to Ask for Help
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you can’t help but be trapped between a rock and a hard place with an ex at the office, especially if your ex refuses to play by the rules. While it is tempting to want to engage in equally low down methods of retribution (like telling all the ladies in accounting what his ACTUAL penis size is) doing so can only lead to disaster. DON’T stoop to his level. If you think his actions are breaching the bounds of professional decorum or are bordering on harassment, let your superiors know. Document any workplace impropriety (like that nasty email he sent you with the colorful language) as well as any efforts on your part squash the hate. Present them to the powers that be as objectively as possible and let them handle the situation from there.
Breakups suck, and breaking up with a coworker can make a bad situation even worse. Have you ever had to work with an ex? What tips would you utilize when it comes to working with an ex?