Romantic attraction in the workplace can create problems, especially if the relationship goes south, according to a 2009 study, “Responding to Workplace Romance: A Proactive and Pragmatic Approach” in “The Journal of Business Inquiry.” In addition to possible sexual harassment charges, loss of productivity, gossip, violations of privacy and possible workplace violence, acting on attraction toward a married coworker can end a marriage and damage your career.
Focus on the Job
A little romantic tension can increase your creativity and teamwork, note management consultants David Eyler and Andrea Baridon in “More Than Just Friends” for Psychology Today. Remember that you are in the office to work, though, so maintain appropriate boundaries, such as limiting physical contact to handshakes and avoiding intimate life details. If the coworker indicates that he’s interested in you on a personal basis, remind him that you value your working relationship and want to keep things open and above board. If you have questions about whether a specific action is inappropriate, ask yourself if you would act that way with your partner or your parents watching.
Redirect Your Attention
If you find yourself fantasizing about your married coworker, redirect your attention to more appropriate thoughts, such as your sweetheart, schoolwork, a work task or a pressing deadline. Remind yourself that the coworker is married and that acting on your attraction will hurt more people than just you and the coworker, advises psychologist Marie G. McIntyre in “Dangerous Workplace Romances” on her website. Picture the coworker standing with her family and consider how they would feel if they knew what you were thinking. If the coworker is significantly older than you, consider expending your romantic attention on your peers.
Change Your Work Situation
If you can’t focus on work when the coworker is around, ask your supervisor for a change in your work situation, such as switching departments or work hours. Confidentially explain the situation and ask for assistance in avoiding duties that place the two of you alone in a working situation. Schedule meetings with the coworker in public areas. If the situation becomes too difficult to handle, it might be time to seek a different job, suggests marriage enrichment instructor Nancy C. Anderson in “Guard Against Workplace Affairs” for CBN.com.
Confess Your Attraction
If you haven’t discussed the situation with your married coworker, do so. Your coworker might not be aware of your attraction and could be instrumental in reducing your fascination. Emphasize your conviction that any relationship outside of the business arena is wrong. Ask the coworker to help reduce temptation by not sharing personal information, meals or other non-business activities with you.
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