It’s uncomfortable to share an office with. let alone maintain a professional relationship with, an ex. How can you go to work each day, focus on your job while worrying about your ex-lover who’s just a cubical away? Just the thought of it probably gives you intense anxiety, especially if you’ve had a bitter breakup.
Sadly, people find themselves in these predicaments all the time, and they have no idea how to manage them. One classic example in Hollywood comes from reality television couple Christina Haack and Tarek El Moussa. The couple was married for more than seven years when they called it quits, but the show must go on, as they say in the movies.
According to Country Living, HGTV continued their contract, and the couple worked together, flipping houses for their reality series until they fulfilled their contract. It also helped them to co-parent their two children cordially. So, there’s proof that you can work together with an ex and still make the best of it. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy.
Seven Ways to Have a Professional Relationship After Ending a Workplace Romance
It’s taboo to date someone you work with, and according to a study mentioned by HR Daily Adviser, more than 39 percent of employees have dated someone at their job before. While it’s estimated that 30 percent get married, what about the other nine percent?
They must learn to work together or move to another job. Since the workplace has become a breeding ground for starry-eyed entanglements, you need to know how to handle the situation should you be one of the unlucky ones who do not find true love.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are working with an ex, you might need a few pointers to make sure things are smooth sailing. Here are a few tips for you to consider.
1. Set a Precedence Early When You Cross From Professional Relationship to Personal
It would be best to have some tough conversations when you work with an ex. You need to set a presidency before entering such a situation as it’s navigating choppy waters. Should you become involved with someone at work, you need to have candid conversations about how things will be should you call it quits.
If you both act like children and are bitter with one another, then it’s going to put the others at your job in an uncomfortable position. Make sure that you maintain professionalism and treat them the same as others. Sure, you can handle any disagreements after you clock out, but don’t drag that stuff into your job.
This is one of the many reasons why some companies forbid anyone from being romantically involved, as it just causes too many issues.
2. Focus On Your Work
You go to work to make money to support yourself, so you need to remember why you’re there in the first place. It’s not a vast dating pool but rather a position to make a living. Maintaining a professional relationship isn’t easy, but you can simplify things by throwing yourself into your job.
It would help if you compartmentalized your emotions at work. The last thing you want to do is let your job performance slip, which can make you susceptible to disciplinary action. Never lose sight of the fact that the workplace is competitive, and you need to stay on top of your game.
Remember, the business world changes rapidly, and you can’t let your education and experience fall by the way over a broken heart. Your heart will mend, but you still need to make money to live.
3. Stay Away from Drama
The gossip mill works twice as hard when your officemates witness something as juicy as a breakup. However, one of the keys to maintaining a professional relationship is not to get dragged into such games. If you need to discuss your relationship, make sure you do it after hours.
Be mindful of the other person during work-related social functions, and you must follow guidelines that show respect for one another. One of the most important things is never to discuss the breakup or the situation with your coworkers, as you’re putting them in a tough spot. You don’t want to put that coworker in a position where they feel like they must choose sides.
4. Be Professional in Every Relationship at Work
Respect is a little word that has a vast meaning. Working with an ex is not easy, but you must make the best of it. If you have a lot invested in your career, you don’t want to blow it over a relationship gone awry.
While you may be the one in the right regarding the breakup, you can easily taint your reputation at work by bringing in personal drama. If you don’t talk about it, don’t wear your emotions on your sleeve, and focus on your job, then your coworkers will soon forget that you were a couple. It can take a lifetime to build a career, but you can destroy it in as little as five minutes.
Never gossip or talk bad about anyone at your job, whether they’re your ex or not. It’s going to be so tempting to vent about things, but you must maintain your professionalism.
5. Avoid Communicating Online
Most companies have ways to communicate both on and offline. However, people tend to feel freer to air their grievances online with a screen in-between them. This airing is a bad idea for many reasons, mainly because you create a digital record that can follow you later.
Additionally, if you air your dirty laundry in the workplace out in the open, you’re creating a hostile work environment for others. Working with your ex is never easy, but the other people are innocent bystanders. It would help if you remembered to maintain a professional relationship.
6. Always Take the High Road in Your Post-Breakup Professional Relationship
Communicating with one another may be a challenge as you cannot control your ex, and they cannot control you. However, even if they want to drag your name through the mud, you must always take the high road. When someone repeats something terrible your ex said about you, counteract it with positivity.
The quickest way to allow office gossip to die is to combat that negativity. Gossipers want the latest story and the juiciest tale, and if you give them nothing, they will move on. If they tell you something your ex said about you, you tell them something nice about them.
For instance, Suzie couldn’t wait to run and say, “Your ex just told us that you lied and cheated on them, and that’s why you broke up. Is it true?” You can counteract something like this by saying, “I am so sorry you heard that, but I choose to remain civil and keep our relationship private.”
You must choose your words wisely as you don’t want to feed into the gossip mill, nor do you want to get into a game of he-said, she-said.
7. Tread Lightly if You Report to Your Ex
What’s even more challenging than working with your ex? When you happen to report to them directly. How can you maintain a professional relationship when your boss is the one who broke your heart? A situation like this can mess with the productive work environment, putting your job on the line.
First, you should talk to your ex’s superior about the situation. An upper manager may need to have your report to someone else for a period, or you can have candid conversations about how you two will conduct yourselves. However, this is a situation that you probably don’t want to handle alone unless you’re being entirely civil.
Guidelines for Keeping Your Professional Relationship Separate from the Office Romance
Dr. Jane Greer posted an article on Psychology Today regarding office romance. She suggests you follow the following guidelines should you get involved with someone at work.
- Think twice before you jump into a relationship at your place of employment.
- Always have an exit plan in place.
- Use discretion so that the entire workplace isn’t involved.
- Never let your emotions get in the way of your job.
- Never break the law regarding love or your money.
- Check the policies regarding employee dating and mingling before you enter into a romance at work.
Final Thoughts Ways to Have a Professional Relationship With an Ex
If the breakup was bitter, it might be beneficial to move to another position or job. While you try to remain civil and have a good relationship, the other party must work towards this goal. It can be pretty uncomfortable to spend eight to ten hours a day in a place where there’s contention and animosity between you and a coworker.
Not everyone will handle a break-up similarly. But the truth is–some folks become vindictive and mean. You don’t want to jeopardize your professional standing by a relationship gone wrong, as you’ve worked too hard to get where you are today.
Keep your superiors informed of what’s going on. Then do your best to maintain a mindset that you’re there to do a job and go home. Adjusting your perspective can help you maintain a professional relationship at work regardless of the presence of your ex.