Occupational Stress A toxic work environment creates real distress. We help manage workplace conflict between employees’ or between employees and management by teaching both conflict resolution and communication skills as well as leadership and management skill building.
THE DIFFICULTY OF WORKPLACE AFFAIRS
One of the most common situations Dr. Paul Standal finds people bring to his office for help are men or women who have become involved in a workplace affair that has gone bad. Put a group of adults into a confined space. Mix in shared time and experiences, common interests and mutual goals. Add a pinch of physical and emotional attraction. Have unclear boundaries and personal needs that are not being met at home. Give it some time to develop. Voila! You have a surefire recipe for workplace romance. Considering the amount of time and energy people invest at work, it is natural to develop close attachments with co-workers. Some of those attachments lead to romantic involvement. Dr. Standal works with the married men and women in which one of the partners has had an affair that started at the office. He also helps single men or women in emotional distress in the aftermath of a workplace affair with a married partner.
Research shows that people are more likely to date co-workers than anyone else. More than 70 percent of single employees become romantically involved with someone at work over the course of their careers. Experts say that the workplace is the main place for married people to meet affair partners and carry out extramarital liaisons.
Office romances can be risky, spelling havoc, both emotionally and professionally, especially when there is a power differential between the partners. Affairs between a supervisor and their subordinate are especially problematic because they lead to increase claims of favoritism, discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation. At best they can cause awkward situations if and when the romance ends. When one or both of the people in the affair have a family, the situation becomes very distressing, with feelings of guilt and shame mixed with impossible no-win decisions having to be made at times. One positive outcome, however, can be identifying and repairing what might be lacking in the marital relationship.
The key to keeping professionalism while having an office romance is to manage the boundaries between your work and personal lives. Know your company’s policies. Many companies have non-fraternization policies. Keep office interactions on a professional level. Do not mix alcohol overuse with your professional life. Never engage in public displays of affection, exchange provocative voice mails or e-mails, or openly discuss your intimate relationship. Discuss how you both will keep your personal relationship from undermining your professional goals. It can be a high-stakes game, fraught with many pitfalls and difficulties, so make the decision to cross over the line from friendship into romance carefully. If things “go south” as often they do, do not hesitate to give Dr. Standal a call for support and resolution.
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