Office Affairs: Who cares?

I think it’s safe to say, office affairs are relatively common. While having an affair isn’t exactly an occupational requirement, it could definitely turn into an occupational hazard. Businesses rely on their employees to act according to their specific code of conduct, as in: a well-organized, respectful and collaborative environment (per workable.com/templates). Even industries that cater to sex: strip clubs, brothels and the like, have a code that must be followed to secure the protection and safety of their investments. The economic bottom line is serious biz in any sector.

No matter which field; how small or large the industry–there will be opportunities for personal collaboration. Plenty. Close proximity to colleagues, such as: one-to-one meetings, shared projects, business luncheons, in-house social functions and traveling to further a company’s goals, all help create and stimulate situations ripe for oversharing. Working in such an intimate setting, days, months, and years on end; can unquestionably foster next level relationships. Across the professional board, infamous stories of company parties gone wild are oft-told and in abundance. Too much stress, alcohol, and assorted whatnot collide to form the perfect storm for indiscretions initiated in broom closets, on balconies, the boss’s office or wherever else the tumble lands. 

In any work sphere, it’s easy to see how lines can become blurred. The flipside: it’s much harder to step back once that line has been double-crossed.

Since this topic fuels water cooler exchanges and the reach is far and wide; it deserved a survey. Four questions were asked to gauge “Who cares?” about office affairs. Turns out, most do.

  1. Would you view your colleagues differently if you knew they were having an office affair?
  2. How would you treat their S.O. (not the affair partner) at a company function?
  3. If their affair was impacting your job negatively, would you speak up?
  4. What do you think about office affairs overall?

Answers:

  1. The majority responded: Yes. No explanation was included, just a simple yes. One said: No, you never know what their situation is at home.
  2. 99% said: Respectfully, no different, or the same. 1% replied: I would avoid them.
  3. 100% replied: Yes.
  4. Some answers given were: Wrong, disruptive. Not good. Self-control is a good trait. Office romance, yes; office affairs, not a healthy choice. Best if discreet.

To tag on to the above, I spoke with an acquaintance not long ago who mentioned his married uber-wealthy, muckety-muck boss was having an affair with, you guessed it, his assistant. He said it was very uncomfortable for those in the workplace. This makes everyone an accomplice of sorts: an unfair imposition at best.

Another perspective was acquired from my go-to marriage and family therapist, Cathy Chambliss.

“About 25 percent of the affairs I see in my practice start at work. Most of the time workplace affairs are kept secret because people are afraid they could lose their jobs, or the affair could complicate their work environment. One problem with these type of affairs is; if you decide you want to stay married, and your spouse has knowledge of your affair, you will most likely be asked to quit your job, or be asked to transfer. Of course, leaving or transferring can have a large impact on your career. These are some of the unintended consequences of an affair at work.”

Consequences. It’s almost a given there will be consequences. Whether on the down-low or conducted boldly, an office dalliance can lash back in a multitude of ways. Ideally, we hope our work domain runs smoothly, maybe not perfectly, but at least smoothly. Paychecks depend on it. Emotions are attached to money, and of course, affairs. Both incite reactions. This can be a lethal combination–just ask anyone who’s lost their fortune in the ugliest of ways because of infidelity. Not to mention, other areas affected. The statement below sums up a few of those areas. It was submitted by “anonymous” to the comment section of a Psychology Today article dated August 22, 2017, re office affairs.

… stealing from their spouse (time, affection, effort, money spent)

Stealing, that’s a big word–and appropriate. It’s not a word you want to hear business-wise, much less, personally. There are plenty of cautionary tales about the fallout from infidelity: most, none too pretty. The laundry list of adverse reactions is never ending, seriously, never-ending. Here’s a sampling: psychological, emotional, financial damage; broken homes; displaced children; abuse, and enough madness and mayhem to warrant police intervention, contentious lawsuits, and inconvenient court dates. Of course, let’s not forget: arson, dismemberment, and murder. All real. Too real.

Now allow yourself a moment of reflection.

So, to summarize: Before attempting a new “opportunity”, understand this particular interface will surely not reduce expenses or necessarily improve efficiency in the long run. A negative ROI is more likely. Be mindful of the possibility of bitter low-hanging fruit.

A reasonable intelligence quotient got you the job, tap into your emotional intelligence to help you keep it.

 

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