Dear Adam & Eve: Help! My professional life is miserable. For several months I dated someone that I work with. The relationship started out nicely, but over time, we learned things about each other that made it impossible for us to continue to go out together.
After we stopped seeing each other, he became very vindictive. He has never threatened to harm me, but he makes my work environment extremely difficult. He will intentionally do things to make my work look bad or to create extra work when it is not necessary.
What can I do to get along with this person during work hours? I don't want to quit my job. _ Confused
He says: If this guy hasn't stepped over the line of workplace harassment then he is hovering closely at its seamy borders. No person deserves to have their work life made miserable by human predators of any variety.
If you have a good relationship with your boss, and assuming he is both professional and ethical, then notifying him of this situation is the obvious choice of action. He cannot only help defend you, but he can exercise his supervisory powers to set workplace rules and arrange assignments to minimize the possibility of future sabotage. When you talk with him, make it clear that you don't want revenge _ just peace-of-mind.
Assuming that you cannot talk to your manager (or the worst of all possible worlds _ your former boyfriend is your manager), then you should begin to document each incident in detail to a private file. You must try to develop concrete evidence that this person is the culprit, or else he may very well successfully play the role of the innocent victim if this case ever goes public.
With your documentation in hand, meet with your co-worker and let him know that you want a good platonic and professional relationship, and you are willing to do your part. At the same time, notify him that if there is one more incident like the ones in your file, you will seek the advice of an attorney who is skilled in workplace harassment matters. Then do it.
Contact a local women's support group for attorneys who will talk with you at little or no charge. _ Adam Garrett
She says: Business environments of any kind can at times become incestuous. Whenever you spend eight to ten hours per day with a group of people, you develop personal and intimate relationships.
In most cases, these relationships can be quite fulfilling because they are bred out of a common ground, but when they end, they usually spell disaster for the working association the two individuals once shared.
This is the time when both of you need to consider your professional responsibilities as a priority and put your personal differences aside. This is not an easy task, however, because chances are, the workplace is the only environment where both of you get an opportunity to vent your anger. It sounds like your working partner cannot handle the real adult world of relationships taking their course.
If you avoid stooping to his level of immaturity and rise above this game playing, you will look like the good guy to your co-workers, while he will be labeled as a troublemaker.
You should also utilize your corporate structure to state professional grievances when you have a problem with his work habits. Do this after you have tried to discuss the problem with him outside the workplace.
If he refuses to back down, tell him that you will take advantage of your new-found professional attitude and speak to your supervisor about the problem. Chances are that this appearance of independence and security will show him that he cannot manipulate you, and he will quickly back down. _ Eve Morgan
Write to Adam & Eve at: Editors Release, P.O. Box 10309, St. Petersburg, FL 33733. Letters cannot be acknowledged, and letters selected for printing may be edited. All names will be held confidential.
1993 Editors Release Inc.