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Questions & Answers

How do you resolve conflict or deal with difficult situations on the job? Every week our expert Dr. Geertje Tutschka will answer your questions.

I fell in love with my married colleague. What should I do?

We are in the office ten hours a day or more. Most of us spend more time with our colleagues than with family and friends – no wonder we also find love there. 

However, romantic relationships at work are a taboo subject for most people. Colleagues and superiors don’t like them because they form certain alliances within a team and there are problems with promotions at the hierarchical levels – and, later on, difficulties can arise after the relationship ends. In the public sector or regarding labor law, married people used to not be placed in the same team and certainly not in reporting roles. The termination of a partner is often the only solution if the relationship doesn’t remain a secret.

It becomes more difficult when only one person is in love and the other person isn’t aware of it. If you go for it, you have to consider that (unwritten) office policies may put your job at risk. On the other hand, it always takes a lot of courage to give serious commitment to a new love.

But it probably isn’t that easy when the colleague is married. The difficulty is that the decision, which could affect the whole relationship system in the office, is only up to you.

My recommendation: keep silent.

Even it turns out that you have a chance, the judgment, the team pressure, and – of course – the empathy for the other half can, on top of all the other things, be too much.

Last but not least: it is something completely different if the whole thing is just a passionate affair. According to statistics, everyone knows of one “secret” office affair – even if just according to rumor. Even if the “risk-benefit calculation” is successful, the decision how this corresponds to one’s own value system must be decided by each individual.

About

Geertje Tutschka is the founder and CEO of CLP (Consulting for Legal Professionals), which supports lawyers in their careers around the world with here 25 years of expertise as a corporate lawyer and attorney in Germany, Austria, and the US. Her most relevant topic is leadership. The mother of three daughters is the author of numerous specialist books. Since 2016, she has led the German chapter of the International Coach Federation, the world’s largest association of professional coaches.

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