Breaking up is never easy but things can get even more complicated if you work with your ex. It can be difficult to stay professional when dealing with an ex or to not let grief or sadness impact your productive output.
What makes such a situation more complicated than typical breakups is the fact that you are somewhat forced to see your ex on a daily basis. In other types of separations, you can try to overcome a broken heart by not being around your ex and look to forget about him or her; but this isn’t an option when working with your ex.
Don’t despair, it is possible for you to quickly move on from such a breakup and to stay focused on your job and career; even if you happen to work with or for your ex! In this article we will tell you how
Stay professional when working with your ex
You have to make a commitment to yourself to stay professional with your ex no matter how bad things may have gotten between you both. Once you step into your office building or work environment you cannot let your feelings or emotions get the best of you. I know that it can be extremely difficult to suppress your emotions, but it is absolutely necessary in order for you to stay professional and keep your job.
When talking about this very issue with Amelia a young professional that I help through private coaching sessions; I explained to her the importance of not talking about her issues to her ex in the work setting. Her breakup was unexpected and painful and she had to deal with the added resentment of finding out that she had been cheated on as the relationship was breaking down. She was unsure if she would be able to hold her composure when she would have to face her ex in her new job as physiotherapist; a job offer that she had gotten prior to the breakup, in part thanks to her ex’s recommendation.
In the event that her emotions would get the best of her, I suggested that she take her ex outside of the work environment perhaps during a lunch break in order to tell him how she really felt. She did, and immediately felt a lot better because she no longer had to bear the burden that she was carrying inside. They were able to talk things out after she shared her frustration and disappointment with him. As a result, she was able to quickly focus on her tasks and her ex also helped in facilitating an easy transition for her by not being too overbearing.
Don’t talk about your personal issues with co-workers
Working with your ex can give you a false sense of security or the illusion of a friendly or family atmosphere in the work setting. The lines between your personal life and professional outlook can be blurred and it can be easy or natural for you to involve your co-workers in the ups and downs of your relationship.
It is extremely important that you not involve your co-workers in your breakup when working with your ex. Getting co-workers involved will only create more drama, make it a lot more difficult for you to move on and also ruin everyone’s ability to be as efficient as they can be on the day to day.
Airing your dirty laundry may make you feel better immediately; talking or expressing our frustration and anger usually has a positive effect on our psyche, especially in the days following a breakup. However in this situation involving your co-workers will have medium to long term ramifications on your career and reputation in the work setting.
What if your ex is your boss?
I have encountered situations where people dated their boss and broke up but couldn’t or simply did not want to change jobs; either because the job market was tough and it was too difficult to find a similar or better opportunity; or simply because they loved their job and co-workers despite the fact that they had broken up with their boss.
The biggest challenge that you will probably have to face if you’re confronted with such a situation is in dealing with or managing your ego. If your ex broke up with you and you still have to be accountable to them in the work setting, it is often difficult not to get frustrated or snappy. You will have to be really mentally strong and try to dissociate your ex the co-worker from the one that was a significant other. Focus on finding pride in what you do and putting in maximum efforts for yourself; not necessarily for your boss.
On the contrary if you happen to manage your ex and they decided to breakup you will need to put your feelings aside and treat them with respect in the work setting. From this perspective you will need to treat your ex as every other employee that you manage and leave any personal feelings that you wish to discuss with them outside of the working hours.
Working with your ex is never easy but it is apparently a risk that you were both willing to make when you started seeing each other. It is only right for you to own up to it now and face the consequences head on, instead of running away from it and making things even more complicated.
Focus on your career
Ultimately the key to quickly moving on when working with your ex is to focus on your career. Your career will follow you for most of your life and will be a defining factor in your overall well-being for years to come. On the other hand you will be able to eventually overcome this breakup no matter how painful it may feel at the moment. If you are able to put more emphasis on your career than your ex, it will be easier for you to stay focused and do what you have to do to accomplish your professional aspirations.
To help you stay on track you should look into setting goals for yourself; a goal minded approach will enable you to stay accountable to yourself in the short, medium and long term. It will also help challenge yourself to push your own limits and accomplish your dreams. I have spoken to numerous people who have turned the grief and sadness of a breakup into a positive catalyst; one that has redefined their priorities and life aspirations. You can do the same!
If you have been broken up and are forced to see your ex everyday make sure that you don’t panic and let your emotions define you or your work. When you are outside of the work space tell your ex what’s on your mind and really let them have it if you have too. Once you have shared your frustration and anger, move forward and don’t look back. Stay professional and try not to involve your co-workers. Instead seek the help of people outside of work if you need to talk to someone about what you are going through.
If you the readers are going through a similar experience or working with your ex; please don’t hesitate to share it with us in the comments section below. Your story can provide further insights and give an added perspective to those who are currently working with their ex.
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