Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton are still in that honeymoon phase, but that doesn’t mean working with your significant other is always easy. Gwen is returning to work on The Voice with her man just a few feet away.
And while they’re not the ordinary couple and the job is definitely not office work, many people do end up working with a boyfriend or a girlfriend.
Workplace advice pro and creator of Ask a Manager, Allison Green has some some tips for handling love in the workplace.
“What you should do is sit down with your [partner] and figure out how you’re going to (a) keep the relationship from being an issue for other people, and (b) keep work from being an issue in your relationship,” she says. “Don’t gross people out. No pet names, no PDA, no adoring looks, no acting like a couple in the office. Your goal is that you act so professionally that people forget you’re a couple.”
Also, be careful not to intrude in your partner’s work problems.
“No fighting each other’s battles. If one of you is having an issue with a coworker or a boss, the other one stays out of it,” Allison says. “Even if you would normally get involved if you weren’t a couple, you stay out of it anyway, because everyone will assume you’re acting out of bias and your credibility will suffer. Be clear with each other ahead of time that this is how you’re going to operate, so that you’re prepared when it happens. And it will happen.”
What if you’re fighting with your partner?
“If you’re not getting along, keep it out of the workplace,” Allison says. “Inflicting tension (or arguing or outright nastiness) on your coworkers is unfair to them. Do you tend to fight? If so, have a game plan ahead of time for how you’ll deal with working together when you want to kill each other.”
When you get home from your day at the office together, try to forget work.
“Make your home a work-discussion-free zone to whatever extent possible. If you spend all your time at home talking about work, bad things will happen. Not instantly (in fact, at first it will be fun), but eventually,” she says.
Overall, Allison says, “know ahead of time what you’re going to do if one of you is having a hard time at work — struggling in the job, not getting along with a boss, being warned that you’re in danger of being fired, etc.”
“It is very hard for a partner not to be affected by that when they are working in the same workplace, and it can end up ruining the not-struggling partner’s ability to stay there too,” she says. “It’s easy to think, ‘Oh, we’re both awesome at what we do, so that’s not going to happen,’ but it happens. Figure out ahead of time how you’re going to handle it professionally.”
Make sure you’ve got your eyes wide open about some hard realities of working with your significant other: You may hear unflattering comments about each other, and that will be uncomfortable.
“Go into this knowing exactly what you’re signing up for,” Allison warns.
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