Interpersonal EDGE: Sexual Tension Complicates Workplace
Saturday, August 28, 2010

By Dr. Daneen Skube

Tribune Media Services
Q. I work with a guy and can tell we are both extremely attracted to each other. We are both married and I don't want an affair. How do I handle the sexual tension?
A. A workplace flirtation can put more spice in your job and more spring in your step. Workplace affairs, however, can ruin careers.
Married or unmarried, unless you intend to say "I do" to more than sex in the supply closet, you're risking your professional reputation and job.
The worst thing to do with a lot of sexual tension with a coworker is to pretend it isn't going on. You will both find yourselves creeping toward intimate conversations, lunch, drinks and (oops) a hotel room.
Our jobs usually involve a fair amount of mundane, tedious work. Our boredom can lead us to spend time fantasizing about our coworkers as a sort of emotional espresso. If you are using sexual fantasies to make your job worthwhile, you probably want to take the risk to ask for more interesting opportunities rather than a date.
One question to ask yourself is what do you perceive this guy to provide that you don't feel like you're getting at home? When I work with clients who are married, I suggest a way to affair-proof their marriage - notice behaviors you find irresistible in coworkers. Now go home, and ask your spouse for that behavior. If your spouse doesn't know what you want, I guarantee the cute coworker at work will look better and better.
To be proactive and respectful of yourself and your male coworker, pick a time in the office when you have no prying eyes or ears. Let him know that you really enjoy his company and believe he enjoys yours as well. Tell him that for you your job is your priority and you don't want to be uncomfortable around him. Then let him respond. 
In today's hypersensitive, politically correct environment saying less rather than more protects both you and your coworker. He should get the hint. You can then return to enjoying him as a coworker without worrying about being seduced into an office affair.
Q. I have a coworker who keeps increasing the volume of his voice if you don't agree with him. What should I do?
A. Walk away. He'll soon learn he loses his audience when he raises his volume.  
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker. You can contact Dr. Skube at or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.INTERPERSONAL EDGE. DISTRIBUTED BY TMS
This column was originally printed in the August 29, 2010 - September 11, 2010 edition.

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