Today I’m answering a question about how an office love affair affects everyone — sometimes in a negative way.
My supervisor is having an affair with one of my coworkers. At first, I didn’t think the affair would last. It has, and they may even marry. They carpool to work and often eat lunch together. It’s clear to the rest of us that they discuss everything.
This means I can’t have a private conversation with my supervisor without my coworker learning what I’ve said, so forget my ever talking about the issues I have with her or presenting my side of things. Unfortunately, I’m the one who shares an office with her and has a job similar to hers — and she dislikes me. It’s nothing I’ve done; it’s just that she’s a queen bee type and I’m a threat.
As a result of all this, my recent job evaluations describe me as difficult to work with. This isn’t true, except with her.
I’ve tried to raise the issue with my supervisor’s manager, but he has a “hands off” approach. Also, he and his wife often get together in the evening with my supervisor and coworker. My coworker is enormously likable to everyone who doesn’t threaten her.
I’ve tried for four months to land a new job so I can get out of here. I’ve had no success, not even when I’ve explained my reasons for leaving to sympathetic job interviewers. I fear that my increasingly negative relationship with my supervisor may crush my chance to get a great job.
Your explanations for why you’re leaving may crush your job-seeking efforts. Never describe your current supervisor negatively when interviewing with a prospective employer. Even if you work for a true jerk, your interviewer may wonder if they’ll be the next supervisor you describe in harsh terms. Never air your current or former employer’s dirty laundry to a prospective employee. They’ll wonder if you’ll freely chat about their issues once they hire you.
If you’re asked why you want to leave a former employer, explain you seek a new challenge or that you’ve accomplished what you set out to do when you took your current or former job. Then, immediately turn the conversation to the job you hope to land or company you want to work for. Specifically explain what draws you to that job or company. If you can’t do that, you haven’t done enough pre-interview homework. When prospective employers meet job candidates who’ve clearly researched their organizations and jobs and make convincing arguments for why that job perfectly fits their talents and career aspirations, they often say, “These candidates wants us. We want them.”
While you’re still with your current company, take a fresh look at whether you can alter your behavior or attitude to better get along with Ms. Bee. Although you point your finger at her and an admittedly lousy situation, few stories have only one side, and you can only change what’s in your control — you. Your willingness to tell all when you meet a sympathetic interviewer leads me to suspect you come across as a victim to others. A focus on what’s wrong eats away at your spirit. Don’t forget that you have power, which lies untapped when you view any situation in only negative terms.
Next, I urge you to move quickly. Once a job situation badly deteriorates, the stress can damage both your career and your health, making it increasingly difficult to move on. Don’t let that happen.
Have a question for Lynne? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with subject “SheKnows” and she may answer your question (confidentially) in an upcoming piece on SheKnows.
© 2016, Lynne Curry. Lynne is an executive coach and author of Solutions and Beating the Workplace Bully, AMACOM. You can follow Lynne through her other posts on sheknows.com, via www.workplacecoachblog.com, www.bullywhisperer.com™ or @lynnecurry10 on Twitter.