Pierre Mornell Managing People In today's more casual workplace, who gets hurt if a single, consenting CEO becomes involved with a staffer? Still, what about Harry and Sally themselves? A month ago he invited me to his place to watch movies. Most couples know that an interoffice romance goes against common sense, but they've chosen to ignore common sense and professionalism, as well as most conventional and unconventional wisdom. Sally hopes to find her soul mate, but at 35 she's completely focused on her career and devoted to building her reputation as an ace marketer in the high-tech industry.
What might have started for Sally as a sexual escapade may have rapidly become the primary focus of many of her hopes and dreams for the future. Harry is nobody's fool, and he knows that his time is running out. Even if this liaison does lead to something more enduring, continuing to deceive your current partners is a risky base on which to build a new relationship. Even if a lawsuit generates an insignificant settlement, the hidden monetary costs can be severe. On the other hand, if your feelings for this colleague are substantial and reciprocated then you both need to tidy up loose ends, in this case the partners you are deceiving. Today many sexual-harassment settlements and judgments spring from interoffice relationships gone sour. Yesterday sex was a private matter. For example, let's say that Ted, who is a year employee of Harry's company, a superstar in charge of product development, and one of Harry's most valued hires, begins to question Harry's judgment as the affair with Sally unfolds. The participant who expects to build a secure future with his or her paramour ends up rejected and hurt. Today the same scenario could likely end as a legal matter, with public accusations and a sexual-harassment suit. Still, what about Harry and Sally themselves? You appear to be taking a rather passive approach to your own destiny. The fallout is often damaging to both parties. He may still look good -- but for how much longer? This disparity of viewpoints can get even dicier. A month ago he invited me to his place to watch movies. Lawsuits also generate expenditures, and in today's litigious atmosphere the deeper the company's pockets, the more likely the lawsuit. Jilted partners sometimes later claim, often falsely, that they did not consent to the affair. There's another factor built into the scenario, which has to do with Harry's psychological state. We kissed and had sex the same night and the next morning we went to work as if nothing had happened. Pierre Mornell is a psychiatrist and consultant who helps companies evaluate and select high-level executives. Please e-mail your comments to editors inc. If you have a dilemma, send a brief email to mariella. If the rebuffed lover is the employee, he or she may have little recourse other than getting another job, moving to another city, or filing a lawsuit -- all of which I have seen happen. Sally is vice-president of marketing for Harry's company.
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Dr. Zhana Vrangalova on Consensual Non Monogamy - Question 1
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