5 top tips for ending a workplace relationship tactfully and professionally

Legally speaking, there are no restrictions on workplace relationships – and given the fact that you spend the majority of your week in the workplace – it’s no surprise that they are fairly common. An average of 6 in 10 people will have a relationship or something similar with somebody they work with, however if things don’t go according to plan, ending a relationship at work can be tricky and awkward. It could even cause further discomfort or issues in the workplace. With this in mind, there are some tactical tips that you can take on board.

  1. Don’t tell them on work time

This one probably goes without saying, but break ups are sensitive and should be handled with the utmost care and respect. Ending a relationship at work can not only cause embarrassment for your partner but could result in an argument. No professional environment is the right place to have this discussion and it should be dealt with in private. The last thing you want to end up with, on top of it all, is a disciplinary for causing a scene.

  1. Monitor your behaviours at social events

Once the deed is done, it’s important to acknowledge the path with your ex-partner is likely to cross. Not only in the office, where it may be easier to act professionally, but also at events or meetings. The most important thing to do is remain sensitive to your partner, act professionally and don’t allow anybody else to feel awkward in your presence. Depending on the type of break up it may actually be beneficial to avoid each other altogether. Your behaviour during the post-break-up period will be scrutinised so just be careful of your actions. Worst case scenario is to be caught doing something inappropriate that could cause offense or upset at the Christmas party, for example.

  1. Don’t gossip

As with relationships, people tend to have a lot of friends or closer relations with the people they work with – given the fact they spend so much time together. Therefore, the need to gossip, discover information or actually, even just to talk about your feelings is there. The difficult thing about working in the same place as your ex, is that they likely have the same friends and relationships, so it can be considered unfair to bend the ear of your colleagues. It’s best to stay out of the rumour mill and politely decline to talk about your situation whilst at work. If you have good friends within the company, choose a more discreet time and place to talk.

  1. Ask to move positions or departments

Depending on factors such as: why you broke up, how your relationship is post-break-up, and how closely you work together – you may want to consider a slightly more extensive form of avoidance other than just being polite around the office. Some instances – for example, if your partner was your boss – need to have tighter resolutions. If you find that your split is causing you stress, affecting your day-to-day work, or is making you uncomfortable – don’t be afraid to ask to move position or department. It may seem drastic, but your happiness is more important.

  1. Talk to HR

Most importantly, relationships are extremely tough for both parties. Actually, sometimes ending a relationship can be the most difficult part. It’s advisable to take some time for yourself and speak to someone if you’re feeling down. As mentioned above it’s not ideal to start these conversations with people you work with – the HR team however are a different story. It is the HR teams’ job to support and aid you at work, so if you are feeling down, set up an appointment and have a chat – it can make all of the difference.

Our family law team are specialists in separation and divorce. Get in touch if you require any legal representation or advice.