Tips for Staying Focused
When Work Isn’t Exciting

Read this post if you’re:

  • Searching for a more fulfilling career
  • Feeling like the “thrill is gone” when it comes to your job
  • Looking for tips for staying focused at work
  • Aching to reignite your passion for your work


We all love the hum of productivity! When you’re closing deals and making sales, do you get a little high? A little thrill?

What about the first time you meet a new prospect? How does it feel to share the details of your business and ask how you can help? That first pitch conversation is just the best, isn’t it?

Even leading meetings and training new team members can be thrilling.

How about sharing your vision, coming up with a new plan, or implementing a strategy to tackle a problem? Maybe you’re hosting an event, running a board meeting, or taking your job to the next level—adrenaline is high and you’re engaged and “buzzing.”

We all love our jobs and feel satisfied during the exciting times—when we’re really working, closing, signing and winning! It might be challenging, yes, but it’s also fun as hell. Those moments are what drive us and propel us.

What about the rest of the time, though?

Why Work is a Bummer

What about the days when you have to enter numbers off your contact sheets into your database, work on your marketing plan for next year, or file tax forms? Some Analyzer personality types might really enjoy viewing the website metrics or planning for the next fiscal year, but the thought of leading a dynamic sales meeting leaves them quaking in their boots.

Energizers, on the other hand, might feel that dealing with data and crunching numbers is absolute torture! How stifling and miserable! Energizers shine when working with others and getting them psyched up for the next idea.

If you’re a Regulator, maybe you love the reassurance in knowing how everything’s working. You probably like having control, but when it comes to minutiae, you find yourself less engaged. Cooperators, too, may enjoy seeing how the team can share a vision and plan for upcoming events, but being sequestered away in an office to look over spreadsheets just becomes depressing.

Each different personality type brings different strengths to their team. No one can do it all—and it’s different strokes for different folks. The thing that makes your heart leap and gives you a high at work might give someone else anxiety or feel like drudgery.

So how do you keep the thrill alive and love your job, even when you don’t love the task at hand?

Finding Your Happy Place

No matter where you fit on the C.A.R.E. personality profile or what your Myers-Briggs type is, one thing’s for sure: not everyone is great at every aspect of a job. There are Regulators, Analyzers, Cooperators and Energizers and they play off each other and work together in an interdependent way.

Unfortunately, in small offices, you might only have one or two employees—maybe you even work solo. Unless you can afford an assistant whose Cooperator-Analyzer skills play perfectly with your Regulator-Energizer profile, chances are, every so often you’re going to end up facing a task you don’t love.

During one of the most productive times in my career, I was swamped with work. I was in the throes of working with several clients, finishing a book with Judith, and expanding our curriculum at Wright Graduate University. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t take well to plodding along at tasks I don’t find stimulating. I’m not the type of guy who loves doing paperwork and analyzing research. I love learning and discovering new things, but I prefer when it’s hands-on and stimulating, not poring through data.

Somehow, during this time when I was faced with paperwork and challenges, I found my most productive moments through learning to balance my work with mindfulness and meditation.

The Power of Meditation

When I was at the height of my productivity, I was spending a third of my time meditating. Twenty minutes of each hour, I’d lock my office door and work on my TM (transcendental meditation). The 40 minutes that followed, I experienced hyper-focused productivity. Because I was operating in a state of mindfulness and focus, I was able to achieve more in 40 minutes of focus than I could normally get done in an hour of distractions.

Now I know this might not be completely realistic for everyone. You might even cringe at the thought of closing your door to meditate for 20 minutes every hour. It’s not something I still do regularly, but it IS something I recommend for times when you’re facing major deadlines. It’s one of my most important tips for staying focused at work.

Turn off all distractions and learn to tune out the things that turn your head during your workday. Instead of going to the watercooler or the bathroom, or getting up to sharpen a pencil or straighten a pile of papers, push yourself to really focus. Let go of soft addictions like Facebook and social media, and keep your mind as focused as possible on the task at hand.

If you feel concentration is still a problem, then get expert coaching or instruction on how to meditate properly. This will help you learn to up-regulate and down-regulate your emotions so you can react to work situations with a high level of control and awareness. Learn to strengthen these skills and you’ll become more socially and emotionally intelligent.

Maybe, on the other hand, you’re the type of person who really loves getting absorbed in data and you don’t mind the spreadsheets—but you hate facing sales calls and meetings. Mindfulness can help you just as well. Instead of being bogged down with anxiety and “what if” scenarios before you get to a meeting, practice staying in the moment and facing the situation as it comes. Be present and in the moment and you’ll find yourself filled with less dread and despair.

Being engaged fully in what you’re doing (rather than stressing out about what’s to come or ruminating on the past) can keep you in the game and hitting home runs at the office, even when the job you’re facing isn’t your favorite.

We all have aspects of our job we love and some that just get under our skin. When in doubt, revisit your larger vision and goals for your career. Each task, no matter how basic, boring or stressful should be moving you toward that bigger picture. It’s learning to balance your reactions with the things you don’t love to do and keeping yourself in a present, mindful state that will help you love your job each and every day.

For more tips for staying focused at work and bringing out your best at work and in your day-to-day life, join us in Chicago for our next  More Life Training. You’ll learn how to find the positive in your life and bring out your strongest, most engaged self.

Check Out Lifestyle Podcasts at BlogTalkRadio with Wright Living on BlogTalkRadio.

Want to boost your career? If you’d like to learn more about what the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential has to offer check out:

Want to improve your sales? The Wright Sales Program is a hands-on, experiential program that provides sales professionals with an opportunity to boost their sales performance through the application of social and emotional intelligence to their selling techniques.


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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.



Dealing with Malicious Gossip
in the Workplace

We’ve all worked with a “door closer.” You know the type: the moment they walk in your office and shut the door, you know they’re about to spill some juicy info about someone else.

Conversely, when you see this spreader of malicious gossip in the workplace walk in someone else’s office and shut the door, you wonder if they’re talking about you.

Some people can’t get enough office gossip. Are you one of them?

Whether you work with a gossiper or if you engage in dishing out the dirt yourself, you have to consider if your words and actions are really moving your team in a positive or negative direction.

Every interaction with a gossiper takes on an adolescent quality because gossip is an adolescent and immature form of communication. With gossipers, oftentimes you’re either “in” or “out,” which is why dealing with malicious gossip in the workplace can feel like you’re back in high school. Gossipers thrive on passive-aggression and fear tactics. People who are engaged and direct confront issues head-on. People who are secure in themselves don’t concern themselves with what’s going on in other people’s lives.

From Expressing Concern to Participating in Office Gossip

There’s a huge difference between gossip and expressing legitimate caring or concern for another person. Highly socially and emotionally intelligent people have empathy and sensitivity to the feelings of others.

Let’s say you’re advising your coworkers about a client going through a rough time or a coworker who might be struggling and could use a hand. These pieces of information aren’t necessarily born of negativity or malice, but rather, of tact and kindness. Talking about other people isn’t always negative. Sometimes sharing sensitive information can even can help someone else steer clear of an embarrassing gaff or misstep.

How to Identify Malicious Gossip in the Workplace

Identifying malicious gossip vs. genuine concern is usually pretty easy. Gossip is divisive and fraught with drama. Gossipers are often trying to cut down others, make excuses for their own shortcomings, or make up for an inferiority complex. The purpose of gossip isn’t to build up and help others, but to tear them down and allow the gossiper to appear like they’re in a superior position.

So how do you know for sure if you’re gossiping or just passing along information?

First of all, look at the intention and whom you’re sharing the “news” with. If you’re going to your boss with a genuine concern about a coworker or if you’re seeking guidance on a problem, then it’s probably not gossip. If you’re sharing something that was told to you in confidence, speaking to someone who’s not directly involved in the situation, or passing something on to make yourself look or feel better (or to make the other person look or feel bad), then it’s gossip. Gossip is no way to get ahead at work.

Examine your intention and if you stand to benefit from smearing someone’s reputation or from making others question their integrity. Have you addressed your concerns with the person directly? Have you put it out on the table and tried to work through your conflicts? Or are you throwing the “deal with it” ball in someone else’s court? Are you telling your boss or coworkers about someone’s behavior in the hopes they’ll intervene and “save” you or think more highly of you? Are you acting on your own insecurities?

When we engage in this damaging pattern of spreading malicious gossip in the workplace, hurting others, or swooping in to fix someone’s hurt feelings, we’re in the Drama Triangle.

Dealing with Soap-Opera-Level Office Drama

When we’re intrigued by someone else’s potential drama, whether it’s information about their relationship or job performance, we’re acting as a spectator. If we’re blowing confidentiality and perpetuating negativity, chances are we don’t have enough action in our own lives or we’re used to operating in the Drama Triangle.

Behavioral theorist Stephen Karpman explains the Drama Triangle as the classic pattern of Good Guy (the Victim), Bad Guy (the Persecutor) and the person who swoops in to save the Victim (the Rescuer). Everyone caught in a Drama Triangle feeds off the Triangle itself. Just as triangles are the strongest structure in geometry, a drama triangle can be hard to break out of.

Often we engage in this pattern because we’re not approaching situations out of legitimate concern, but out of schadenfreude, literally meaning “harm-joy” or happiness at another’s misfortune.

Schadenfreude is why people love to stay in the Drama Triangle. It’s the reason you may end up the playing the Persecutor, constantly gossiping about others. Or alternatively, it may cause you to play off the gossiper’s words, swooping in as the Rescuer to “save” the subject of the story. Whether you’re the Victim, the Villain, or the Hero of the story, there’s a distinct absence of personal responsibility in all three roles.

The Drama Triangle in Action at Work

Think about it. Susan comes into your office to tell you about a relationship issue Stan shared with her in confidence. If you engage with Susan and say, “Oooh, I thought he and his wife were having problems! That explains why his work’s been going downhill,” or “Well, I heard he’s been out late drinking a lot,”—you’re playing into the drama. Even if you want to come in as Rescuer and help Stan or stand up to Susan and defend him, you aren’t acting from a sense of personal responsibility.

If Stan’s problems aren’t directly affecting you or your team at work, then it’s not your responsibility to involve yourself with his life. If his performance has become a concern or if you’re trying to balance different personality types at the office, then going to him directly and addressing the issue head-on would be much more productive than discussing it behind closed doors.

In all relationships, work, romantic or otherwise, each party is responsible for their own emotions and role. By shifting to gossip, you may be trying to blame someone else, make someone feel guilty, or defend your actions or emotions rather than facing them and working through them in a productive, growth-oriented manner. Gossip causes us to tread water and churn in the same pool rather than swimming forward and past the problem.

Gossip isn’t worth it—and it does nothing for our personal and professional growth.

Listen to this episode here on BlogTalkRadio or here on iTunes.
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Join Us For Foundations Training Weekend!

To learn more about staying out of the Drama Triangle and taking personal responsibility, join us for an upcoming Foundations Training Weekend. We’ll talk about ways you can energize your work life and keep your life moving in a positive direction.

Learn more about Wright Living’s Career & Leadership Coaching in Chicago & Career Coaching Courses in Chicago.

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

How To Stop
Arguing with Your Spouse :


Are you tired of all the fighting? Do you feel angry at your partner a lot of the time? Do you feel nagged at and annoyed?

Does this sound like you?

  • My partner/spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend and I fight all the time.
  • I want to know how to stop arguing with my wife.
  • I want to know how to stop fighting with my husband.


You may be surprised to learn that the most amazing, healthy couples fight—and many happy couples fight a lot! So the question isn’t how to stop arguing with your spouse—it’s: “How can we learn to fight better?”

How To Stop Arguing with Your Spouse: Steve & Tammy’s Story

Steve and Tammy* (*names changed) recently came in to see us for couples counseling.

“I feel like I’m always angry at Steve!” Tammy said, obviously frustrated. Tammy felt that Steve wasn’t helping around the house. While they both worked full-time, she was always the one responsible for cleaning and chores after a long day at the office. It was clear Tammy wasn’t one to get confrontational, but she said she knew Steve was aware she was irritated.

Tammy liked to treat herself for all her hard work by shopping and going out with friends. Steve was increasingly concerned about finances and becoming more and more controlling with the credit card, even though in her mind they were doing fine financially. She felt like he was always harping on her about money or acting passive-aggressive and annoyed when she went out.

Throughout our meeting, Steve sat quietly, arms folded and withdrawn. After a while, he spoke up.

“I’m not really that angry,” he said. “I’m just tired of being criticized and nagged at all the time. I work hard too, you know.” When Steve got home from work, he wanted to relax. He expressed that when he did try to help out, Tammy would redo his cleaning because it wasn’t up to her standards. Eventually, Steve says he adapted a “why bother?” attitude.

Meanwhile, Steve felt Tammy spent lots of time going out with friends, but she didn’t really enjoy the outdoors, while Steve felt a strong connection with nature. Yet, Steve reported that while these things bothered him, the only thing he really felt frustrated about was money and that Tammy was always pissy about the house.

So how did Steve and Tammy get to this point? What were the underlying issues? Would they ever stop fighting?

What are the real reasons couples fight?

Enough with the Fairytale Romance Illusion!

We’ve been sold a fairytale romance illusion that love is supposed to be soft and romantic. There we are, hair flowing in the breeze, running toward each other with our arms outstretched. We picture the final scene from Breakfast at Tiffany’s when they realize how much they love each other and embrace in the rain, desperately, beautifully kissing and falling into each other’s arms.

Instead, for most of us, love probably looks a bit less glamorous. We find ourselves dueling over dollars, engaged in family feuds, and acting passive-aggressive all too often. We throw out the “you always” and “you never” statements, only to hear, “You’re just like your mother!

When we coach couples at Wright, we so often hear concerned couples say things like, “It seems like we fight all the time,” or, “I feel like we just don’t get along anymore. We’re always angry at each other,” or worse, “I just don’t care anymore.”

When our real-life relationships are in such stark contrast with the Hollywood ideal of love, it’s easy to assume something must be wrong and our relationship must be irreparably broken. We wonder if we’re broken. We think someone else might make us happier, or maybe someone else might be easier for us to deal with.

But the truth is…

Love Is Messy!

Love isn’t glossed over and perfect. It’s NOT like we see in the movies. Love involves fights and frustrations. Love involves moments when your wife doesn’t ever fill up the gas tank in the car. Love is the moments when you find a washer full of wet, smelly laundry because your husband overloaded the washer and forgot to change it out.

When we come into a relationship, we have certain expectations and ideals of what it should look like. When we date, we’re often in a state of joy and in “la-la land.” Everything our significant other does is cute and sweet. Maybe they annoy us sometimes, but we’re attracted to each other, we’re regularly having sex, and we’re going on dates and doing fun, exciting things together.

After years go by, we end up with a mortgage, careers, kids, and regular “life stuff.” It can feel like the thrill is gone. Now we’re just going through the motions—constantly frustrated, annoyed, and arguing. We might be wondering what we’re even fighting about anymore.

15 Common Couples’ Fights & What They Really Mean

After years of working with so many couples, I’ve seen quite a few Tammy-and-Steves. While every couple is unique and facing different approaches, different yearnings and different backgrounds, many of their fights are similar. In our book, The Heart of the Fight, we reveal 15 common couples’ fights.

There’s “Dueling Over Dollars,” “Family Feuds,” “You Embarrassed Me,” and several other fights that probably sound all too familiar to most couples.

Most fights aren’t silly or invalid, so looking beyond the surface of the fight is key. There are great concerns, underlying feelings, and a whole history of baggage lying beneath.

Conflict isn’t the problem. Conflict is the way we address and resolve the underlying problem! The answer is in fighting fair. To help you fight fair, we’ve developed these rules of engagement to ensure your fights draw you closer together, rather than resulting in cheap shots, hurt feelings, unresolved screaming matches, and too many nights on the couch.

Instead of asking how to stop arguing with your spouse, you have to ask yourself WHY you’re truly fighting and if you’re fighting FOR or against the relationship. Are you fighting FOR ways to make things work? Are you fighting FOR the understanding of your partner? Once you reframe your fights and get down to the real issues at the heart of the matter, you’ll find you’re battling towards bliss, rather than driving a wedge between you.

Steve & Tammy: The Aftermath

The WHY Behind All the Fighting: It wasn’t so much that Tammy and Steve were miserable in their relationship. It’s that they were both sitting on their resentments and neither one was addressing the root issues.

Tammy was spending money and going out to fulfill her emotional needs and she didn’t feel supported or acknowledged and appreciated. Steve was feeling criticized and inadequate. They both felt their yearnings weren’t being seen, acknowledged, or met.

So what were the roots of the real issues? Tammy was feeling unsupported and as though her household contributions weren’t appreciated. Steve was operating with a limiting belief from childhood that money was scarce, so he felt he needed to be diligent about budgeting and watching finances. When Tammy went out, Steve felt like his fears were being ignored and invalidated. Both partners were shutting down and building up silent resentment rather than confronting their concerns and getting them out in the open.

Once we opened up the dialogue and helped Steve and Tammy realize their conflict could be productive and positive, they were able to air their feelings and express their yearnings.

Was it perfect and romantic? No, of course not, but they ended up finding more intimacy and strength in their relationship—and they became closer than ever. Real intimacy comes from expressing yourself and being seen in truth for who you really are and what you need. Conflict can bring us closer and make us stronger as couples. Really!

To learn more about healthy relationships and living your best, most amazing life please join us for our next More Life Training.

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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Why Doesn’t My Relationship Make Me Happy?

When asked the question of what truly makes us happy, many of us are left in a perpetual state of reflection. “What do I need to make me happy?”

What makes you happy? Is it your friends? Your spouse? Your work?

Many people look to their relationship as the answer to happiness. Over and over I hear, “She just doesn’t make me happy anymore,” or “I just can’t seem to make him happy.” Certainly we derive pleasure and partnership from our relationships, but do they MAKE us happy?

How about work? We often hear, “I love my career. I’m doing well. I’m at the top of my game.” But when there’s no happiness or satisfaction derived from our career, we end up going through the motions every day. Even if we’re doing great, we still might not feel that real happiness we’re seeking.

For some of us, without the intimacy and connection of a partner, work can feel empty and unfulfilling.

Looking for more strategies for creating your own happiness?

Get a FREE 15-minute Life Coaching Consultation!

The Roots & Memories of Our Happiness

Think back to when you were a kid. Remember when you rode your bike successfully for the first time? Or maybe you kicked a goal in soccer and won the game for your team? How about when your mom or dad came in and hugged you goodnight or turned on the nightlight when you were afraid of the dark? Maybe it was the time your teacher had you read your essay to the whole class.

Think about those early moments when you felt true happiness.

Many of us cling to this vague, dreamy idea of what happiness is or what it can be. It’s a memory. It’s something we felt in our childhood that we can’t quite put our finger on now. It’s love. It’s romance and travel and excitement. We see this fairytale in our mind of being saved by a handsome prince or a beautiful princess and falling in this amazing state of love and bliss. We think of ourselves living “happily ever after” and riding off into the sunset.

Yet…we know it’s not realistic. It might be our standard for happiness, but we all know too well it’s not what we’re experiencing in our daily relationships.

My Partner or Spouse Doesn’t Make Me Happy

Couples often come to us feeling like their marriage is crumbling. They fight all the time, often over small things. They have arguments over money, arguments over their relationships with their parents, and arguments over their children. Even worse, maybe the fights have stopped and now they simply feel numb.

There’s this common mindset of: we’ve fallen out of love and the thrill is gone, so we’ve ruined our “happily ever after.”

Well, “happily ever after” is an illusion! It’s a fairytale we were sold on as children. In reality, we’re probably yearning to be seen and acknowledged by our spouse, just like we felt when our teacher had us read our essay to the class. We’re yearning to be safe, to be protected and to feel loved like our parents made us feel when we were children (or the way we wish we had felt). We might be yearning to feel successful like we did when we mastered the skill of riding our bike or when we kicked the winning goal. We want that acceptance from our peers when they cheered us on.

Unfortunately, we’re often looking to our spouse and saying, “Make me happy!” We want our partners to hand us the answer, when we don’t truly know what we’re seeking. We resent them for not “fixing it” or bringing us happiness and we assume something’s wrong with them and with our relationship. Maybe we’ve found ourselves attracted to someone else because we hope they might meet these yearnings since our spouse hasn’t handed us the “happiness” we expected them to.

When couples come to us and tell us they’re experiencing these challenges,

they are shocked when we tell them they are right on track, that their disillusionment and conflict are necessary for real, successful relationships to develop. They are at the doorway of great possibility. They must, however, go into the wilderness of the unknown and face uncertainty in order to undo the fairy tale, to help the relationship grow….

This is when they leave the myths of relationship behind and are free to go into the dark woods of their feelings, their beliefs, and their unconscious minds. It is at this point that they can find themselves and each other. Free of the myths, they don’t have to pretend that everything is great and can engage in growth-producing conflict. Unburdened by the need to maintain a perfect relationship, they can express their true feelings and argue for their beliefs. This is the point where they begin to write their own love story, letting go of idyllic relationship misconceptions and creating meaning, purpose, and genuine connected intimacy in their relationship. – The Heart of the Fight

…So Where Does Happiness Come From? What Will Make Me Happy?

In reality, many of us aren’t actually seeking happiness. We think we are, but we’re actually asking the wrong question when we ask, “What will MAKE me happy?”

We’re expecting happiness to fall in our lap. When we’re stuck in this mindset, we’re seeking to avoid the discomfort and pain of growing. We’re hiding from a life of engagement and interaction with others. We’re zoned out and we’re accepting the status quo. We’re vaguely (or maybe not-so-vaguely) dissatisfied in our relationships. We’re disappointed.

But true transformation and personal growth is uncertain and challenging. It’s hard. It’s not an easy trip sailing into the sunset.

Looking for more strategies for creating your own happiness?

Get a FREE 15-minute Life Coaching Consultation!

Everyone is Responsible for their Own Happiness: Here’s How

Guess what? You (yes YOU!) are responsible for your own happiness, outside of your relationship and in your relationship. One of our rules of engagement and productive conflict is that each party must realize they are 100% responsible for their own satisfaction and happiness. Not your partner, not your friends, not your mother or your father. Who, you ask, will “make me happy”? You.

Now, of course you should support your partner and help them work toward the things they want. Similarly, it’s up to you to share your yearnings with your partner and make them aware of what you want.

This doesn’t entail blame, shame, guilt or nagging. It’s not about passive-aggressive actions or withholding. It’s about having the conversations about the truth: What is it you both want out of your relationship? How do you want things to be and what can YOU do to work toward that goal?

Similarly, another rule of engagement is: No one gets more than 50% of the blame. So if you’re feeling stressed and unhappy in your relationship, it’s not all your fault—but it’s not all your partner’s fault either. It takes two to tango and two people to work through conflicts toward mutually agreed upon resolutions.

Many of our conflicts and frustrations are based on this idea that our partner is somehow supposed to MAKE us happy—so of course, with that mindset, we resent them when they don’t! The sooner we can let go of this relationship myth and take responsibility for our own happiness, the sooner we can start to fully engage and work toward it.

Happiness doesn’t mean we’re in a constant state of blissed-out joy. It means we’re engaged and growing as people. It means we’re satisfying our yearnings and working toward the things we want. It means we’re fighting FOR our relationships, not against. We’re not putting up walls, even though it’s painful to stand there without protection. We’re assuming goodwill on the part of our partner and we’re realizing they want the relationship to be the best it can be, too.

Now THAT can “make” you happy.

Once we get over the myth of the “fairytale relationship,” we can embrace true happiness and move forward together. For more on strengthening your relationships, please join us for our next More Life Training.

Let us know how your relationships are going! Tune in to our Lifestyle Podcasts every Wednesday to talk about dating, relationships, and how to bring out your best self with Wright Living on BlogTalkRadio.

If you’re looking for deeper, more meaningful relationships, you can pick up our new relationships book: The Heart of The Fight, available now.

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Dating A Coworker:
Bad Idea, or Good Idea?

It was the mid-1970s and it was the first time I saw first-hand why so many of us tend to say, “Dating a coworker? BAD IDEA.” I was in an internship, leading a weekly Group Dynamics course.

One week we’re rockin’ and rollin’—everyone was having a great time, learning and growing, sharing and challenging each other. It was a great working environment!

The next week I go in and immediately realize there’s something wrong. Really wrong. People stopped engaging with each other. They stopped interacting. There was an undercurrent of outright hostility within the group.

I had an idea: I separated the women and the men and had the two groups face each other. They immediately started going for each other’s throats! When we finally broke it all down and everything came out, turns out two of them had started dating and the relationship didn’t work out.

The women blamed the man while the other men thought the woman was overreacting. It was a mess that took weeks to unravel.

Think about it: that entire productive, fun and empowering group dynamic was torn apart—in just one week!

So our big question this week:

Should I act on my impulses and ask out my coworker—and would dating/our relationship complicate things at the office?

The short answer is: Are you kidding me?!? Of course dating a coworker will complicate things at the office! Any time you’re part of a small group of people, adding sex, attraction, loyalty and drama to the mix will complicate things—greatly.

The longer answer is, while it IS complicated, there are ways to make dating a coworker work. When we’re talking about two mature adults acting on a well-thought-out mutual attraction based on friendship, that’s when dating a coworker might work. Is it recommended? Generally speaking, no.

When Dating a Coworker Might Be OK…and When It’s Not

If you both work for a big company with hundreds of employees, or if you work in different branches or different locations, then in most cases dating a coworker is fine. When you’re in a large situation, it’s simple. You aren’t interacting with each other and other coworkers on a daily basis. You aren’t rocking the boat and there will be minimal fallout (if any) when and if it doesn’t work out.

On the other hand, if you’re a member of a small tight-knit office under 50 people, then it’s almost impossible for the ripple effect of your relationship to go unnoticed by those around you. Since the 1970s, I’ve worked with many groups where the tension was palpable after two members had a failed dating attempt. In small groups, any time two people start to form bonds and loyalties outside of work, it can make the other team members uncomfortable and even angry. Add sex into the mix and it ramps up the office drama even more, detracting from the productivity and professionalism of the office.

In today’s hook-up culture, there’s this idea you can have casual, no strings-attached sex with a coworker. In my experience, this is rarely the case. Usually, there are still expectations and feelings, even though the sex is “casual”—and they’re even stronger when you see each other every day and you’re interacting in the boardroom. Even if those feelings are only felt or expressed by one party, it’s hard to get around it.

Not only is it complicated for those involved but the inevitable impact on the group is hard to avoid. People can tell when there’s something going on between two coworkers. Even without confirmation, there’s speculation, which can in some ways be worse for productivity because it’s distracting.

After all, everyone is (or should be) at the office to do their job and earn a living, not to boost their social circle and add a notch to their bedpost.

When To Tell Your Boss You’re Dating a Coworker

If you’ve thought out all the potential complications of dating a coworker and you’re both very low-drama individuals who can maturely and discretely handle testing the waters, the professional thing to do is to plan to go to your boss.

Check the company policy about dating a coworker and inter-office relationships.  This is particularly important if one of you is in a higher position or a position of authority. Many companies have strong policies against what they see as a conflict of interest and a possible abuse of power.

Don’t take the situation lightly. Dating in the office can destroy careers in more ways than one. For example, if one party is underperforming, it can create a major conflict for both parties, ending up in the loss of two jobs. After all, would you really want to work for somewhere that fired your significant other?

If you’re still not deterred and the relationship that’s built up between you is based on mutual respect, friendship and attraction, then it might be time for a candid conversation with your boss. Be upfront and honest. You need to be prepared to follow through with the outcome, however. Remember, if you ask permission and get an answer you don’t want to hear, then you may be facing an even tougher dilemma.

Many people think they can be discrete when dating a coworker, thinking they can pull off a “trial run” without anyone detecting what’s happening. I’m here to tell you: most people can’t do it. They’ll eventually tell someone or they’ll sneak around at work and get caught. Trying to hide it rarely if ever works and eventually when it all comes to light, you may have an even greater mess to clean up.

Getting Over the Idea of Scarcity

Part of being socially and emotionally mature is knowing you can find ways to interact with many different people. We all know there’s no such thing as “the one” and many of us can have dynamic, mutually satisfying and healthy relationships with many different people.

We have to get past the mentality of “this is my only chance.” There are plenty of fish in the sea, and you don’t have to stick to the tiny pond you’re working in.

If you think you can’t get over the attraction or if you feel uncontrollably drawn to the other person, then it might be time to do some work on your expectations in relationships. After all, if you or your coworkers were in a relationship or married (or simply not interested in you), you’d be able to work together despite whatever attraction you felt. Attraction, while important, isn’t the only criteria for a relationship. You can move past it.

Remind yourself of all these factors and weigh out the pros and cons before jumping in and dating a coworker, potentially making a mistake based on fleeting attraction. Try to keep your private and personal life separate from your life at the office. If you do decide it’s worth the risk, handle it in a mature way to minimize the impact on the group and be sure your professional life stays professional.

To learn more about heathly relationships, check out our book The Heart Of The Fight, now available on Amazon!


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