Romancing on the Job – 01 Sep 2009

Office reality has started speaking of another truth. Workplace romances are on the increase like never before. We are not talking about pure clean working relationships between colleagues. We are talking about flirtatious behaviour, emotional attachments, romances or full blown extramarital affairs. All are detrimental to work life as well as good family life. ‘We do not have anything physical between us’ is no justification for being clean. Emotional affairs are equally harmful and damaging to your marital situation and could be treated almost at par with extramarital affairs. Being emotionally attached to a colleague, sharing personal secrets, talking late nights over the phone, meeting outside the office all indicate an emotional affair. For it means that there is an emotional craving for the presence of the other and the line of demarcation is only hypothetical. The fantasising of the other is enough and cannot be condoned as just platonic friendship. Psychologists have termed it as ‘emotional infidelity’.

As more women rub shoulders with men on the job there is bound to be team work in close physical proximity. Natural likings, appreciations and inclinations towards specific persons are normal fallouts. No wonder then that paranoia is on the rise. People are troubled about their spouses having attachments at the workplace. Women are getting paranoid about simple signs and symptoms. ‘His behaviour has changed’, ‘his talks on the mobile have increased’, ‘he has become secretive’, ‘he travels more’, ‘he remains excited’ so on and so forth. Wives who have heard of others stories begin to get nervous about small signs. On the other hand men have always been possessive about their wives and find it very difficult to trust them on the job. He argues his point with a little twist like this ‘I trust you but I can’t trust the men’! I find that hilarious when men admit that they don’t trust men as a species. That is telling. What they don’t trust about the woman is her level of intelligence and her sense of discrimination. Perhaps they feel that women are innocent and unexposed to the worldly ways. Men are wolves waiting to catch the easiest prey. This may be true to a great extent. But honestly, I cannot make any estimate of it as to what percentage men are like that. We could ask Salman Khan for a change about it for he seems to have extensive research on Indian behaviour!

With women numbers becoming significant at the work field in different sectors a lot of awareness needs to be generated. Proper gender behaviour could be a training imperative. Men need to undergo tremendous attitudinal changes towards working women. Their general attitude towards the female species and their personal attitude towards their wives might reflect tellingly in their behaviour with women colleagues. ‘The typical Indian male ego’ is something every woman is aware of. Most men may not tolerate a ‘superior’ woman colleague. Or else he may find himself getting attracted to her and then getting involved only to subdue her later! I heard of a story of a woman boss finally marrying her subordinate colleague who then took charge of her position functionally and reduced her status to a lower level!

Let us not digress. Women too need to equip themselves with varied skills. Learning professional behaviour is most important. Knowing the difference between the personal and the professional is the first step. They must learn to keep the office matters at the work site itself. They must not allow late night calls of colleagues at the pretext of discussing work. They must safeguard their marriage and their family life from work issues. They must not get into intimate situations like going out alone with a male colleague for discussions over cups of coffee or tea! They should stay in groups or take along another colleague. Friendships with the opposite sex should be a strict no. For once you begin to discuss personal and family details the boundaries begin to blur and the closeness increases. It is then very easy for the couple to climb the next step and begin the affair. Men and women must wake up to the damage they will be causing to their married life and to the workplace ethics. They must raise their moral ethical standards of behaviour and learn professional behaviour. This requires a lot of focus, self-awareness, planning, dedication to work, commitment to your spouse and marriage and above all honesty.

Published in Hitavada Future on September 01 2009

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