Illicit Affairs in the Workplace: How Much Will it Hurt Your Career?

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I have witnessed people having affairs in the office numerous times as a corporate person. They are married men and women having relationships with their co-workers, which no matter how carefully they try to hide, everyone still manages to find out.

From the bosses to the janitor, to the elevator personnel and even the canteen operator and crew– everybody knows, yet the couple acts as if it is a well-kept secret.

People who are having an illicit affair in the office are so easy to spot. They are like toddlers who deny eating the cake, while you see their face smeared all over with the icing.

Everyone knows what is going on between the two of them the minute they walk into a room: the odd gazes, the body language, and of course the verbal exchanges. And of course, one way or the other someone will eventually spot them being together outside the office. There is just no way to hide it.

So keeping it a secret is just near impossible.

Let us face it; a place as intimate as an office setting, would be the last place anyone could hide his or her affairs. The office place will always be abuzz with gossips and news, worthy of tabloid headlines. No matter how busy people are with their office deadlines and duties, they will always find time to talk about you — especially if you are having an affair.

You will be observed and talked behind your back, as a dessert for lunch.

The fact is – it is the “office culture”, which rather allows people if they can have or cannot have affairs in the office, if they accidentally or intentionally want one.

This culture is dictated by the management by either indulging their employees or firing them.

Odd as it seems, some companies would not care if their employees embark into full-blown affairs in the work place, as long as they are bringing in profit for the company. If they are doing a good job in their own positions and department despite having scandalous relationships in the workplace — they can keep their job.

As long as the company goal is at the highest priority, and the peace and quiet in the office is maintained — that is all the company needs, to turn a blind eye on any office affairs.

However, if you handle a position as delicate as Finance or Accounting, I suggest that you had better get hold of yourself. These companies may be lenient in terms of the personal life of their employees; but they are smart enough not to place the financial aspect of the company on the hands of someone who has no self-control, no sense of consequential vision, and no common sense.

On the other hand, there are also companies that are very strict in implementing their rules and regulations. Office affair is absolutely forbidden, and is a ground for removal from office. These companies pride on the discipline and high moral standards that they dictate on the management and their employees.

They associate the life expectancy and stability of their company by the values that their employees practices. They believe that a dishonest person in his personal life — is also dishonest in his work, therefore – it is an essential character of their employees, to be loyal and faithful to their spouses and their family to be able to stay employed with them.

So, if you are an employee of this type of company, it is crucial that you are not only increasingly productive and diligent – you are also expected to characterize the image that the company is building for himself. You should also be able to influence people by being a walking advertisement inside the office, by being morally upright and strong to deter temptations.

Illicit affairs can happen in a snap. You may be undergoing stress at home. You are lacking some love and attention from your spouse and the children are becoming difficult. Then someone suddenly pays attention to you, and you feel good about it. Will you succumb to it?

There are two things to remember here: Trust and Image.

You may not officially carry out an affair or consummate it in a sense that you will have a full-blown affair, but if people sense that you are flirting with someone, even just within the confines of the office, and no other activities outside of it — it will still greatly affect your image in the company.

People and most critically the bosses will look at you as somewhat weak, and cannot be trusted. It will also put doubt in your sense of leadership if you will be considered for any future promotions.

Companies like to put people in leadership who are not easily seduced — sexually, morally or monetarily.

It gives them a sense of confidence that the people running their company have a strong set of moral values, one that puts importance in the meaning of family and conducts himself worthy of trust and respect.

They like someone who will not steal the company’s time, resources and most especially money to finance his affair.

They like employees who do not prey on emotionally unstable people, and would not use his position, influence or power to take advantage of subordinates, co-workers or – situations.

An illicit affair especially in the workplace, is a letdown on your character and resume. It exposes your vulnerability and lack of maturity and emotional control.

People are human, yes, but we always have the power to stay away and ultimately say no from sticky situation that may cause us our career downfall.

Illicit affairs will hurt your professional credibility, but most importantly — it will hurt your family.


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