Career advice: going back on a date with a colleague is causing me unpleasantness

Dear Ash

I was recently asked out on a date by a colleague, and, although I initially said yes, I was later warned off by a more senior colleague against going on the date as she advised that office romances would only cause complications, especially if things didn’t work out. I therefore told my colleague that I’d had a rethink and no longer thought it was a good idea for us to get involved. However, he did not take the news too well and has refused to speak to me since; this is causing issues as we need to be able to work together but he is making it impossible. I’m not sure how I can now resolve the issue.

Ash replies:

Office romances can certainly cause issues, but you seem to have attracted all the associated complications without any of the romance!

The behaviour of your colleague seems to have vindicated the advice you were given earlier and it is unfortunate that your colleague is just not mature enough to accept your decision in a dignified and adult manner.

I suggest that you attempt to approach a trusted, neutral third party to initially approach your colleague in order to make clear, on your behalf, that your decision not to go on the date should not be taken as a personal insult and that you were just trying to prevent matters getting complicated at work. You should also make clear the importance of you continuing to work together in an amicable manner.

However, if the situation continues to persist then you should seriously consider approaching someone in HR or at a senior level in your department, as you should not be expected to tolerate this form of behaviour in the workplace, especially when it impacts on your professional performance. Date or no date, your colleague has certainly proved himself to be no Prince Charming and you certainly seem to have had a lucky escape!

Send your queries to Ash

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and trainees, which can be put to her via the editor: peter@connectcommunications.co.uk, or mail to Studio 2001, Mile End, Paisley PA1 1JS. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Registrar’s Department. For one-to-one advice, contact Katie Wood, manager in the Registrar’s Department on 0131 476 8105/8200, or KatieWood@lawscot.org.uk

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