Secrets and lies
My co-worker and I are great friends, and spend all day instant-messaging. We're both married, so there's no risk of an attraction developing, but at an office function his wife overheard me call him my "work-husband" and demanded I cut off non-business contact with him. Should I ignore her?
- Anna G., Toronto
No. Your heart may be pure, but his wife thinks you're threatening their marriage. Before it escalates into a screaming match worthy of Real Housewives of New Jersey, consider her position. He already spends most of his waking hours with you in a world that excludes her - that's huge, especially if he's cheated in the past. Perhaps she hasn't heard that "office spouse" relationships are supposed to be platonic. And there's always risk; marriage isn't a chastity belt. While most polls on office romance delicately omit in-house adultery, we all know people whose affairs have started on the job - too many out-of-town conferences, too much bad chardonnay. You get the picture.
Cut back. Try inviting different people when you go for coffee or lunch so your duo is less cozy. After-work drinks or hitting the gym together are other no-gos. (Nothing blurs judgment like alcohol or a good sweat.)
Although I don't see you becoming BFFs with the wife, a casual dinner with respective spouses in tow may help your relationship with him seem less exclusive (and you less like a home wrecker). One thing: Tempting as it may be, watch that conversations with him don't end up bashing her. Her jealousy may drive your friendship underground, where it might smoulder and burst into flame.
I work in marketing, and a co-worker recently accused me of plagiarizing his idea for a campaign I pitched. I admit there's a superficial resemblance; I've been overworked lately and I may have subconsciously absorbed some influence, but the bulk of the work is mine. What should I tell my boss?
- Andrew P., Toronto
The truth. Have you learned nothing from cheats such as Jonah Lehrer? The former New Yorker staff writer fabricated quotes in his book Imagine (once a bestseller, pulled recently from a bookstore near you). Denying the charges when he was initially confronted by another journalist, Lehrer finally admitted lying "in a moment of panic." The scandal cost him his job and his reputation.
You may own the bulk of the work on the campaign, but what about the rest? Whether you were influenced subconsciously or peeked over your co-worker's shoulder, it's not all yours. Even if you feel no guilt, it's better to be branded as the big man who shared the credit rather than as a cheat. So, since the co-worker challenging you isn't likely to let it drop anyway, acknowledge it. Otherwise, it will catch up with you. And with all due apologies to Casablanca - maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.