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Ask Ash

15 August 16

Advice column: I'm getting unwanted attention from a colleague who split from his wife

Dear Ash

A colleague in our department has increasingly become quite friendly towards me, and although I am quite personable his behaviour is getting a bit creepy. He seems to be desperate to find a girlfriend since his separation from his wife and keeps hinting that he needs companionship. I am happy to work with him but I feel uncomfortable by his insistence on speaking about why his marriage failed and why he needs someone. He seems to want a shoulder to cry on and although I was happy to initially offer this, it is becoming tiresome and repetitive, especially since he separated from his wife more than a year ago. I am finding it difficult to concentrate on my work as he keeps insisting on talking about his issues, but I don’t want to make him feel worse.

Ash replies:

The fact is that we as a society increasingly spend more time at work, and sometimes the boundaries of our professional and personal lives can cross over. Your colleague is just probably really lonely and clearly unable to get over the trauma of his marriage breaking down and is looking for a sympathetic ear.

It sounds as if he may benefit from speaking to a professional counsellor rather than trying to seek solace at work. You might suggest subtly that he seek such help. He may of course not appreciate the suggestion, but it may at least provide a hint to him that he needs to try to resolve his issues outwith work.

You might also want to emphasise gently how happy you are with your own love life in order to indicate that he is barking up the wrong tree when it comes to looking for companionship from you. He may not be aware of how he is coming across to you as desperate. Diplomacy is the key to this, as you will need to continue to work together; traumatic events such as marriage breakdown can happen to anyone and indeed he may just need a bit more time to try to sort himself out.

Of course, if his behaviour continues to persist and concerns you, you should directly confirm to him that it is unacceptable and that you need to work together without such issues. It is important after all that you too feel comfortable at work.

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 Education, Training & Qualifications team. For one-to-one advice contact Katie Wood, head of admissions on 0131 476 8162 or by email: katiewood@lawscot.org.uk 

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