Somebody once told me the similarity of ex-boyfriends and old diaries – they know everything. The real and unedited version of yourself. There’s just no hiding from them.
Coincidentally, both are things which I keep coming back to, especially when I’m in the mood to reminisce about the past, or when I’m bored.
But there are exes who I’d rather not be in contact with or remember ever again. This is especially true when it involves having to work together.
As if the breakup wasn’t bad enough, there were a few occasions in which I had to be professional with my ex.
(No) thanks to the creative industry that we are in, clients often hire us to work side by side, with me as the PR / Media Consultant, and him the creative director.
Things can get heated up for sure, depending on the level and intensity of the previous relationship (and how good or bad the breakup was).
Since I worked with him on quite a few projects, I discovered ways to maintain my sanity.
Here are tips on how I survived working together with my ex:
Maintain professionalism, especially in front of clients
This is indeed easier said than done, especially if you have ‘Resting Bitch Face’ (RBF) syndrome like me.
My RBF is often used against me, up to a point where I forced myself to smile all the time. I think I even sprained my cheeks.
Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it’s exhausting having to constantly explain to others that I’m not angry or annoyed.
With this ex however, I don’t need RBF to express how annoyed and irritated I was with him.
We had just gone through a nasty break-up, and not everyone knew about it at the time. Clients who knew us kept calling in to hire the ‘dynamic duo’ pair, because we’re known for delivering great work.
Now how on earth does one maintain being ‘civil’, tone down their RBF, and keep their cool while handling work matters with an ex in front of others?
By keeping your composure in check and putting your ‘poker face’ on.
Just get the job done quickly, while maintaining your quality of work, and never jeopardise your reputation by giving in to your (unstable) emotions.
(Try to) never be alone with him/her, always make sure there are other people around
There were times when we had to work outside normal working hours. Then there were also times when it was just the two of us having to either stay back at the office or have a dinner meetings to go over work.
Things got a bit awkward between us a few times when that happened, from us (un)intentionally reminiscing the good times, remembering how passionate we were, to going back to the quarrels and arguments which led to us breaking up.
That affected our work quite a bit.
Since then, after those episodes I always make sure there were other people around. And I’d make a point not to stay back at the office or have meals alone with him again.
Put up a cold or no-nonsense front
Never let emotions cloud your judgement. There’s a definite reason why you guys broke up in the first place.
Honestly when we worked side by side, there were moments when I felt an intense emotion towards him.
I just wasn’t sure whether it was passion or anger.
And then there were moments when he tried to make his way back into my life again. He would do this by using our old nicknames, making references to things only both of us knew, and so forth.
If this happens to you, just remember to stay focused on the job, and let those feelings pass you by.
Channel whatever feelings you have towards the job, making sure it’s properly done – and brush aside any thoughts or emotions you might have towards each other.
Remember, the job is your utmost priority, and it’s not worth taking the same destructive route with him/her again.
Introduce your partner to him/her. If you’re still single, then just pretend like you’re in a relationship to avoid him/her getting closer to you again.
I’ve used this trick quite a number of times, and it’s worked brilliantly especially when he tried to sneak his way back into my life again.
If you’re feeling nasty, and want to bruise his ego, be extra lovey-dovey with your pretend (or real) partner – that’ll tick him off for sure!
I did that, and it was all business and nothing else with the ex from that moment on. I got the job done and received great feedback.
After I got my pay check, I never heard from that ex again.
Unless I have to work together with him again, that is.
For more articles about exes, read I Had “Retroactive Jealousy” – I Was Jealous of My Boyfriend’s Exes, and Can Ex(es) Stay as Friends? Malaysians Weigh In.