Rules for Working Together When Married How to stay professional and sane while in a business setting or owning your own business. BY DIANE GOTTSMAN
Being married and working together can pose some unique problems in a marriage…and some unique rewards.
Whether you both work at home, own a business together or are colleagues in the same company, working alongside your spouse offers great advantages and some unique challenges too.
On the one hand, you get to see your beloved throughout the day. When you talk about what’s going on at work, the other person knows exactly what you’re talking about. You even have a built-in carpool buddy.
On the flip side, keeping personal feelings and situations separate from work can be a challenge. It can be tricky navigating back and forth from the spousal relationship to the professional one. Add coworkers, employees, clients and bosses into the mix and complicated situations can arise.
These tips will help both of you survive and thrive side-by-side is a business setting:
1. Stay out of your spouse’s business. If she has a problem with a coworker, trust that she will sort it out without your interference; it’s not your duty to give Bob from accounting the stink eye because he critiqued your sweetheart’s report.
2. Be sure to circulate with other colleagues. Seek out other coworkers during breaks, lunches and meetings; it’s good career-wise and personally to nurture professional relationships with others. You two don’t have to do everything together. Avoid forming your own exclusive, two-person "Spouse Society."
3. Leave the personal business at home. If you have a fight with your spouse, don’t bring it to the office and certainly don’t hash it over with other colleagues. No one wants to hear it and it doesn’t do anything to enhance you or your spouse’s image.
4. Respect your spouse’s time. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you can expect him to drop everything when you show up at his office door to talk about what’s for dinner.
5. Treat your spouse with the same courtesy that you’d extend to your other coworkers. That includes a professional, courteous tone and no overly emotional reactions or outbursts. Save the pet names for after hours.
6. Create the environment to do your best work. One couple that works together in a home office frequently hears friends say, "Oh, we’d both go crazy if we were together all day." It doesn’t have to be that way. If you need a separate office with a door so you can focus on your work in silence without hearing your spouse wheel and deal on the phone, set up the environment you need to be successful.
Here are some tips on how to cohabitate when owning your own business:
So you two own the business together? In some ways, owning a business together is like raising a child, but in front of an ever-present audience of employees. In addition to moments of pride, joy and happiness, there will be long hours, trying times, instances that you just don’t agree on how to handle something and maybe even a few moments when you want to run away screaming. This special circumstance calls for its own set of tips:
1. Be a good communicator with your spouse/business partner. That means talking to your spouse with respect and listening—really listening—when they talk to you.
2. Present a united front. Support your spouse’s decisions. Don’t undermine or contradict his or her authority to employees. And never argue in front of employees.
3. Remember, all eyes are on you. How you interact with each other sets the tone for all other office interactions. If you want employees to be friendly with each other and your customers, lead by example.
4. Leave room for frequent getaways. Finally, no matter where you and your spouse work, make plans to get away from it all on a regular basis. The two of you need to reconnect as husband and wife, sans the business conversation. Take a break to recharge and strengthen your relationship and you will both be better on the job.
Diane Gottsman, a nationally recognized etiquette expert, is the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in etiquette training for corporations, universities and individuals, striving to polish their interpersonal skills. You can reach Diane at 877-490-1077 or www.protocolschooloftexas.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @: www.twitter.com/DianeGottsman.