Late last year, I fell into a mild infatuation with a sales rep that does business with our company. As our company’s sole purchasing agent, I had and have the power to decide the vendors from whom we purchase products and services.
As the infatuation progressed, I spent increasing amounts of time with this sales rep, much more than needed, and swayed business her way that I might have given to others. I knew the situation was professionally ticklish but even when I knew what I was doing was wrong, it didn’t seem really wrong and I couldn’t help myself.
Nothing happened, but I believe it was clear to both this woman and I how I felt. I thought we were developing a friendship that had potential. She gave me every indication that she felt similarly. I was on the cusp of asking her out to dinner when I overheard a cell phone conversation that made it clear my feelings weren’t reciprocated. Now I realize she used what I felt for her to get a sales edge.
I’m embarrassed and angry. I’d like to cut all ties with her and her firm, but her company’s pricing structure still offers our company the best deal on several specific products. She’s their only sales rep so it’s not possible to ask them to send another representative and besides, I wouldn’t want to explain why I want someone else. Part of me wants to sway business to her competitors to even out the times when I gave her sales they should have had, but that doesn’t seem right. I’d like to tell her I know she played on my feelings so she doesn’t try anything else because I’m still somewhat susceptible. Or is it best to just put all of this behind me?
When unmet heart expectations meet the business world, less is more. You don’t need to tell her anything. She’ll figure it out when she tries to pull the same strings and they don’t stretch.
You can move past embarrassment, regain your respect for yourself and eliminate your susceptibility by acting one hundred percent professionally around her. Immerse yourself in an objective look at this sales rep’s products, services and prices in comparison with those of her competitors. If you find yourself sliding into emotionality, or thinking about what might have been, remind yourself of everything that is wrong with this woman, including the fact she used your feelings to sell her products.
Unless there is something magic about this woman, she got to you because you’re ready to find someone. If you realize this is true, push yourself to investigate other avenues for finding a compatible person with whom to develop a friendship and relationship. If you find the right person, and this sales rep makes a future overture, you may find yourself wondering “what did I see in her?”
Moving forward, you can’t make a wrong right with another wrong. So don’t try to balance out how you overly favored this rep’s company by sending business to her competitors if it costs your company the best deal. Instead, do the right thing for your company by never again “swaying” business for personal reasons.
Finally, the next time you feel tempted to do something you know is wrong, ask how the behavior aligns with the ethical values you’ve promised to uphold such as integrity, honesty and commitment. Ask yourself whether you’d trust someone who did what you’re tempted to do and whether you’re willing to sacrifice your self-respect. Then, don’t do it.
© 2019, Lynne Curry
Lynne Curry writes a weekly column on workplace issues. She is author of “Solutions” and “Beating the Workplace Bully” and www.workplacecoachblog.com. Curry is now a Regional Director of Training and Business Consulting at Avitus Group. Send your questions to her at Lcurry@avitusgroup.com or follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10.