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Facing the Ex Factor in D.C.

The small town world of Washington, D.C., rings especially true on Capitol Hill, arguably more than any other place in the District. This means the friendships you form, the co-workers you have and even your romantic relationships are likely to follow you, on and off the Hill. But what happens when your job responsibilities put you directly in your ex’s path? Hill Navigator offers some advice on how to grin and bear it as the consummate office professional.

Q. I am a lobbyist and I have to lobby my ex-boyfriend’s office! The relationship did not end well and I dread going there. I can’t avoid it, but I can’t tell my boss my personal problems either. Any thoughts on how to gracefully sit this one out?

My advice: Swallow your pride and be the professional lobbyist that you are. It’s only part of your day, and overcoming your personal dislike of the situation in favor of doing what is best for your client/organization will be a win for you and your career development.

But let’s say you have a boss who knows that your split was less than amicable, or you have a situation in which you can divide office visits. You can simply say that you’re happy to continue lobbying that office, but you would also be amenable to someone else taking over as the primary contact. Without delving into the details of the split, you can take a neutral stance on how you think it is best to proceed. And if you have a boss who has any inkling of your personal life, he or she may decide it is for the best to change your office visit lineup. But that decision needs to come from the boss, without any dramatic hints or complaints on your end.

We’ve all done things at work that we’ve dreaded. Or met with people we’d prefer not to see face to face. The small town of D.C. means such encounters are inevitable, so the sooner you and your ex are more comfortable in the same room, the sooner you can move on to focusing your energy elsewhere. Like your clients.