Q. I work at a large accountancy practice and we're often assigned to projects that bring colleagues from different divisions together onto the same team.
I've just joined a new project but, to my horror, someone else on the team is a woman I slept with when I joined as a graduate trainee five years ago, who subsequently became obsessed with me. I shook her off and have avoided her since, but I don't know whether to raise this with my manager. I'm dreading our first meeting.
JEREMY SAYS: I think it extremely likely that your apprehension, although understandable, will prove to be groundless.
However, if you want to ensure it's not - if you want to make absolutely certain that this five-year-old incident causes you maximum and lasting embarrassment - you could do no better than raise the issue with your manager.
What on earth would your luckless superior do with this information? A moment's thought should tell you that whatever he chooses to do or say - including telling you that it's none of his business - would put this distant event back into play and make you look faintly ridiculous in his eyes.
Your best move is to do nothing. You can reasonably assume that the woman in question regrets the whole episode and, like you, is dreading the first meeting. Don't pretend never to have met her before; greet her exactly as if nothing had ever happened between you. Be pleasant but otherwise totally impassive. It's almost certain that her relief and gratitude will be palpable.
By the third or fourth meeting, while nothing will have been said, your new rules will have been implicitly established; and you'll both be able to behave utterly naturally. Just don't sleep with her again.
Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. Address your problem to Jeremy Bullmore at: firstname.lastname@example.org.