Q. I am employed by a large company that is in the middle of a reorganization. At the end, more than 1,000 people will be laid off -- "separated," as the company likes to call it. The company is now taking applications for separation from employees.

I find myself in a personally troublesome situation. I am a woman, and I have a very close woman friend at work. Three months ago, this friend was abruptly transferred to another location. She and a high-ranking sales executive who has been with the company for more than 30 years, and with whom I have been quite friendly, had been having an affair for some time.

I knew about it and, as a friend to both of them, from time to time was involved as a go-between when the two of them were quarreling.

The affair ended in a very bad way, with lots of anger between the two of them, resulting in her transfer.

At that time, the sales executive came to me and told me that I needed to choose with whom I was going to remain friends. He told me that I should choose wisely -- and reminded me that he could do more for me than my friend could.

I told him that I would be loyal to him, figuring that I could visit with my girlfriend on weekends and he wouldn't need to know about any of that. Well, he found out anyway. I got word that he is asking questions about me, trying to find out if I am seeing my friend, and that he is dropping negative comments about me every chance he gets.

I went to see my boss, the district manager. He works for this sales executive. When I complained about what was going on, he told me that I should work through it or apply for separation.

I am tired of all this. They are mixing up my personal and work life, and I don't like it.

What should I do?

A. You shouldn't be too righteous.

While this sales executive is guilty of terrible judgment, you have made your own contribution to this mess: You pretended to go along with his ridiculous request, hoping that you wouldn't get caught. Now that you have been, you want your immediate supervisor to bail you out of trouble.

You need to take charge of your situation and set straight both your own conduct and others' expectations of you in a consistent fashion.

Tell your sales executive friend that you had made a mistake in agreeing to take sides in his breakup with your friend. Tell him that you intend to maintain contact with both of them and that, in any event, you are committed to keeping your personal contacts separate from your work. Ask him to commit to doing the same.

Then, go back to your supervisor and bring him up to date on what has happened and ask him to make sure your work gets evaluated fairly, without any personal issues coming into play. And learn from this incident.

Andrew Grove is chief executive of Intel Corp. of Santa Clara. Send questions to him in care of the San Jose Mercury News, Business News Department, 750 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose, Calif. 95190.