DEAR MISS MANNERS: My dilemma stems from the fact that I am new to a small office where strong bonds have already been formed and new people are naturally on the sidelines for a while. The issue concerns a small baby shower organized for a charming young mother who is a pleasure to know.
The words “baby shower” had been a bit tossed around in my second week, but as a new member of staff I was hesitant to know more unless I was approached directly, which I was not.
Everything was fine until they threw the “surprise” baby shower at the office, and I was left there empty-handed.
I understand and totally agree with your point that this is why business and friendship don’t go together, but in my community it has apparently become a cultural thing. And with such a small company and office, things shouldn’t change. Unfortunately, this is just one example of a stream of unwanted behavior from key “players” in the office.
Apart from this drama, I really like my new job. The company is excellent in many ways, has an excellent reputation and is known for taking good care of its employees. I can see myself growing and thriving with this company in other roles, and I don’t want to waste a wonderful opportunity for career growth because of petty office politics.
Is it possible to survive and/or thrive with such delicate office dynamics, especially when it comes to finding greener pastures within this company in the future?
GENTLE READER: Let’s quickly jump to a time when you stood up in this office and were able to welcome newcomers.
Tell yourself to the new employee, “We’re taking a shower for Tanya tomorrow — it’s that nice lady over there; I’m going to introduce you — so you might want to bring a gift”?
Miss Manners hopes not. In fact, she hopes that if you rise to a position of authority, you will act on your agreement that professional and social lives should be separated. But that will be for another time.
For now, it would be helpful to stop viewing the existing situation as petty and delicate, even if you have more compelling examples. If you are cheerful and helpful in your work, the time will surely come when you will be asked to organize the baby shower.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: While I admire the fact that a close friend’s child has graduated from college, I don’t feel obligated to send him the cash gifts he asks for. Am I wrong? I’m sending a congratulations card. Is it sufficient?
GENTLE READER: Congratulations are exactly what is required. Requests for money are outrageous and should be ignored.
But Miss Manners is all too aware that the same people who view the mere announcement as a cash grab often don’t respond at all, which is also callous.
(Please send questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, [email protected]; or by mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City , MO 64106 .)
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