Work Bridal Shower...but I don't want to!

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bosoxgirl Posts : 231 Registered: 2/3/10
Work Bridal Shower...but I don't want to!
Posted: Feb 11, 2010 8:44 PM

Someone at my job is getting married in a few months and a few co-workers brought up, "I think we should throw her a small bridal shower through work." My problem? I am not friends with this person nor do I like them. My job is pretty small and everyone knows everyone...when someone wants to throw festivities, they expect you to donate money to help even though you don't want to.

Am I obligated to buy them a gift or chip in money for the shower (even though I seriously do not want to attend)? How am I supposed to sound less of a jerk by saying, "No thanks, I do not wish to be apart of it?"

 

  

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Work Bridal Shower...but I don't want to!
Posted: Feb 11, 2010 9:42 PM Go to message in response to: bosoxgirl

Dear Bosox,

Question: If you actually liked the person, would you be a part of the shower?

Separate the two issues. Like/dislike and workplace behavior.

My suggestion to you is to think carefully about how you feel about pseudo-social workplace type parties. Personally, I don't like them.

If you are willing to participate when you like the person, then you'll just have to suck it up and participate when you don't like the person.

If, on the other hand, you are like me and dislike the pseudo-social workplace parties, then make that a general policy of your own. "I prefer to focus on my work when I'm in the workplace."

If they have the party after hours, then you can reply that after hours you are on your way home to your "real" life.

Then, it's nothing personal against the individual.

***

I used to work in a place with TONS of that kind of pseudo-social life. I really really got tired of it. It really runs into some serious money, after a while. They had birthdays, Secret Santas, showers, you name it. I really had to be assertive in staying out of all of it. One person told me that due to peer pressure she had spent as much on her Secret Santa presents as she had on her own husband!

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Work Bridal Shower...but I don't want to!
Posted: Feb 11, 2010 9:57 PM Go to message in response to: bosoxgirl

Dear Bosox,

Another issue: If you have to discipline or fire an employee, it's really tough if you have, in the past, engaged in these pseudo-social interactions.

"But I gave you an expensive shower present. How can you fire me?"

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TheeBride Posts : 130 Registered: 1/17/10
Re: Work Bridal Shower...but I don't want to!
Posted: Feb 11, 2010 9:58 PM Go to message in response to: bosoxgirl

I think that even though you really don't want to be a part of it, if you're the only one that's not participating....unless you don't mind the obvious separation, you should participate. That said, I understand exactly how you feel so, tell them you're in and that you'll just bring a gift. If they press for more, tell them sorry that's all you can really do right now.

Show up with a bib or maybe a pacifier, either one.

I think you'll have made your point and hey, at least you'll get cake.


You're welcome.


Oh and have fun at the party! Haha

"I carry your heart with me, I carry it in
my heart. I am never without it, anywhere
I go you go, my dear..."

E.E. Cummings

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shakinros Posts : 30 Registered: 1/5/09
Re: Work Bridal Shower...but I don't want to!
Posted: Feb 11, 2010 11:10 PM Go to message in response to: bosoxgirl

Yep, I think you have to go. If it IS a small workplace, then the social capital earned by showing up, acting pleasant, and wishing this other person well will be worth more than the consequences of not going. I do love the idea of saying "I'll just bring my own present" if the monetary amount is more than you wanted to chip in. You can always say "I just have an item I really wanted to get her."

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bosoxgirl Posts : 231 Registered: 2/3/10
Re: Work Bridal Shower...but I don't want to!
Posted: Feb 12, 2010 8:46 AM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

Question: If you actually liked the person, would you be a part of the shower?

If I liked the person, I still wouldn't want to participate. There is just something about getting involved with people at work that rubs me the wrong way. Don't get me wrong, I am civil with my co-workers but outside of work, I don't like forming friendships. They never seem to pan out. And when something in the workplace goes wrong, it puts the friendship in the middle. "Why are you writing me up? I thought we were friends??"

 

  

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Work Bridal Shower...but I don't want to!
Posted: Feb 12, 2010 9:13 AM Go to message in response to: bosoxgirl

Dear Bosox,

"If I liked the person, I still wouldn't want to participate."

You are articulating exactly, precisely the way I feel about work "parties" (ie time-wasters). You and I are of one mind.

Here's what I do. I decline to participate in ANY such work party. No matter if I personally like the person or personally dislike the person. I decline.

If I find myself becoming true (not pseudo) friends with someone at work, then the friendship is conducted outside the work place and outside work hours. I might take the person to lunch on a Saturday and give a baby present to her at that time, for example.

I decline all the other time-wasters, such as Secret Santa, decorating desks for Christmas, etc. I don't actively express negative thoughts, but when the Party Brigade comes around, I politely decline, saying I prefer to focus on my job during work hours.

****

This is off the subject, but I'll make another observation. I used to work with a woman, Linda, who was always late. She would get in late, then spend a good amount of time talking to her friends (I was not one of those), making coffee, watching the coffee brew (she liked "fresh" coffee), mixing, stirring, yakking, etc. I'm not exaggerating when I say it was at least 45 minutes from the time she walked in the door to the point where she was at her work station, actively engaged in work.

That drove me nuts.

From then on, I was very mindful of the amount of time between the point I walk in the door and am actively engaged in work. I greet people, pleasantly, but don't stop walking. "Hi, Barb, is that a new haircut?" "Good morning, Bob. Good to see you." etc. I don't stop walking as I greet people. This is key. Unless the person has a work-related question or comment, I don't stop walking.

I get to my desk, turn on my computer, put my purse in my desk, hang up my jacket on the hook, then as soon as the computer is booted, I get to work. I really like to see how little time elapses between foot-in-door and active work.

Finally, another trick. At the end of the day, I always leave my "first job" right on my desk. What will I do first thing in the morning is the last thing I think of when I'm leaving. Something may come up in between evening and the following morning, but most of the time I am able to walk into my office and start on my "first job" right off the bat.

I don't, personally, drink coffee, but if I did I would try to not go and get a cup until I had completed some work task and the break to get a cup of coffee would be kept to a minimum. I wouldn't be like Linda, for whom "getting coffee" was a half hour process.

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CheetahAngel Posts : 2,017 Registered: 11/29/08
Re: Work Bridal Shower...but I don't want to!
Posted: Feb 12, 2010 9:40 AM Go to message in response to: bosoxgirl

If you don't want to participate then don't give money. If someone asks why you are not participating tell them because you didn't contribute to the party because money is very tight right now. I am sure they will understand with the way the economy is now. Tell them you don't feel right participating if you didn't give any money into the fund.

If the party is outside of work then tell them you are a busy person and don't have time to join the party.

 

                           
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ArtBride Posts : 4,838 Registered: 5/9/07
Re: Work Bridal Shower...but I don't want to!
Posted: Feb 12, 2010 10:22 AM Go to message in response to: bosoxgirl

Call your HR person and see if they have any sort of policy on this sort of thing. My employer, for example, makes everyone go through an online 'ethics training' course once a year. One portion of this training is related to gifts/at work semi-social functions. According to my employer, it is unethical to ask colleagues (especially if you outrank them) to contribute more than $5 towards gifts, work parties, or anything like that. And for that $5, you can ask ONCE. If you put any pressure on anyone to participate, it is unethical and grounds for disciplinary action. Because we have those mandatory training sessions once a year, everyone is aware of the policy and complies by it. You might want to discuss it with someone in HR and see whether they have an official ethics policy (and can remind the office) on gifts or money contributed towards office social functions.

If not, you'll just have to decide whether or not to participate. I have never worked in an office where people celebrated much (just the odd retirement party, flowers for a family member's funeral, or baby gift), so it's no big deal to me to contribute $5 once in a while. If this is common in your office, though, I don't blame you for getting frustrated with it - I would, too.

So basically, here's my advice: If you work in the type of office that buys everyone a birthday gift and asks you to contribute to some sort of celebration once a week, I would stop participating. If you work in an office where this is uncommon, I would suck it up and participate whether you like the woman or not. I'd rather not socialize at work, either, but it's usually in your best interest to develop good relationships with your colleagues. Don't spend too much on a gift (or contribute too much time towards helping with the shower), but get her something small as a polite gesture and stay long enough to congratulate her and have a piece of cake.

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NJ4Life Posts : 3,358 Registered: 8/10/07
Re: Work Bridal Shower...but I don't want to!
Posted: Feb 12, 2010 10:51 AM Go to message in response to: bosoxgirl

I'm kinda dealing with something similar today! My office is throwing a baby shower for my co worker. Usually these thigns are done in a conference room and are OK...if any $ is required, it's not much or we can get the person a small gift from ourselves. but this one is at a restaurant on lunch. I like the woman who is having the baby but I am not feeling sitting there on a super long lunch--AND spending money on lunch. Luckily, I have about 15-20 poeple in my office, so I can sneak out alone for lunch. And I never RSVPd

However I agree w/ Artbride. If this is something that isn't common and won't be happening frequently, maybejust suck it up. But if you're always giving $ for somehting (like I am) I think it's OK to just say you dont have the $ and sorry you can't make it.

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bosoxgirl Posts : 231 Registered: 2/3/10
Re: Work Bridal Shower...but I don't want to!
Posted: Feb 12, 2010 2:42 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

In my office, I work with all women and one man. My supervisor is just one year older than I am. The woman who is getting married (not having a baby, y'all! LOL) is in our age range too. There is an odd number of people in my office. Everyone has a person to "pal around with" expect for me. I am the odd man out. I guess it's because I am not a size 2 and I'm not, "Like omg you guysssss!!! What's upppp?!?!?! HOW ARE YOUUUUU??" I have tried to get along with these girls. I have gone out with them for a few drinks after work, I tried to confide in them, but it is no use. I feel like I get crapped on in the end (which I am). Truth be told why I don't like the women I work with, they treat me differently. Woman getting married knows I have spoken to our manager about being cross trained and she doesn't seem to like that. So instead helping me (like I have requested), she is cross-training MY supervisor (who is also her "pal" in the office - she is also in her wedding party, too). So because they are buddy-buddy and she is a bridesmaid, does this mean she is always getting special treatment over me? This has created that sour feeling in my stomach. Not to mention, both of them use any down time in the office to plan her wedding. I am so annoyed. I asked my mother for advice, she told me not to complain to our HR department. I may come off as over-bearing and complaining which could lead to unemployment (And I can't lose my income). But it is so unfair and it really hurts my feelings. I feel like everyone with little friendships treat each other differently than they treat me. (For instance, someone may come into work with chocolates and give everyone some but me. One time, someone brought in xmas pens and gave them to everyone. I didn't get one. Last week, someone made select people lunch and bragged about it in front of me) All because I want to come to work do my work and go home.
Ugh, this is starting to become more about my feelings at my job and I am losing track of my main focus.... ok.. focus...No work bridal shower!

When we had secret santa in the office, I originally said I did not want to participate (why am I going to spend $25.00 on someone that doesn't give me the time of day?) Co-workers kind of gave me an 'attitude' and a bit of a hard time. So I caved. But I don't want to cave again in this situation!

I think if they decide to bring in bridal shower gifts to work, I will just pop my head in and say, "Congratulations on your wedding! Have fun!" and be done with it.

 

  

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ArtBride Posts : 4,838 Registered: 5/9/07
Re: Work Bridal Shower...but I don't want to!
Posted: Feb 12, 2010 4:01 PM Go to message in response to: bosoxgirl

I'd be looking for a new job, if I were you. Your office sounds immature and professionally useless. If you need the income, you need the income - but you're certainly not getting anything from this job. Can you ask to be transferred to another department or something?

I probably would complain to HR, but that's me. I have absolutely no patience for unprofessionalism in a supposedly professional setting, and I don't believe I should be denied training or advancement due to not being part of the clique. If you don't want to complain, then don't - but find yourself another job and mention unprofessionalism as your reason for leaving when you have your exit interview. No need to burn bridges or go into details - just state that your primary reason for leaving is the unprofessional work environment.

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Work Bridal Shower...but I don't want to!
Posted: Feb 12, 2010 4:43 PM Go to message in response to: bosoxgirl

Dear Bosox,

I'm going to give you two-pronged advice.

I am the moderator on a legal/financial website. I lurk in Legal, but answer question in Financial.

The Legal side gets questions like this all the time. I will paraphrase:

"I have a hostile working environment. My boss yells at me. He asks me to do thing the other don't do. The others are all buddy-buddy and leave me out. (etc etc etc)"

The lawyers always respond as follows: (again, paraphrasing)

"The definition of HWE is very specific. If the HWE is due to your race, national origen, sex, sexual preference, religion or any protected class, then that is illegal. If the boss is just being a jerk, then it's unfortunate, but not illegal."

"I can't stand you Yankees fans" is legal.
"I can't stand you Presbyterians" is not legal.

From what you wrote, it sounds like the boss is just a jerk. They cannot maintain a professional environment. It's unfair, yes, but unless it's unfair due to your being in a protected class, then there's nothing illegal about it.

Having said that, I used to work in an office much like what you describe. Complaining to HR would DO NO GOOD, as HR was part of the problem. The entire company was like one touchy-feely mush. They were in a touchy-feely business (employee benefits) but the managers and owners did not run the business like a business. They ran it like a kindergarten.

I grew to truly hate working there.

Finally, I was in a position to quit, and I did.

My strong suggestion to you is this:

1. Bow out of all the company parties. Just tell them that you have a lot to do and need to focus on your work.

2. Unless you have total trust in HR, do not complain to them. Your supervisor will be ticked off if/when you go above her head. You need troubles with the supervisor like you need a hole in the head. Nothing from HR will change her, especially not if HR is like the rest of the company.

3. Seriously look for a new job. You may have to wait until the economy improves, but do what you can to get out of there.


Oh, and the place I used to work? They went out of business. The competition bought them out. Imagine that. The competition ran their business like a business.

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Amberdawn7 Posts : 22 Registered: 2/6/10
Re: Work Bridal Shower...but I don't want to!
Posted: Feb 13, 2010 12:16 AM Go to message in response to: bosoxgirl

I feel your pain. I worked at a school where I felt like an outsider. It's incredibly draining. I agree, keep your head down and in the meantime start looking for a new job.

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