An awkward invitation

Q. Is it appropriate for a supervisor who is a grandmother-to-be to send around a list asking if any of her employees are interested in attending her daughter’s baby shower? None of the employees really know the mother-to-be, aside from hearing about the pregnancy and seeing her photos in the supervisor’s office.
C. K., Mays Landing, NJ

A. No, it’s not appropriate for this supervisor, who is a grandmother, to send a list around asking if anyone is interested in attending her granddaughter’s baby shower. It would be one thing if there were staff members who were also friends of the daughter, but that’s clearly not the case here. The supervisor is creating a doubly awkward situation for the employees. First, no one should ever be asked if they’d like to sign up for an invitation. Second, do employees say “No” and risk hurting their supervisor’s feelings, or do they say “Yes” and feel trapped into accepting, attending, and buying a gift for the event? It’s a lose-lose situation.

Separating business from personal life is important. If some of your co-workers are good friends as well as colleagues, it’s great to invite them to personal events. Just do it outside of the office. Send phone or e-mail invitations to their home. Additionally, limit talk of the event at the office so other colleagues who aren’t invited don’t feel excluded.
Q. When you have received a sympathy card from your co-workers, should you bring it home to display or leave it on your desk? I don’t want to offend my co-workers.L. S., Manhattan, IL
A. Your co-workers have made an effort to express their sympathy to you by giving you the card. Having it visible at your desk area would be a good way to let them know you’ve received it, seen it, and appreciate the sentiment. It’s also nice to mention your appreciation to those who signed the card. After several days, you can take the card home and feel confident you’ve acknowledged the kindness of your co-workers. If you are one of the card givers, be understanding if the recipient takes the card home without having it on his or her desk for several days.

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