Author Topic: New 'Neighbours' Put On The Spot - What Should Have Happened?  (Read 5590 times)

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Sparkle Star

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New 'Neighbours' Put On The Spot - What Should Have Happened?
« on: November 22, 2012, 08:45:50 AM »
This just happened and I'm interested to know if it could have been handled better.

Our office is in a shared building on a business park; within our space we have myself, OH, our employee and an intern, and we also share with two associates. (We're a sort of 'hub' offering a range of services to many of the same clients.)

A new company has moved into one of the other buildings and the two partners have just visited all the offices, taking cupcakes as a 'hello' gift - a lovely gesture and a great way to meet everyone as otherwise you're unlikely to do so! Because of our location, they got to us last.

Whether by accident or design, there were six cupcakes left - just the right number. Except that Associate 1 had a client visiting. The polite thing to do (in my view) would be for Associate 1 to decline his cake so that Client could have it - I don't know if he would have done so or not, as Client immediately jumped up, grabbed a cake and started to eat it without showing any interest in those who had brought it.

Associate 1 then also took a cake. Associate 2 and I realised straight away that there weren't enough left to go round.... as did New Tenants who immediately began to look embarrassed and a little panicky.
Associate 2 and I are very close friends and often understand each other via expression alone, so we shared a 'look' and immediately said we would split a cake between us as we were both trying to be 'good' and lose a little weight before Christmas. This meant everyone else in the office had one each.

I do feel Client was rude to behave as he did; I also think Associate 1 could have been more aware of the situation. New Tenants were obviously embarrassed at running out of cupcakes, but that wasn't rude, just unfortunate.

Any views?
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TootsNYC

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Re: New 'Neighbours' Put On The Spot - What Should Have Happened?
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2012, 09:30:36 AM »
The polite thing to do (in my view) would be for Associate 1 to decline his cake so that Client could have it -

When I'm the boss, I'm the one who passes up the cupcake so that *my* client can have one.

I'm the one who passes up the cupcake so that *my* employee can have one.


I am the one who is at the top of the totem pole, and I am the one who benefits when my department (and even more so if it's a business I own). Therefore it is *my* role to make sure the other people around me are happy and feel appreciated.

Outranking someone, to me, does not mean that I get all the privileges. It means that I get more money, I get the decision-making authority, and I set the standards. Sure, sometimes I get the privileges they don't get, but that's not the main determiner of things like this.

Now, this is "Associate1," and maybe his client doesn't benefit you at all, and maybe he doesn't report to you in any way. In that case, then yes, Associate1 would be the one to pass up the cupcake.

There was a thread here once of an admiral who took a too-big helping of an office treat and left all the lower-ranking people without. It was NOT admired by the people around him, nor the people here. And in fact, Associate1 sure didn't look good either!

I think you and Associate2 did great.

(If I were the client, I'd hang back a bit, thinking that these cupcakes weren't for *me*. But if I were delivering cupcakes, I'd be bummed out that I hadn't thought well enough to be sure I did put one of my new neighbors in this position. And in fact, this is sort of a reason why I think cupcakes aren't the best "hi, I'm a business person who will be working near you" thing.)

camlan

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Re: New 'Neighbours' Put On The Spot - What Should Have Happened?
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2012, 09:44:09 AM »
The polite thing to do (in my view) would be for Associate 1 to decline his cake so that Client could have it -

When I'm the boss, I'm the one who passes up the cupcake so that *my* client can have one.

I'm the one who passes up the cupcake so that *my* employee can have one.


I am the one who is at the top of the totem pole, and I am the one who benefits when my department (and even more so if it's a business I own). Therefore it is *my* role to make sure the other people around me are happy and feel appreciated.

Outranking someone, to me, does not mean that I get all the privileges. It means that I get more money, I get the decision-making authority, and I set the standards. Sure, sometimes I get the privileges they don't get, but that's not the main determiner of things like this.

Pod to everything Toots said.

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Surianne

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Re: New 'Neighbours' Put On The Spot - What Should Have Happened?
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2012, 09:55:34 AM »
Why would you have expected the client to be the one to turn down the cupcake?  How would he know that exactly six people work in your office, and that they all like cupcakes?

I agree with Toots that the boss should be the one turning it down.  The client should definitely be offered one and expected to take one if s/he wants.

Tilt Fairy

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Re: New 'Neighbours' Put On The Spot - What Should Have Happened?
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2012, 10:02:15 AM »
The boss should be the one turning it down but if a boss wasn't present and everyone was equals, any one person if not more could just have turned down a cupcake to save embarrassment for the client and everyone else. It's just a cupcake. I probably would have even offered the client a second one! Clients are unaware of what additional information you are aware of. At most places of business, a client is a valuable person and would be accommodated and a superior or office worker would make a minor sacrifice for the overall harmony of other co-workers and or a client - and in a simple situation such as this which involved cupcakes, any associate or office worker could have easily just refused a cupcake just for the sake of not making anyone, especially a client feel on edge. A cupcake is such a small, insignificant luxury item that passing one up when your client makes a minor faux pas is hardly a large sacrifice.

I'm unsure why a depleting supply of cupcakes would cause anyone to "panic".
« Last Edit: November 22, 2012, 10:04:53 AM by Tilt Fairy »

Twik

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Re: New 'Neighbours' Put On The Spot - What Should Have Happened?
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2012, 10:04:01 AM »
I can only agree with Toots et al. The highest ranking person turns down the cupcake.
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Outdoor Girl

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Re: New 'Neighbours' Put On The Spot - What Should Have Happened?
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2012, 10:06:48 AM »
I think client was fine, if perhaps a bit overeager.  I do agree with the OP, though, that Associate 1 should have bypassed the cupcake when his client took one, since he could see how many cupcakes there were and knew how many people were in the office.  Unless he couldn't know if someone else had already taken their cupcake.  Then he did nothing wrong.

I think the OP and Associate 2 responded perfectly to the situation by agreeing to share one and sparing the feelings of the new 'neighbours'.
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Re: New 'Neighbours' Put On The Spot - What Should Have Happened?
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2012, 10:14:07 AM »
Surianne, to clarify - I didn't at all expect Client to turn down a cupcake, though I did think he was rude to immediately jump up and take one first without exchanging any pleasantries or conversation with New Tenants.

I agree that those higher up the chain should wait until last in such circumstances, but neither Associate 1 nor Associate 2 are my subordinates professionally or report to me unless they are working specifically on a project I have engaged them for - they run their own businesses as sole traders. (We are their landlords in as much as the office lease is in our name, but that is a separate situation.)

The client in this story has engaged Associate 1 and has no connection at all to my business or that of Associate 2 - he is not a shared client and the rest of us had never met him before today. Therefore I felt the right thing would have been for Associate 1 to decline in favour of HIS client.

I also agree that it's *only* a cupcake, but New Tenants were clearly uncomfortable that they might not have enough to go round and while it's no big deal if someone doesn't get one, it's not nice if they feel awkward and embarrassed when they acted with only good intentions (and didn't do anything wrong).

Toots - good point about the perils of taking round cakes as 'hello' gifts! When we moved in to the park we had a drinks party - several other tenants and some of our guests brought along extra people and Associate 2 and I had to sneak off quietly to buy in some extra drinks and nibbles as we were worried about running out! (In the event we didn't and had quite a lot of leftovers, but I'd much rather that than running out.)
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SoCalVal

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Re: New 'Neighbours' Put On The Spot - What Should Have Happened?
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2012, 11:18:18 AM »
I don't think it's such a bad thing to provide food as a "hello" gift, but, yes, you do run the risk of running out and should plan ahead for that as with any event involving food.  That happened to our residents one year -- they gave out too many cookies as they rounded our hospital areas as they introduced themselves and, midway into the morning, had to run out and buy more out of their own pockets (the supervisors had baked the cookies for the residents to give out; the residents were overly generous in handing them out).  I haven't heard of any other year where the residents ran out as they continue to hand out food as a hello.

That aside, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks the higher-up should opt out.  I don't think the client was necessarily rude but clueless (I've done that a few times myself recently).  However, Associate 1 should've not taken a cupcake, but I have a feeling Associate 1 wasn't considering how many would be remaining or didn't care.  That reminds me of the time a friend of mine was moving and had three of us, his friends, at his place early in the morning to help him.  Friend1 stopped and picked up four doughnuts -- one for each of us.  Well Friend1, MutualFriend and I continued working while Friend2 stopped to have his doughnut.  We discovered, when we stopped working to have a doughnut, that Friend2 ate 2.5 doughnuts and wasn't even sorry about it when MutualFriend pointed out there were four doughnuts and four of us so it was supposed to be one for each of us (I think Friend1 was able to get his doughnut; MutualFriend and I certainly weren't going to take it since Friend1 bought them).  Not that it happened again, but I believe MutualFriend and I agreed that should there be future doughnuts, to make sure and stop and set ours aside so Friend2 couldn't eat it (because, given the attitude, we were pretty sure he'd do it again in a heartbeat).



O'Dell

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Re: New 'Neighbours' Put On The Spot - What Should Have Happened?
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2012, 12:01:28 PM »
I think the client was...not exactly rude, but socially inept. Sounds like he helped himself when he wasn't part of the interaction.

And I agree that the higher ranking person should decline. Even if the client hadn't helped himself, he should have been offered one by one of the owners being visited and the owners should have smoothed everything over with the visitors and the shortage.
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TootsNYC

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Re: New 'Neighbours' Put On The Spot - What Should Have Happened?
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2012, 02:38:46 PM »
I think client was fine, if perhaps a bit overeager.  I do agree with the OP, though, that Associate 1 should have bypassed the cupcake when his client took one, since he could see how many cupcakes there were and knew how many people were in the office.  Unless he couldn't know if someone else had already taken their cupcake.  Then he did nothing wrong.

I think the OP and Associate 2 responded perfectly to the situation by agreeing to share one and sparing the feelings of the new 'neighbours'.

The one thing about this is that the Client then may feel self-conscious.

Though I'm wondering if there was a "ooh, cupcakes! Grab one quick" mood on the part of the first 2 people to take a cupcake (Client and Associate1) that make this incident really stand out for the OP.

Iris

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Re: New 'Neighbours' Put On The Spot - What Should Have Happened?
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2012, 05:10:23 PM »
I think client was fine, if perhaps a bit overeager.  I do agree with the OP, though, that Associate 1 should have bypassed the cupcake when his client took one, since he could see how many cupcakes there were and knew how many people were in the office.  Unless he couldn't know if someone else had already taken their cupcake.  Then he did nothing wrong.

I think the OP and Associate 2 responded perfectly to the situation by agreeing to share one and sparing the feelings of the new 'neighbours'.

The one thing about this is that the Client then may feel self-conscious.

Though I'm wondering if there was a "ooh, cupcakes! Grab one quick" mood on the part of the first 2 people to take a cupcake (Client and Associate1) that make this incident really stand out for the OP.

This stuck out to me a bit. We are fortunate enough that at times the home science students bring around the treats that they have made. They are highly prized and there are not necessarily enough for everyone to have one because it's not a catered thing obviously. I have never seen anyone just grab one. Everyone takes a moment to admire the work, exchange pleasantries with the students etc and also to wait for them to explicitly ask if we would like one. Grabbing food like that seems gauche to me.
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Girlie

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Re: New 'Neighbours' Put On The Spot - What Should Have Happened?
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2012, 05:52:43 PM »
I, for one, am willing to buck trend and say that I do think the client was rude. There was a limited amount of food, obviously provided for those working in office. The polite thing to do would of course been to have refrained unless specifically offered a cupcake.

If I were the associate, I wouldn't have taken one once my client did, but would have begged off with a large breakfast or dinner excuse or something.

Slartibartfast

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Re: New 'Neighbours' Put On The Spot - What Should Have Happened?
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2012, 11:50:57 PM »
In a general sense, yes, the associate should have declined politely.  However, the rules of hosting may have been in his way: the client was already eating a cupcake, and declining would have called attention to the fact that there hadn't been enough cupcakes to go around (and with a little logical extension, that the client wasn't expected and therefore grabbed one when he otherwise might have passed).  If it would have then been the associate and the client finishing a meeting together, it would have been awkward for the client to be eating and the associate to have said no.  In that situation, I think the associate was right to accept a cupcake and trust you guys to figure out how to smooth it over.  I do think he should have gone out and gotten cupcakes for the office at the next opportunity, however, as a thanks for covering what could have been an awkward situation.

SoCalVal

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Re: New 'Neighbours' Put On The Spot - What Should Have Happened?
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2012, 11:58:47 PM »
In a general sense, yes, the associate should have declined politely.  However, the rules of hosting may have been in his way: the client was already eating a cupcake, and declining would have called attention to the fact that there hadn't been enough cupcakes to go around (and with a little logical extension, that the client wasn't expected and therefore grabbed one when he otherwise might have passed).  If it would have then been the associate and the client finishing a meeting together, it would have been awkward for the client to be eating and the associate to have said no.  In that situation, I think the associate was right to accept a cupcake and trust you guys to figure out how to smooth it over.  I do think he should have gone out and gotten cupcakes for the office at the next opportunity, however, as a thanks for covering what could have been an awkward situation.

You present a good point.