Author Topic: S/O Gift Giving At Work  (Read 1334 times)

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aussie_chick

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S/O Gift Giving At Work
« on: August 26, 2013, 04:31:17 AM »
The other "gift giving at work" thread made me think of this story. Just interested to see what you all think.

Friend (we'll call her Bridget) was a keen baker as is her mother (they live together). At Christmas time they would spend a whole weekend baking cookies for their friends/family to give during the holiday season and to make sure they had a gift on hand for unexpected visitors.

Bridget would always bake cookies for her colleagues, think an office department of about 15 people.

One year, she did this as usual. It had been a tense year at work, Bridget can be a bit sensitive/moody at times but had made an effort to make amends with her colleagues and one part of that was giving them all tins with cookies in them as usual but with a handwritten card tailored for each individual.

2 colleagues who were still annoyed with Bridget over the previous couple of months, returned the cookie tins to her desk without a word. They had obviously opened the cards, and opened the tins (envelope torn open, card shoved back in, ribbon taken off tin and tape that sealed it taken off) but didn't say a word to her.

I have other friends at that office and everyone was talking about it. Some were of the opinion that they were right not to take the gift because they were so unhappy with Bridget at the time and it was hypocritical to take a gift from someone you don't like, whereas others said Bridget was obviously trying to make amends and they could have taken it graciously and started to rebuild the working relationship and the fact they opened it before returning it was just rude and unnecessarily mean.

I'm not really sure where I stand although I know how hurt and upset Bridget was. I think it wouldn't have been so bad to return the gifts unopened (it was easy to see they were from Bridget, the tins had painted on them "merry christmas from Bridget") but the fact they opened the card and the gift and then returned it was off. But I don't know.

What do eHellians think?

KarenK

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Re: S/O Gift Giving At Work
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2013, 06:21:44 AM »
I think returning the cookies was incredibly childish, rude, cruel, and hurtful. The only reason to refuse a gift from someone is if you have cut that person off completely, and I can't imagine what could happen in the workplace to result in that.

And, the only thing that should have been opened was the card, to determine who gifted them. If the gifter had so offended the giftee that one could not in good conscience accept anything from them, what difference does it make what's in the tin?

I can only imagine that these two would have thrown a fit if Bridget had given cookies to everyone but them. They should be ashamed of themselves.

MariaE

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Re: S/O Gift Giving At Work
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2013, 06:34:59 AM »
I think returning the cookies was incredibly childish, rude, cruel, and hurtful. The only reason to refuse a gift from someone is if you have cut that person off completely, and I can't imagine what could happen in the workplace to result in that.

And, the only thing that should have been opened was the card, to determine who gifted them. If the gifter had so offended the giftee that one could not in good conscience accept anything from them, what difference does it make what's in the tin?

I can only imagine that these two would have thrown a fit if Bridget had given cookies to everyone but them. They should be ashamed of themselves.

I agree. Returning the cookies (opened or unopened) is the nuclear reaction, and I have a hard time believing that Bridget did anything to deserve that. Unhappy is one thing, but returning (non-toxic) gifts is one step before giving somebody the cut-direct.
 
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sammycat

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Re: S/O Gift Giving At Work
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2013, 06:35:23 AM »
What KarenK said!

 :o

Sharnita

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Re: S/O Gift Giving At Work
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2013, 07:22:40 AM »
Actually, I think it depends what she was making.amemfs for. Ot also depends if there was a patyern to her behavior - kind of "I hate you/I love you/I hate you/I love you".    If her moodiness manifests like that, the gifts might seem like pary of the cycle of behavior.

Frankly, none of us are part of her work environment. We don't k.ow what she did or how she ompacts morale. I don't think we know enough to draw concludions.

camlan

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Re: S/O Gift Giving At Work
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2013, 07:28:57 AM »
Two things.

First, if the tins were clearly marked as being from Bridget, the co-workers should not have opened them if they knew they were just going to return them to Bridget. That's rude.

Whether they should have returned them or not? It's hard to say. I wouldn't accept a gift from anyone with whom I was not speaking or who had hurt me severely. I'd need to know a lot more about Bridget's moodiness and the effect that had on the office before I could say whether or not the co-workers should have kept the cookies or not.

Unless the co-workers who returned the cookies are also sensitive and moody, which is a real possibility, I can't fault them for not accepting the cookies. I can fault them for the way they did it. It's one thing to return an unopened gift because you are not comfortable accepting gifts from that person. That's saying that you don't have a gift-giving relationship with that person. You aren't rejecting the specific gift; you would be rejecting all gifts from that person. It's another thing to open and inspect the gift, then shove it back in the gifter's face--that's implying that if the gift had been a better gift, you might have kept it.

But the second thing is, I'm not sure cookies were the way to appease the co-workers. Frankly, if I were upset with a co-workers about work-related things, the way to make it up to me would be by doing your job really well, and hiding the effects of the moodiness and sensitivity while at work.

In certain circumstances, those cookies would seem like a bribe. "Here, I know I've been a lousy co-worker this year. Have some cookies and we'll make it all better."

I wouldn't want cookies; I'd want to see improvements on whatever the behavior was that caused the problems in the first place, not be bought off with cookies. If I felt the cookies were an attempt to buy me off without fixing the real problem, I'd return them.

Not saying Bridget was wrong to bake and give the cookies. But she needed to accompany the cookies with changes in her own behavior to show that she really was trying to make things better.
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shhh its me

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Re: S/O Gift Giving At Work
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2013, 07:40:38 AM »
Actually, I think it depends what she was making.amemfs for. Ot also depends if there was a patyern to her behavior - kind of "I hate you/I love you/I hate you/I love you".    If her moodiness manifests like that, the gifts might seem like pary of the cycle of behavior.

Frankly, none of us are part of her work environment. We don't k.ow what she did or how she ompacts morale. I don't think we know enough to draw concludions.

In a personal relationship I'd agree. If the cookies were just for them and not an annual for the entire dept thing , I'd agree.  I think at work after unless its a safety issue you're obligated to create the least possible amount of drama.  So the least dramatic approach to "everyone was given cookies" is just to say thanks and toss them once you get home.   Although if the card said something vile , manipulative or expressed that the cookies would be an agreement of sort/continues the argument" Even though you were wrong about everything I'm going to be  the bigger person, have some cookies"  then I think they can return the cookies.

aussie_chick

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Re: S/O Gift Giving At Work
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2013, 09:19:45 AM »
Hi All, Op here.
Thank you for the swift replies.

Couple of things for anyone who might be wondering... I work in the same industry, but a different company to Bridget which is why I know so many internal office politics of Bridget's company. Both have a lot to do with each other and the gossip can be rife!

Bridget has very high expectations of work ethic and workplace behaviour. Sometimes her standards might be too high I don't know.
Co-worker #1 who returned the gift, about 6 months earlier they and Bridget had an incident at work where he put his hands on her shoulders as she was sitting at her desk. She asked him not to touch her, he didn't stop, she asked again, he asked her if she was frigid. She never took it further and left it there but snapped at him that they were at work and she doesn't want to be touched.
Later on horrible incident happened to co-worker #1 and Bridget was responsible for telling colleagues about what happened. She didn't want to, but upper management insisted because she was acting manager. Bridget didnt think that information should be disclosed even if co-worker #1 wanted it to be. Bridget was upset by horrible incident and didn't access debriefing or counselling like I wish she had because horrible incident affected her badly, especially when co-worker #1 returned to work. Think isolating herself from colleagues, not wanting to participate in casual group lunches, being snappy, emotional rollercoaster, crying one minute, sullen the next. In my (non expert) opinion she was suffering severely from what happened and really needed some help at the time.

co-worker #2 was in the same role as Bridget and from what I can understand, they used to argue about work in terms of each having a different way of doing anything. From what I know, that's the extent of their disagreement.

I don't know specifically what each card said but from memory I think it was something along the lines of "it's been a tough year, I really appreciate working with you and value our team. I'm going to work hard on being a better X Company co-worker. Merry Christmas". That may not exactly be it, but I do remember asking her about it and it wasn't a "you're bad, but i'm nice, so have cookies" kind of card.

Bridget also told me that at her last team meeting as acting manager before the regular manager came back, she addressed the team apologising if she had offended/upset/annoyed any of her colleagues over the previous few months and acknowledged it had been a hard time for them all and apologised saying she knew looking back that she hadn't reacted the way her team deserved. So from what I gather, the cookies were a second act at making amends.

Obviously i don't work there 8 hours a day and I only heard this stuff from Bridget from her perspective so her colleagues may not have felt what she said/did was enough.

Sorry for the long winded reply but wanted to add more info for those interested.

I really appreciate everyone taking the time to reply on my first ever topic. I think i'm ok with someone refusing a gift from someone who they feel as wronged them. But i think in the same situation, at work, I would take it, say thank you and toss it on the way home. Or if i felt so strongly, I wouldn't open the gift/card at all and just return it. I think the thing I feel most uncomfortable about with this story is the opening the card/gift and THEN returning. As another poster suggested, there is almost an implication there that if the gift was better they might have kept it.

Twik

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Re: S/O Gift Giving At Work
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2013, 09:57:38 AM »
I'm not sure what went on with Co-worker #1, but it sounds like he should be darn glad that Bridget didn't have him fired for sexual harassment, let alone give him cookies.

Co-worker #2 sounds like she needs to get over herself.
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Sharnita

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Re: S/O Gift Giving At Work
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2013, 10:03:10 AM »
I don't really get the stuff w first cw. He sexually hatrassed her, she didn't report it. Then some horrible trauma happened to him and telling the staff about it triggered some sort of.PTSD in hwr,.making her have.mood swings at work?

Twik

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Re: S/O Gift Giving At Work
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2013, 10:12:11 AM »
Did the "horrible incident" with Co-worker #1 involve jail time, perhaps?
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."