Author Topic: Spin off of "Using phone at the dinner table" thread  (Read 3288 times)

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happygrrl

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Spin off of "Using phone at the dinner table" thread
« on: December 08, 2013, 05:05:55 PM »
That thread reminded me of what just happened in October to my DH and me. I'd like thoughts on if what we did was OK, and if the situation ever occurs again; what to do.

My company just celebrated a milestone, and hosted a large, informal dinner for the employees, our clients, and some VIPs. I should add that my company is a social service and we provide a variety of services to clients with intellectual disabilities. A great emphasis is placed on making people feel welcome, wanted, and involved. At the time, I was employed for 10 months, so I know everyone--

To make a long story short, the night arrived and I was looking forward to having my DH meet my co-workers and clients for the first time, and showing off the facility. We arrived at the venue to find that most of the people had skipped the pre-dinner drinks and were milling about in anticipation of the upcoming dinner. We choose a table that gave us a good view of the festivities, and proceeded to sit there, by our selves, for the duration of the dinner and awards ceremony. We were the only people at the table that sat 8. My boss was sitting nearby, and made no effort to include us, and the other co-workers were all chatting with their clients and other co-workers. We sat there, and kept thinking that surely someone would sit down for a chat, but nothing. I mean, everyone was friendly and smiled and waved at me/us, but I have never been so embarrassed in my life. I had spent so much time building this place up, and then it felt like a slap in the face. We sat there, ate dinner, talked and joked, and while I had a lovely time with DH, it really hurt. I kept my head up, and acted like things were good, but still.

We stayed until the awards were handed out to the VIPs and clients (I love the clients!), but should we have quietly left  immediately after dinner was over? (And the next working day was bizarre; nothing was ever mentioned, and my co-workers were their friendly selves--). I'm still employed there; only because I want the experience-

« Last Edit: December 08, 2013, 05:07:43 PM by happygrrl »
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BarensMom

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Re: Spin off of "Using phone at the dinner table" thread
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2013, 05:32:55 PM »
That exact same thing has happened to DH and I twice - once at a celebratory dinner for his co-workers and once at a church function.  We finished dinner quickly and left on the first occasion.  The second occasion, the ushers gave our table away to another group of diners while we were in the food line, so we plopped our plates on the table and left.

To be marginalized like that is very insulting, and everyone treating it as "normal" is even more so.

Bales

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Re: Spin off of "Using phone at the dinner table" thread
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2013, 05:36:20 PM »
I'm trying to envision the scene, and am wondering when you sat down if others were already at tables?  Was there no room at another table to fit you and you were one of the last ones there?  It does sound bizarre that nobody would approach to mingle either right before or after dinner.  Could you have gone around to introduce your husband, at least to your boss and a few coworkers/clients?

I certainly don't think you have anything to be embarrassed about.  This is why some people prefer assigned seating; tables don't always turn out even, and in this case, it sounds pretty lopsided.  The only thing I can think you could have done would be to get up when possible to mingle, then maybe others would have done the same. 

happygrrl

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Re: Spin off of "Using phone at the dinner table" thread
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2013, 05:43:38 PM »
Yes, it is insulting; I kept thinking that other co-workers were with our clients, and had to be with them (some, like me, were client-less), and my boss ended up taking pics for a good part of the evening, but still, I can not fathom it.

I just keep wondering if we were "laughing stock" for staying so long, or did anyone even notice?

Bales, that's partially it; some were seated with their clients, and i completely understand that, but it's the ones that weren't that puzzled me. We did mingle, and I did intro DH around, and people were friendly and all, but still, we were left sitting by ourselves for the duration of the evening. One of the strangest things I've ever encountered personally. (I've seen this elsewhere, and I made a point to go and talk to the people, and sit with them--)
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POF

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Re: Spin off of "Using phone at the dinner table" thread
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2013, 05:44:20 PM »
Well - in an effort last year to be more involved in our large catholic church - we bought tickets to the irish dinner - they were $40 apiece and were for a fund raiser.  We were there 15 minutes early.  80% of the tables had been reserved as a whole party and we could find nowhere to sit. No one offered to help us and we ended up sitting in the back with the servers.

We snuck out and i have not been back to that church since. 

Julsie

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Re: Spin off of "Using phone at the dinner table" thread
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2013, 05:47:49 PM »
I just keep wondering if we were "laughing stock" for staying so long, or did anyone even notice?

I assure you that no one noticed.  If they did they probably only gave it a passing thought of "Happygrrl and her husband seem to be enjoying some couple time.".

I think it's admirable that your take-away lesson was to be empathetic to others and treat them the way you wish you had been treated.

Library Dragon

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Re: Spin off of "Using phone at the dinner table" thread
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2013, 06:02:38 PM »
OP, we've been at this type of event.  I've found that people don't realize that they have become cliquey.  In another state the ministerial group that DH belonged to was like this. He wasn't ordained in that area, but transferred in. Everyone always split themselves into class groups.  They did it without thinking.

IMO the reason your coworkers acted as they did the next day is they aren't aware they did anything off.  Perhaps at a future staff meeting, before another social event not now, you can make a comment that it would be nice if everyone made sure that they chatted with as many different people as possible. You don't have to mention what happened to you, but encourage them to make sure no one is left out.  I know you don't want it to happen to you again, but I'm sure you want to be certain it doesn't happen to others.

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sweetonsno

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Re: Spin off of "Using phone at the dinner table" thread
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2013, 06:03:06 PM »
My response depends a bit on the situation. Like Bales, I'm having a tough time picturing it. I guess my main question is whether or not you made an effort to include others. Did you take your husband around and introduce him to your coworkers, or did you go straight to the table? Did you invite others to sit with you, or did you just wait for someone to approach you?

I'll admit that if I was at an event and a couple arrived and immediately took their seats, without a greeting or an introduction, my conclusion would not be that they wanted to mingle and converse. If I was chatting with a group of people before dinner, I would probably try to join their table during dinner as well. I might ask if I could join another table, but I'm more likely to assume that people have arranged themselves into unofficial groups prior to sitting down.

I think you may have inadvertently been sending the message that you didn't want to mingle.

ETA: I agree that the reason that your coworkers didn't say anything is that they didn't think anything was off. I don't think you have anything to be embarrassed about. If you go to another event like this, it's probably better to take some initiative and invite people to join you (or ask to join them).
« Last Edit: December 08, 2013, 06:06:15 PM by sweetonsno »

doodlemor

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Re: Spin off of "Using phone at the dinner table" thread
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2013, 06:08:51 PM »
I just keep wondering if we were "laughing stock" for staying so long, or did anyone even notice?

I assure you that no one noticed.  If they did they probably only gave it a passing thought of "Happygrrl and her husband seem to be enjoying some couple time.".

I think it's admirable that your take-away lesson was to be empathetic to others and treat them the way you wish you had been treated.

I agree that the others probably didn't understand your awkwardness.  Next time, talk with your coworkers before the event and make plans to sit with someone.  That's what people do around here where I live.

sunnygirl

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Re: Spin off of "Using phone at the dinner table" thread
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2013, 06:08:57 PM »
Honestly if I was at a party where people were moving around and mingling, and two people sat down at a table by themselves and didn't move from the table the entire night, and didn't make any effort to approach or mingle despite guests waving and smiling at them, I would assume that for some reason those people just really, really didn't want to have anything to do with anyone else that night. It sounds like the guests were trying to encourage you to join in by waving and either thought you preferred not to mingle, or they just didn't really notice.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2013, 06:10:57 PM by sunnygirl »

Ceallach

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Re: Spin off of "Using phone at the dinner table" thread
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2013, 07:34:34 PM »
Honestly if I was at a party where people were moving around and mingling, and two people sat down at a table by themselves and didn't move from the table the entire night, and didn't make any effort to approach or mingle despite guests waving and smiling at them, I would assume that for some reason those people just really, really didn't want to have anything to do with anyone else that night. It sounds like the guests were trying to encourage you to join in by waving and either thought you preferred not to mingle, or they just didn't really notice.

I tend to agree with this.   At these events you normally move towards seats together e.g. everybody is seated within a few minutes.  It would seem odd to me for somebody to go sit down at an empty table by themselves, I would assume they want to be alone. 

I also wouldn't be kept prisoner where I was seated.  In my original thread you will note that DH and I went "visiting" at other tables as soon as the formal part of the evening was over (speeches).   We did go back to our own table to eat dessert, but then went off again mingling.      I'm not sure why you couldn't go up and introduce your DH to people?    That's what I would have done for sure.   It's easy, you just walk up and say "Hello Boss!  So good to see you.  This is my husband Joe" and wham, you are part of the conversation.   That's all my DH did.   And then everybody else introduced themselves to me, and we struck up a conversation.   So despite the initial boring hour or so it became a super fun night.   

That thread reminded me of what just happened in October to my DH and me. I'd like thoughts on if what we did was OK, and if the situation ever occurs again; what to do.

We stayed until the awards were handed out to the VIPs and clients (I love the clients!), but should we have quietly left  immediately after dinner was over? (And the next working day was bizarre; nothing was ever mentioned, and my co-workers were their friendly selves--). I'm still employed there; only because I want the experience-


No.   You should have made an effort to socialise with your coworkers/fellow guests after dinner was over!    And in terms of why your coworkers were their normal friendly selves the following day, well they honestly probably didn't notice that you were sitting alone not speaking to anybody during the party.   

We all like to think that people see us and know what's happening, but in reality everybody is quite self-absorbed.  They are focused on themselves - their dinner, their seat, their companions, their conversation.      If you want to be seen and be part of the conversation you have to make an effort, it's just a fact.   I say this as somebody who is quite anxious in social situations, so I can definitely empathize.    But it's very rare that somebody will go out of their way to take care of you and involve you - particularly at these events that aren't really "hosted" by a specific person.   We each have to put the effort in.
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TeamBhakta

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Re: Spin off of "Using phone at the dinner table" thread
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2013, 07:42:43 PM »
IMO the reason your coworkers acted as they did the next day is they aren't aware they did anything off. Perhaps at a future staff meeting, before another social event not now, you can make a comment that it would be nice if everyone made sure that they chatted with as many different people as possible. You don't have to mention what happened to you, but encourage them to make sure no one is left out.  I know you don't want it to happen to you again, but I'm sure you want to be certain it doesn't happen to others.

I wouldn't say that to co-workers. It comes across as cryptic and (unintentionally) passive aggressive. I'd be thinking "Well, that's an odd comment from Betty. She must be in a random weird mood today / or having a tiff with Marge / Bob / Sue here. Because that's insulting to tell me, an adult, that I need to behave at a work party."

Ceallach

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Re: Spin off of "Using phone at the dinner table" thread
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2013, 07:45:56 PM »
IMO the reason your coworkers acted as they did the next day is they aren't aware they did anything off. Perhaps at a future staff meeting, before another social event not now, you can make a comment that it would be nice if everyone made sure that they chatted with as many different people as possible. You don't have to mention what happened to you, but encourage them to make sure no one is left out.  I know you don't want it to happen to you again, but I'm sure you want to be certain it doesn't happen to others.

I wouldn't say that to co-workers. It comes across as cryptic and (unintentionally) passive aggressive. I'd be thinking "Well, that's an odd comment from Betty. She must be in a random weird mood today / or having a tiff with Marge / Bob / Sue here. Because that's insulting to tell me, an adult, that I need to behave at a work party."

I agree, very PA.    Also very hypocritical - nowhere does the OP say that *she* was making an effort to go and chat and different people.   So why on earth would she expect her coworkers to come over and mingle when she wasn't going over to them to mingle?     They were all there as workers too, there was nobody whose job it was to entertain her.     I definitely sympathize with the situation but it isn't fair to blame the coworkers for doing exactly what she did herself, socialise with the people they were sitting with or who came over to socialise with them.   
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rose red

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Re: Spin off of "Using phone at the dinner table" thread
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2013, 07:47:37 PM »
In the OP's update in post 3, she said she did attempt to mingle and introduced her DH around.

Ceallach

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Re: Spin off of "Using phone at the dinner table" thread
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2013, 08:24:28 PM »
In the OP's update in post 3, she said she did attempt to mingle and introduced her DH around.

You're right sorry, my last post went slightly too far on that.    I still don't think it's fair to place the blame on the CWs though.  No one person can talk to everybody at the event, nor is it their job too.  If they are socialising and networking then that's all fine, but we can't expect them to notice if a specific other person isn't being socialised with enough or networking. 

It is hard to join a group or be part of a conversation, and it's possible that in this particular situation the opportunities just weren't available.   In such a big group that I would find that odd - usually there would be *somewhere* that you could go tag onto the conversation or hang out with.   It is a shame if not.   
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