no-mates workmates

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Our next questioneer, Claire in Nottingham, is a lone wolf at her workplace, and would like to stay that way:

I currently have a conundrum concerning some workmates who constantly want to socialise with me. While I sometimes enjoy their presence during the odd lunch break, they have become increasingly annoying and sometimes even offend my sensitive nature (eg racist/sexist remarks).

As I have a variety of other non-work related close friends and a live-in partner, and one of these workmates doesn’t, I have indulged her need to socialise with a few cafe visits. Because of the reasonable frequency of these meet-ups, I now find it increasingly hard to wriggle out of them. I’ve even had a dinner invitation and desperately don’t want to go.

How can you politely decline without destroying your work life? ‘I can’t make it that day’ doesn’t seem to work for the permanently friendless.

There are various different approaches:

1. The reality TV deflection: ‘I’m not here to make friends.’ Underline the point by putting this as your email signature.

2. The boldfaced truth: ‘I don’t like to mix my work life and my non-work life. Remember when my brother turned up to the office one day as a birthday surprise, and I refused to see him? No exceptions.’ Underline the point by issuing a pan-company request that photos of loved ones on computer desktops be banned immediately.

3. The barefaced lie: ‘All my spare time is completely busy at the moment, because I’m doing an Open University degree/caring for my elderly mother/on day release from prison.’ Underline the point by getting an Open University degree/ordering mobility aids over the phone at work/wearing an ankle tag.

Readers, please add your helpful suggestions in the comments. The winner’s prize will be a full hour’s lunch with Claire (during which she is immediately called away for an emergency Skype conference with the Rotterdam office, and never returns).

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One Response to “no-mates workmates”

  1. Samuel Says:

    Maybe something about some sort of low-level stress and needing time alone and/or quiet? That is one of the things some people (including me) like about lunchtimes and evenings, especially in busy workplaces, so I am sure it would be possible to make that excuse both constant and convincing.
    Or you could drop lots of hints about dating websites and Friends reunited. More of a high-risk strategy that one I suspect.

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