Ditching a Co-Worker.
Going out for coffee or a drink after work with your co-workers can be relaxing–it is also an opportunity to get to know each other away from the office. Depending on who is present, you may still want to treat it as an extension of your job, especially if the drinks are on the company’s dime.
Sometimes, groups form; groups who have established a sense of confidentiality–an “intruder” changes the dynamics.
Have you wished a certain co-worker hadn't invited themselves? What did you do? Here's a recent dilemma:
Q: After work, a few of us like to go to a local bar to unwind. We’re all guys, by the way. Recently, a woman from another department joined us–which was fine. And then again, and again. The problem is that she has now started approaching us about when our next ‘night out’ is. We don’t mind anyone joining us from time to time, however, our conversations can’t be as free-flowing when a female is present. Once in awhile, we’d like a “female-free” night out. What should we do?
A: This situation can become sticky being that it is somewhat work-related. If this female co-worker feels shunned, you may have a law suit on your hands or mandated sensitivity training.
1) You could casually pop by her office and simple say, “We’ll catch you next time, making this a guys-night-out. Have a great evening.”, and walk away.
2) You could change locations without telling her. (not nice and only a temporary solution)
3) You and a third party could take her to lunch and try being honest–diplomatic, but honest. Include her from time to time, or invite her when a few of you go out to lunch.
4) Check your company policies and procedures manual. There could be a clause about exclusion. If a spouse, girlfriend, or non-company friends were a part of your “group”, it can be determined as a personal outing, which lessens the obligation of being all inclusive.
Etiquette approach: If you are new to a group, listen. Try to absorb each person’s personality. I’m not recommending you sit there as an observer–that’s creepy. But don’t butt in changing the subject because you feel left out. Ask questions about whatever they’re talking about. Slowly but surely, you will gain their trust and build a connection. Until that time, don’t show up uninvited, and initially, don’t show up every time, even if you are invited.
Rosalinda Randall is an Etiquette Consultant and Owner of Your Relationship Edge. She has been spreading civility for over fourteen years throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. She provides on-site workshops as well as private consultation to businesses, colleges/universities, private groups, wedding parties, schools, and non-profits.