Supervisor Slip-Up: Embarrassed in the workplace

by epi on April 16, 2013

Q: My office supervisor gave a co-worker an office wedding shower in her supervisor’s home. I could not attend the shower but I did send a lovely gift. The entire office was invited to the wedding, which I could not attend either. My supervisor, after giving the shower, requested the entire office to donate $10.00 a piece for a ‘group gift’. I did not donate to this group gift as I am not close to the bride-to-be and I had already sent a gift to the shower even though I did not attend. My supervisor was upset that I didn’t donate to the group gift and made an issue of it in front of everyone else in the office. My question is who, if anyone in this situation, breached proper manners?

A: Your supervisor did. One does not attempt to humiliate others in public, and one cannot demand a personal contribution to a group gift unless every person has agreed to contribute to that gift. It also is fine, even if everyone else contributes, for one person to decline to participate. This is not a business-related requirement and should not be part of business dealings. It may have been that some wished to give a personal gift, and it also may have been that each person felt that $10.00 for a wedding gift was not their personal choice. Since the waters were muddied by this action, it is unclear what everyone else did, if anything, in addition to the “mandatory” group gift, but ordinarily a wedding gift is sent in response to an invitation, whether one attends or not.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Winifred Rosenburg April 16, 2013 at 8:04 am

I don’t really understand why EPI says you must give a gift if you are invited to a wedding even if you don’t go. Of course that is an option, but if you get an invitation and think “Why am I invited to this?” the option of declining the invitation and not giving a gift is always there. Otherwise some couples can and will send invitations to people they barely know and don’t expect or want to actually come so that they’ll be required to send a gift, and according to EPI’s rule the invitee can’t do anything to remove that obligation.

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Joanna April 16, 2013 at 12:03 pm

I agree. I – as well as many others I know – have a number of extended family members in a particular European country. I can’t tell you how many invitations we regularly get for events ranging from christenings to weddings – events that the hosts must certainly know we are not likely to hop a plane and attend. So IMO those invitations are very clearly money-grubbing, which is just plain tacky.

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Rachel April 18, 2013 at 2:04 pm

I also agree that if you’re given an invitation to a wedding of people you don’t know, it’s fine to send a nice card of congratulations and nothing further.

In my circle of (very large extended) family and friends, sending invitations to people who live far away is done more as an announcement. People aren’t expected to attend or send gifts, the invitation is sent more so far flung family know they are thought of, and wish that they could be there to celebrate.

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Joanna April 16, 2013 at 9:46 am

I’m a bit confused on why the supervisor felt the need to have everyone give a group gift when it seems people were already giving individual gifts….in my experience, if someone in your workplace has an occasion, you’d do either one or the other, but not BOTH.

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Ruth Peltier April 17, 2013 at 6:00 am

It is my understanding that even if you gave a shower gift a wedding gift is expected. This is true even if you do not attend the the wedding as stated in the original answer.

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