update from the manager who didn’t want to eat lunch with her employee every day

Remember the manager who wanted to stop feeling obligated to eat lunch with her employee every day? Here’s her update.

First and foremost, I had a great experience with you and the community on your site. Your insight, as well as comments from others, put a lot of things in perspective. The major takeaway: I was definitely making a bigger deal out of this than I needed to be.

“Dan” is such a nice guy (I cannot stress this enough). Any little disappointment he showed around “ditching” was noticeable, and a contrast from his upbeat nature. Simply wanting to avoid seeing that because — as other readers pointed out — I was also trying to be “too nice” was a big source of me inflating this problem.

I have since experienced a few instances of miscommunication (reading into things, or not reading into things) with Dan, so I have learned that being straightforward is the best approach.

Coincidentally, we have not been eating lunch together, as a duo or a trio, quite as often. I started taking a work-offered yoga class on Tuesdays, so that was one day I was always out for sure. Then, just as luck would have it, we’ve all taken turns not being available. The best thing about this change, in my opinion, is that we actually enjoy lunch together more, as we have more to catch up on. Absence makes the “heart” (even work, professional heart) grow stronger, I guess.

This whole experience was very helpful. I’m grateful for your site and the community, and I look forward to learning and growing as a manager.

{ 12 comments… read them below }

  1. Kerry

    This is like the happy ending of the world’s lowest-stakes buddy comedy. I love it – especially after Ye Terrible Bosses recently. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Chloe

      +1 (particularly for the phrase “Ye Terrible Bosses.”)

      Also, I am a long-time reader, but this is my first-ever comment! So hello, everyone!

  2. Ruffingit

    I’m glad it worked out and this is a good lesson for us all not to blow things up out of proportion in our own minds. And, too, a lesson in just communicating directly. That saves 10 tons of trouble most of the time.

  3. Anonicorn

    Being in work-mode all day nonstop – for management or employees – can get tiring, so I’m glad you have at least one day of “you time” during lunch. I think everyone deserves/needs that.

    1. Jen

      Yes indeed! I wish my boss would clue in on this and stop eating with us all the time in the work cafeteria. I’ll be sitting with one other lady in the department, talking about TV, our kids, how we can’t find pants that fit, etc. He sits down and then it becomes a discussion on work and work projects and work ideas. Kills me.

      1. Anonymous

        Does he start talking about work stuff when he sits down or do you two change the subject cus of him? If hes doing it thats annoying, otherwise maybe he wants to chat about tv too.

        1. Jen

          No sadly, he changes the subject to work stuff. We’ll continue to talk about our kids or TV, sometimes even drawing him into that “Have you caught any of the new shows this fall? What do you watch?” and he’ll be like “Well, I can’t say that I get to watch much of anything thanks to all of the work that has to be done on this new marketing campaign. What do you guys think of that?” and so on.

          1. Trixie Leitz

            If I had the nerve, I would stubbornly keep changing the subject *back* to whatever you were talking about before he hijacked the conversation. “Let’s save that discussion for the staff meeting so that X and Y can weigh in, too. So, how ’bout that $plot development on $TV show?” If that’s something that doesn’t interest him, he can damn well eat elsewhere.

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd

        That’s a good AAM question. You should mail that to Alison.

        I am pretty close with my direct report staff, and have good relationships with virtually everyone else in my division. We do some personal chit chat during work hours but I would *never* plop myself down to join them for lunch. It’s not mannerly.

        We do have working lunches a few times a month, prearranged and free, good food provided (not just pizza). There’s a bit of social talk and a bit of work talk. This is a socially appropriate expectation for exempt employees but even that would be over the line, IMHO if it was more than a few times a month.

        I don’t know what you do with a boss that clueless other than eat lunch elsewhere.

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