Dear Lola,

I invited my work team to my home for dinner, with the hopes we would all get to know each other a little better outside of the office. Everyone seemed quite enthusiastic, except for one coworker. She thanked me for the invite but declined to attend. I waited with an awkward pause, hoping to hear her reason for declining but she just walked away. I was shocked! Am I unreasonable for wanting to know why she is declining my invite? My wife seems to think I am, but my coworkers say it would have been polite to offer an explanation.


Justification Joseph

Dear Justification Joseph,

I’ve decided the best way to handle your particular letter is with a bluntness that I usually reserve for the human who misses my midday feeding time as she taps away on her keyboard. You took what should have been accepted at face value and morphed it into an uncontrollable beast that has, so far, sucked your wife and coworkers into its gaping maw. That leads me to deduce that you need to be bludgeoned over the head before you accept what is being said.

You are being unreasonable.

Your colleague does not owe you any explanation for how she spends her time outside of the office. You offered an invite to dinner, the invite was declined with a thank you. That is the end of the social transaction. Yet somehow, I sense my answer will only elicit you to poll more people in your social circle until you are satisfied that you are correct. I hope I am wrong about this, but I have a canine sense that my instincts are on target.

After all, you did meet a polite response with umbrage.

If you think I am being hard on you, I invite you to read the first and last sentence you wrote to me. You stated a desire to get to know your coworkers. Then you gossiped about a coworker behind her back to the very people she works with on a daily basis. Well, I have a newsflash for you – the office has certainly gotten a clearer picture of your personality.

And It’s not a flattering portrait.

You need to let this matter drop. In fact, you should probably refrain from hosting any social events until you have learned the art of hearing the word no. Until you can do so without enlisting a hundred friends to critique the behavior of a potential guest, dinners should be limited to you and your wife. The same wife who seems exceedingly aware that the beauty of adulthood is getting make your own decisions without needing to justify them to others.

Take future etiquette cues from her and you may just make new friends.


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