Archive for the ‘Rejection’ Category

Service of Office Friends: Who Is Invited to Special Occasions?

Saturday, April 28th, 2018


I met some of my oldest friends at or through work. And while the article that inspired this post focused on weddings, there are many special occasions—50th birthday parties, 25th wedding anniversaries, a child’s momentous event–that might create the same dilemma: which office friends to invite when faced with constraints of a budgetary nature or of space?

The title of Sue Shellenbarger’s Wall Street Journal story “The Dreaded Wedding Decision: Which Co-Workers to Invite?” covers a lot. You spend more time on the job, shoulder to shoulder with colleagues, more than with most family and friends. It’s natural to share event plans and glitches or address family kerfuffles with these folks as you munch lunch. But who gets cut from the list: Cousin Frank and his nasty wife–which will cause a rift with your aunt and uncle and create stress for your parents–or Frieda and Fred in accounting?


According to Shellenbarger, the reaction of one groom with 18 office friends and space for only three: “Just because you’re really cool with and close to a friend at work doesn’t mean you’re going to be cool and close in your personal life.” When a bride’s work friend told her she couldn’t wait to attend her wedding, she said: “I’m really sorry, but we have kind of a strict guest list. I hope there are no hard feelings.” There weren’t.

One bride in her story opted for fewer flowers and a less expensive dress so she could invite all 15 of her co-workers. A wedding expert shared the obvious point that you should invite the entire group if you’re inviting most of a small team of co-workers. As for inviting the boss, another expert suggested to think twice if she/he is buttoned up and your family is wild and loves to party.


“Couples agonize over which co-workers to include and how to cushion the hurt among those they leave out. Balancing your needs without damaging important relationships requires nuance.”

One couple who worked in different departments at the same airport invited 30 guests and kept mum about their wedding. When they returned to work the bride was bombarded by co-workers with questions as to why they weren’t invited. To smooth things out she promised to invite to a housewarming party one person who would no longer speak with her.

Shellenbarger reported on a survey by The Knot of 13,000 couples which showed that guest lists shrank last year by 13 people to 136, as couples are increasingly passing on spacious banquet halls in favor of smaller venues like historic mansions or barns.

Social media postings spill the beans at work even if you don’t: Shellenbarger reported that nine out of 10 couples post engagement pictures.

Have you been in this situation or observed others who were? What is the best way to handle the stomach-wrenching dilemma if you can’t, or don’t want to, invite the entire office gang? Do you have other issues to consider if you are a manager?


Service of Rejection

Thursday, October 27th, 2011


A great friend asked me a question that someone inquired of her: “How is it that you remember the slights and putdowns forever and never the compliments?”

And while I agree that you can wear yourself out, feel and act whipped if you dwell on negative input, facing and fixing the cause of a verbal slap or rejection, whether true or unwarranted, is like practicing to improve your tennis backhand: It can’t hurt and you may become remarkable.

f-grade-2Peggy Payne pointed to three others, in addition to herself, whose careers benefited by fighting negative evaluations, expectations or an F grade in “How Insults Spur Success.” I have an issue with the word “insult” in her case. Being passed over by a program for brilliant teens isn’t insulting, it’s a rejection. This is what happened to Payne 46 years ago. She’s now an accomplished, prize-winning author. But whatever you call it, Payne observed:  “There’s nothing like a little ‘I’ll show ’em’ to incite ambition. Many people cherish their motivational insults.”

anxietyPayne also wrote about a woman whose test revealed she was too anxious to succeed at grad school. She not only graduated, she’s currently a psychologist. Then there was a philosophy professor who got an F in his first philosophy course and a designer and producer of books who was crushed when her first grade teacher said: “You are nothing like your brother. He loved to read and draw.”

If you finish Payne’s New York Times article you’ll learn that she wrote it to report that the legislature has cut off the program that rejected her–the Governor’s School of North Carolina–and that alumni are raising funds to keep it alive. Her support is an example of her gratitude to the program; the good it does and what not attending has done for her.

You may have been rejected or insulted and therefore driven to action by a relative, teacher, friend, fellow student, boss, acquaintance or stranger; rejected by a university, potential employer or scholarship program or shocked into high gear by a bad grade or test score. And now look at you! You are recognized and/or you excel thanks to your drive to discredit the naysayer. Can you point to such examples?


Service of Reading the Small Print

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011


Do you sign up for free computer programs without reading the agreement’s small print? I do and feel nervous every time, expecting to get a bill for $zillions or find out I’ve opened myself up to some kind of catastrophic obligation.

People get married with prenuptial agreements and 50 percent don’t pay too much attention to the “in sickness and in health” part of their wedding vows. Maybe the feeling is that canny lawyers can slip you out of almost anything including employment and client contracts, wills and rental agreements. There’s a joke in our family that when submitting an insurance claim be prepared to learn that the company doesn’t pay for operations done on Tuesdays, when you had yours, and that the tree that knocked a hole in your roof was an elm, and they only cover damage from maples.

nypubliclibraryAccording to Michael Barbaro who wrote “In Elite Library Archives, a Dispute Over a Trove,” in The New York Times, writer Paul Brodeur wants back all the papers he gave to the New York Public Library many years ago. Seems the library distilled to 53 the 320 boxes this 79 year old novelist-turned-investigative reporter donated and told him that he has until August to pick up the remaining boxes or they’ll trash them.

Barbaro reported that archivists “noted that Mr. Brodeur had explicitly given up all rights to the papers when he signed a ‘deed of gift’ donating them to the library. According to that deed, the library ‘reserves the right to return’ any items it wishes and ‘may dispose of the same as the library determines in its sole discretion.'”

No doubt the library has run out of space and is revisiting all of its archives to make room for more papers without having to rent or buy additional space. Whatever the reason, the result hurt Mr. Brodeur’s ego and expectations. He was told in 1997 that his papers had been “reviewed and prepared for public viewing” and were in the permanent collection’s 88 miles of stacks. Last summer, library staff informed him that they had weeded out such things as “photocopied news stories and multiple drafts of New Yorker writings.”

pilesofcartonsWhat’s sad is that the papers–whether in the 267 boxes that the library plans to toss or the entire 300+ cartons if Brodeur wins the argument–will no doubt become moldy and useless in the shed he’s built for them on his Cape Cod property. In any case, it doesn’t appear from the photo of the shed in the paper that researchers will be able to access them from the cramped wood structure.

Do you think the library should give Brodeur back all his boxes? Have you been burned by not reading the small print? Do you feel that anyone with enough money or power can find or create a loophole to slip through whether the print is large or small?


Service of Disappointment

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

disappointmentHad Butler beaten Duke in last night’s NCAA 2010 Championship Tournament it would have been grand. Few had heard of Butler before the game while Duke, the top rated team, is a well known college.

butler1Now millions have heard of Butler, but the team, three last minute points from victory, must nevertheless be disappointed. None will forget the season and hopefully most will take pride in what they and their 33 year old coach, Brad Stevens, did for a little-known school: They put it on the map.

As reported in The Wall Street Journal, some of the country’s most successful people–Warren Buffett, Ted Turner, Meredith Vieira, Tom Brokaw, Harold Varmus, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center president and Nobel laureate–suffered disappointment when they weren’t admitted to the colleges of their choice, wrote Sue Shellenbarger in “Before They Were Titans, Moguls and Newsmakers, These People Were…Rejected.”  

These luminaries clearly remember the rejection but didn’t let it trip them up. Like a leak in a brick house, they were intent on making their marks one or another way and nobody and nothing stood in their way.

scholarshipwinnersWhen the New York Women in Communications Foundation scholarship committee asks student applicants about how they handled a disappointment their answers, if memorable, can help them win a generous scholarship. Eligible students range from high school senior through graduate school.

When you work with volunteers you’d best adjust your expectations, be prepared to be disappointed or to do all the work. When I was president of an industry association, the volunteer board member in charge of marketing sat on a fabulous initiative that I couldn’t wait to launch. On the one hand, I knew that nobody would remember if it happened on my watch and that it would eventually get done. On the other hand, over-nudging this person–who took advantage of the fact that he was my client–wasn’t an option. It happened the next year.

I have friends who never forget a slight, a rejection, any situation that doesn’t turn their way. They might say that I’m the denial queen, but I have learned to forget. For example, it took me forever to come up with the example above and when I mentioned this to my husband he reeled off a zillion other disappointments, such as losses of major clients. I’d actually put the lot out of my mind.

Depending on the situation, it might take me years to forget a disappointment and I might actually be affected in ways I don’t recognize. When I happen to revisit the mental black and blue mark left by a disappointment I am amazingly relieved when touching it no longer hurts, although sometimes I’m surprised if the memory, no longer in my face, still gets a rise out of me. Of one thing I’m certain: Dwelling on a disappointment doesn’t serve any purpose. 

How do you handle disappointments? Have you used any to your benefit?


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