Gifts at the workplace

A colleague once told me how her husband surprised her by arranging for a barbershop quartet to sing her Happy Birthday at work.  She hated it.  She’s a quietly-spoken Englishwoman; having a singing troupe serenade her in the middle of the office must have been a living nightmare for her. 

“I screamed at him later,” she said to me.  “How could you ever think I would like something like that?”  Fair point – they had been married many years by this stage.

You won’t be surprised to hear that they’re not married any more.  I doubt it was the barbershop quartet birthday that did it, but I’m sure it didn’t help!

And I remember working at an industrial site, years ago, when a young factory worker was called to reception to sign for a delivery: a bouquet of flowers from his girlfriend.  Wayne was mortified, and immediately gave the blooms away to the first office lady who would take them.  I bet his girlfriend would have been horrified if she’d known how abruptly he’d disposed of her well-meaning gift.

Come to think of it, I can recall several occasions of men friends grumbling that it wasn’t fair, they couldn’t be given flowers.  But probably all of them would have rather not had flowers delivered to their workplace.  Especially if they were 18 and worked in a macho place like a factory.

It all goes to show: gifts delivered to the workplace can either be a smashing success (as in Piers’ flower delivery) or a crashing failure.  The important thing is to really know what the recipient would like.  As a general rule, I’d say: if the recipient is an introvert, don’t have it delivered to their workplace.  Extroverts, though, are likely to lap up the attention.  If in doubt, save it for somewhere more private – your relationship may thank you for it!

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