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  1. #1
    Plumage and Moult proteanmix's Avatar
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    Default Let them eat cake!

    An interesting situation happened yesterday at work.

    One of my friends is the executive assistant to the division director. Yesterday we had some cake in the employee lounge and my friend brought the division director (her boss) a piece of cake. He didn't ask her to bring it, she just did (she's an FJ ). Another director (not divison) was in the office when she brought her boss the cake. The other guy asked her to bring him a piece of cake and she gave him a look (she's an FJ ), he turned red and went and got himself a piece of cake.

    Now this is the question: Given the fact that she's the executive assistant (not general administrative assistant) should she have brought the other director a piece of cake? She's worried that she should've just gotten the other guy a piece of cake as well since he asked. I don't think she had any obligation to get him a piece of cake, but I also understand the dynamics between directors and administrative assistants and how petty people can be. I also think that since the other director reacted so quickly to her initial reaction "the look" that maybe if he had waited another 10 seconds or so she may have (begrudgingly) gotten him the cake.

    This whole thing isn't about cake, it's about how to respond to the nuances of the inevitable pecking order. The spurned director may or may not have thought twice about what happened. It's just that this kind of unspoken stuff happens a lot at work and it's tricky to know when to react or how to react or what to do.
    Relationships have normal ebbs and flows. They do not automatically get better and better when the participants learn more and more about each other. Instead, the participants have to work through the tensions of the relationship (the dialectic) while they learn and group themselves and a parties in a relationships. At times the relationships is very open and sharing. Other time, one or both parties to the relationship need their space, or have other concerns, and the relationship is less open. The theory posits that these cycles occur throughout the life of the relationship as the persons try to balance their needs for privacy and open relationship.
    Interpersonal Communication Theories and Concepts
    Social Penetration Theory 1
    Social Penetration Theory 2
    Social Penetration Theory 3

  2. #2
    Senior Member Ilah's Avatar
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    I think as a general rule of thumb, it is not good to offer food to one person in the room, but not others. It is rude to the person who is excluded.

    I once had a job where cake was offered to everyone in the room except me because I was only a contractor and not a "real" employee and I felt very emotionally hurt by it.

    If your child brings a friend home, you can't offer a snack to your child without offering one for the friend. You give it to them both or wait till the friend is gone.

    Ilah

  3. #3
    / booyalab's Avatar
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    If the "other guy" was smart, instead of asking for a piece of cake, he would've joked about it, subtly highlighting the unfairness of the situation to guilt the FJ into getting another one. Amateurs.

    Anyway that's what I would've done, then when/if she offered to go back I'd say "no, that's ok I'll just get it myself...". *trudges away, ftw*
    I don't wanna!

  4. #4
    にゃん runvardh's Avatar
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    Pecking order can kiss my back side. Ask and you may recieve, that's the best I'll give anyone. But I'm not FJ,
    Dreams are best served manifest and tangible.

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    I accept no responsibility, what so ever, for the fact that I exist; I do, however, accept full responsibility for what I do while I exist.

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  5. #5
    unscannable Tigerlily's Avatar
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    He can get his own cake. She's at work, not home and I would have told him where it was and that he'd better hurry or it'll be gone unless she knew he would be in there jonesing for a piece and doesn't mind him personally. Some men still have that caveman mentality that women were put on the earth to serve them.

    edit: I am assuming she didn't know the other director was in the room when she brought the cake?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ilah View Post
    I once had a job where cake was offered to everyone in the room except me because I was only a contractor and not a "real" employee and I felt very emotionally hurt by it.
    That's blatant and I don't approve.
    If your child brings a friend home, you can't offer a snack to your child without offering one for the friend. You give it to them both or wait till the friend is gone.

    Ilah
    Agreed but in an office setting I don't think the same rules apply. I've worked with groups of people and it can get out of hand. For example, lunch. I think unless you're bff's with someone, picking up lunch for everyone is a pita.
    Time is a delicate mistress.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Sunshine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by booyalab View Post
    If the "other guy" was smart, instead of asking for a piece of cake, he would've joked about it, subtly highlighting the unfairness of the situation to guilt the FJ into getting another one. Amateurs.

    Anyway that's what I would've done, then when/if she offered to go back I'd say "no, that's ok I'll just get it myself...". *trudges away, ftw*
    Hahahaha.

    +1

  7. #7
    Senior Member prplchknz's Avatar
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    If I'm in a good mood I'd probably give anyone who asks a piece of cake. If not I'll point to the cake and let them know if they want any they'll have to go get it themselves.
    In no likes experiment.

    that is all

    i dunno what else to say so

  8. #8
    にゃん runvardh's Avatar
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    Actually, IF, I'm a little more vein. A good friend needs my help on the weekend, but my boss ask for some extra hours on Saturday. If my boss is screwed if I don't take the shift I'll consider it enough to work out what's best for both of us and still try and make it to help my friend when I'm off. Otherwise, my time goes to my friend first.
    Dreams are best served manifest and tangible.

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    I accept no responsibility, what so ever, for the fact that I exist; I do, however, accept full responsibility for what I do while I exist.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  9. #9
    Plumage and Moult proteanmix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by booyalab View Post
    If the "other guy" was smart, instead of asking for a piece of cake, he would've joked about it, subtly highlighting the unfairness of the situation to guilt the FJ into getting another one. Amateurs.

    Anyway that's what I would've done, then when/if she offered to go back I'd say "no, that's ok I'll just get it myself...". *trudges away, ftw*
    Hmmm, this is interesting. I won't say it wouldn't work. But why would you do it? If you see the FJ wasn't trying to be mean and nasty why play her like that? For shits and giggles?

    I appreciate your honesty because this is the type of stuff that goes on all the time in my office. It's a lot of sly and subtle hints going on that you're supposed to just get. Which is why my friend is second guessing herself about how she should've reacted. Now if he'd just said, "I'm the director and you're the assistant so get me the cake" it wouldn't go over very well. But essentially that's what's being asked.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jen View Post
    He can get his own cake. She's at work, not home and I would have told him where it was and that he'd better hurry or it'll be gone unless she knew he would be in there jonesing for a piece and doesn't mind him personally. Some men still have that caveman mentality that women were put on the earth to serve them.

    edit: I am assuming she didn't know the other director was in the room when she brought the cake?
    Correct, she didn't know the other director was in the office. She went to get the cake for herself and then thought about getting some of her boss and gave it to him. I really hate stuff like this, because it's been done to me before and my attitude comes out in situations like this. I'm not sure because I tend to bristle at people asking me to do menial tasks, but I know there is some amount of pride-swallowing that must happen. There's a pretty stark divide between who's in an office and who's in a cube.

    As far as the pecking order stuff is concerned, I'm curious about how people who work in office environments deal with it. How do people avoid getting caught up in it? I don't see a way around it personally. I'm not saying you've got to toss people's salads, but really, unless you're the boss with no other supervisor above you do you just not participate? Has this been successful for you? I've watched who gets promoted, who doesn't, who's favored, who isn't and all that stuff and to be honest there is a healthy amount of "know your role" necessary to be upwardly mobile. I've seen more people move ahead because they are well-liked rather than being the best candidate for the job. And I'm not opposed to that either, but it should at least be more balanced between being well-liked AND being competent. I know what it's like to work with someone who's competent but is an unholy terror to deal with interpersonally and it demotivates everyone.

    This situation is such a microcosm of so many intersecting things.

    Gender roles: Both of the directors were men, and the assistant was a female. Would the director who asked for my friend to get him a piece of cake done that if it was a male assistant?

    Race/ethnicity: My friend is Asian-American. She told me the reason why she thinks the higher-ups like her so much is because she fits the docile Asian women stereotype. She does what she's told to do, doesn't request much time off and neglects taking care of her personal business (going to doctor's appointments, getting her car fixed, etc.) because she's afraid to miss work and have them disapprove.

    This past winter she had bronchitis and didn't take any time off to get well. Just last month she had shingles and wouldn't take any time off because her boss hinted to her that it wasn't a good month because of some very important meetings going on at the time!

    Frankly, I wouldn't feel comfortable asking someone to get me a piece of cake that I could've easily gotten myself so I feel the whole thing was inappropriate.

    And just in case all three people involved were Ns: the executive assistant is INFJ, the division director is INTJ, and the director is INTP.
    Relationships have normal ebbs and flows. They do not automatically get better and better when the participants learn more and more about each other. Instead, the participants have to work through the tensions of the relationship (the dialectic) while they learn and group themselves and a parties in a relationships. At times the relationships is very open and sharing. Other time, one or both parties to the relationship need their space, or have other concerns, and the relationship is less open. The theory posits that these cycles occur throughout the life of the relationship as the persons try to balance their needs for privacy and open relationship.
    Interpersonal Communication Theories and Concepts
    Social Penetration Theory 1
    Social Penetration Theory 2
    Social Penetration Theory 3

  10. #10
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Without bothering to read anything but the OP:

    The FJ was doing her boss a kindness by bringing him cake.

    She didn't know another boss was visiting, or she probably would have brought two pieces, as my best guess, so as to avoid any tension and to be nice.

    The other boss didn't really have any business asking her to fetch him cake. She's not his employee, nor is "fetching cake" really part of someone's job description -- it's a nice thing that people might do for each other just to be kind/considerate. If he was going to ask at all, I hope he phrased it like, "Wow, that looks good -- if you go back out at some point, would you mind bringing me a piece on your way back?"

    That might be pushing it, but it's the "most polite" way I can think of someone in his position to ask her without making her feel compromised because he has more authority over her in the company. [i.e., it returns the gesture to one of "being nice" rather than being an obligation demanded by one in authority]. The context in which he asked really put her in a bind and in a way was an unfair use of his authority.

    It sounds like he realized his gaff immediately, since he got embarrassed and got it himself. So it's not like he didn't recognize what he had done once he saw her reaction.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

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