Awkard situation at work


I quite agree! So it seems the challenge for you is how to be friendly (courteous/cordial) yet keep the relationship within professional parameters. This means that you cannot engage in any of the activities that you would avoid outside work, like listening to her personal problems.

It is a good idea to take your breaks. Can you take them somewhere else, or at a different time than she does? Run an errand? Sit in your car?

You have misled her, albeit unintentionally. You may have been clear with your words, but your actions are opposite. If you listen to her personal problems, you are crossing from a professional relationship into a personal one. Asking you to bring a souvenir is evidence of that. Her knowing you are taking a trip is also evidence of that.

No one is saying the advice had to come from the boss. There are other places that people receive guidance in life. Perhaps you can be creative and come up with something else to say that will help you set and keep the boundary you need.

It will be awkward for a while, but if you are consistent and repetitive, it will eventually work. This is the main function of polite excuses.


Find other things to do during the break - run an errand or go outside to make a personal phone call. You can be creative.Of course she will get the CLUE! That is the whole point of polite excuses.

That will work as well.

It sounds like you are expecting others who do not share your faith to follow your religious values. This is a whole other problem that will interfere with relationships and make things awkward. Other people using contraception is not a sin in your relationship with God.

Yes, you have a moral obligation not to encourage sin, but other people talking about using contraception does not constitute you encouraging them to sin. First we are called to love. Correction comes out of loving relationship.

You are not always obligated to “say it is wrong” when you think another person is committing a sin.

Ok. Do you think this is a Catholic position?

It seems you need to ask yourself how you are personally benefiting by taking this role with her. It may be meeting some need that you have, which is why it is difficult to keep a boundary there.


Well, we see it differently. You asked for opinions, and you got some.

You certainly do seem to have some very strong attitudes about this particular social skill. You may not realize that it is routinely taught in basic social skills classes.

When you told your colleague you expected to be heard in the same way you listened to her, she certainly seemed to take it as painfully blunt and uncharitable. She certainly got defensive for some reason.

I will accept that you have a negative attitude about it, and are unwilling to develop this important social skill. I am sure you can find another way to extricate yourself from the awkward situation you have gotten into as a result of not exercising this skill.

Perhaps you still have resentments toward others who have given you “clues” this way.


The whole office knew I was taking a trip. Everyon talks about what they will be doing with their holidays. That is acceptable in an office environment

It’s still a lie which I will not do


If somone talks about using contraceptives and I listen without saying anything, I am sending the message I am OK with contraceptives. Which I am not, and thus need to say it politely for the record. I don’t tell them to stop, I simply say I think it is sinful. If they resent that, not much I can do. People hated Jesus for telling the truth

Yes, the Catholic church teaches homosexuality is wrong

I don’t benefit at all. I just politely listen because I think that is the charitable thing to do


I have trouble believing that and I would wonder about any class that teaches that.

I can’t help but think her insecurities are what made her defensive

In your opinion it is an important social. Not in mine. Of course I know what it is to be on the other end of an excuse. That why I don’t use them. I treat others the way I like to be treated


These relationship issues at work can be tricky. I understand your wish to keep your social life separate from your work life. If you feel so strongly about that, I think your mistake is in thinking you can take your work break with people you work with. Work break is just that. A break from work. It puts you in a place of not working. Therefore, when on break with someone from work, it is reasonable for them to expect friendships may be established where things other than work are discussed.

I am not sure why you are having difficulty regarding the souvenier. The previous poster was correct that you are sending mixed messages. It is not unprofessional or too personal to bring a souvenier to someone you visit with on a regular basis at breaktime. I would give her the gift. You can say something like “I had a wonderful time on my trip and I brought you a little something”. End of story.

If you no longer wish to take your time taking break with this person, then the previous poster had it right. Schedule something else to do at that time. Make a personal phone call, run an errand, take a walk. It is not an excuse or a lie. When you receive an email from the other person asking you to join her for break, just say “I can’t because I have something else I plan to do.”

To be honest, it sounds to me like you may be trying to get your emotional needs met in the workplace. You seem very hurt that you aren’t listened to 40 percent of the time. No offense, but that is kind of strange. You claim you don’t want a close interpersonal relationship with this person, and yet you expect the kind of reciprocity of that type of relationship.

I enjoy people. I enjoy them where they are. I don’t expect emotional fulfillment from the ones I work with, unless I am willing to have a close interpersonal relationship with them.

And an added note, I think you are a little confused on some of the Church’s teaching. The Church isn’t against homosexuals. Only homosexual behavior. Also, there is nothing in Church teaching that says you have to tell others they are wrong with regards to their beliefs. Maybe a chat with a spiritual director could help you on these matters.

I wish the best for you moving forward with this issue.


Nice to see you @QwertyGirl, and hear your sound advice!


I wonder if you might consider learning more about you own faith?

Can you show any church teaching that shows “homosexuality is wrong”?

Do you not get any benefit out of doing something you believe is charitable?

Is it uncharitable for you to set limits and boundaries for yourself, so that you are not finding yourself in awkward social situations at work?

Is there any situation in which it would be charitable not to listen to something?


I am not confused. I know the church is against homosexual behaviorus and if people with SSA don’t act on those urges, then there is no sin. But in so many social situations when I hear people make comments such as ‘is it good that homosexuals now have the right to marry’ I feel that by ot saying anything I am encouraging sin.


I find it curious you place yourself in social situations with people who have these attitudes.

Curiosity aside, what “sin” are you encouraging by staying silent when such a comment is made?


Those comments are everywhere. By staying silent I am encouraging the behaviour


Actually are not.

One can choose whether or not one wishes to socialize with persons who hold these values.


We can also realize that at times words will have no effect and silence is golden. We don’t need to evangelize someone who has no desire to change their thinking. It only causes conflict.


And that is why I chose not to socialize outside of work who make those comments


I would also venture that pointing out other people’s sins is not the best approach to evangelism. People respond to love much better than they do criticism, blame, and condemnation.

I know someone who believes she is called to point out other people’s sins. She is very lonely and has no friends. Even her family members avoid her. It is very sad, really.

One cannot send a semi truck across a footbridge. If we are to address other people about their sins, first we have to remove the log from our own eye (which seems to take an entire lifetime in some cases), then we have to build a sufficient bridge between ourselves and the other person for the message to get across.


Very nicely said, guanophore.


I have many conversations with people in every walk of life, no one has ever simply walked up to me and said that. In fact, that statement ranks right up there with “I am not a racist, I have (insert ethnicity) friends!” as a red flag comment.

Sometimes I wonder if other countries have very different sorts of conversation style.


Sounds like you need to keep conversations distantly kindly/ friendly/ polite, and be only acquaintances/ work colleagues but not friends.

The bible says: ‘Do not cast your pearls upon swine. If someone will not accept your testimony, wipe the very dust of their town from your feet.’

Maybe you will generally need to avoid conversations about religion/ money/ politics / who is right/wrong,

Jesus Himself refused to talk to Herod during His trial, because He knew Herod was there to mock Him, and not genuinely interested in the Gospel.

It takes discernment to know when we ought to speak up for Christ, and when God knows we should stay silent. Pray for discernment daily.

The bible also says: ‘Bear with one anothers faults, just as Christ bears patiently with yours.’
You may have to compromise a little (not in the Faith though), just to keep things distantly friendly/ polite as a work colleague. If you have to work with this person, keep things professionally cordial/ friendly, rather than becoming enemies.

If someone asks for a souvenir, just politely joke: ‘Haha, there weren’t any nice souvenirs.’

It seems as if this person is trying to move things into the ‘friend’ zone, while you want to keep professional as colleagues only.

Just keep it as simple as being a professional / polite work friend only.
That means boundaries too. Just be professional and use a sense of humour to avoid deeper conversations. Also: you can always not respond to unprofessional emails. And tell them afterwards you were busy working on a project and that’s why you didn’t respond,

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