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Miss Manners: Uninvited colleague doesn’t enjoy our lunchtime conversations

3 min

Dear Miss Manners: My co-worker and I have a routine where we eat lunch together. We like to joke and talk during lunch. A new person started working here, and basically invited herself to lunch with us.

We didn’t want to be rude, so we have allowed her to eat with us. However, she seems to get upset when we discuss our personal lives (nothing inappropriate) or make work-appropriate jokes. She ends up leaving.

Should we alter our lunch conversation topics to include an uninvited colleague?

Why, when they have proven so successful in getting her to leave you to them?

Dear Miss Manners: Several weeks ago, I sent a lunch invitation to a family whose sons are in both of my sons’ classes. The mother accepted the invitation, and yesterday (two days before the lunch), I sent her a reminder text.

She replied that she will check her calendar, as one of the sons may have a track meet. Then she informed me that she has three additional, older children, and asked if they were invited. I extended the invitation to them and asked if she could confirm the number with me as soon as possible.

The lunch is tomorrow. Today, I sent a text asking how many chairs I should set out. She replied that she didn’t yet know, and — here’s the part I am a bit miffed about — that her kids are vegan. How would you suggest I avoid getting myself into this type of scenario in the future?

A bit miffed? This person invited extra people, would not tell you if they were actually coming, and then asserted that if they did come, they would need a special menu. Miss Manners would be livid.

But since you asked, she does see your slight misstep. After you issued the original invitation, the mother accepted. Your reminders only served to exacerbate the situation. Twice.

Next time, quit while you have the answer that you want. Certainly, this person might still have shown up with extra children and their dietary constraints, but at least with no warning, you would not have had to scramble in advance — and she might actually have felt some embarrassment.

Dear Miss Manners: Decades ago, while traveling to my brother’s wedding, my husband and I made a side trip to visit my old undergrad adviser. He and his wife had us over to their house, and my adviser, who’d grown up a farm boy, found out that my husband had once worked on a farm.

He engaged my husband in an animated conversation about farming, leaving me to try to make conversation with his wife. I had met her only once, years before, and despite my efforts, I could find nothing in common with her. I was pretty chagrined — I had, after all, come to see him, not her, but I knew that saying so would be rude.

The man and his wife are now long gone, but I still wonder: What should I have done?

Found a way to get in on that farm talk. You might have learned something.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

© 2023 Judith Martin