Significant life events like weddings and new babies deserve some recognition in the office--after all, if we are going to say we have an excellent work-life balance, we need to recognize that life happens outside the office. But, I got this question from a reader:
I got very unexpectedly invited to the wedding of a colleague who has been giving me the cold shoulder for over a year. No matter how many times I say good morning to her, she just ignores me. She is the girl who gets away with anything with the administration. I know she invited me purely for the gift. Should I feel obliged to give her a gift?
Now, I'm going to channel my inner Miss Manners who would say that you are never obligated to give a gift and a lovely congratulatory card is all you need, especially if you do not attend the wedding. She is, of course, correct.
But, you're not dealing with a random bride. You're dealing with a colleague--one you've identified as being able to "get away with anything" from the big bosses. And so you need to be careful.
Office politics are a real thing, and taking a stand may make you feel better, but it may make your life worse. I'm assuming that this colleague doesn't have a good reason for giving you the cold-shoulder (if she does, then please fix it). But, what she does have is the ear of the administration.
So, imagine this: "I generously invited Jane to my wedding in an attempt to build our relationship, and she didn't even give me a gift! See? She is an awful person!"
Because that is how your colleague will spin this, and unless she goes full bridezilla on everyone, the people that trust her judgment now will add this to their reasons to dislike you, and the people who trust your judgment over hers will roll their eyes and know that no one is obligated to give a wedding gift.
So, sit down and evaluate who is on each list and ask yourself if it will cause further damage if you don't shell out for some new bath towels?
I think you'll find that a gift may be a small price to pay for not ticking her off.
And yes, this is unfair. And wrong. And she should change. If you were her boss and she was giving the cold shoulder to someone else you could fix it. But if you're peers, it's more complicated.
So, my recommendation is to thank her profusely for the invitation and let her know that you, sadly, will not be able to attend. (If she asks why you can say "because it's just not possible!") Then go in on a group gift with other coworkers who don't want to spend their weekend at a wedding. Choose something from the registry and don't expect a thank you card.
If you have a workplace dilemma, send an email to EvilHRLady@gmail.com.