Asking People to Kick In at the Office Can Lead to Bad Feelings
The office can be seen as a great place to pool small bits of money from a bunch of people. It’s not uncommon to be asked to chip in for parties, charities, the purchase of Girl Scout cookies from someone’s child, or going-away or birthday gifts for other staff members. If it’s something you care about, it’s great to be asked. If not, being put on the spot can be painfully uncomfortable, as Diane Stafford of the Kansas City Star writes.
It’s about peer pressure. While they’re typically well-intentioned, collection efforts can make someone feel trapped for fear of not seeming rude or aloof. And there are good reasons a person might be reluctant to kick in. Perhaps money is tight. Maybe the person doesn’t socialize at work. Or maybe a collection is being made on behalf of someone the person doesn’t know, or a cause that he/she doesn’t care about.
When people choose not to contribute, co-workers who do and who want to foster a close-knit workplace can become downright baffled, wondering what’s wrong with the holdouts. Everyone can wind up feeling badly.
Being asked for money can be especially awkward for contract workers, whose attachment to the company is tenuous since it’s likely to be temporary. “Sorry, I have no clue who this person is,” one contract worker told Stafford about being asked to sign a card and donate towards a gift. “I’ve been here a few days. I may be gone tomorrow.”
When parents regularly bring in goods their children have been asked to sell — Girl Scout cookies, fruit boxes, plastic bags, and so on — it’s even worse because co-workers can feel like they’re essentially being asked, “Don’t you like my child?” when asked to buy something.
Stafford suggests the only way to avoid introducing this kind of stress into an office is for the people soliciting contributions to be more sensitive about not engendering bad feelings by thinking more carefully about who they ask for money. They may also seek anonymous ways of contributing — such as posting an order sheet on a bulletin board, or displaying the merchandise for sale in a common space — that allow those who want to contribute do so without pressuring those who don’t.