You Can’t Please ‘Em All

I like to make people happy. It’s a thing with me.

At the office with my coworkers and clients, at home with my family, even at restaurants or stores with sales people. I try to always be nice, pleasant, polite, and get a chuckle out of the people I interact with. My philosophy is the world is full of jerks–I don’t want to be one of them.

Apparently, though, I don’t always come across as nice as I try to be. Yesterday at a company “share session,” where employees can share their thoughts and ideas with our president, I was exposed by a couple of my coworkers for my true, jerky nature.

One of the many new folks at the session (our company has grown a lot in the past year) expressed how cold and unfriendly Cincinnatians can be. He said he’s noticed this at our company, too. Then, he pointed across the room at yours truly and described a recent incident where I came over to talk to his cubicle mate and didn’t even talk to him. How rude is that? I ask you.

As my face turned various shades of red, another coworker chimed in to wholeheartedly agree. “Susan didn’t even talk to me my first year here!” he said. I should not be introduced or allowed around new employees, he added, for fear my jerkiness may, in fact, drive them away! I believe there may have been a reference to Cincinnati’s German heritage (which I share) and the Nazis (which I do not share), but I can’t recall an exact quote.


I wanted to say, “I’m BUSY, people! I have a very demanding job, not to mention a kid to take care of. I can’t possibly make BFFs with every one of 200-some employees in this joint. Gimme a break!”

Instead, I tried to play it off like “Haha, I’m sure they’re just kidding… and even if they’re not, no one will think I’m that horrible.”

Inside, I WAS BURNING. A combustible combination of disbelief, embarrassment, and rage. Now, all these innocent new people at my company (not to mention the president!) have the distinct impression that I’m Queen Beeyotch of the Office.

This particularly bothered me because of my people-pleasing nature. I know it’s partly a woman thing, wanting to be seen as nice and polite and all that. Still, how do I overcome my unrealistic need to please and come to terms with the “You can’t please all the people all the time” reality?

Maybe I should just embrace my inner Queen Beeyotch and say, Hey, you’re LUCKY if I talk to you, new guy. But that’s just not me. I want to be everyone’s friend, and the best wife/mom/daughter/etc. I just wish I had the time and energy.

21 thoughts on “You Can’t Please ‘Em All

  1. I must admit, I’ve had to change my Cincinnatian ways, because people down here in the South absoLUTEly expect you to talk to them. At any and all opportunities. If you don’t, they will make you aware that you are ignoring them at that moment (in a friendly way, of course). I think it just may BE a Cincinnatian thing not to speak to everyone you see when you are busy. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT, in my opinion. My question is, why are these other Cincinnatians being so sensitive? If it’s a Cincinnati thing, it should be embraced!

  2. Oh man, I’m fuming right now!

    First of all, I have heard that Cincinnati can be a tough city for a out-of-towner to make new friends. We’re a homegrown type of town and I’d say a lot of Cincinnatians stay tight with their families and old school friends. However, I do think Cincinnatians are generally friendly. A LOT friendlier than many other cities in this country.

    As far as the new guy… I just don’t know where to start. 1.Rude.. 2. Pathetic… 3. I would have socked that dude right in the middle of the share session.

    “Let me share this nice knuckle sandwich, pal.” POW! “Welcome to the company.”

    See, people. I’m nice. Just don’t mess with my friends. Especially my working-mom friends!

  3. I can definitely relate to the whole “I’m not rude, I’m just really busy” thing. I’m a sporadic emailer and a never caller – even with my really good friends, and (gasp!) even with my family. My days are filled to the brim and I often don’t have the time or mental capacity for small talk. I prefer to get together on a regular basis and catch up. I’m sure I appear stuck up to those who don’t know me and like a fair-weather friend to many of my acquaintances, but it’s not intentional! I dislike very few people. I love my friends. I have no desire to appear unfriendly. I just… wow! I’ve got a lot going on and my brain is filleduptohere most of the time. Any extra energy pretty much goes to my husband and daughter.

  4. Mommy Bits says:

    Hogwash! For the record I think you are, and have always been, delightful and funny.

    What do these people want? My office only has 16 people and there are days when I don’t speak to 1/2 of them.

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  6. I always wondered why my husband wasn’t Mr. Man-About-the-Office, bringing his pals over every weekend, gossiping all night with his co-workers. Then I realized that he goes to work to work and not to gab. If you were my husband, your co-workers would think “she’s a focused worker.” It kills me that we still have such double standards. Take those comments and put them on a shelf.

  7. Crunchy Carpets says:

    Holy Shit…really???

    Geez I worked in waaaay smaller offices and didn’t know people well enough to speak to them.

    How old are these people…tell me they are gen y’s wanting so much praise and attention.

  8. I know it’s hard not to take something like that personally–hell, I would–but try to remember those two come from different cultures. That might help–one is from Mexico and one from South Africa. Maybe people hug and kiss one another all day there, say hello to every person they meet?

    I think most people do realize you are a genuinely nice, funny person. Who’s friends with everyone?

    And when someone told me about the share session, she mentioned the “Cinci ppl aren’t nice” comment but didn’t mention anything about you. So maybe it didn’t make as big an impact as you think?

  9. Okay, let me say I’m from the South and I talk a lot, when it’s appropriate. I have friends at work, but it’s not a necessity! That being said, I have so many problems with what went on for you. First of all, a “SHARE Session!” WTF? That’s touchy-feely, and might I add, Icky! And secondly, how rude are these people??? Miss Manners would rip them a new one! Just revel in the fact that whether you’re Chatty Cathy or not, you are not rude enough to say such things, in a professional setting no less! I like having a friend or two at work (I always work in small offices, like 3-6 people). But as I’ve gotten older, had kids, more of a “life” outside of work (I used to happily pull 18 hour workdays!), I’ve been less interested in the social aspect of work.

  10. asshats!

    You are soooooooo much nicer than me. I would have curtly responded “I didn’t realize that manners only applied to me. You’re an adult and perfectly capable of introducing yourself ASSHOLE.” or something like that. 🙂

    I tell people from the beginning that I am not a cheerleader. I’m not there to rally the troops. I’m there to get my f’ing work done before rush hour gets so bad we’ll be eating McDonald’s for dinner.

    People are idiots.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Funny this should come up – I was in New Hampshire this past weekend and I noticed how friendly people were. I think of the East Coast as being cold and unfriendly but that seems to be a misconception. Every store I went into, random people said hello, and stopped and talked to me about what I was buying, and asked if I was from the area. It made me, as a native Cincinnatian, want to be much nicer to random strangers (and make people I work with not be strangers anymore).

  12. I’ve lived in Cincinnati for the past 8 years now and have always found the people to be extremely friendly here. And while it is true that it’s hard to be one of the transplants without the deep roots of family and grade school friends, it’s also true that I’ve made some of the greatest friends of my life here.

    Um, and call me crazy, but saying those things to someone in front of the entire company seems a little UNfriendly, don’t ya think?

    Susan, you are a very nice person and work is work, not social hour.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Ummmmm Are you kidding me? I am from California, and just found this blog. I have always thought it might be appropriate for someone to introduce the newbies before we go throwing ourselves at them and overwhelming them with who we are. You don’t think it makes them feel a little awkward to just be thrown into a workplace to have to intoduce themselves to everyone? And who the hell says what the definition of friendly is anyway? Sometimes friendly is just a smile and a hello. God! You don’t have to have coffee or anything! But raking someone over the coals in front of everone else is definitely NOT friendly! Tell the bastard to go to hell.

  14. Thanks for all your supportive (and funny) responses, friends. I’ve calmed down a bit since I posted. Even went and chatted with New Guy to formally introduce myself and tell him he should just say hi next time he wants to join a conversation with coworkers. Don’t wait to be cordially invited. Anyhow, I think my rep is still OK at work.

  15. Oh, god…my total nightmare. I’m a northerner living in the South so I usually get that kind of rap around my office too. I always tell people, “I’m not unfriendly, I’m just really focused.”

    Glad you worked it out.

  16. Rosebudmama says:

    So the share session is a public humiliation forum and/or a way to ambush people? Oy freaking vey. That guy needs a lesson in manners and perhaps a few sessions with a therapist over his low self-esteem. I mean, is this work or am I missing something?

    I happen to be a life long New Englander and pretty friendly to boot, but I also tend to read people individually and realize that not everyone wants the extrovert (me) in their face the minute they join the company.

  17. meauxjeaux says:

    my jaw literally dropped to the ground when i read this story. the president lets that kind of personal attack go on? it sounds like the court room on judge judy or something, not a business meeting. ridiculous! and way to make friends, there, new guy. i don’t care where you’re from. as a non-native who has found this town to be sometimes hard to break into, he’s not convincing me that manners even exist where he’s from. but i must repeat, i can’t believe the PTB let that type of personal attack happen at a share session – i’d be sharing a few choice words (and hand gestures) w/the lot of them.

  18. just4ofus says:

    If those people really want to meet you, they can take the intitiative and talk to you first.
    In a large company it is IMPOSSIBLE to come up to every new person and say “hi”. I don’t at work. And “first impressions” are sometimes wrong. People think I am snobby when the first meet me.
    That is usually b/c I am quiet and am taking you in.. so to speak.
    So tell those people to get their panties out of a wad and instead of whining .. take initiative to be the first person to speak.

  19. selfmademom says:

    They obviously don’t know the real you! I hate those kind of employee feedback sessions, too. They have good intentions, but someone always says something dumb.

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