I work part-time in a restaurant, and my co-workers are a mix of older and younger adults. I tend to speak more with the younger adults at work because they are closer to my age.

I work with an older woman at the front, and find her very annoying. She is rude and nosy, and makes a lot of comments that are unnecessary, sometimes they are invasive to my personal life. She tries to avoid speaking to me as she knows I don't like conversing with her. She'll then complain to my co-workers that I never talk to her, etc.

I brought in a cake to share with my friends at work. Since it was a fair amount, I decided to share with whoever wanted a piece. I didn't see her around the area me and my co-workers were sitting at, so I distributed the cake to whoever was present. I then hear from another co-worker who tells me that the older woman was complaining to someone about how I didn't offer her a piece. She wasn't around when I was serving the cake, and I had assumed she had already left. She never asked me for a piece either. It may seem rude of me to not consider her, but I don't really think I have any obligation to give her my food if I don't want to, considering the rude things she has said to me.

Was it rude of me to not include her when I was sharing my cake? I don't want to be a workplace bully if this behaviour is representative of that attitude.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this question would fit better on interpersonal.stackexchange.com rather than in the workplace. – HorusKol Mar 8 '18 at 5:49
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    @HorusKol Voting to close a question because it is a better fit somewhere else is not a good reason to vote to close. Some questions are on-topic on multiple SE websites. A question is off-topic because it is off-topic, not because it could potentially be posted elsewhere too. – Belle Mar 8 '18 at 8:13
  • I wouldn't worry about it. – jcm Mar 8 '18 at 8:54
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    @Belle fair enough - but I still think that this question is not on-topic here... just because something happens in a workplace doesn't make it a question about the workplace – HorusKol Mar 8 '18 at 9:02
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    I think that workplace is full of answers which would fit well in interpersonal, but the latter is very broad. Workplace is a better fit because it talks about relationship specifically in the workplace IMHO. – Cris Mar 8 '18 at 9:30

It does not sound like you did anything wrong. Also, there seems to be lot of gossip around in how she actually felt about it.

You can simply walk up to her and say something like:

Hey I got a cake other day for you all. I wanted to share it with you but could not find you before it was finished. I am sorry. I will make sure will save a piece for you next time.

Depending on how guilty you are feeling about it, you can just buy a small piece of cake for her with the above message.

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Was it rude of me to not include her when I was sharing my cake?

Yes. Exluding a team member, wether you like her/him or not, is rude. Usually, you do that when: either you made it clear before that you don't like that person1, or when you want that person to understand you don't like them.

Did you do that on purpose?

According to what you say (She wasn't around when I was serving the cake, and I had assumed she had already left.), I'd say no. But that's what she thinks.

She never asked me for a piece either.

IMO, it's like asking someone, out of the blue, if they can join your party without being invited...

Put aside what you think about her, and step in her shoes. What would you think and feel ?

From there, it seems like you're left with two options, depending on what you want to achieve:

  • you don't care about her : keep it like that, and you enter, soon or later, a dark zone...
  • you want to have everybody to chill out and make the smallest deal of what happened : you just tell her the truth -> Hi Alice, I didn't see you around last time, when I brought a cake. I thought you had already left. Sorry about that. Please feel free to join us next time if you want to... (you can also skip the last sentence, depending on what you want to achieve with her).

But my advice would be to talk to her and explain. Be straight and honest. So that you don't look like the "workplace bully if this behaviour is representative of that attitude".

And you may also find out that, being nice to her, she'll change her behavior. Spread the good seeds when you want a good harvest. At least, it's worth trying :)

1 : I've been that guy... fed up with coworkers' attitude. Still bad way to deal with the problem, I later changed my way of behaving, and have been feeling soooo good since...

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There will always be people at work you don't care for. Singling them out and treating them badly is the worst action you can take. You don't need to be friends with everyone but it is counterproductive to make enemies instead of allies.

Because you don't like this person, you should have made sure she got a piece of cake especially if she was the only person who did not get one. You could have asked where she was and put aside a piece for her. This was an opportunity for you to help improve your relationship and, by your actions, you made the relationships worse instead. In the future consider that there is never a need to exclude others or be rude at work; it makes you look bad and makes your work relationships more problematic. People can do you a lot of harm if you make them mad at you. You do yourself more harm by responding in kind. If someone wants to be nasty to you, then let them look bad by taking the high road and being nice to them in turn.

Apologize to her, preferably where some others can hear you did so (since the original exclusion was public and her complaints were public). Explain that you thought she had left for the day as you did not see her. Then the next time you bring food in make sure she gets the first piece.

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