When I started working at this company, I was told the person who normally is in my position plays cards with a certain group of people at lunch. I have been doing so for the past several months and it has become a very regular thing. For example, if one of the normal people is not present, everyone waits for him and if he takes too long they find him and ask when he will be joining.

I no longer wish to "hangout" with this group, as I find all they do is argue and pick on each other. Honestly it seems like just one gets the rest of them all fired up.

What is the best way to approach this? I work closely with these people and won't to remain on good terms with them.

  • Just decline their offer. You can also indicate you actually want to eat lunch instead of using your lunch period to play card games.
    – Donald
    Aug 19, 2014 at 16:38

4 Answers 4


I'd suggest giving a reason that (a) is true, although it may tactfully leave some information out, and (b) covers an indefinite time period, so you don't have to make up new excuses all the time. Something like "I've decided to take a break from playing cards." You can add that you're getting tired of playing cards, want to get to know the other employees better, catch up on your reading, or whatever it is you want to do instead.


If you can, I suggest you take up some exercise activity to do for the first part of your lunchtime. For example, going out for a run. You can have your lunch afterwards when you get back.

Your co-workers are likely to be respectful of this fitness/self-care choice and to see it as a much gentler let-down than simply saying you don't want to play cards, which would look like you had something against them personally, which you do: you don't like the arguing and picking on each other. So hopefully you will remain on good terms with them.

  • This is a very good idea. And after your walk you can still drop by and socialise for the last 5 minutes from time to time, so they won't feel you've dropped them.
    – RedSonja
    Aug 20, 2015 at 12:56

I would simply pick up other habits for lunch. In my opinion, it is perfectly acceptable to take time at lunch to:

  • Buy a sandwich and read a book,
  • Explain that you are not feeling well and you have an headache,
  • Go on some errands around the block.
  • I'd rather not play cards today". This is not an excuse but just the simple fact. (Edit Suggested by @Brandin)

All in all, it should not be very difficult to come up with some excuses, to split from the group and do your own thing. You may even want to go for lunch a little bit early so the rest of the group understand that you are not available.

After a while, they will realize that you are less available and are not that interested in playing cards.

Everybody changes and it is perfectly natural that you want to have lunch with a group for some time and then decide to mingle with others or be on your own.

  • 1
    These seem like only temporary solutions. You can't keep making up random excuses.
    – Mac Easly
    Aug 18, 2014 at 18:22
  • @MacEasly those are excuses indeed but I believe that if you do this for a couple of weeks, they will accept that you prefer to be on your own. I edited my answer slightly. Aug 18, 2014 at 18:24
  • 1
    I would add to this list, just say "I'd rather not play cards today". This is not an excuse but just the simple fact. You can say this for several days in a row and it is not an excuse at all, and you can deliver this message without it sounding so bad. i.e. soften it to make it nice without making some excuse
    – Brandin
    Aug 18, 2014 at 18:38
  • @MacEasly - I suspect that they will begin to look for another "partner" in order to keep playing cards if you do this regularly, such that you don't need to do anything beyond temporarily. Aug 19, 2014 at 14:15

Intrapersonal dynamics are a rough sea to navigate. To help here, lets break down what we know about the situation: 1) When you arrived it was strongly suggested you have lunch with a specific group of folks. 2) This group of folks is tightly knit, and have accepted you.

The question is, if you don't personally want to spend your free time with the group, what do you have to lose by dis-engaging them?

Do you work with them on a daily basis? The fact someone suggested you lunch with them, and that they are tightly-knit suggests you do, and it is a good idea to keep on friendly terms with them. Who do you have a problem with? Is it the one person, or the entire group? What is it you don't like about the group? Are they too critical, or do you not like it when one person gets the rest fired up?

If you decide you have no practical use for them professionally, and that your disgust outweighs any real benefit you could gain, then you'll need to break-up with them. Coming out and telling them your real issues can potentially have dire ramifications for you. Rather, I would use other professional events to OBE (overcome by events) your time with them at lunch. Working from your desk, meeting with the boss, talking to you spouse on the phone are all great excuses. Then after some time, let them know you can't contine to be a regular at their table.

Personally, I have made the mistake of confronting similar issues, and its never worked out well. Good luck!

  • An easier solution would be to find a fill in willing to take your spot in the group. But I agree with most of your assessment Aug 18, 2014 at 19:25

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