I have a colleague who doesn't chit chat during lunch. Only talk about work. When talk about other things, at most she will smile and no comment. With her around, the entire lunch hour is quiet. How to exclude her from our lunch group without hurting her?

  • 3
    Have you tried including her in conversations? Have you asked her what she's interested in? Have you tried to get to know her?
    – Kevin
    Jun 3, 2015 at 14:51
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    She has done no harm to you and any of you by being quiet and talk about work. Why would you want to exclude her? If none of you likes to talk about work during lunch, then one one of you say with a pained smile "We'd rather not talk about work during lunch, if that's OK with you. Talking about work kind of reminds us that we have to go back to it once lunch is over" Jun 3, 2015 at 14:59
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    Why would her being quiet kill conversation between others? Do you have a hard time hearing each other over the sound of her not talking?
    – Myles
    Jun 3, 2015 at 15:23
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    @user36744 From your comments it sounds like there is a larger issue as to why you want to exclude her, could you add that to the question so we can better answer it? Thanks
    – FreakyDan
    Jun 3, 2015 at 15:52
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    You didn't include her back stabbing in your post. Even if she back stabs, you can still manage the issue by not talking about work Frankly, your stating that "she doesn't have friends until now" makes your post problematic. Either she is your friend or she is not. I simply don't know what you are up to. Jun 3, 2015 at 15:54

4 Answers 4


Excluding is a pretty mean thing to do in my opinion. Instead, why don't you try and institute a no-shop-talk policy over lunch, or better yet, chat to her about why you don't like to talk shop. Just let people know that it's lunch and that you don't want to talk about work, and you'll find you can be inclusive and get everything you want out of it.

You're asking to deliberately exclude someone, and that can only be a bad thing. Try being inclusive, instead of exclusive, and try (if there are issues) to resolve them instead of just blocking others out.

The reason people like to talk about work is because that's 100% what everyone at the table has in common with each other. Try to perhaps engage her on conversations not about work, find a common ground and talk about that instead.

  • 1
    @user36744 'till now' suggests that she does consider your group friendly. Trying to exclude her will no-doubt break that friendship. Try to engage her, and tell her you don't like to talk about work over lunch.
    – Dan Hanly
    Jun 3, 2015 at 14:56
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    @user36744 and what's the problem with that? Some people just like to listen. If she doesn't enjoy it, she can excuse herself. Don't feel awkward, just keep chatting amongst yourselves and try to include her sometimes.
    – Dan Hanly
    Jun 3, 2015 at 15:00
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    @user36744 I honestly get the feeling that you just don't want her there / don't like her. In which case, do what you must, but if you want to remain professional, then try and be inclusive. Also, if you're not talking work over lunch, then you're not giving her anything to stab you in the back with.
    – Dan Hanly
    Jun 3, 2015 at 15:06
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    @user36744 Are there incidents where she has back-stabbed someone, or has she just rubbed you the wrong way?
    – FreakyDan
    Jun 3, 2015 at 15:57
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    Agreed. One way to do that is to just start asking a bunch of questions and hobbies and things she likes doing in her free time. For every answer she gives, give one yourself too, so that she doesn't feel like she's the only one "obligated" to share personal details. Some walls will fall this way, I promise :) Jun 3, 2015 at 16:09

Your lunch time sounds like a clique in high school. If she's not participating in any conversation besides those about work, and she's merely staying quiet, then I don't see a reason for excluding her.

It's not a good idea to burn bridges with co-workers, as networking is more important than a lunch time club.


1) If you're keen on burning bridges with your colleagues, then by all means, exclude her right away without hard feelings from your side. I strongly recommend otherwise, though.

2) She probably has her reasons not to chit-chat around you guys: most likely she's not comfortable (and thus has no idea what to talk about). If you really want to talk about non-work stuff, you will have to try her to open up. This can be extremely difficult if she's an introvert. However, even introverts will open up when they're comfortable. Ask her what she did last weekend, or is doing next weekend. Ask her if she made plans for the summer holidays. Ask her if she ever been to place-x. There's so many options really.

3) If you don't want to be around her during lunch, you can also "exclude" yourself. Go to a local bakery or coffeeshop during your break, go have lunch in a park. This is probably not what you're looking for, though, so I would say try to go with #2.

  • to exclude myself, i still need to give her reason for that... we share the same feeling about her and just afraid that she will 'revenge' at work
    – user36744
    Jun 3, 2015 at 15:16
  • @Edwin: Good answer, but the "weekend" question is one I've found to be extremely annoying (an introvert mostly does nothing exciting and finds nothing wrong in that, but everyone else finds it dumb) and pointless (usually, the person asking isn't actually interested in what I did during the weekend), as an introvert. Talk about technical subjects, discoveries, things that are fascinating to the geek mind and your introvert will open up. You might find it hard to stop him/her from talking then though :-) And do all this only if you are actually interested in the topic. Introverts will find out
    – John David
    May 19, 2016 at 13:53


Tell her that you (and I assume other coworkers) prefer to not talk about work over lunch, and that if she must, then you will lunch without her.

There is no harm in honesty - the passive-aggressive stance of trying to find a way to exclude her without telling her will lead to much more issues. She may not even know you have a problem with it.

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