In my job, people are used to bring sweets on their birthday. But they are really bad mannered and distant to me and never invite me. This Sunday it was my birthday and I just passed to bring anything. I am incapable of putting a good face to people that are not nice to me and I think it will look bad to bring something to few ones that actually are nice people and have a minimum of education.

But I noticed few "salty" comments about that on Monday and Tuesday.

Did I acted wrong? How should one behave in such situation?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Jane S
    May 11, 2016 at 21:57

4 Answers 4


You basically have two options:

  • a) Simply play by the accepted social rules, bring along some cake, stand next to it, do some small talk and accept any congratulations you may get.
  • b) Do what you feel is right, and don't bring anything, or only to people you like.

Option a) will avoid the complaints from coworkers, and show you are making an effort to fit in. However, it may feel "fake" to you, or as you write, you may feel "incapable of putting a good face to people that are not nice to me".

Option b) may well exacerbate tensions with your co-workers (or it may not make a difference).

Both options are acceptable in principle, neither is illegal, so it is up to you to decide what you value most.

Finally, I think you will have to tackle the underlying problem, namely that you do not get along with many of your coworkers. While you can work like this for a while, you will get all kinds of problems in the long run: Your work will be unecessarily stressful, cooperation / teamwork will be difficult, you may be perceived as "not a teamplayer". So I think you will have to solve that problem.

How to do that is again up to you (make amends with coworkers, move to different department, quit job...), but you should not let the problem linger. You might consider professional counseling (away from the office) to help you tackle this.


People may not be inviting you for a reason and since you don't interact with them enough, you don't know if that's the case. Maybe there was an incident where you seem distant and bad mannered? So in other words, they've behaved just like you and have the same opinion of you that you have for them. You could all be right just as easily as you could all be wrong. How would we know?

Since this site is for the workplace, I'll base my answer on that. What you did was wrong. You may need the cooperation of these people to help you with your job and the company. Show you are a professional and above petty opinions of people and choose to be the one to do something nice first.

You may not need these people. We'll never know. If you would like to correct people with bad manners, you may want to start by showing some yourself. Bring some treats to the office. What's the worse thing that could happen?


If you want to get along in a particular company, you need to follow the cultural norms of that company whether you agree with them or not. Apparently in your company people bring in treats on their birthday. You were wrong not to have done so and made your own situation actually worse. Whether you like the others is not the issue, behaving in the way that is culturally acceptable is.

Likely if you made a mistake like this, there are other ways you are failing to meet cultural norms; that could be why some people seem unfriendly to you. You need to sit back and start observing how other people in your company relate to each other and what is and is not acceptable behavior and the adjust your behavior accordingly.

Remember, you have to work well with people whether you like them or respect them or not. You are being paid to do this, so like or dislike or hate is irrelevant.


Tell people that you simply don't celebrate your birthday, and bringing them treats for the occasion would contradict this long-held position.

If they press the issue, tell them that it's your personal preference to not commemorate your birthday in any way, and as it's a personal decision the details are not appropriate to share in the office.

With maybe 3 exceptions, no one in my office even knows when my birthday is, and I like to keep it that way.

Side note: I don't understand this cultural obligation to buy things for other people on your birthday. I mean, my 6 year old is expected to bring cupcakes for her class in school on her birthday. But that's 6 year olds. Adults? Seems silly to me.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .