I work in a small office (1 Doctor, 4 Staff) and have been taking a vacation out of the country for the past 5 years. Last year, my co-worker went thru a serious medical problem and now is trying to experience more of life. I generously invited her to vacation with us last year, which she actually accepted. Unfortunately, she is NOT a good traveler: Complaining, calling her husband EVERY day for hours, not eating the local foods, etc. Now that I will once again travel in December, she wants to come again (and bring her husband, too!) She is in charge of my appointment book, so knows when I’m off. I lied to her and said that I will be visiting relatives in Oregon for those 2 weeks. Now she says she wants to travel with me when I go NEXT year! I do NOT want to travel with her again. I have even referred her to the travel agent I use, so that she can go with another group–but she refused, saying she wants to go with me! HELP!!!
Dear Traveling Troubles:
You must have been a very good traveling companion! Can I go along next year, too?The first thing you will have to do in your handling of this is to realize that you aren’t being unfair about it. One trip with another family is usually enough to share–unless everyone involved are close friends. Keeping that approach will help you stay strong. It will also help you put off the inevitable. At some point you will have to say no. Better sooner than later. Normally I would say to let next year take care of itself. She might change her mind about traveling then. Or many other things could have happened. But, I don’t think it’s good that you have had to lie about your plans this year. You won’t be able to share photos or anything else. And you’ll have to lie more and more.So, I think you should tell her at some point that you and your family have changed your minds and you’re going overseas after all. One way to do that is to refer to all of your vacations in a way that sounds like outsiders would not be welcome. For example, you could say, “We’re going to take our annual honeymoon time in Spain.” Or, “We’re having our family time together in France next year.” Or, “We’ve decided to have the Smith Team Getaway in the Antarctic this year.”When she says, “Oh, I want to go too!” You can say, with a smile, as though you are not taking her completely seriously, “No, we’ve told everyone that we’re using this as a special getaway time, so we’re not traveling with anyone else.”By wording it that way, it can sound as though others besides her have asked. So, she isn’t being refused–everyone is. If she presses it, you could say your family has very specific plans for the trip and they don’t want anyone–friends or other family members–to go along.If you weren’t working in the same office with her, it would be easier of course. But, the main thing is to say no, say it in a friendly way, and refuse to let yourself feel uncomfortable over it. If you look or act uncomfortable, it will seem much more negative to her. If you act as though it’s just a family decision, it will be easier for her to take. She might be disgruntled about it anyway. But at least you will have saved yourself unhappiness and a ruined vacation.This is very much like, “There Must Be Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover.” There are several ways to say no. The key is to find a way that will be absolute—don’t get in discussions about it–and that will keep the working relationship intact.You may have already discussed this with someone at work. If you haven’t I would encourage you not to do so. Someone might tell her and that will really create hard feelings.Best wishes with this. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.
Tina Lewis Rowe