Dear Amy: I work in a department with about 20 people.

“Jo” was recently released. I don’t know the full circumstances, but I was told there was a “cause”. Since then, many of us have kept in touch with Jo, expressing sympathy and offering support.

Meanwhile, my coworker “Hannah” is about to give birth to her first child. Several of us gathered to get her a present.

Today, the person organizing the gift received a message from Jo asking for the donation to be returned to the child.

We’ve already refunded Jo’s contribution (in the $20 range), but most of us think asking for a refund for a baby gift is tacky and even a little petty.

Hannah had nothing to do with Jo’s firing, and I know Jo and Hannah were close at work. Jo even signed the card before leaving and wrote Hannah a very nice message – a message that Hannah won’t see because we all think we should replace the card immediately!

This whole incident has changed many people’s opinions of Jo. For this reason, several people are reconsidering references for Jo.

Has Jo gone over the line or should we give this person some slack?

The Confused Present Giver

Dear Perplexed: My first thought is that Jo has fallen into a downward spiral and may suddenly be very worried about finances. It’s not necessarily rational for Jo to believe that getting that $20 back will significantly affect the outcome, and yet when your employment situation suddenly changes, immediate choices aren’t always rational.

My next thought is that Jo is hurt and bitter. Hurt plus bitter equals petty. And yes, the pettiness of this person is out of place. Smallness is always there.

Of course, this will affect your opinion of your former co-worker, but my experience tells me that you’ll almost never regret giving someone some slack, especially when they’re hurt and behaving.

Think of it this way: once a slack is granted, you can always “release” it later, based on the person’s subsequent behavior.

When offering a job reference, comment only on your knowledge of that person’s performance.

You don’t know why Jo was fired, but using this episode as a reason to decline a recommendation would be also petty in my opinion.

Dear Amy: My close cousin just got her first dog (after being a cat all her life).

#pettiness #coworker #invalidate #reference

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