My co-worker and I eat lunch together in the workplace cafeteria every day.

The problem I have is this co-worker always expects me to inform them that it is lunch time so let us go. We have been working in this company for about a year now, and every day they expect me to invite.

I'm sure this is trivial, but I still feel that, at least once in a while, the other person should also invite. Once I told about this, the person replied, since my cubicle is little bit closer to cafeteria, you should invite.

If I simply stop inviting my co-worker to lunch, it might damage our relationship since this pattern has been going on for about a year. I don't want to keep inviting them every day if they do not bother to invite even once. The co-worker's behavior seems rude to me.

I want to keep having lunch every day with my co-worker and I don't want to damage our relationship. What can I say to my co-worker so that I don't have to (always) be the one to call attention to lunchtimes?

  • Welcome to Interpersonal Skills. Please take a moment to visit the help center and take the tour. Can you edit your question to be more specific about what your intended outcome is? As written this question is rather broad.
    – sphennings
    May 26 '18 at 2:47
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    @user If you're not saying something like "It's lunchtime" (prompting) or "Would you like to have lunch with me?" (inviting), I don't understand what you mean by "invite". Can you please explain?
    – Lawrence
    May 26 '18 at 16:08
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    @user I don't understand why you have an obligation to prompt your co-workers at lunchtime. Is that a cultural norm in your office or region? What happens if someone just goes for lunch without telling the others - does that cause a problem socially?
    – Lawrence
    May 26 '18 at 16:26
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    Do you have a defined time for lunch? For example, is lunch from noon to 1 PM every day? Or is lunch one hour and you can take it whenever? Or what? How much time do you need for lunch? Does the other person need more or less? Are you ever not at your desk when lunchtime arrives? How are seats assigned in the cafeteria? Can you save a seat for the other person?
    – Brythan
    May 27 '18 at 1:48
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    @Shule It's OK to ask questions for clarification but coupling those questions with answers is not. Please don't.
    – Catija
    May 29 '18 at 2:41

Option 1. Joke about it.

Since it’s kind of an absurd situation, you could make fun of it. Think about a funny way of announcing lunch time, like buying a bell and ringing it in front of his desk. It could make the experience much lighter to you and give him ideas to do it as well.

Option 2. I’ll do that, but you do this

Tell him in a funny way :

I officially accept to be your lunch-alarm, BUT you have to be the coffee-alarm (meeting-alarm / whatever) since you are closer to the coffee machine.

Option 3. Ask him gently

Something like :

I know I’m closer to the lunch place but it would be such a pleasure to me if you invite me to lunch from time to time :-)

But remember, I’m almost certain that he doesn’t realise you’re taking it this way and if he did he would invite you as well. For this reason I think option 3 is the best.


If I understand correctly, you have to walk past your coworker's desk every day on your way to the caf. When you do, you say something like "lunch?" and the coworker gets up and joins you. Even though you like having lunch with this person, it's starting to feel like an unreturned invitation that it's always you. OK.

You could try just sitting at your desk a little longer than usual instead of getting up right at lunchtime.(Have a big breakfast that day.) Would your coworker just sit there for 30 minutes getting hungrier and hungrier, or would they message you and say "hey, lunch!" after a while?

You could even ask them to remind you.

Tomorrow I am going to be debugging all morning. I get so zoned out. Can you message me at noon to remind me to stop and eat?

(This is different from the vaguer "I would like you to be the one to notice it is lunchtime once in a while" because it's specifically about a single day.)

After the coworker has prompted you a few times you should be able to get into a pattern where sometimes you just get up from your desk and head to the caf, stopping by their desk on the way and saying "lunch?" and other times they message you "it's lunchtime" and then you get up and head to their desk.

  • It is not like I get up right at 12pm like a clockwork to prompt lunchtime. My observation is rooted here, if I do not prompt then I will never get prompted back. Several times I have waited for an 1hr and half to see what happens. No the other person will just wait for me to prompt. As mentioned in the OP, I have asked the person to prompt once in a while. I do not want to give reason (like , I will be busy today or zoned out.. ), because I feel there should be reciprocity , if it is not there even after telling , then it means person is being damn rude.
    – user18268
    May 27 '18 at 14:41
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    wow. What an odd coworker you have. At this point you seem to have few options. You have said you would like them to remember. You have tried waiting for them to remember. Seems they will not. Your choices are highly limited since you like eating with them. May 27 '18 at 14:52

My co-workers and I do something similar. We all sit in the same area though, but every day one of my co-workers stands up at lunchtime and kicks the back of all of our chairs (lightly) and says lunch. It seems trivial to ask because we always go anyways but it also doesn't feel weird being the lunch alarm. While sometimes someone else will do it, it's usually the same person.

To us, it isn't about being invited to lunch. It's already assumed since it's been done for years and in your cause a year. The announcement of lunch is merely that. To say let's go eat now. When someone can't make it, they will usually say at that time they cant go today, or I will message the group and say something like, sorry I have X to do at lunch today so go on without me. Otherwise, it's assumed you are going.

I can see how constantly asking can seem like you aren't being invited and it's a 1-way lunch friendship but in reality, both of you already assume that you will eat lunch together and this person would like for you to be his "lunch alarm" as someone else put it.

If it honestly bothers you a ton, I would find a way to talk to them about it. Let them know casually that while you are closer, or that their desk is on the way for you to walk to lunch, that it would mean a lot to you if he could initiate lunch talks sometimes. Even if it's a quick email.

Some people don't realize that things like this are important or can be interpreted differently. As my above example with my co-workers, we do this daily and no one feels burdened by being the one to always ask.

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