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How to Handle the Office Mooch

It's time for an in-office celebration of some kind, and although you can count on one coworker, in particular, to show up when it's time to eat cake, you'll find only a series of cartoon action lines surrounding his slowly swiveling desk chair when it comes time to collect the cash.

mooch 

(Photo Credit: Tax Credits)

You're facing the office mooch, an excellent term coined by Rachel Feintzeig at the Wall Street Journal. Feintzeig asked Peter Post, the director of the Emily Post Institute (and Emily Post's great-grandson) for his take on how to deal with coworkers who are all take and no give.

First and foremost, Post says, don't assume that the mooch is being stingy on purpose. Times being what they are, he might just be short on cash. Post does confess, however, that the phenomenon is one that the Institute hears about frequently, and it seems to be a universal problem in offices, even when the economy is good.

The most important thing to do, he advises, is not to wind up being the person who plans every party and collects every contribution. That's a recipe for resentment. (And winding up chipping in an extra couple of bucks every time someone has a baby, gets married, or turns another year older.)

"Stop being the coordinator for these kinds of things. Seriously. Don't take it on," he says.

Perhaps the best way to deal with the problem is to prevent it, by making sure that the role of coordinator doesn't fall to just one person. Even if that person really loves throwing parties, he's bound to get pretty sick of always being the one to organize everything.

Some offices handle this problem by having a committee of folks who plan social events. (Think "The Office," although hopefully with less micromanagement from either type-A coworkers or deluded bosses.) Others let the planning fall to the manager or team member of the person being celebrated.

How you parcel out the coordinator role is up to you. Just don't volunteer to do it yourself -- at least not forever.

Tell Us What You Think

Does your office have a mooch? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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