Bad manners? Or Just Being a Responsible Employee 

“My friend hung up on me abruptly to deal with work. I feel insulted.”
Our Elder says: “Let it go, he had to do his job. But why was he on a personal call during work anyhow?”


Dear EWC,

First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to read my letter, I appreciate it! I would like to get your advice on something that has been bothering me all day. So, here I go: 

I have a friend whom I chat with every day on the phone, through text or video calls. For some time, we have had great conversations and enjoyed each other’s company. Today during our conversation, he abruptly blew me off, saying, “Sorry, I need to run to a meeting” without warning or properly saying goodbye. I felt that was a bit rude, and may have overreacted. So, he texted back 20 minutes later, and I told him how I felt. He said that with his job, there are things that pop up here and there, and that’s how his life is. He realized that there were two minutes until he had to go on camera for his meeting online, so that is how he justified it. I apologized for overreacting and I may have been insensitive, and we agreed that everything is okay between us. But in the back of my mind, I don’t feel like it is. I feel like now I don’t even want to have any more conversations with him or I need to take a break from our friendship for a while. I don’t want to hold him back or bother him. How should I navigate this situation? I would appreciate any advice you have to offer. Thank you! Justine


Willow Response

Hi, Justine. 

I’m Elder Willow, a volunteer with the Elder Wisdom Circle. I’m also a retired businesswoman with decades of experience in the working world. I’m glad to be the person answering your letter. Let’s talk about what you’ve written.

You had been chatting or texting with a friend who had to abruptly leave a conversation because he had two minutes to get to a video meeting. The question you’ve asked is, “was he was rude to cut you off, or am I overreacting?”.

Justine, based on the information in your letter, you are overreacting. Your friend had two minutes to prepare for a video call for his job. He may have had to fix his appearance, gather papers, go over information or otherwise prepare for the meeting, or one a hundred other possibilities. Having conducted many such meetings myself, I can tell you that a couple of minutes is hardly enough time to pull yourself together. 

Meetings often pop up unexpectedly, and when they do, employees have to drop everything suddenly and react. It sounds to me like that’s what he did, with a quick explanation to you. That’s what I would have done, too. 

The fact that he texted you after the meeting tells me he was considerate enough to get back to you. He wasn’t intentionally rude; he just did what was necessary for his job, and then came back to your conversation when he was able. He could have just gone on with the rest of his day and forgot about you, but he didn’t. Based on the information in your letter, I see no reason at all to cut this young man off. He did the correct and professional thing, which was to excuse himself quickly and prioritize his work during working hours. Personal conversations should never take priority over work requirements.

Your letter also says that you don’t want to hold him back or bother him, and asks how to navigate the situation. Your letter doesn’t tell me what this young man’s job is, but as a former boss, I can’t help but wonder if his chatting/texting/video calling with you often takes place during working hours. The incident you’ve written about obviously did. Spending working hours on personal chats would not have been okay in my profession, and that might be something for you to consider. If you don’t want to hold him back, I would suggest limiting your contact with him to his free time, rather than during working hours. His bosses might not appreciate his working time being used for personal conversations. Doing so could have a negative impact on his performance reviews. That’s something to discuss with your friend.

As for the specific situation you’ve written about, I would urge you to let it go. 

I hope my perspective on your letter will put your mind at ease, Justine. If I’ve missed something, or if you have anything to add, feel free to send me a follow-up letter or a comment. I’ll gladly respond. Thank you for writing to the EWC. Take good care!

Best Regards,


Article #: 503819
Category: Friendship

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