Since our company is going through budgeting, I feel rather uncomfortable having lunch on the company dime. Plus, I feel pressured to have lunch during a review of my performance which will be discussed. How do I handle this situation? Um... am I missing something here? Isn't he hitting on you? Or not. I don't think there's anything wrong with having lunch with the boss, by the way. I have lunch with my boss all the time. He's a manly man, of course, so there's no question of propriety. But even when my boss was a woman I used to lunch with her as well. Lunch is a generally de-sexualized meal, unlike breakfast (you look so beautiful in the morning) and dinner (where should we go AFTER?).
Nobody takes a subordinate out to lunch for her birthday, one-on-one, without some kind of soppy agenda, I'm sorry. Call me a cynic, but it's hard to believe he's not interested in you. Does he take people out for lunch all the time? Is a birthday and a performance review the same thing in terms of lunchability? If you were three feet tall with a hairy nose and protruding eyeballs, do you think he would take you?
Stay friendly. Continue to have scheduling problems. But you're probably drifting toward the day when you have to say, "Ned, I like you as a boss but let's keep it professional between us, okay?" Be ready for it, so when the time comes you'll be cool, nice and appropriate, and able to spare his pride as much as possible. You do want that performance review to go well.
Last updated December 20 2007: 1:13 PM ET