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Dealing with Employees/Flowers to funeral of employee


Dear Lee Fjelstad

It is hard to me to ask such a question but I need to make clear with it. Recently our employee died at work. Marketing department was reproached by CEO of the company that the flowers weren’t sent to the funeral. As far as i know marketing department is not dealing with this issue, but Human Resource department.  Again it is not important in a such day when one of our employee lost life. But the thing is this that I need to know is sending flowers on behalf of the company Marketing department’s responsibility or Human Resource?

Thank in advance



I cannot speak to the cultural customs of your native land but what I can write here can perhaps help if you take my words and apply what you can use and leave what is not helpful in your opinion and your experience.

Flowers are used for many purposes but in all situations they are s signal that people are remembered.  

You CEO may have acted in an outrage because he considered the action of those closest to the deceased to be their responsibility, even if the Human Resource Department might be the go to section of a company specifically connected to all matters regarding the welfare of employees in the company.

I certainly cannot speak to the responsibility of each department or to whom the responsibility lay for such a circumstance, but the matter has now opened a new issue with the lack of respect or perceived lack of it to all concerned.  Rather than debate now as to whom should have sent the flowers perhaps we can focus on that tactic for making everyone feel better about each other and repairing any misunderstanding of the matter.  

I have often advocated an apology to repair a problem and conducting one that does not require a weakening of authority, position, or personal esteem.  Repairing feelings is much easier to accomplish when the slight was unintentional.  If you should choose such a direction then a direct conversation is needed.  You can begin by simply speaking directly with all in the Marketing Department separately or as a group that there was no intentional injury and the misunderstanding was in thinking it was being done by HR.  You can later contact the people in HR and simply ask what the proper procedure would is for the death of a co-worker, and then go to the CEO and explain how it must have appeared to him or her and how you can empathize with his or her that it might be seen as a serious oversight.  Walk through the steps you did as discovery and ask what he or she would have done and this will help greatly in the event of something as sad as this were to happen again.  

If you are so inclined you can express your sadness to the family for the confusion and your regret that it was made to appear perhaps to the family that no one thought to send the flowers on such a sad day.  

You can also if you wish, clear with HR other events which pay require some sort of flower arrangement such as weddings, illness requiring hospital or home care, etc.  

It is likely the CEO was mildly embarrassed that the Marketing Department or the company as a whole was not represented by flowers at the funeral.  Keeping things in perspective, image is important and perception is a very powerful force in shaping how we form opinions of events and others.

I hope this has helped in some small way.  I apologize for not being able to specifically answer your question directly but what department should be responsible for the flowers is based on company policy and is not a specific function any specific department.

If you wish, there are HR specialists here on the All Experts forum that may be able to better respond.

Lee Fjelstad, President
Verbal Judo Institute, Inc.

Dealing with Employees

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Lee Fjelstad


I can answer questions on resolving professional and personal conflicts or communication issues in the workplace, with clients, in the home, or any encounter that needs or requires people conform to authority or common goal. My responses will be centered on tactics for getting more from the people around you and directed toward gaining their voluntary compliance, cooperation, or collaboration. Please note that the answers will not be in the form of a “Dear Abbey” response and my personal opinions will rarely be offered, but rather a soft or hard argument toward resolving the issue or demonstrating that words alone will not solve your dilemma or predicament. A web site with references and a partial client list is available upon request.


I am the Vice President of the Verbal Judo Institute, Inc., and for the last twenty years I have traveled between 200 -300 days annually conducting training seminars on Verbal Judo in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, and in England. I specialize in resolving conflicts that rise from workplace differences and highly charged emotional situations that impact cooperation and compliance, and how to deliver or receive bad news and communicate effectively through the issues that typically block the proper delivery or receiving of information in both professional and personal relationships.

I have been interviewed regarding Verbal Judo as the subject in magazine articles ranging in interest from Conde Nast Traveler, Broker Magazine, and sports publications like Referee Magazine; to newsprint articles in the USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and over one hundred local print and online newspapers. I have been broadcast internationally on CNN; nationally on NBC, ABC, and Fox; in Canada on CBC; numerous local television stations; and interviewed on radio across North America and in Europe. In addition to the video clips I am currently producing, the President of the Institute, Dr. George J. Thompson, Ph.D., has four published books on the market (with more in current development) and several audio and video programs.

My educational background includes degrees in English, Business, and Organizational Communication with additional work in Psychology and Behavioral Science.

Past/Present Clients
From executives in corporate offices to front line staff in customer service industries, my clients are people in city, county, and the federal government; airline and cruise lines; banking; real estate operations; universities; and referees in professional sports. My audiences number several hundred thousand people attending Verbal Judo lectures world-wide and as a company our associates have collectively trained over one million people.

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