how to reject an internal candidate, I can’t afford interview travel, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. How to reject an internal candidate

I am a new manager at a small nonprofit (less than 10 employees). We have an opening and two internal candidates applied. I don’t know them well since I’ve only been with the organization for about two months. Based on my observations and interviews are comparable in skills and experience. They both are unfulfilled in their current positions and there isn’t any way for me to change their roles if they don’t get the promotion (they currently fill essential administrative positions). I know that at least one of them will quit if she isn’t selected. Do you have any tips on what to say to the one who doesn’t get the job?

“I think you’re great — particularly your strengths in X and Y. This was a very tough decision, but we’ve decided to offer the role to Jane, who has accepted it.” (If there’s an easily articulable skill or trait that Jane brings to the job, you can mention that here — for instance, “Ultimately Jane’s track record of successful grant writing was a deciding factor.”) “You’ve done an amazing job on __ and __ , but we only had one slot open. I want to be clear, though, how much we value your work, and we’d be glad to talk about future openings with you as they come up.”

(You should only be that positive if that stuff is really true, of course. You shouldn’t be disingenuous.)

Of course, make sure that one of them actually is highly qualified for the job. If they’re not, the organization will be better served by interviewing external candidates; you don’t want to promote someone just because they’re already working there and interested, particularly in a small organization where each role is crucial. That’s true even if you risk losing someone for not promoting them — you need top performers in each job, and you can’t hand out promotions to keep someone who won’t be great at what you’re promoting them to. (You can, however, look for ways to help them grow professionally in other ways — or should be honest with them if there isn’ room for that.)

2. I can’t afford to travel for interviews

I’ve been searching for jobs in my current location but haven’t had a lot of luck, so I’ve recently started looking in my hometown as well. Relocating (or, well, returning) to my hometown would be no problem. I’m familiar with the area, I know of some good apartment complexes, and if I can’t find a place right away, I can stay with family temporarily until I get that sorted out. That being said, I don’t have set plans to relocate; I only intend to return to my hometown if I find a job there.

The problem is, I don’t know what to do if I get asked to interview in-person and the company won’t pay for it. I know that you’ve advised people to be willing to pay their own way for this, which I completely understand. It’s not that I am unwilling, but I simply cannot afford the $400+ airfare (possibly more than once if I had multiple interviews) right now. Am I doomed to being thrown out of the running if I’m only available for phone/Skype interviews? What should I say (or not say) in a cover letter or long-distance interview about this?

This is tricky. You can certainly ask to interview by phone or Skype; some companies will be okay with it and others won’t. Some companies will be okay with it at an early stage but will want you to fly out before they make a final decision. Of the companies that do allow you to do it all by phone or Skype, you risk being at a disadvantage to other candidates. The bar is going to be a little higher for you, someone they can’t meet in person, and lots of people don’t build the same rapport over Skype that they so in person. Then throw in the fact that long-distance job searching is already much harder than local job-searching (which isn’t exactly easy these days either), and it’s not a great scenario. Honestly, if it’s at all an option to move now and then start looking, your search might be easier.

Of course, there are also plenty of companies that do pay to fly candidates in — it depends on what field you’re in and how in-demand your skills are. It could end up being a non-issue for you.

In any case, I wouldn’t get into any of this in your cover letter; that’s the place to convince them to interview you, not to throw up obstacles. Wait until you’re invited to interview and then see if there’s anything they can do.

3. My supplier ends his emails with “blessings”

I have a supplier who insists on ending his email signature with the word “Blessings” after every email. He said he is religious and this is a free country, etc. I find that very offensive and very non-business-like. I would like your opinion.

I don’t quite understand why you find the word “blessings” offensive (and I say this as someone utterly unreligious). It’s not like he’s trying to convert you to his religion or telling you you’re going to go to hell. It’s pretty damn mild, as subtly tinged religious stuff goes. I’d recommend he not use it in something like a job-search email, but this is his business. If he wants to reference blessings, he’s welcome to; he doesn’t work for your company, and he can sign his emails however he wants. You, in turn, can choose not to do business with him if you don’t like it — but that would be a pretty bizarre reaction to something this innocuous.

4. Shouldn’t managers’ resumes specify what size teams they manage? (Why, yes, they should.)

Recently I interviewed candidates for a manager level position of a technical team. This position currently has 3 full-time reports and 3 interns. The job listing specifically states this position supervises others and is at the manager level. Many of the candidates mentioned “leading teams” on their resume, but none wrote down number of reports, size of team, etc. Am I incorrect in thinking that this should be something to include on the resume?

Yes, ideally they’d include it, because there’s a big difference between managing two people and managing 18, as well as between managing individual contributors and managing other managers. The thing is, though, there aren’t really standards that dictate things like that’s it’s up to people’s own judgment, and as a result some do and some don’t. It’s generally in people’s best interests to be specific though — at some point interviewers are likely to ask, and if they’re looking for someone with experience managing large teams and you’ve only managed small ones or contractors or something like that, it’s a waste of your time not to surface that before you interview.

5. When should I say I’m graduating?

I will finish my university program in August 2014, but graduation is not until November 2014. Should I list the degree on my resume as “Expected August 2014” or “Expected November 2014”? I will be finished all of my program requirements by August and would like to start working immediately, but I will not officially have the degree until November.

What would your school say if someone called the registrar in, say, September to confirm that you’d graduated? You want to make sure that you’re not saying you’ve graduated and the school is saying that you haven’t. But absent some issue there, I think it’s reasonable to say “Expected August 2014.” If you’re not sure, though, you could write “Last class August 2014, diploma expected November 2014.” The point is that you want employers to know that you’re in school through August and free after that, without misrepresenting anything.

{ 317 comments… read them below }

  1. Kate

    In #3 did you mean someone unreligious vs. something?

    Anyway I completely agree with you. I am non-religious as well and cringe when business signatures (or anything) comes close to religious but I would never mention it to the party or give it anything more than a passing thought.

    1. KarenT

      It’s not my cup of tea, either. However, the OP needs to let it go. As both he and Alison have both said, he’s free to do it. It’s his choice and his right. The OP already brought it up (I think that’s a bit much but that was her choice) and she can find another supplier if it truly bothers her.

      1. Katie the Fed

        I don’t really like it, (and also “have a blessed day” or when people tell me they’re going to pray for me) but I figure the sentiment is pretty well-intentioned so I’m not going to let it bother me. OP, I’d really let it go.

        1. steve G

          You should always appreciate when someone says they are going to pray for you. They are willing to spare their time to pray for your benefit to the head of the universe. If you don’t believe that then at least believe that they are sending “good vibes” about you out in the universe. And if you don’t believe that that is possible then at least be comforted that they care enough about you to think hard visualizing your well-being.

          Any way, its a win-win situation.

          1. Calla

            There are plenty of valid reasons someone may not appreciate that. Prayer can be used as a passive weapon — “I’ll pray for you” in response to someone being gay or making decisions the person doesn’t approve of. I’ve also heard from people in difficult positions not appreciating it because they’re in a hard place and it’s not something substantial, like, if someone’s family member is dying of cancer, yes, the person praying means well but it’s understandable the person on the other end doesn’t find it that much help (vs. something like actually spending time with the family, bringing dinner by, whatever).

            Now, I don’t think “Blessings” is something to get upset over, or even “I’ll pray for you” 99.9% of the time. But I think saying people are OBLIGATED to always appreciate it and implying that religious Christians are the marginalized ones — not to mention acting like there is no space between “religious” and “100% secular non-spiritual atheist” — like below is taking it a tad far.

            1. steve G

              these make sense I never thought of them because they never happened to me, but it would make sense to not like hearing “I’ll pray for you” if it has always been said to you like this, in a non-meaningful way,

              1. pizzagrl

                For someone who is not religious, being told “i’ll pray for you” will likely always seem “non-meaningful” because prayer is exactly that to them. Is it offensive? Not really. Is it as innocuous as some might thing? Not really.

                I wouldn’t necessarily say something about it, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t find it annoying and perhaps slightly offensive.

          2. Broke Philosopher

            I’m not sure if you do this, but if you do, please stop telling people you’ll pray for them if you don’t know it will be well-received. I’m Jewish and have occasionally had Christians tell me they’ll pray for me, and it’s really uncomfortable for me. The historical context of attempting to convert/praying for people of different religious backgrounds really wipes out all the good intentions for me.

            1. Steve G

              Oh I agree! I live in NYC and as you may know, it is a Jewish city, so I am very sensitive to this. Many of my Hasidic and Orthodox business/channel partners do use religious comments like…ok now I can’t remember exactly what they say:-) but things like “peace be with you” etc. And religion aside, I like it because in a pretty cut-throat business, it is nice to know that the people you are dealing with are “real people” outside of work.

        2. Kate

          Same with me. Again I cringe inside but always say thank you. I don’t see it as trying to convert or force their beliefs on me. They are doing what they can and I just go with it.

      2. steve G

        What I never understand is when athiests get “offended” by anything remotely religious, because atheists doesn’t offer up a replacement. Atheism offers up nothing.

        Also, I do feel there is a double standard here when we talk about how religion and work mix, everyone seems so cautious that an atheist is going to be “offended” by a touch of something pertaining to religion, but very few people seem willing to take up the fight for the religious folk that just want to do something as innocuous as saying “Grace” before a meal a few times per year.

        1. Koko

          I actually think that’s a stickier situation, because saying Grace is usually a group activity. I’m not particularly religious, technically I’m a lapsed pagan. I would never mind someone saying blessings or some similar expression of religiously-themed good will towards me, and I am completely unbothered by someone clasping their own hands together at a group lunch lunch to bless their own food. But as a lapsed pagan, I do believe in the power of ritual and that it shouldn’t be engaged in without authentic belief, so I’m uncomfortable being expected to participate in a ritual honoring a god I don’t worship. I don’t even mind if the believer blesses MY food as long as I’m not the one being asked to petition for the blessing. (I imagine Yahweh would be up there saying, at best, “Excuse me? Not so much as a phone call in 20 years and now you expect me to grant YOU favors? Pfffftt.”)

          Generally when Grace has come up in a business setting, I place my hands in my lap and lower my eyes respectfully, but I don’t close my eyes in meditation or say any of the magical incantations (“Amen” or what have you).

          1. fposte

            If somebody wants to say a grace in a business setting, I’m not sure I’d necessarily politely wait through it, to be honest. I have no problem with somebody else saying a grace, but it wouldn’t be appropriate for the sayer to assume that other people have to stop what they’re doing as a result.

            1. De Minimis

              We do it at my work, and I think we really shouldn’t, but it’s not my place to say we can’t.

              I do know that if I were non-religious or were of a different religious background I’d probably feel really uncomfortable, although I would guess that this situation would come up in most workplaces in this region.

              1. smilingswan

                Sure it is. You can and should object. There are laws prohibiting discrimination based on religion, and this is definitely an example of that.

            2. Xay

              Most of the religious people that I know who say grace before group meals just take a few seconds to pause quietly – nothing that requires everyone to stop what they are doing.

              I’m a fairly religous Christian and I wouldn’t be comfortable with a group grace at a non-religious business function.

              1. fposte

                I’ve known people like that; I’ve also known people who feel the community aspect of saying grace is key and that it’s really a problem for anybody at the table not to wait through grace even if they’re not saying it.

                1. the gold digger

                  Sort of related: my husband’s friend from high school and his family were visiting our city. They came over for dinner one night.

                  Before we started eating, the friend said grace.

                  Without even asking if it was OK.

                  I happen to be the same religion as the friend, but I would never just presume to preside over someone else’s dinner table as if I were at home.

                  If he had just said, “Do you mind if we say grace?” I would not have been bothered at all.

                  But his presumption really annoyed me.

                  (I still, however, am bothered that he ate almost all of a three-pound steak that my husband grilled. We had planned on leftovers!)

            3. Koko

              Although I agree with you in principle, in practice the person saying the Grace has usually had greater standing/power relative to mine in the workplace, so quietly not participating eases my discomfort without rocking the boat too much.

              Incidentally, I did the same thing in high school during the portion of the morning we were supposed to pledge allegiance to the flag. I was uncomfortable with it, but the school had rules against disrupting it, so rather than make a big debacle out of it I simply remained seated and silent every morning while my classmates swore nationalistic oaths of fealty.

              1. smilingswan

                I always left out the “under God” part. My younger sister did refuse to participate.

          2. Vancouver Reader

            Friends of the family used to say grace when they had us over for dinner. Dad & I would bow our heads along with everyone else, but then look over at each other and smile conspiratorially. As long as mom didn’t catch us doing it, we were okay.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          I’m not clear on what “atheism offers up nothing” means. I mean, yeah, it doesn’t offer a religious alternative, by definition — but atheists can certainly offer compassion, empathy, companionship in tough times, etc., and those are far from nothing.

          1. fposte

            I was mulling that too–I think that it can be hard for people for whom faith is really central to imagine a non-religious worldview feeling whole. Whereas to me it’s like saying to somebody in Britain that instead of a president, they have nothing–it’s technically true, but it fails to grasp what the overall system does have and why it actually thinks a president is not a good thing.

          2. steve g

            I was actually refering to the lack of rules on some of the items you pointed out, not the total lack of those items. Atheism doesn’t offer a handbook for what it is….some think it means u can do whatever u want and others have traditional christian values without the Christianity. so the op in this example is saying what they don’t want but doesn’t have any alternative phrase to use in its place

            1. Artemesia

              The idea that morality rests on fear of punishment by a deity has always seemed odd to me. We find our humanity in being human and those who think morality flows from religion might want to look at what is done in the name of religion quite regularly. Lucretious had some interesting things to say about this over 2000 years ago.

            2. Cat

              The OP is saying what they don’t want for themselves; they don’t need to lay out the alternative they’ve come to. The OP isn’t saying that the vendor shouldn’t be religious.

            3. Vancouver Reader

              I think atheists can abide by morals without having to have them written down and giving credit to one particular person for thinking them up.

            4. smilingswan

              Many so-called Christians don’t follow their own rulebook. Also, people had morals, values, and rules long before Christ came along. I’m sure you’ve heard of The Golden Rule?

        3. Mike B.

          Some of us find “nothing” preferable to what religion has to offer us. Let’s stick to the topic at hand.

          And you’ll note that Alison and most commenters have indicated that the OP would be well advised to drop the matter because it is indeed innocuous. What more do you want?

        4. Elsajeni

          Well, the “double standard” exists because not doing something is generally less intrusive than doing something. If you lead a group blessing or prayer before a meal, those of us who don’t share your religion have to listen to it and may feel pressured to participate, regardless of our own beliefs; if you don’t, then each of us can pray or give thanks in our own way (or not at all) and according to our own beliefs, without anyone putting pressure (even unintentionally) on anyone else.

          1. Mike B.

            +1

            Talking about a “double standard” implies that the two groups involved have some degree of parity in what they want. But some of us want to be left alone, while others want to involve everyone in their worship, and those two things are just not comparable.

            1. RA

              Yes, the right to be left alone trumps community worship, or community anything for that matter. And I say this as someone who is very religious, but not Christian. I’m not saying Grace.

            2. Artemesia

              And with employment at will being the norm people who don’t share the religion of the management are at constant threat if they don’t buckle under to the intrusive pressure to worship. The appalling behavior of leadership in the Air Force is a great example of what happens when this is allowed. Rule that officers not be allowed to proselytize to their own subordinates recently enacted are now getting heavy push back and law suits fro religious interests who want to be free to recruit from subordinates.

              1. Editor

                There’s also the complication of minority faiths in the Christian tradition. Years ago I was in a big box store just before Christmas, and a woman was buying a bunch of storage containers. The chatty woman at the register made some observation about getting the house clean for Christmas and hoping she’d have a nice holiday. The woman kind of stiffened, then explained that as she was (Seventh Day Adventist or Jehovah’s Witness — I can’t recall) she was cleaning closets on Dec. 25 since she had the day off and her church doesn’t celebrate Christmas. It was clearly another awkward moment in what was probably a season of continuous awkward moments, but it reinforced the lesson of not assuming everyone has the same world view.

        5. nep

          Best not to generalise — not all atheists get offended at things remotely religious. Also, though, atheists don’t ‘owe’ any replacement.

        6. Tinker

          Lately it seems to be the popular thing to frame issues of public religiosity as being “religious (implicitly conservative Christian) people” vs. “atheists”, but it isn’t necessarily so — there’s also the matter of people who are religious but not Christian, or who are Christian but are from a background that has a different take on the issue of public displays than other people.

          I’ve mentioned it before, but I was raised Methodist of a sort that has very definite opinions about being overtly religious outside of church — it’s tacky and rude, and kind of braggy, and you don’t do it. I’ve also got a number of friends who are profoundly religious but who are also very much not Christian and a) you would not know it from interacting with them at work b) pervasively Christian environments are not exactly expressing compatibility with them, despite the aforementioned substantial involvement in their faith.

          Unless one is coming from a perspective that classifies Methodists as atheists — and this is a perspective that exists; I’ve encountered that before — it doesn’t make sense to frame the discussion that way. And even within that framework — people who follow different faiths certainly feel as if they’re being offered more than nothing.

          1. RA

            Yes, I’ll take an atheist’s “nothing” over a forced religious convention any day.

            I agree, there’s this false “Christian/atheist” dichotomy out there, as if those are the only two options. I’ve even heard people equate atheists and Muslims.

            Also, not directly related to your post but I don’t think “Blessings” has to be a religious sign-off. It sounds pretty secular to me, much like “Good Day” or “Take Care”, which an atheist could use too. OP#3 and some commenters seem to assume the supplier is religious, but I am not so sure.

            1. Tinker

              It’s pretty secular, but I think it falls on the side of “not actually secular”. Which is not to say I would be bothered by it — it strikes me as being within the bounds of idiom influenced by culture — but I’d be somewhat surprised if the person then proved to be not committed to either Christianity or certain forms of Paganism.

              1. RA

                Yeah, I suppose it’s not as secular as “Good Day”, and it seems more Pagan than Christian to me now that I think of it.

          2. Artemesia

            Well Christ himself was a Methodist then as he was pretty clear that the ostentatious braggy show of religion you are discussing was anathema to him. Many of those who seek to bully with their religion skipped this chapter of the Bible apparently. Living and raising a family in the south there is constant pressure and often constant veiled threat to those who don’t conform.

        7. Tinker

          Something else to consider as far as that framing question goes — it’s likely that a lot of the folks you’re classifying as atheists are actually religious, if you feel as if you’re pervasively surrounded by atheists to the degree that you feel uncomfortable saying grace before a handful of meals.

          The consequence of this is that people who actually are atheists read these people as being theists — which they happen to actually be — and consequently feel much the same as you do.

          Having observed a lot of these sort of conversations, this is a common pitfall — when it comes to feeling like an embattled minority, Christians who are into overt performance in secular circles categorize the middle group as being functionally equivalent to atheists (which, from their perspective, is actually fairly sensible) and atheists who feel intimidated by such performances categorize the middle group as functionally equivalent to overtly performing Christians (seeing them, for instance, as offering silent or less directly stated support, which happens to be often true).

          (amusingly, when it comes to claiming that one is broadly supported, the attribution of the middle group reverses, but that’s another matter)

          This sort of subtle framing that is different in different subcultural groups is the reason why it’s best to be cautious about expressing those things in environments like work where people are brought together around an axis that isn’t tied to one’s specific subcultural values — it’s easy for people to end up clashing over them, without really understanding why.

        8. Anonymous

          Atheism offers up a belief in self. A belief in confidence in all that humanity has created since it evolved into its current form. A belief that humanity will go on to develop into something better. It allows humans to admit that they are responsible for all that they do, good and bad, instead of blaming it on someone or something else.

        9. Vicki

          Ahem.
          You are making a very sweeping generalization, which, based on many of the responses here, is categorically untrue.

          Please don’t do that.

        10. smilingswan

          Well, that’s the rub. Athiests don’t offer up an alternative because they consider God to be a fictional construct. Why would you need an alternative to a fictional character? (FWIW- I say this as an agnostic)

    2. Anon

      I agree. Anything extremely personal, like religion, at work can make me uncomfortable. But I don’t think “blessings” is the hill you want to die on.

      1. steve G

        but many religious people don’t view their religion as personal, it’s a community thing and they find it rude to leave others out.

        1. fposte

          Sure, but most of them have been out in the world enough to realize that many people find it rude to have religious assumptions made, too.

        2. LBK

          I think you’d have to be pretty unaware of societal norms if you think it’s rude to leave people out of your religion in a non-religious setting. Unless you specifically know the people you’re involving are religious and will appreciate being included, it’s almost definitely going to come off as evangelistic.

          1. smilingswan

            That’s how it is in the south though. People assume you are a Christian, and express shock and dismay if they find out you aren’t. I am from Massachusetts, and this attitude boggles my mind. In New England religion (or lack thereof) is a private thing. In North Carolina (where I currently live) it’s public record and one is judged accordingly.

        3. RA

          But I find it rude that I have to participate in a practice that is not in accordance with my religion. I am deeply religious but in my faith, we do not say Grace (or anything similar) right before eating. I have no problem with you or anyone else individually saying Grace, but I will not participate in your community activity. Individuals have rights, not groups.

          1. Jamie

            I think my high school handled it well. I went to a secular boarding school and before every meal they would announce “a moment of silent prayer for those who so desire it.”

            You didn’t have to participate or bow your head – just refrain from being disruptive for 30 seconds or so.

            I wouldn’t necessarily appreciate that in the workplace, or even a day school…but boarding school is different in that it’s also your home and it’s not like you can go somewhere else to practice your faith.

            1. RA

              That’s a good point — there’s a difference if you live there! And it sounds like they handled it well, anyway. That time could easily be used as a period of quiet reflection, no matter your faith or non-faith.

            2. Tinker

              I think my high school handled it well. They served food.

              It’s not something that outright offends me, but I’ve been in places (summer camps, for instance) that do things like that and it’s a point of discomfort. For me, the actual act of praying isn’t related to taking a particular posture or making a bunch of other people stop what they’re doing — in fact, I’m explicitly not comfortable with having a lot of folks who aren’t pre-screened for basic religious compatibility caught up in my religious acts, so I don’t tend to actually pray at these sort of public performances. And most of the time, the “moment of silence” is pretty obviously not some sort of random appreciation for pre-meal meditative practices, it’s “the part where we can’t say “pray” but that is of course what you’re meant to do”.

              That’s a cultural point that apparently a lot of people vary on, so I kind of suck it up and deal on the occasions when it comes up, but my point here is that it’s not necessarily so that the generic moment of silence floats all boats.

              1. Jamie

                We lived there. To not have a moment of silence would have meant that where kids had all three meals for 48 weeks a year would have not had even 30 seconds of quiet in which to say grace to themselves.

                Yes, other people had to stop what they were doing for less than a minute so other people could have that time of quiet. Whether it’s a family, a school, or a work environment everyone needs to make compromises. If I compromise on issue A, then maybe someone else has to compromise on issue B which is something that benefits me.

                It’s not a tit for tat system – just trying to regulate things so ideally no one is stepped on and no one has to sacrifice what they need. It can be a fine line to walk.

                I certainly didn’t imply this would be acceptable to everyone, it was my opinion that they handled it well.

                If people were that uncomfortable being around others quietly, some of whom were praying silently to themselves, that’s certainly their prerogative and something I would assume they’d have addressed with their parents if they felt it was inappropriate for them.

                But imo I don’t believe it’s too much to ask for people to be respectfully quiet so kids who will eat all three meals for 48 weeks a year together in that dining room didn’t have to sacrifice grace or try to do it amongst the clanking of silverware and the loud chatter of hundreds of people.

                To me that’s a pretty mild and reasonable compromise. I’d argue that someone who had issues with a moment of silence should have had parents who screened for that for either boarding school or summer camp.

                For day schools or work environments I don’t think it’s necessary – because you go home at the end of the day and on weekends thus having opportunities to do your meals as you prefer. Boarding school and summer camp – that’s home for as long as you’re there and where else are you going to eat?

                1. Scott M

                  “But imo I don’t believe it’s too much to ask for people to be respectfully quiet so kids who will eat all three meals for 48 weeks a year together in that dining room didn’t have to sacrifice grace or try to do it amongst the clanking of silverware and the loud chatter of hundreds of people.”

                  Well, I happen to believe it’s too much. One of the managers at my job takes 5 seconds to bow his head and say a silent prayer before team lunches. He doesn’t ask anyone else to wait for him – we all dig in. So, is he praying incorrectly? Why can he pray “amongst the clanking of silverware” but kids at school can’t? Who decides what is the ‘correct’ way to pray at school (everyone silent or just pray silently while others carry on)?

                  Of course – none of this really applies to the OP’s original question. But i just felt the need to respond

                2. Jamie

                  I really don’t understand the hostile tone.

                  I have never made any comment that would indicate I care at all about how anyone prays, or doesn’t, much less that I think there is a correct way of doing it.

                  People can be offended by whatever they like – if you feel that’s too much than you certainly are entitled to feel differently.

                  I was expressing my opinion on what I felt was a reasonable compromise to the topic of how religious practices can be addressed in secular situations. In hindsight it was too far afield from the direct situation and I should have refrained from commenting.

                  I have no need for people to agree with me, but I do think even when people disagree they can do so civilly.

                  Not everyone will agree with you, nor will you agree with everyone – that’s a good thing. And we can all respond to situations however we see fit, in keeping with our own moral code and personal comfort – that’s also a good thing.

                3. Jessa

                  You can say grace whilst everyone else is eating. You don’t have to start eating before your prayers. The rest however are under no obligation to wait for you or participate. I agree with those who say “moment of quiet,” are kind of saying “we’re going to pray now.” That kind of imposition from the head table shouldn’t happen.

                  And if you’re sitting at a table with a bunch of people who steal all the food before you can say grace, then complain about THAT.

                  It’s not incumbent upon anyone else to do anything except not ridicule you or be nasty to you, or deliberately get in your way so you cannot say it.

              2. RA

                I find I can’t pray in these types of situations either. It’s too public. That said, I’ve known plenty of atheists, who don’t pray at all, and they are able to reflect quietly without a problem. One does not need God to be grateful that one has food to eat. I can reflect on that blessing without referencing God at all, and so can an atheist. People have this strange idea that you need religion to be reflective, but it’s just not true.

                1. amaranth16

                  I think reflection and gratitude are important and valuable practices whether you’re religious or not. I’m not religious, but when I hear “blessings” I think “that’s a nice reminder that this person wants good things for me, and that I have good things in my life that I should remember to be thankful for.” If I’m presented with a moment of silence – as long as actual prayer isn’t compulsory – I take a moment to sit quietly and think about my loved ones, be thankful for my health, or reflect on something else that is important to me.

                  I know what it’s like to be ostracized for being an atheist – I grew up in an extremely religious area, and I was actually scared to admit to people that I didn’t go to church. So I’m trying to empathize with the offense people seem to take at email signatures and moments of silence, but I’m coming up really empty. It just strikes me as thin-skinned.

            3. Vicki

              Also… it’s school. I think more schools could use a few “moments of silence”, especially in the cafeterias.

              Kids need to learn to take a few minutes a day to stop talking.

    3. Ann Furthermore

      This would warrant an eye roll from me, but not much else. I’m not religious at all, but as long as someone isn’t actively trying to convert me, or telling me that I’m going to hell, then I don’t have any problem with their beliefs.

      As long as someone respects my beliefs (or lack thereof), I will respect theirs.

      1. fposte

        Yes, this seems on a par with being wished “Happy [holiday you don’t happen to celebrate]” to me. Even if I don’t celebrate, say, Chinese New Year, it’s a wish that I be happy on a day, and why would I argue with that?

        1. Kassy

          “it’s a wish that I be happy on a day, and why would I argue with that?”

          +1000000

          I think the comments went kind of far astray from the “blessings” signature. They want the OP to have blessings! I would just take it as “they want good things to happen to you” and appreciate the sentiment. Why create negativity when none was intended?

      2. steve G

        I think this is the balanced approach. I am Catholic and whenever religion comes up, the only reason I discuss it is because it has brought alot of happiness to my life and I want to share it……it is totally not coming from a “you are going to hell” place of mind. I think non-religious folks assume we are all coming after then with the latter mentality.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          It’s not that the default assumption is that it’s coming from a “you are going to hell” place. It’s that it can be annoying and presumptuous to take up someone’s time attempting to influence them on something so personal, and to assume that you’ve thought more deeply about it than they have and have come to better conclusions than they have, or even to assume it’s a topic they’re interested in engaging with you on.

          1. smilingswan

            “to assume that you’ve thought more deeply about it than they have and have come to better conclusions than they have”

            That’s putting it perfectly!

        2. Ann Furthermore

          I think very small groups of people on either side of the issue make it seem like this is a much bigger deal than it is. Most people will not be offended by something like an email signature of “blessings.”

          I’m reminded every year of the discussion about “the war on Christmas.” I don’t think there’s a war on Christmas, I think there’s a very small, vocal group of people that squawks about silly things like Christmas pageants being part of an agenda to indoctrinate people into this or that religion, or something else equally inane, just to make a point. Years ago in a college town here, there was a nice tradition where people would kind of anonymously decorate a specific pine tree on one of the mountains close to town during the Christmas season. Hikers, bikers, people on a picnic, or what have you would leave an ornament on the tree when they passed by. It had gone on for many years, and it was really cool. Then someone got all up in arms about “religious” symbols being displayed on public land, and non-Christians being offended by this. So this was discontinued. It was so dumb. I never did find out who these people were that were allegedly offended, it was all hypothetical.

          I had a debate with a friend last year who always posts things about the “war on Christmas” on his Facebook page, and cited a certain news organization as his source. I told him that media outlet was no longer allowed to call itself a news organization, since they’d devoted air time to interviewing someone dressed up as Santa Claus about the war on Christmas during their morning show.

          1. Ann Furthermore

            And I also told him to watch Jon Stewart’s rant about this on his show, which was hilarious. It ended with him noting that the big retailers were starting to call the day before Black Friday “Grey Thursday.” And he ended by saying, “….or as it used to be called, THANKSGIVING!!! Watch out Halloween, you’re next!!” It really was funny, and it was a great counter-point to the “war on Christmas” stance.

        3. Tinker

          I do think that these sort of expressions are coming from a place of good intent, but it’s good intent modified by a subcultural value that says that “sharing the good news” is a gift (also, as touched on above, that people who are not your-sort-of-religion are not-any-sort-of-religion and hence available to have that slot filled).

          To a degree, one can take things in the spirit they are intended — but I also think that the folks who repeat among themselves that the natural response to overtly advocating their faith is gratitude are setting themselves up for disappointment and strife when they interact with the general population.

      3. LD

        I consider myself religious and I find it uncomfortable (odd, disconcerting, curious, or any other description that mean, “ah, that doesn’t match my expectations”) when someone inserts even mild expressions of their faith into their business and professional communication. As many others have already eloquently expressed, I’d note it and then ignore it.

    4. Vancouver Reader

      Our old accountant used to sign off her emails with a religious blessing, which I found annoying only because it seemed money was more the god to her than her purported god.

    5. SherryD

      I always say goodbye and thanks to my bus drivers (small town), and there’s one that always replies with, “Goodbye, God bless.” I don’t love it, but whatever. It’s innocuous.

      In my little experience in the German Alps, all the hikers say “Grüß Gott” (“God greets you”) as they pass. In that context, it’s just meant as something perfunctory, not a deep emotional, religious statement.

      1. Jen RO

        That’s a very common greeting in Austria (like when you enter a shop and say hello to the clerk). I am sure that most people don’t even think about the religious meaning.

        1. StarHopper

          Sounds similar to the English “good bye,” which is a shortening of “God be with you.”

      2. smilingswan

        Like saying “bless you” when someone sneezes. I say this. It’s culturally ingrained.

    6. EngineerGirl

      I’m getting sick and tired of people being so intolerant that they take offense continuously at the smallest things. People shouldn’t have to walk around on eggshells to negotiate life.
      There’s lots of people in the world that don’t think like you do. Let these little things roll off and focus on the things you have in common. No one’s stopping you from practicing your belief. Ignore it. That’s what I do with people that have different view points than mine.

      1. EngineerGirl

        I meant the above for OP #3, not Kate.

        Really, don’t do it. It takes so much energy to be offended all the time.

        1. Sara

          agree wholeheartedly. How sensitive do you have to be to be offended by “blessings?” If you don’t have any belief system, that’s cool, but don’t be whiny and stuckup about others right to practice.

          1. Henrietta Gondorf

            I work for the federal government and religious signature blocks from federal employees in work emails sets my teeth on edge. I don’t consider myself sensitive, but I think it’s much less innocuous in that context.

            1. LQ

              I agree, when something comes from an government type email it is a lot different than a guy who has his own business and does it. (My government agency has regulations around what can and cannot be in your signature for that reason.)

            2. smilingswan

              I’m surprised that’s even allowed. I would bet money that there is a policy in place to prevent this from happening.

        2. Mike B.

          I don’t think particularly many people are as sensitive as the OP; the overall response here bears that out.

          But I think a little sensitivity is justified in a world where cashiers are rebuked for saying “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas.” There are some situations where one religion is imposed on people who have different beliefs (or none), and they can be genuinely uncomfortable.

          1. RA

            Yeah, honestly, I’ve met more people who are offended by “happy holidays” than by “Merry Christmas”! I even got chewed out for saying Season’s Greetings. There are, FACTUALLY-speaking, several holidayS, PLURAL, in late December, plus Jan 1st. So, I do sometimes wish people happy holidays instead of picking specific holidays. I don’t celebrate specific holidays around that time of year, so I’m not even thinking about them most of the time. They just don’t register. Maybe I should just start telling people to drop dead instead.

      2. ella

        Yeah, this. What unites us is far greater than what divides us and all that.

        He’s wishing you well, OP. However perfunctorily, however routinely, he’s telling you that he hopes you don’t fall on a pencil and stab your own eye out. And you’re going to quibble (or, it sounds like, already have quibbled) over the word that he uses to do it? Take his good intentions, smile, return them in whatever verbiage seems appropriate to you, and move on. Wishing each other well is more or less the bare minimum of trying to make somebody’s day a little bit better that we can do.

    7. John

      Whenever someone at work says something such as “I’m praying for you,” the way I take it is as a nice gesture; for them, praying is extremely important so I feel it is the ultimate gesture of caring.

      I’m not religious, but can use all the prayers/blessings/novenas/whatever I can get!

      1. Ruffingit

        AMEN! (Pardon the pun) :) I’ll take whatever good wishes I can get and in whatever form the wisher wants to serve it up. Also, the fact that this is in email makes it look even worse for the OP to be complaining about it. I don’t even read the signature block or end greeting of work emails. I read what I need to know and move on. If this is so offensive, I have to wonder just how hard the rest of the OP’s life is because this is NOT the hill to die on.

      2. JMegan

        That’s it exactly! I’m not at all religious, but I like it when people who are religious offer me blessings and prayers and so on. It means something to them, and it’s their way of wishing me good health, or a good day, or whatever.

        As long as they’re unobtrusive about it, of course, which I think this supplier is. It’s a single word at the bottom of an email message – it’s not like he’s following you around openly praying for your soul or anything like that. Assume he means “have a good day,” and move on from there.

  2. Another anon

    Really? Blessings? Sometimes it is as though people just need something to complain about. Smh.

    1. Thomas W

      Agree — first of all, it’s generally but not *always* religious. Second, it’s definitely a positive and non-judgmental thing. Finally, why let this ruin your day? Why not just gloss over it and as Ms. Furthermore suggested, just roll your eyes and move on?

      1. GrumpyBoss

        If this is really the worst thing the OP comes across on any given day, he/she really is living a “blessed” life.

    2. Rayner

      I don’t think it’s appropriate to sign a business email (in a company that is not religious) with something that is blatantly religious. It’s out of context, and rings of “I’m not business savvy” and “My religious views are front and center.”

      If this was a religious organisation, then it might fit. But absent that, it doesn’t.

      1. Eudora Wealthy

        When my coworkers sneeze, shall I not say, “Bless you”?
        Better than “Damn you!”
        :)

        1. Rayner

          No.

          But that’s not an official communication on paper/on the web. It would be like signing off on the phone, “And my prayers with you” or “God be with your family.”

          I find it offputting and unprofessional when not in a business that deals with God/is religious in of itself.

          1. Sarah C.

            Where I live you have people with nasty attitudes who view you as less than human if you go to the wrong church aka cult). When someone is unprofessional in their email with a personal tag… Let’s just say I won’t have anything to do with them anymore. It tends to be read as a red flag and this may be the OP’s issue with possible negative past experiences. I used to ignore it and paid dearly with harassment, assaults, and stalking.

            I think that if you’re running a business you run a business. If you have a church/cult I’d expect to see annoying scripture with email then cut off contact.

            If he’s being rude I’d change suppliers and be done with it. I’m an Atheist and having been assaulted for not having any absurd beliefs I give those red flags a close up review. Sometimes it’s just the tip of the iceberg and I sympathize with the OP. It’s not harmless or innocuous at all to me. I’ve had people claim they’d pray I’d get murdered and go to hell because I deserved it so I get really angry (and make sure I have my mace in case I’m attacked again). Prayer is used to be condescending and demeaning to people in some instances or to hide threats.

            Somehow being treated like this is supposed to make me “come back to the light”. Yeah, no thank you to the hateful creeps out there.

        2. EngineerGirl

          FYI, I once had a pastor that wouldn’t say “God Bless You” after someone sneezed because the origin of the practice was based in pagan superstition. IF you sneezed 3 times the gnomes could take you away unless protected by a religious blessing – like a good luck charm.
          So there you go. “God Bless You” isn’t what you think it is.

          1. Sabrina

            Oh I love people like that. I like to remind them how much of Christianity is actually Pagan.

            1. EngineerGirl

              I’m not sure of your point here? Saying “God Bless You” isn’t in the Bible. So how are you equating that with Christianity?

          2. Sigrid

            Huh — I’ve always heard that the origin of saying “God bless you” after someone sneezed came from the time of the plague in Europe, where there was supposedly a fair chance that the person who just sneezed was going to die horribly in the very near future, and therefore God’s blessings were of the utmost importance.

            I’ve always regarded that particular story of the origin of the saying somewhat askance, given that as a microbiologist, I am well aware that the plague doesn’t actually make you sneeze. Your pastor’s version sounds more plausible to my ears.

            1. RA

              Huh, I learned (in school) that when you sneeze it’s the devil leaving you, which is a good thing, so you must be blessed! haha! So many variations.

        3. Trillian

          I’ve switched to the German ‘Gesundheit’ as a religiously-neutral response. And I like the sound – onomatopoeia at one remove.

          1. Koko

            I love the French, “À tes souhaits,” or “To your wishes.” It turns every sneeze into an opportunity to bank some good luck, like blowing out the candles on a cake!

        4. Clerica D. McClerkykins

          You don’t really have to say anything…we’ve moved past the time where a sneeze might indicate an illness which would likely kill you.

          1. Mallory

            I don’t know . . . look at that Seinfeld episode where George Costanza was able to pick up a guy’s spouse because said guy didn’t say “Bless you” when she sneezed.

            1. Clerica D. McClerkykins

              I think the guy dodged a bullet getting rid of her, lol. Someone in a different thread said it’s not fair for the blessings guy to walk on eggshells, but it’s no different if you have to dredge up platitudes you don’t believe in just to avoid offending someone. Or save your marriage. XD

            2. Vancouver Reader

              Or use the phrase from Seinfeld after someone sneezes: “You’re so good looking!”

        5. B.

          I try to say “gesundheit” because it basically just wishes the person “health” without overt religious overtones. But I certainly wouldn’t throw a hissy fit if/when someone perfunctorily said “bless you” after I sneezed either.

        6. EB

          Or you could wish someone “health” which is what several other cultures do. I was taught the appropriate response to a sneeze was “salud,” and the German response (popular in my part of the US but I wont attempt to spell) means the same thing.

          Just pointing outthat it’s not such the drastic either/or scenario.

      2. FiveNine

        It’s not the OP’s business. Business owners are perfectly free to run their businesses this way or even with much more overtly religious speech.

        1. Rayner

          They might be free to do it, but I find it weird and offputting. I’d definitely be voting with my feet to find a different vendor.

          I’d also wonder if it was a sign of more to come – are they going to mail me leaflets with the product I’m buying from them? Are they going to start mailing me daily ‘quotes from god’ or other stuff? I mean, it’s 99% certain they won’t, but as AAM’s archives will tell you – it’s certainly possible.

          1. EngineerGirl

            That’s quite the leap. If they do it then you address the issue at the time it gets bigger. But don’t go chasing after trouble before it shows up. Most bad worries don’t happen.

            1. Rayner

              I don’t think it’s professional to bring religion into a space where it’s not needed and not asked for so anyone who crosses that line would make me think “well, what’s going to happen next?” Period.

              I’d just quietly find a new vendor, and wash my hands of the matter.

          2. FiveNine

            That’s fine. I’m just taken aback by some of the reaction because religious intolerance also is rather unprofessional.

            1. Rayner

              I don’t think it’s intolerant to prefer that business is kept business. Maybe it’s because where I live, we have a much more strictly defined differentiation between religion and the workspace.

              Let me clear: It is not that he is religious that I object to. It’s applying it in a business context where it has no place being.

              1. Chinook

                But part of being religious is having it be part of your entire life. I would hope that his practices were following his religious principles (otherwise he is a hypocrite), which would mean that you would want to benefit from his positive business practices without being “dirtied” by the other aspects of his belief. Trust me, wishing you blessings is in no way trying to influence your beleifs in any way, shape or form. He just wants good things to happen to you.

                1. fposte

                  Well, I’d disagree with this; for one thing, it assumes that I’m in favor of the rest of his religious principles, and for another, there’s no reason to think that his likelihood of following the even the principles I do like is higher than anybody else’s.

                  He’s a supplier. I want him to supply. People who think that a shared faith makes him likelier to be more trustworthy when he does it can remember how well that worked out for Bernie Madoff’s victims.

                2. Jamie

                  It’s not part of one’s entire life for everyone – at least not expressing it.

                  As a Catholic I do pray. But if I hear someone is sick or had a death in the family I tell them they will be in my thoughts – unless I’m 100% sure they are okay with ‘my prayers are with you.’ Not kind of sure – 100% sure.

                  Because it’s true. When someone is sick or hurting they are in my thoughts. If some of those thoughts include talking to God in my head that’s my business – it’s inside my head – but I’m still wishing them well.

                  I personally wouldn’t make a religious reference to anyone without the foundation of a shared belief and total certainty as far as it goes.

                  I don’t like religious references at work, and that includes both people who share parts of my faith as well as atheists who see me wearing a crucifix and feel the need to open the conversation with how surprised they are that I’m religious as they thought I was so intelligent and logical.

                  At work things that don’t bother me:

                  – God bless you after a sneeze (it’s a social convention – not a call to prayer)

                  – People saying a variant of OMG or dammit even whether they believe or not (mild epithets used in our culture – not an appeal to a deity for help or vengeance.)

                  – People who know I’m Catholic letting me know of a new restaurant that has better grilled cheese on Friday’s during Lent than our usual place.

                  – People saying they will pray for me if they know me well enough to know it would be welcome (from strangers I find it presumptive, but harmless.)

                  – People wishing me blessings or to have a blessed day. Maybe they are religious, maybe they are blessing me the way Grams blessed the house before Piper and Leo’s wedding on charmed. I can use all the blessings and good intentions I can get.

                  Things that do bother me in the workplace:

                  – Proselytizing of any kind, even if I share some or most of their professed beliefs. It’s inappropriate.

                  – Assumption that because we share a religion we are in lockstep or that you know my politics.

                  – I don’t assume my belief in the unknowable is any more accurate than anyone else’s belief in the unknowable (thank you Dennis Miller for the phrasing) so I’m not going to defend my beliefs or give a crap about anyone else’s on the job.

                3. the gold digger

                  how surprised they are that I’m religious as they thought I was so intelligent and logical.

                  I always love that. “How can you be [whatever]? You’re so smart!”

                  Right. Because the only reason someone would hold my beliefs is because she is stupid.

            2. Sarah C.

              I think you’re confusing intolerance with the fact that when people go to a company to buy a good or service they aren’t supposed to be told what to believe in the process.

          3. Elizabeth West

            I wouldn’t assume he was going to mail me leaflets or thump Bibles in my face based on something so innocuous as “Blessings.” If he started doing it, I might say, “Hey, I’m kind of uncomfortable with that; let’s just keep this on business.” Based on his reaction to that, then I would either fish or cut bait. Changing vendors over the signature seems premature.

            1. KrisL

              “Blessings” doesn’t tell us if this guy is Christian or not. He could be part of another religion.

      3. Elysian

        Maybe it doesn’t ‘fit’, but since the OP doesn’t employ the “Blessings” individual, there’s really nothing she can do. If she managed the person, she could ask that she use a company-approved email sig. But she doesn’t, so this is one she just has to roll with.

      4. Chinook

        Rayner, is “It’s out of context, and rings of “I’m not business savvy” and “My religious views are front and center.”” meant to be the same thing in thise case or in general? I think myself quite business savvy but I also conduct myself in a way that my religious views are front and centre when they apply (I.e. When it comes to ethics and also when it comes to not comparing my salary to others – Jesus has a specific parab Le on this one because some complaints have been around for millenia) To me, it is more narrow minded to judge my business savviness on a salutation than it is to sign off in a way that means I want good things to happen to you.

        1. the gold digger

          “You shall give him his wages on his day before the sun sets, for he is poor and sets his heart on it; so that he will not cry against you to the LORD and it become sin in you.”

          “The worker deserves his wages.”

          “Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice, making his own people work for nothing, not paying them for their labor.

        2. Sarah C.

          Every christian I worked for had paychecks made of rubber – so they couldn’t keep people working there more than a few months. If you cashed the check at their bank you’d be threatened because they would be paying overdraft fees out the wazoo.

      5. Ruffingit

        But we don’t know what kind of company this is because the sender is a supplier to the OP’s company so an outside vendor. Very well could be that the company is religious.

        1. fposte

          Yup. Around here there are plenty of openly religious businesses in various fields–I’ve had religious movers and religious lawn-mowing.

      6. Natalie Anne Lanoville

        Whether his business is religious or not, if his customers are, it could be a business decision and not indicative of his personal beliefs. It’s what I’d do. In fact, it’s what I do do.

      7. Vicki

        But… some of us don’t consider “blessings” to be “blatantly religious”. (I think it’s interesting that several of us who say we don’t find this offensive are also personally non religious ourselves.)

        Blessed Be…

  3. M.

    #3 When I lived in North Carolina for my AmeriCorps assignment I was placed in a community center. It was the only one in the area and it was run by the churches in the area. Almost every message I got had some form of “Blessings”. I also noticed that a lot of my fast food cups had Bible verses printed on them, and so did the take out bags. As someone who does not believe in religion for the most part, it didn’t bother me too much. I’ve always felt that it is a freedom of speech thing, and if I want it for me, I need to respect it for others.

    1. Artemesia

      I raised my kids in the south — I could live just fine with all the ‘have a blessed days’ and such but It really ticked me off to see my children’s work papers from PUBLIC school with ‘Praise the Lord’ at the bottom of the page.

      I’d let it go among grownups and change vendors if it is too intrusive.

      1. Chinook

        Artemesia, I would have been insulted if a teacher wrote “praise the Lord” on the bottom of one of my assignments. I would take it as meaning that it was a miracle I completed the assignment or did as well as I did (but, then again, my Catholic school taught free will and personal responsibility, so no one could blame God for not getting their work done either)

        1. Artemesia

          It wasn’t on a completed assignment or I might have had the same thought LOL — it was on the worksheets, pre-printed- tht went out. My son by the time he got these already had a very strongly developed free thinker philosophy so he found it amusing, but it was nevertheless in appropriate in a public school setting.

  4. Fucshia

    I hope the job ads for #4 are also as specific as they want the resumes to be. If they want the resumes to give the number of reports, then the ad should do so too.

    1. eemmzz

      I agree! It is frustrating when a company is vague about required skills. If you want people capable of managering a team of twenty people state is in the job description.

      1. Ruffingit

        That’s my thought as well. Be upfront with what you’re looking for so people can self-select out.

    2. Janis

      Is your pen name supposed to be “Fuchsia,” like the pink color named after the flower?

  5. bearing

    I don’t believe in luck. Should I be offended when my coworker ends his emails to me with “Good luck next week!”…

    Seriously, though, “blessings” is kind of like “good luck.” Both are vague expressions of hope that pleasant occurrences will befall you, possibly through non-empirically reproducible means, whether you do anything to deserve them or not. It’s benign.

    Alternatively, mentally translate the closing “Blessings, Wakeen” to
    “the opposite of ‘CURSES! Wakeen.’ “

    1. Sarahnova

      Ha! Nice one.

      As someone living in an, erm, less religious country than the US, I’d find a signoff of “Blessing” pretty kooky, but I can’t imagine being offended by it. It’s not exactly asking anything of anyone; he’s hardly asking everyone to pray before a meeting, or something.

      1. Jen RO

        I live in a pretty religious country (or at least many people *say* they are religious), and while it would be odd here for someone to put “blessings” in their e-mails, I would just ignore it. One of the project managers I worked with always had a link to a religious website as her status message – not something I would personally do, but who cares? I needed her project management skills, not her religious beliefs.

    2. Clerica D. McClerkykins

      Blessings isn’t really the same as good luck–the point of being blessed is that it comes from God. Luck indicates randomness. Frankly, either one is technically saying that what happens to you is based on the whims of something rather than, you know, your merit. So I could see where in a business context neither is appropriate. It’s one of those things where no one spends hours thinking about it but they form subconscious impressions about the person saying it.

      1. Jamie

        Yes, in the sense that saying “dammit” isn’t the same as saying “shit” since when you’re damning something you’re technically calling down the wrath of God to send them to their eternal punishment.

        But they do both mean the same thing when muttered under one’s breath due because the copier jammed again. Because if that word had that kind of power Hell has got to have an entire section just filled with my old copiers.

        I’m just saying if we over think everything and break every word down to their original meaning we’re going to have to eliminate a whole lot of words we use every day.

        1. Mints

          Haha, I read that first part and thought, but sometimes I DO want to “call down the wrath of God to send them to their eternal punishment” on the router.

        2. Kelly L.

          OMG, I love the idea of a circle of Hell filled with malfunctioning copiers. I’m dying here.

  6. periwinkle

    #2 long-distance interviews

    If you can’t afford to travel, I suggest becoming really, really good at phone and Skype interviews! By that I mean practice with a friend, preferably one who has conducted candidate interviews. Focus on your tone of voice to ensure it comes across with the image you want to project during an interview. Get rid of “um” and other speech clutter. If you anticipate any video Skyping, work out the best angle and backdrop well before the interview.

    #3 blessed supplier

    If it bugs you that much, you’re the customer and can vote with your feet. However, all things considered, this seems pretty minor an issue. The project lead for one of my previous clients included “have a blessed day” in her sig. Eh, whatever. I’m an atheist, but the only thing I found offensive about her sig was that she used a bright purple font. At least it wasn’t Comic Sans.

    #5 pending degree

    I completed my final activity in April but due to paperwork stuff didn’t officially graduate until August and am in the university’s records as an August graduate. In your case I wouldn’t use “degree expected August 2014” if the university is going to record your graduation date as November 2014. I’d opt for Alison’s second recommendation for phrasing (indicating that the degree requirements will be complete August 2014, with the degree conferral in November 2014).

    1. EngineerGirl

      It really depends. My university only had graduation ceremonies once a year. I completed my finals in December (paperwork in January). By May I was working and graduation wasn’t until June. I missed my graduation because it was on the other side of the country.
      I’d use the date that the registrar awards your diploma, not the date of the ceremony.

      1. doreen

        Absolutely the date of the diploma should be used, not the date of the ceremony but I think the OP is talking about a third date when the requirements are completed. For example, my daughter will finish her required externship in July , will receive her diploma in August and could have walked in the ceremony last week.

        1. Another Kate

          Agree with the comments above. I’ve done quite a bit of graduate recruitment and have seen a formulation along the lines of “anticipated completion of academic requirements July 2014, anticipated conferral of award December 2014”. I’m based in Australia and it’s very common for undergraduate students to finish their degrees mid-year, so lines like this in CVs are common.

          At most organisations I’ve worked at, our offers for graduate employment are always contingent on evidence of course completion by the commencement date of their employment. Those who are yet to graduate at the time of their application can give us a copy of their academic transcript, which usually includes a note that the degree requirements are satisfied and it will be conferred at the next ceremony. Alternatively, a letter of completion from their university will suffice.

          1. Onymouse

            It’s like that in Canada too, except with the seasons reversed (e.g. completion of requirements December 2014, conferral June 2015). The idea of people “walking” at a graduation before they earn their degree is very foreign to me.

          2. Eventual Graduate

            Oh thank you for this!! I’ve been having the same problem, because I will complete my thesis in June 2015, but the ceremony isn’t until September 2015 and it hasn’t really been made clear when the degree is actually conferred.

            FWIW, I finished my undergrad in December, but we only had one ceremony in May. In that case, it was very clear that I graduated in december; there was paperwork requesting to graduate, and the date on my diploma is December, so once I new that I was graduating early I started using that date.

      1. OP #2

        Periwinkle and Laura, thanks for the advice! I have a friend in mind who I think would help me practice phone/Skype interviews (this friend has done interviews before). Thanks for those links as well! Hopefully if I can make myself a great Skype interviewer I can compensate a bit for not being there in-person.

    2. TheSnarkyB

      OP #5, what you need to do is check with your registrar and ask for your “degree conferral date.” In my experience, this is the date you use for everything that doesn’t explicitly ask when you walked.
      When did you get your degree? May 21,2014. Even if you walked on May 23 or finished on May 15.

  7. MR

    Why not check with the registrar’s office and see how they officially view the graduation? That way you can be on the same page as them, incase anyone were to check and see.

    1. Seal

      This. Every institution of higher education I’ve attended (4 – BA, 2 Masters, plus a Certificate of Advanced Study) has set dates for graduation. Usually they coincide with the end of the semester, but you have to apply to receive your degree. So even if you complete your coursework at the end of Spring Semester, if you didn’t apply to graduate then you wouldn’t actually receive the degree then. The date of graduation on your transcript will be when the degree was actually awarded – not necessarily the same as the date you finished your coursework.

    2. Jennifer

      Technically it’s the last day of finals that counts as your graduation. Always. That is what will be in your records. Though where I work, it takes two months(!) to get every single office to check everyone’s requirements and then officially degree award everyone so that their graduation status is officially listed on transcripts, diplomas can be ordered, etc.

      In this person’s case, she can probably contact her university about getting a “completion of degree requirements” letter. We have the dean’s office check their requirements and give us permission to write a letter saying that this student has finished their course work early and will be an official November graduate. That can be submitted to future employers and the like until everything becomes official.

      1. HM in Atlanta

        That’s not always true. My undergraduate and graduate schools only graduated on specific dates. So, you might finish requirements as of a date, but the date of graduation on all students records was the same.

      2. TheSnarkyB

        Just coming in to second HM in Atlanta. What Jennifer is saying is always true is actually not always true. None of my degrees were conferred or earned on the last class day or finals day of the term.

  8. Student

    #5 – What will your transcripts list as your graduation date? That is the date you should use.

    Are you referring to graduation to mean the ceremony? The ceremony is an acknowledgement to students and means nothing to employers. Is “graduation” when they mail out the big, pretty degree? The big pretty sheepskin is also useless to employers. Or will you not be officially done with your program and certified by your university until then? Transcripts are all that matter to employers – official verification that you were awarded a degree.

    If you are a graduate student, you traditionally use the month when you’ve turned in your thesis/dissertation and they’ve stamped your transcript. It shouldn’t take anywhere near months to do that. Two weeks at most. Push back if they are making you wait a full semester after you’ve finished for official acknowledgement of completion.

    1. Jennifer

      “The big pretty sheepskin is also useless to employers.”

      Hah. Not if you want to work in foreign countries or are an international student, it’s not. A lot of people are not considered a graduate unless they turn in their official diploma, period. They don’t give a crap about transcripts or verification letters. One guy I had to deal with recently got crap because his original diploma was lost in the mail and he had to reorder it and I gather the government thought he was forging it because it said “reissued.”

      And like I said above, it takes awhile to be certified even after the official graduation date.

      1. Artemesia

        Interesting since it is the transcript in the US that is the official sign of graduation — the diploma is of no use except decorative.

      2. Suisse is strange

        This!!!

        I was really surprised when I moved to Switzerland how important the actual diploma is here (because, as Artemesia mentions below, in the U.S. the diploma is just for decoration). You have to show your actual, original diplomas when enrolling in university and sometimes when getting hired.

        If you have any intention of ever, possibly, maybe, potentially working in Europe, DO NOT LOSE YOUR DIPLOMAS!

        1. Editor

          My son did a temporary work assignment in Singapore and they wanted to see the diploma in order to let him in for three months — I think we asked about the transcript, and that wasn’t acceptable.

  9. FiveNine

    OP 3 might find it unprofessional and has every right to find a new supplier, but there is no First Amendment protection against a private person’s or private businesses expression of religion.

    1. FiveNine

      (Maybe it’s too early but I’m genuinely confused by some of the reaction. Would these same people not do business with Orthodox Jews? Nuns? Object that the local chain grocery store allows a Muslim woman to wear a scarf while working the cash register?)

      1. Katie the Fed

        People are saying that if it’s that offensive to the OP, it would better to find a new vendor than keep letting it bother her. Basically – you’re out of line trying to get the vendor to change the greeting, so you should find a new supplier.

        And sure, if supporting a vendor run by nuns, Jews or Muslims bothers you so much, by all means don’t support it. I think it’s stupid as hell, but you can always vote with your money.

        1. Cat

          Assuming your use of the vendor isn’t covered by civil rights laws which in a lot of cases it might be. That said even if it’s not I think there is a moral obligation not to economically discriminate on the basis of religion. In this case the op is annoyed by a behavior – it’s a minor behavior so I wouldn’t raise it to the level of anything – but that’s different than the mere fact of the vendor being religious.

          1. Katie the Fed

            I cannot think of any law, civil rights or otherwise, that requires you to do business with any company that you don’t want to. Am I missing something?

            1. Jamie

              I’m wondering that, also – I’ve never heard of issues with discriminating in vendors.

              People have the right to do and say what they like, as long as it’s not breaking any laws, but that doesn’t protect them from the consequences of what they do and say and if your annoy or offend your customers you can lose business.

              I absolutely refuse to go to the 7-11 closest to my house for the most ridiculous, petty reason imaginable – and it annoys me endlessly that my husband won’t humor the boycott just because he doesn’t want to drive across town when we’re out of milk. (Reason not related to religion or any protected class – I’m petty, but not bigoted in case it needed clarifying.

              1. Cat

                You can refuse to go to the 7-11 for any reason, but the 7-11 can’t refuse to serve you because, for instance, of your race.* I don’t know specifically about laws involving vendors but private businesses do not have total leeway regarding who they do business with in all circumstances.

                * Okay, on a federal level, 7-11 might be a fringe case for complicated reasons; state laws can be more stringent.

                1. fposte

                  Right, but in that case, it’s the vendor, not the customer, who’s restricted. In this case we’re talking the customer.

                  If it’s a government employer, that could be a different matter; I know competitive bidding can be a huge issue there. But a quick look isn’t showing me any interpretation of the federal EEOC that says a private business is required to abide by EEOC guidelines in purchasing from a vendor. I could definitely be missing it, but I don’t think the EEOC gets involved with who you, as a business, buys stuff from.

                2. Cat

                  Yes, as I said, I don’t know that there’s a federal law, but I think some states have more stringent protections. Or maybe they don’t. I don’t have time to do a 50-state survey.

                  That said, the point I was making in my original comment was essentially that I personally don’t see a moral distinction between ceasing business with a vendor because they’re Muslim and refusing to serve someone at your restaurant because they’re Asian, for instance. You’re still contributing to a hostile environment in which marginalized groups may be denied serious opportunities to earn a living or participate in daily life. It’s easy to say “oh, well, they wouldn’t want to work with that person/eat their anyway,” but the fact of the matter, that works when animus isn’t systematic. We have a very bad history in this country when it is.

                  So even if it’s legal in a particular case, I don’t think telling someone “sure go ahead and fire a vendor because of their religion” is reasonable advice, and sometimes I think we can have the normative discussion.

                3. Jamie

                  I would personally never stop doing business with someone based on the OPs situation – but I do think this is an interesting argument.

                  For sure there are things that are legal but are morally questionable or outright wrong.

                  But I do think there is a distinction between refusing to do business with a vendor because they are Muslim and refusing to do business with someone who uses religious phrasing in business correspondence.

                  Yes, if you were discriminating against someone because you knew they happened to be of a certain religion because of what they were wearing then sure but their business dealings were free of any religious verbiage or discussion then I’m with you – it’s bigotry.

                  But if you have an issue with any religious verbiage in business dealings you do have the right to stop business dealings with them. The same as I would if I wanted to drop a vendor who was always talking about sports, or girl scouts, or the new deck he’s building.

                  A lot of people, both who have a religious faith and those who do not, don’t like it being brought into business situations and would select out.

                  I am a Catholic who works for and with other Catholics. If the next meeting starts with a novena I’m looking for another job.

                  So I do agree that it’s a moral issue if it’s done out of bigotry – but if it’s just done because one believes in separating religion from work life it’s a preference.

              2. RA

                You as a private citizen can boycott any business/company for any reason, including religion or another protected class. This is the basis of most of the Obamacare-related boycotts. Or it can be some other reason, of course, like I boycott a local restaurant because the food is terrible. :P

            2. Cat

              Maybe not vendors specifically, I don’t know. But there are absolutely laws that prevent private businesses of various sorts from discriminating against protected classes. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the most prominent federal example, and there are more stringent state laws.

              1. Jamie

                Absolutely, in the case of employees and hiring practices – I just can’t imagine how this could ever apply to vendors.

                A quick google shows there are some cases working through the courts about whether vendors are allowed to discriminate and not take certain clients. Earlier this yearTN dropped the wedding vendors bill which was intended to allow photogs, cake people, florists, etc. to refuse to accept clients for same sex ceremonies.

                I don’t fully understand it, but as it is vendors in TN don’t have to service everyone – but this law would have created a specific class in which you could discriminate.

                I know businesses open to the public can’t based on protected class – even if they can “refuse to service to anyone.” It’s kind of like at will employment – you can fire me (or refuse to serve me) if you don’t like my shoes, but not because I’m a woman.

                1. De Minimis

                  We have a few restrictions at my workplace that are mainly based on our somewhat unique status as an agency that works with the Native population with a facility located on tribal land.
                  There are not certain individual vendors we have to deal with, but I believe we do have to give preference to vendors that meet certain categories [Native Owned is a big one for us.]

                  Locally we have to give the tribe here dibs on certain contracts–they do our housekeeping and are about to do a parking lot expansion for us. We can only go elsewhere if they decide not to do it.

      2. ella

        Once upon a time, the population in New England voted with their feet to patronize a lot of Quaker-owned businesses, because they knew that the Quaker would conduct himself in an honest fashion, and treat all customers with courtesy and integrity. It’s kind of sad that peoples’ reaction to a sign that another person has religious devotion is no longer, “This person is probably honest and ethical,” but rather “This person is probably kooky and unprofessional.” I’m not saying that various religious denominations haven’t done their fair share to accelerate this change in perception or that it isn’t justified, just that it’s sad.

        1. fposte

          Keep in mind those people were deliberately bypassing merchants of other faiths to get to the Quakers, so it wasn’t like faith per se was considered a business advantage.

      3. Artemesia

        How is a Muslim in a headscarf or a Christian wearing a cross anything at all like putting religious phrases into messages directed at those outside the business? Now if the clerk said ‘Allah be praised ‘ with every transaction or even Inshallah, then I’d bet you would have some offended Christians pushing back.

  10. GrumpyBoss

    #3 – I’m shocked at a few suggestions of switching vendors if it is so bothersome. Maybe it really is *that* bad for the OP, but personally, I like to judge my suppliers on the ability to provide a product/service at the budget I’m looking for and the ability to deliver on time. Secondary metrics would include PO process and invoicing. I’m not sure what impact “blessings” has on any of those, but the idea that I would consider looking at changing a supplier who fits my needs for the above over a single word in email is ridiculous.

    1. A Dispatcher

      Shocked as well. Now if the message was something condemning non-believers that would be different, but so would any other rude message, religious or not. I mean really, this is like dropping vendor because they said Merry Christmas instead of happy holidays (I hope this doesn’t spark a debate on that, used as an example only)

      1. Koko

        Dear non-believer,

        Your unblessed materials will be delivered by COB Friday.

        Burn in you-know-where,
        Your Supplier

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      I think people are saying that as a version of “change the damn channel if it bugs you so much” .

      It’s possible for me to choose to change vendors if my contact at the vendor has egregiously annoying behavior. Example, a vendor contact who insists on calling with responses to email after he has been told umpteenbazillion times to reply to emails with emails, or, a vendor contact who has creepy behavior that makes the women on my staff feel uncomfortable “that way”.

      Reacting to “blessings” seems absurd, and this is coming from a borderline atheist here, but sure, change vendors if you really can’t stand it…and good luck with that. Good, reliable vendors aren’t as easy to find as you think.

      1. Fish Microwaver

        I see the use of “blessings” here similar to “good/best wishes”. Nothing sinister and certainly nothing to be offended about. Pehaps the OP would prefer “Fuck you very much”.

        1. RA

          Right, in the absence of other indications I would not even read “Blessings” as religious. It reads like “Good Day” “Best Wishes” “Take Care” and other secular greetings that are widely used. I’m not even sure the supplier is religious, and if he is, the greeting is still pretty innocuous.

      2. Katie the Fed

        Exactly. I don’t think anyone is saying it’s WORTH getting in a tizzy about, but if it bothers you that much, then find a new vendor. It’s not ok to try to make this person change their greeting, so if it’s going to cause you this much consternation, then by all means find a new supplier.

      3. GrumpyBoss

        I hear you, re: change the channel or shut up about it. Another way to put my message to the OP is this: if I stopped doing business with everyone who irritated me, I’d quickly find myself on an island of one.

        Focus on the things that matter.

    3. Lizzy May

      This is like dealing with someone who has an “interesting” font or uses some neon colour in their signature. It raises eyebrows but as long as it’s the only less than professional sign I get when dealing with them, it just makes more sense to let it go. I assume the vendor is otherwise great or else you wouldn’t be focusing in the signature so ask yourself is it worth giving up an known great quality because of a little thing that bugs for an unknown quality who may or may not provide the same level of service and who may also have strange quirky things that will also bug?

      1. GrumpyBoss

        Ugh… going off topic here, but I have a coworker who has some cutsey animated gif in her signature, which she has set for ALL emails, even when she is replying. It is not a small signature either (in terms of disk space), so it doesn’t do me any favors in my battle against the mail quota (which I always seem to be losing).

        It would never occur to me to even be upset about this, let alone say something about it. Her emails go straight to trash after I read them to save space. It is her professional image she is projecting here, not mine. If she isn’t concerned about it, neither am I.

        1. Jen RO

          I work with someone who writes her emails in green Comic Sans, which says “childish” to me. However, she is a very competent business analyst, so I just ignore the font (I don’t even think it affects her professional image – she is really good at her job, so I doubt anyone cares about the font).

              1. Scott M

                For a real laugh, Google “I’m Comic Sans” for a hilarious monologue told from the point of view of the font.

                1. Jen RO

                  I think that monologue is very funny, but I still hate the damn font! (Maybe because 12-year old me loved it so much.)

    4. TheSnarkyB

      As other commenters have said, few here are suggesting that a switch is the best response.
      However, I do feel I have to point something out as a minority (in more ways than one) in this community. There’s something about delivery of service/manner of working that I find is more salient to me as a ________ (fill in the blank: woman, black person, agnostic). That people who aren’t in those marginalized groups don’t really have to worry about.
      I’ve had this conversation with men before where they’ll say “The guy’s good at delivery xyz service efficiently and at a good price so why does his personality matter etc.” But if “that guy” looks me up and down every time we do business together or asks for my male boss or husband to sign the invoices (extreme example I know), I won’t do business with them. Yes, part of that is that it’s not professional- and people of all groups care about professionalism, but part of it is that there are things that affect me on a personal level, as an oppressed person, that may not affect someone not of those groups.
      So it isn’t universal that people/businesses should be judged solely on the basis of deliverables, etc.
      That said, I fully support the OP’s supplier’s right to his religion. But I’d also be uncomfortable with seeing it transmitted to me in that manner. Not overly uncomfortable. But I’d have a twinge.

  11. James M

    #3: Unless the supplier actually wrote “Bless your heart”, just let it go.

    May the hair on your toes never fall out.

    1. GigglyPuff

      I mean really. To me, it almost sounds like they way I would get, if everything was making me really irritated, just too many things happening at once that weren’t going well, and all of the sudden this tiny insignificant thing jumps out at you, and you just kinda snap.

      I am completely not religious, but am in the South, so this might not even register with me, compared with all the other religious items ingrained in Southern culture.

      On a completely unrelated note, I learned to love the hair on my feet after a doctor mentioned it was a good sign, since it meant I wasn’t getting neuropathy. ;)

      1. Artemesia

        I raised my kids in the south and in PUBLIC school work materials it was not unusual to find ‘Praise the Lord’ on the bottom of the page. I found this deeply insulting because they were proselytizing kids captive in their care. Since we were raising our kids to be free thinkers, they mostly found it amusing as they found the invisible sky being amusing. I still found it inappropriate but not enough to make a fuss; those who escalated to ‘grace’ in the classroom however did get a fuss made.

        ‘Blessings’ on commercial emails etc wouldn’t bother me. ‘Have a blessed day’ is a common phrase in the south and I just read it as ‘good day’. If it bothered me I’d probably pull out ‘bless your heart.’ that great US southern insult that sounds so kindly.

        1. Mallory

          Now I’m imagining teachers writing “Bless your heart” at the bottom of students’ homework. The subtext of which would read: “Well, you missed the mark here, but you did the best you could with the brains you have, bless your heart.”

          1. fposte

            In a similar vein, I toyed with the notion that “Praise the Lord!” was an exclamation of wonder at the miracle that the kid finally understood something.

        1. Mallory

          As someone who has to occasionally wax a hairy big toe, a blessing would sound more like, “May you never grow hair on your toes”, but then, I’m not a hobbit.

  12. T

    #5 I was in a similar situation last year. I had graduated in August but finished classes in May. In the interim, I completed my thesis and a portfolio required for a presentation for my degree. I put the official graduation date in my resume, but explained on my cover letters when I was available to start work. I had an interview for one of the earlier jobs I applied for (didn’t get it), so I think this method worked.

    1. Artemesia

      I think I would write ‘degree completed May XXX, official graduation August XXX’ or similar. It is quite common with advanced degrees in particular for degree requirements to be completed earlier than the diploma is issued.

  13. BRR

    #1 I don’t think you would do this but don’t just promote someone because you’re worried about losing them.

    #2 When I was job hunting I made sure to apply to positions only where I knew I could get to. For me that was driving distance and knowing someone in the area where I could stay, would that be a possibility for you?

    1. GrumpyBoss

      #1 a thousand times over. This is how so many bad managers come to be.

      To add to Alison’s advice, when I need to pass over someone internally, I do try to use it as a coaching opportunity and point out something tangible that set the other candidate apart, like “he has additional experience working across teams to drive consensus, which is crucial for this role” If it is someone who is a direct or indirect report, I’d even offer to create a development plan so we can help focus on growing that skill to put them in a better position to compete should a future opening come up.

    2. Artemesia

      I think that the search in #2 should be aggressively seeking out external candidates and that the OP should go in with the idea that both internal candidates might well be passed over and that they would be easily replaced if necessary. It may be that one of the candidates is terrific (but I am not sensing that in the question or else the OP would say A is terrific and I am worried about B)

      It is very common to have mediocre management because people are promoted from within. The best candidate on staff is often not the best candidate. And if one of them walks, well there are so many great potential candidates out there, that this is a minor challenge. I know many organizations that could really use the infusion of bright new talent but who promote adequate insiders and stagnate.

    3. OP #2

      I’ve been searching for jobs in/near my current location as well, but just places I’d be able to commute to (even if it’s a long-ish commute) from where I currently live if I got the job. There are some nearby cities and towns in reasonable driving distance. I don’t have friends who live there, but for some of them it might be doable to drive there and back in the same day if necessary. However, I’d prefer not to relocate to those cities/towns if I can avoid it, so I haven’t been looking as much in those locations so far.

  14. TotesMaGoats

    #5-(remember this is my field)
    Your degree will typically be conferred/awarded upon completion of your program requirements. Most institutions confer degrees in may, august and December and then have graduation ceremonies whenever they please. As someone said above, walking across the stage and that piece of paper hold no value to an employer. Your Registrar’s Office will tell you when degrees are awarded. It’s probably 2 weeks after the end of your August “semester”. There is no reason for the institution to hold your degree until November. That would really screw up some of the reporting we have to do.

      1. TotesMaGoats

        Oh LOL. I need to get that bag! My name choice was totally random but I love that commercial.

    1. Artemesia

      THIS. Graduation as ceremony has nothing to do with the awarding of the degree most places. I know colleges that only have a graduation in May. People who graduate in August, or December may walk the following May but their degrees are awarded when they complete. The OP should check to see if this is not so in her case.

      1. mel

        I don’t understand why people say anything at all after a sneeze. I wonder what we’re supposed to say after every cough? Every fart? Are we also supposed to take notes whenever our coworkers blink?

        1. Jamie

          Social convention. Same reason cashiers ask us how we’re doing today and we say fine.

          Or when we have to get up to go to the bathroom in the theater you say pardon me to everyone you have to scoot in front of to exit your aisle. They won’t actually be issuing pardons.

          And some noises/functions are unmentionable for a reason – the most mannerly thing you can do is not acknowledge them. Passing gas doesn’t happen socially so if you hear something that you think may have been that, you were incorrect, and ignore it.

          This goes out the window if someone jokes about it or brings it up themselves- but not for me. I’m never acknowledging that those noises come out of anyone.

  15. Poohbear McGriddles

    #3,
    A blessing is always preferable to a curse.

    I’d rather have a happy (Insert Religious Holiday) than a miserable one.

    At least the vendor’s p.s. was a one-word generic, rather than reading like the mission statement of the Westboro folks. Sure, it could be done without, but that is how he chooses to handle his business.

  16. ACA

    #5,

    If the degree is being awarded in November, then that’s what needs to go on your resume, regardless of when your coursework will actually be finished. I don’t know what your university is like, but at the one where I work, if someone called me in September to confirm that you graduated in August, I’d have to tell them that was untrue; since there’s nothing in our student records system to indicate when you’re actually finished your coursework/requirements, the most I’d be able to say is that you’d applied to graduate and your expected graduate date was in November.

    1. TotesMaGoats

      You wouldn’t be able to run a degree audit to see that all coursework was completed or that all grades were entered? I know there are other systems beyond Peoplesoft, Ellucian and Banner but in those you can see completion status regardless of whether the degree is awarded.

      1. ACA

        Ours is, I believe, a proprietary system that hasn’t been updated since the early ’90s. We’re upgrading everything to Banner by the end of 2015, and I can’t wait.

      2. Jennifer

        In Banner it would just say that she was filed to graduate. Dean’s offices and advisers are the ones who can actually run a degree audit and have the access/ability to, but not everyone at the school can. Until then, other employees would not be able to verify it as long as things aren’t official yet.

      3. Artemesia

        It is common for coursework to be completed, in say, late April and for the person to receive a diploma in early May. It is ridiculous that any operation would take two months to verify that the person has met requirements. Of course well run operations, have everything verified but the final semester and that allows quick issuance of diplomas when that final set of grades is checked.

  17. NavyLT

    #3 – Seems to me there are worse things to worry about than an email signature (or even a verbal “Have a blessed day,” which I hear all the time now that I’m in the South). If he were, I don’t know, opening conference calls with a prayer, that would be different, but an email signature is pretty unobtrusive and hardly an imposition of his personal beliefs.

    …Unless his email signature is also a huge sparkling gif, I suppose.

  18. AmyNYC

    Regarding #2, how do you put an address on your resume? I’ve done a long distance job hunt in the past and went with a) using a friend’s local address (city and zip only) or b) said “relocating to Anytown USA in May 2014”
    a) makes them think you can come in tomorrow and b) isn’t totally applicable here. You need someway of conveying that you are/could be/will be in the town where you’re applying, so what do people suggest?

    1. Eric

      This is a case where I’d recommend including your High School on your resume, that way it is clear you are from the area that you are applying to.

        1. OP #2

          Good idea – I’ll definitely say in my cover letter that it is my hometown and maybe mention that I have family there. Thanks for sharing that link.

  19. MT

    For #1, I would caution you not to seek an outside candiate just to put off on making a hard choice on who to promote. If both canditates are equally quallified and a great fit for the postion, make the hard choice and pick one of them.

  20. Ruffingit

    #1 – It’s kind of disturbing to think that one of the candidates would quit if she is not promoted. Has the candidate stated that? If so, I have to wonder why because it’s incredibly unprofessional and stinks of manipulation. “Well Boss, if I don’t get promoted, I’m out of here!!” UH, OK, please leave now. If you’re working in a business where people who don’t deserve it routinely get promotions while you, who does deserve it, gets nothing, then just quietly job hunt and leave. But I have to wonder about the vocal nature of the person saying “Well, if I don’t get what I want, I’m gone.” That just seems like a bad idea for many reasons.

    1. MT

      I doubt that the employee stated that they will quit. It’s probably the situation where they can see that the employee is bored/unhappy in the current postion and the thought of a promotion is the light at the end of the tunnel. I would aslo bet that both employees who applied were super energenic when the possibilty of the promotion came up.

      This happened to me before. A coworker and I were both up for a promotion( one that comes up once in a blue moon). Both of us were equally qualified for the position, and dead bored of our current one. It was appearant to everyone that both of us were positioning ourselves for the promotion.

      Sometimes when you see what the next step is, it encourages you to see it out activly. Our boss decided not to promote anyone, so we both left for a promotion within 6 months.

      1. Ruffingit

        I get what you’re saying, but the OP stated it as “I know that at least one of them will quit if she isn’t selected.” Saying I KNOW makes me think it’s less speculation and more actual knowledge on the part of the OP. I’d be interested to learn how OP knows that.

        1. Seal

          As someone who left a position because I was passed over for a promotion I still feel I deserved, I think any supervisor promoting internally has to be prepared for that possibility. People have goals and ambitions that don’t go away just because a particular opportunity doesn’t pan out. If anything, being passed over for an internal promotion may well serve as a wake-up call for that particular employee.

          1. Polaris

            Agreed. I will only add that while you may not be able to prevent the rejected internal candidates from leaving, you can affect how they feel about how they were treated during the process and not burn bridges with those employees. It definitely helps to show them that you understand that you had more outstanding candidates than open positions if that was the case.

        2. OP #1

          I may have been a bit strong in my wording when I said “I know she will quit.” She is very unhappy in her current position and she has indicated she is not interested in remaining in it long term. Another employee cautioned me that he thought she would quit if she is passed over. I believe she will quit immediately if not chosen, but she may be willing to stick it out for a few more months. And no, that is not factoring into my decision on who to select but.it may impact how I let her know if she doesn’t get it. I think we’re coming close to a decision so I want to be ready.

      2. Mallory

        I can state from recent experience that some people actually do explicitly say, “If I don’t get this promotion, I will quit.” We have an open position right now which we will post an ad for pretty soon, and there is an internal candidate (who is NOT getting the job, but doesn’t seem to know it yet, as she is still actively campaigning) and she has told practically everyone that she will quit if she doesn’t get it. So yes, unfathomable as it is to hold one’s cards that loosely, it does happen.

        1. Ruffingit

          Oh I know it happens, I’ve seen it myself. Some people just aren’t that smart when it comes to things like this. Just wondering if that was the case here or if the OP just thinks the person will be leaving.

        2. anon-2

          Well, Mallory, let me ask these questions — re your internal candidate.

          1) Is she qualified for the promotion position?
          2) How much contrast is there between her, and any potential candidates that you might bring in “from the street”?
          3) Why have you eliminated her from consideration?

          and finally –

          4) Is she valuable enough to your organization where you can’t afford to lose her?

          Some years back I was an internal candidate for a promotion – and both times I was asked flat-out – “If you don’t get this job, what will you do?”

          I remarked “that’s a weird question. Your decision should be based on hiring the best candidate, and not around fear that someone may quit if passed over.” When pressed, my reply was “I am confident I am qualified for this position, otherwise I wouldn’t be applying. I’d like to get on with proving that to you.”

          Although at one place – which “gas piped” around two years after I left – I resigned when I was passed over — for a position – by someone less qualified but more politically connected.

          Even the hiring manager quit a month later because he wasn’t allowed to interview the two internals (me and another guy) who were obviously more qualified than the director’s choice.

          I resigned; the other guy was going to, but they counter-offered, and all the people that were at my level were called into a brass-off-the-shoulders caucus with upper management. They would not go so far as to admitting that they made a mistake, but they also said “we have to have better communication here” and most of the (then) current employees were assured that all would be well going forward — which it was until the company collapsed two years later.

          1. Mallory

            I’m not the hiring manager, so I have no say in whether she’s hired or not. I’m just an observer who knows what the hiring PTB are saying because I assist one of them and I’m the fly on the wall in the conversations about what they’re looking for. And I’ve hear them say flat out that she isn’t being considered. So I just know.

            1) Is she qualified for the promotion position? — On paper, yes. It requires a bachelor’s degree, which she has.
            2) How much contrast is there between her, and any potential candidates that you might bring in “from the street”? — They are looking for someone who, as the dean’s assistant, would be sort of the social ambassador to outsiders and the glue that makes the internal team work.
            3) Why have you eliminated her from consideration? — Over the course of two years, she has made too many socially tone-deaf moves and has been rude and sullen to internal people and brusque with donors. The position requires someone with some deft and subtle social skills, which she is lacking.

            4) Is she valuable enough to your organization where you can’t afford to lose her? — Nope. When the PTB repeated amongst themselves that she was claiming she would quit if not offered the position, a couple of them literally high-fived each other (in the privacy of one of their offices; no public crassness over it).

  21. Red Librarian

    For OP #5, when you say “graduate” are you just talking about the actual ceremony? Most colleges only do the graduation ceremony once or twice a year and it’s really, well, just ceremonial and a way of acknowledging the students but chances are your actual graduation date will be when you are finished with classes.

    I finished grad school in December 2008, but the school didn’t have the graduation ceremony until May 2009 and when I received my diploma a few weeks later the graduation date was December 2008. I currently work at a college and it’s the same: we have the graduation ceremony twice a year but the students are considered graduated when they have finished their program.

    But, if in doubt, call the school’s Registrar

    1. De Minimis

      My grad school had a similar practice, they only had May commencement.

      Also, it was common for people to be allowed to walk at commencement if they were only a few credits shy of completion and planned to finish up over the summer…that was the case for my undergraduate degree, I finished one last course over summer school.

  22. Graciosa

    Regarding #4, I may be overly sensitive to word usage here, but my impression is that a resume indicating that someone is “leading teams” may mean that the candidate does not have managerial experience. Serving as a project lead for a team is a good stepping stone to moving up to manager and I’m not criticizing it as long as it was not intended to be deceptive.

    If this is important to the role (for example, you’re looking for an experienced manager and not someone ready to move up), it would be good to ask about this in preliminary phone screens. You may need to push a little deeper than “How many people did you manage?” to questions about whether they reported only to the candidate, and whether the candidate had hiring and firing authority.

    In an in-person interview, I would ask for more detail, including an example of how the candidate handled a disciplinary situation – experienced managers have either had to correct employee behavior at some point or simply aren’t doing the job.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Yes — I always ask specifically about the number of direct reports someone had and I specify “with hiring/firing authority.” Some people try to fudge this until you get really, really specific like that.

      1. Mallory

        Does it affect your opinion of them when you have to dig so specifically and then find that they’ve been less than forthcoming about their true responsibilities? It seems like that kind of fudging could backfire on a candidate if the interviewing manager catches them overstating the truth (even if by omission or evasion).

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Absolutely. There’s also an associative thing going on, where the best candidates never do X so when someone does X, it’s a flag that they’re not likely to be great in other ways too. X includes fudging this kind of thing, having a 4-page resume, and a bunch of other things.

          1. Mallory

            Have you ever written an article about that? I’d be interested to see what the common things are that the best candidates never do.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              I haven’t! But my list would include:

              * high pressure salesy tactics — “I’m the best person for the job,” showing up in person without an appointment, calling to “follow up” on their applications, going around me to someone else who they think is the decision-maker, FedExing resume or sending hard copy when instructions call for electronic submission

              – any “creative” gimmick done in the service of “standing out”

              – resumes longer than 3 pages

  23. Allison

    For #3, I agree that religious sentiments don’t generally belong in professional contexts, e-mails included. However, I live in a Northeast metropolitan area, where plenty of people go to church but religion isn’t deeply ingrained in our everyday lives, but I know that it is in some other parts of the country. Is it possible this person lives in the southern US? Maybe the Bible Belt? Or just a small town that happens to have a lot of religious people? It may be a cultural thing, and in this case it’s a cultural thing you may just want to try to tolerate. Pick your battles and whatnot.

    1. Scott M

      Yes, in the south, it’s common. As an atheist, I’ve learned to ignore it. I’ve received “Have a blessed day” quite often. I take it in the spirit it is given, even though I don’t think it’s professional.

      1. Mallory

        I find “Have a blessed day” fairly grating and unprofessional, but not worth reacting to other than an internal eye roll (or maybe now the stock-still approach mentioned by fposte in another thread — just no reaction or acknowledgement of it at all in the hope that the behavior, not being fed by any reaction, will just go away).

        Sometimes religious people around here dig in about “Have a blessed day” in much the same way the do about “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays” — they get kind of a passive-aggressive belligerence about it.

  24. Scott M

    #3 – religious stuff is so personal, that it’s always going to carry a lot of baggage, even if its not rational. So the best way of avoiding that baggage is to leave religious sayings out of your every day interactions, unless you are certain that the other person shares your faith. So yes, I think the vendor is a bit unprofessional, but I also think that you need to take it in the spirit it was given and not let your baggage cloud the situation.

    I say this as an atheist who has a lot of personal baggage with religion. I always have to remind myself that everyone who says ‘bless you’ isn’t trying to convert me (although it has happened).

  25. Eudora Wealthy

    #3 Suppose your supplier’s email signature boldly stated, “I TRUST IN GOD!” So what. For those of us who accept cash for our products and services, we see “IN GOD WE TRUST” on all the money. No one in business takes out a black permanent marker and marks through “IN GOD WE TRUST” on the dollar bills before accepting them for payment.

    I wouldn’t even care if my supplier’s email said, “Save yourself from burning in an eternal lake of fire by wearing magic diapers!” For all I car, if the supplier is 50% less expensive than the competitors, then they can even write “Gesundheit!” on all their emails!

    1. RA

      Well, I’d argue that “In God We Trust” does not belong on the money in the first place. I’m religious, but (a) I recognize that some people are not and (b) it bothers me that our country connects the concepts of God and money!

  26. anon-2

    #1 – if you truly felt an external candidate was better than an internal one – then yes, be honest, and forthcoming.

    IF – on the other hand, you are denying promotion because the person’s current role would be impossible to fill, and it’s apparent, you can always be pre-emptive – one tactic used to hold people back = change of title, pay increase.

    In either event, before you pass over an internal candidate, know that there are consequences —

    a) the “passed over” candidate(s) — may opt to depart. If you did the passing over with the intention of holding someone back — who does a good job in their current role and you hate to lose them — you may still lose him/her.

    b) if the “passed over” candidate(s) feel that their career progression isn’t going as they like – doesn’t matter what you say. It doesn’t matter if you justify it or how. If the passed-over person is disgruntled, they’re gonna leave. You gambled, and you may lose.

    c) as the Boy Scout motto goes – BE PREPARED. Passing over an obviously qualified internal candidate may not only result in a situation where you can’t keep that guy or gal — but also may have serious ramifications on the rest of the staff. “If Betty was passed over for (an outside candidate / unknown quantity, why should *I* invest my career time in this company? It’s a dead end job.”

    You can always find a better candidate in this day and age, in this economy, if you keep looking. But if you interview a prime internal candidate, and then continue your search until you find someone better — it can cause a ripple effect through your entire staff. That being said – it sometimes is better to stay within the organization if you can do so. You are promoting a known quantity and creating a good example for others on the staff to follow.

      1. anon-2

        Thank you, A.

        I have, in my career, seen people passed over for promotions, with preference given to people from the street.

        Now – if you’re one of those “off the street” hires, you have it MADE – made in the shade, because your management team has to justify passing someone over internally. So no matter how good or bad you are, you are GREAT.

        But in reality — if the passed over candidate leaves – you have TWO positions to be filled, maybe, or maybe more — a loss of your knowledge base, and others may follow the passed-over candidate out the door.

        If an internal candidate had 4/5 of what you’re looking for, wouldn’t the stability, and “sure thing” be better to latch onto than the unknown quantity – and unknown aftershock?

    1. Artemesia

      All excellent points. But only if the internal candidate is truly exceptional and then it is appalling to hold them back because you need to use them rather than promote them. More often in my experience, internal promotions promote mediocrity. Hiring a new manager is an opportunity to improve business practices and evaluate current practice, same old same old gets same old same old.

      When same old is truly exceptional then promoting from within is a good idea, but even if all things are equal, I think going outside is more likely to improve quality of the operation.

    2. OP #1

      I have interviewed internal and external candidates and am now focused on 2 internal candidates with comparable background and skills. One probably has worked for the company for about 6 mo longer. The other has slightly more interaction.with the person currently holding the position. In my estimation they are very similar candidates.

  27. HM in Atlanta

    #3 – Where I live, Blessings and Have a Blessed Day have become way overused. They make me cringe. If you’re going to use them, the religiousness doesn’t offend me. I may, however, avoid you.

  28. Callie30

    OP #1 – I manage at a small non-profit, as well, and historically we’ve almost always hired outside of our current ‘pool’ of people – volunteers, interns, staff. We need to hire the best candidate for the position(s) and it has happened that those candidates are new ‘blood’ and not from the current group of people – We considered carefully each time. We invite internal people we know are interested to apply, as well, to be fair.

    Do what you need to do and hire the best people, but definitely be honest with the internal people as to why they weren’t hired. If they TRULY care for the cause, they will understand that you making the best decision for organizational growth.

    If they move on, they move on – and they have to do what’s in their best interest career-wise, just as you do. You shouldn’t feel pressured into hiring an internal person because they may or will quit if they aren’t promoted/hired for the new position.

    We have also had people leave their paid positions and then continue to volunteer afterwards in other areas too, because they cared about the cause.

    1. anon-2

      “Do what you need to do and hire the best people, but definitely be honest with the internal people as to why they weren’t hired. If they TRULY care for the cause, they will understand that you making the best decision for organizational growth. “

      That’s if – and ONLY if – their love for “the cause” trumps their career goals. I can’t speak for the non-profit sector but only fools “fall on their swords for the cause” in the private, for-profit world.

      And even in a non-profit, people still want to advance themselves. Asking them to sacrifice career objectives “for the cause”??? Uh, … no.

      “If they move on, they move on – and they have to do what’s in their best interest career-wise, just as you do. You shouldn’t feel pressured into hiring an internal person because they may or will quit if they aren’t promoted/hired for the new position. “

      No, but see my post on holding people back, or damage to the organziation on passing someone over.

      1. Callie30

        anon-2 – Point 1: I think you are misunderstanding what was meant here. They can make the choice to leave the organization if they aren’t hired, but they can’t expect the organization not to hire the best candidate for the position. They can choose to leave and still understand why the said decision was made. I’m not saying they have to sacrifice anything or stay with the organization if it’s bad for them.

        Point 2: There are many posts and I unfortunately don’t have the luxury of time to read this entire thread at this time. Ultimately, the organization needs to hire the person best for the job, not sacrifice the ‘best quality’ to hire someone within the organization. If the best happens to be within the organization, that’s great. If not and they get stronger candidates applying from outside, they should hire those people – Especially for smaller non-profits that need to grow. New people brings new ideas, etc.

      2. Callie30

        Additionally, I don’t know about the OP’s non-profit type, but in the one I’m in there are many, many people looking for positions. More than there are jobs for. If someone is unhappy in their position/feels like they need to move on and says they will leave if they are not promoted, perhaps it’s best for the organization for them to move on and for the organization to hire someone that would be a better fit – if they aren’t chosen at that time for a promotion. Just a thought.

        Non-profits shouldn’t be about egos – it needs to be about the cause. Especially smaller non-profits with limited resources as it is.

    2. anon-2

      And one more thing … you never find suitable, promotable candidates within your current pool of employees? You need “new blood”? Always? And ask those passed over to stay “for the cause”???

      Bull***t.

      Or, you have a bad track record and always hire the wrong people.

      1. Callie30

        Please don’t be disrespectful – Your last post is out of line. If you continue to be disrespectful, I will no longer respond to you.

        However, I think you are still missing my point here – All I am saying it that it makes sense to hire the BEST candidate for the position to grow the organization, whether they are from the outside or happen to be internal. I’m not saying pass up a great candidate that’s internal – Just evaluate all of the options one has and pick the best person for the job.

      2. fposte

        I’ll also note that you’ve pretty egregiously misrepresented Callie30’s “new blood” statement. I know that people bring their own experiences to bear on what people say, but it sounds like you’re mad about what you thought she said and not what she actually said.

        1. anon-2

          “we’ve almost always hired outside of our current ‘pool’ of people – volunteers, interns, staff. We need to hire the best candidate for the position(s) and it has happened that those candidates are new ‘blood’ and not from the current group of people”

          Apologies for my style, but not my statement — if from the junior level hires, you rarely find someone to “move up the ladder” — and using the term “New Blood” — it implies that nearly everyone in the junior ranks at your non-profit is non-promotable.

          And if that is the case, perhaps there should be more stringent entry-level screening done.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            They’re a small organization, so it’s entirely reasonable that their junior staff might not be promotable. The next highest slot could easily require background/experience that junior people wouldn’t have. If they’re a 20-person organization, they probably have department heads and junior staff .. and they want their communications director to have a communications track record that a junior communications staffer isn’t going to have.

            1. anon-2

              Then this is where we disagree. In my opinion – in a small organization, you would hire people who

              a) want to move up the ladder and
              b) who will accept mentoring to move up those rungs.

              I understand that this is not always possible. But often, it is. Companies that de facto refuse to promote from within generally do not grow well.

              Such companies become “churns” .. and never can get beyond the “we have to figure out what everyone’s going to do” stage.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                It really depends on what roles you’re talking about. If I need someone to lead a communications department and act as a spokesperson in national media on a controversial issue, there’s no way I’m looking at someone 2 years out of college who’s been the department assistant.

  29. OP #2

    #2, “Honestly, if it’s at all an option to move now and then start looking, your search might be easier.”

    Maybe I’ll give it a little longer here (who knows, a good opportunity in my current location might pop up soon, or an employer might be willing to fly me out for an interview), and if I still have no luck, I’ll look into moving.

  30. Sharm

    #3 – I have literally never heard the phrase “Blessings” used that way in my life. Not kidding. I have only ever lived in big, bi-coastal cities where you never see religion enter professional life, AND I was raised in a non-Christian, non-monotheistic tradition, so maybe that’s it.

    I’m of the camp to let this go, even though I personally understand where you’re coming from, OP. I find religious phrasings very off-putting and not appropriate for the workplace, but what can you really do? Just like the mentions of Comic Sans and so forth above, it would absolutely color my perception of the person, but if they were a good vendor/co-worker, than I don’t really know if it’s worth the trouble. I tend to counter those expressions by remaining secular and neutral, and not responding in kind.

    But man, does someone telling me they’re keeping me in their prayers really get my gullet. I find it so presumptuous and condescending. For personal interactions, I would avoid those people, but for business, I would just bite my tongue and move on. There are so many things you do that for in the workplace anyway; I just chalk this up as another one to grit and bear.

  31. The Maple Teacup

    #3. (using the word blessings to end an email) “I find that very offensive.”

    I’d relax on this one. The supplier is not saying “God Bless You”, “May Cthulhu Bring You Madness” or quoting a passage from the Qur’an. Using the word “blessings” is a very mildly religious word (and I’d argue non religious in some cases) that just means the person wishes you well. It’s true that using a religous send off in a within a secular workplace can be unprofessional. But you aren’t the suppliers manager or coworker, so you can’t insist they stop using the word “blessings.” If you are indeed very offended, find a different supplier.

  32. Lyon

    Im the OP here that sent in my comment about someone that thinks saying ” Blessings ” is ok. Well I just closed my account there. There is no place in my world for that especially in the business world. If I want blessings I will ask a religious leader. Im Jewish. And have had people wish me Merry Christmas for years. Same morons that saw a Sikh with their religious head covering get wished Merry Christmas. I wont let it go for a second. And to anyone that thinks its a minor issue its not.

    1. Jamie

      Just out of curiosity would you take the same stance on someone saying “God bless you” after you sneezed? It’s not a snarky question, I’m just wondering if this extends to everything or is it his response that he was religious and can do as he likes that bothered you.

      If his response to your mentioning it was to refrain from closing emails like that to you would you have been okay with that? Changing vendors is a hard line, but so is saying you’re religious and will do as you like in response to a customer complaint.

      And it’s clearly not a minor issue to you, but the comments do show that it is a non-issue to a lot of other people and that’s good information to have. You have the freedom to drop him, which is fine, but it’s good for others reading to know that’s not a reason that will fly with a lot of companies for dropping a vendor with whom you were otherwise satisfied.

      Depends on how good he was as a vendor. If a purchasing department dropped a vendor that gave discounts for quick payments, had the best prices, and an excellent track record for something like this in many places that could cost them their jobs. I don’t know a company that will choose to pay more or forgo discounts because someone resented seeing that word in an email close.

      At the end of the day business is about the bottom line.

      Funny how we all have different lines about what’s minor and not. I’d consider leaving a job I loved if they took away my reserved parking spot, most people wouldn’t care. We all have our deal breakers.

  33. Lyon

    I just found a new supplier. If I want religious comments even minor I will go to a house of worship.

  34. Lyon

    I have decided to continue with this one crazy supplier for now…
    However when the non Christian holidays are here later in the year, he will be blessed with NON Christian holiday and gift items. Including a ” Happy Channukah ” greeting card.

    I have had religious crap and Christian holidays shoved down my throat all my life and am not interested in hearing about how people think. They are not me!

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