can I go on my boyfriend’s business trip, I referred someone who alienated his team, and more

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

1. Can I stay in my boyfriend’s hotel room during his team-building trip?

My boyfriend has a team-building trip coming up where they provide him with a hotel room for four days. He wants me to stay with him in the hotel room. Would his boss care if I stayed in the hotel room while my boyfriend was out training?

This isn’t a trip you should go on. If it were a regular business trip, where he was traveling to do work at a client site or something like that, it might be fine to do. But this is a team-building trip, which means that there are probably going to be activities in the evening and the whole point in him being there is to bond with his coworkers. Taking someone else along is going to look tone-deaf and inappropriate and will probably harm his standing with his manager and maybe the rest of his team.

The exception to this is if he’s absolutely sure that there are no activities in the evening and that he won’t be expected to be hanging out with coworkers then. That would be unusual for a team-building trip though, so he’d want to be 100% positive that it was the case.

2. I picked my own goals for the year and didn’t meet them

My boss was on medical leave at the beginning of last year and then did not return. I was never given specific goals. At my mid-year review, my new boss ask me to set goals. I chose some that I felt were reasonable. However, as it turned out, my client volume tripled and I severely underestimated the impact of a new software upgrade. I did my best to salvage the objectives, but they are going to appear last-minute and weak. I have the sinking feeling that he is going to point out the obvious, that it was I who picked these goals. What is done is done. But looking forward, what can you advise people when asked to set their own goals? I want to avoid trying my own noose next year.

Well, the problem here isn’t that you picked your own goals. It’s that when it became clear that you weren’t going to meet them — for reasons that might be quite legitimate — you didn’t speak up to your manager at that point. If goals are going to be real — something that really shapes your work and defines success in your job — you can’t wait until the end of the year to think about them; they need to be a core part of what you’re doing throughout the year. If circumstances change to the point that the goals no longer make sense, then you need to bring that up proactively to figure out how to adjust them. Or even if they end up not being adjusted, you want to make sure that your boss is in the loop about the fact that you’re proceeding differently. Because you didn’t do that, your boss might have reasonably been assuming that the last plan you two discussed — those goals you created — was still in effect.

So the lesson for the future is: Keep your boss in the loop when there are major changes to what you’ll be accomplishing in a given period.

3. The person I referred for a job has alienated his whole team

I recently referred an associate to join my team at work. It is a small team located at HQ for our organization – with that said, news….gossip travels fast. I didn’t know the associate really well; he happened to take a training class I attended and was very engaging, and I felt an immediate fit/gut feel that we needed him on our team. He was not trying to “schmooze” for a job, because I never mentioned we were looking during the class.

Now, after 90 days, the associate has alienated the entire team; he’s very critical, pissed off several, threw several team members under the bus, etc. Needless to say, the team doesn’t trust him, there’s subtle exclusion from emails/meetings, and he is truly feeling the effects of his wrath. He now has feelings of guilt and wants to make it right – but to some degree it appears to be too late.

What do you think? Is there any hope for him to “win friends and influence others”? What, if anything, more can I do? I tried to offer guidance upfront but it just didn’t work. Are there potentially other underlying issues going on? Is there a silver lining or tunnel light? Please help.

I don’t know. It’s possible that he could execute a major turnaround, but I think that’s going to be up to him and whatever caused him to behave that way to begin with. I don’t think you should get more invested in trying to fix it; it’s really his to handle, and you’re in danger of being overly involved already.

I would take it as a lesson not to recommend people whose work you don’t know first-hand; it’s just too easy to get the wrong impression about someone when you only know them or their work superficially. I’d also acknowledge to the people involved that you misjudged his fit; everyone makes mistakes, but if you appear not to recognize yours here, that won’t reflect terribly well on you.

4. How important is font style and size in a cover letter?

How important is font style, size, and uniformity in a cover letter or resume? I found an example of a good cover letter on another website but noticed it had four different font styles and sizes, including some bolding. I actually found it distracting to read, so I’m wondering your thoughts.

Ick, yeah, that’s not a good idea. A small amount of bolding — fine. But a jumble of fonts styles and sizes will make it look like an obnoxious marketing flyer, rather than a serious business letter. You want hiring managers to view you as a prospective colleague — and you don’t write to colleagues that way. Stick with one font and font size, and rely on the content of your letter to stand out, not the formatting. (That also means that you should probably not even use the content of that letter as a model, because its author is lacking a fundamental understanding of what a good cover letter is.)

5. The best time to use a letter of recommendation

During a job search, when is a good time to give a prospective employer a letter of recommendation from a previous employer?

Usually never. Letters of recommendation don’t really carry much weight because (a) no one puts critical information in those letters, since the person they’re written about will read them, (b) when hiring managers get to the point that we want to talk to your references, we want to talk to them on the phone, where we can hear their tone, hear where they hesitate before answering, and hear what happens when we dig around about potential problem areas.

When an employer is ready for references, they’ll ask you for their contact info. Until then, hold your fire.

(Exceptions are fields like academia and law, which inexplicably continue to use recommendation letters, but they’ll ask for them as part of their application process.)

{ 247 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Mochafrap512

    #1. Alison is spot on. I most definitely wouldn’t go on his team building trip, even if there wasn’t anything planned in the evening. Unless the company specially invites guests, it is inappropriate.
    It is most likely assumed that even if things aren’t planned, free time (meals, etc) will still be spent with co-workers.

    Reply
    1. processimprovement

      Bringing a partner is not always a bad idea; I travel often for work, and regularly bring my husband with me, when I am travelling alone. However, when it is a team-building trip or a training event… he stays home. It is expected that I stay out late with the team (even if nothing is planned), and honestly I rarely even have time to call him in the evening. These trips tend to be very long days, it will be very boring for you and will seem odd to his co-workers/boss.

      Reply
      1. AB

        The only reason I could see a significant other tagging along in a case like this is if the SO had other plans. For example, my company has an offsite team-building/ leadership meeting every year. They always have it in the same place every year, which happens to be near not only one of my husband’s oldest friends but also in a big city with multiple attractions that my husband wants to go visit.
        So, my husband usually comes with and uses it as a time to catch up with his friend and go see the sights. My days are usually long and I don’t really see much of my husband, but it works out. It saves us the cost of a hotel room if my husband had gone on his own another time, and it means that neither of us will be stuck at home alone for a week.

        Reply
        1. Van Wilder

          Agreed. My company usually does trainings in Orlando and spouses (or SOs) will come along and go to the parks. It would be totally normal at my company for a boyfriend or girlfriend to come along, even on a team building trip. The understanding would be that the employee still has to make an appearance at the evening’s activities. But many employees leave those activities early for various reasons (sleep, client work to do, don’t enjoy work social functions).
          In short, I don’t think it’s as black and white as ‘you can’t go’. I think it depends on his company’s culture, how big the training group is, if other people bring SOs, etc.

          Reply
          1. MissDisplaced

            I’ve been to some of these where spouses and SO’s were allowed to come, but that was usually noted in advance. I suppose he could ask, but it really depends on what the company wants for this particular trip. Sometimes this also can vary with the city or destination.

            Reply
          2. Mochafrap512

            The op said they were hiding this from the boss and that she would stay in the room, so I don’t think they would like this.

            Reply
      2. Ed

        ” It is expected that I stay out late with the team (even if nothing is planned)…”

        This is my thought. Even with no planned evening activities, it is sort of expected that you will be dining with your co-workers every night (at a minimum). And those unscheduled activities are where a lot of the real team bonding happens. As a lifelong loner, this is something I am always hyper-aware of when dealing with co-workers. On business trips, I would much rather sit in my room and read or watch TV than get dinner/drinks with my co-workers but I have learned it makes me look like I’m not a team player. Fair or not, I suck it up and join all group activities on business trips because it’s really hard to change someone’s perception of you once it has been formed.

        Reply
      3. Mochafrap512

        I have no problem when it’s just a business trip. My family went and met my uncle (he raised me) toward the end of a business trip and went on a family trip from there. My aunt also went with him on a few business trips. I do, however, think that this situation is totally different. If hide it from the boss, it will also reflect badly on him.

        Reply
    2. snuck

      I’m not sure why, but I get the impression that OP1 is rather young. Maybe it’s the spelling errors, the fact that a question like this needs to be asked, the way OP refers to it “my boyfriend wants me to come” and by young I mean under 24 or 25 (because I’m old!).

      I would be very very cautious about this. If the OP’s boyfriend is in his first or second career position out of study (or after finishing an apprenticeship) then I’d think and rethink any desire to have the GF along. It smacks of poor team building to me. If all the others going are taking a partner, then it might be ok to ask the boss “It seems many other people are bringing their partners, do you mind if I bring my girlfriend?” and see what the response is. But I’d only do this if my girlfriend had been to previous company functions (even if it’s just informal ones), if there were other partners going, if the girlfriend has been a part of your life for more than six or twelve months, if the girlfriend is well able to amuse themselves all through every day and night already (and has demonstrated this already by not texting or calling during the work day etc) and so forth. This isn’t about the girlfriend, it’s about the boyfriend and his work. If the girlfriend has family (not third cousins!) or close friends in the city that the event is being held in then it might be suitable to explain that and obviously you’d be paying any travel, meals, hotel ancillery costs, bar tabs etc for the girlfriend as she is not an employee. If the event is in the same city as you all live then I’d say that asking to stay would be very out of place.

      If OP1 is young I am also left wondering why the boyfriend wants the girlfriend along. I’m going to take a VERY long shot here and suggest a couple of thoughts that spring to mind. One is around control – and having had a controlling partner in the past this is the sort of thing he might have ‘wanted’ to ensure I was on a tight lead while he was gone (and it’s the OP1s way of phrasing this that suggests this – it’s all from the boyfriend’s perspective, she’s not saying “I want to go” she is saying “he wants me to”). Another is about maturity and whether this is seen as a free holiday/stay in a nice hotel etc where you can enjoy each others company (rather than a work function that takes advantage of the co-location of all employees for the duration).

      Even if none of the above apply, it’s the sort of assumptions that can swing through on these sorts of things if you are tone deaf to the situation and get the social feel of it wrong… and if these assumptions are made about your boyfriend then those will affect his standing with his peers and management.

      Reply
      1. snuck

        Just found a lot of OP1 replies below. I get it… he’s anxious, and you want to help. Others have said it too though – that this smacks of poor judgement and your boyfriend could be seen as controlling or having poor judgement… he might not want his boss to know he’s anxious, but these other two assumptions might be just as (or more) damaging. (The controlling one – if others in the workplace have ever had personal experience with it then they will read it very very negatively.)

        And you need to work out if you want a dependent relationship with this man – if his anxiety is so bad he needs you to be there to hold his hand to go to sleep then he needs to sort that out. There’s going to be times in his life you won’t be available, even if you marry and live together forever… and he needs to work on himself to sort that out. You aren’t his comfort animal, you can’t be tied to him for life like that – you both need you to be strong and independent so you can support him effectively. Effective support doesn’t mean casting him to the wolves… it might mean agreeing to go on the trip for example – but only if appropriate social and professional courtesies take place – that he talks to his boss about it and explain that you are coming too (even if it’s for a white lie reason), and that over time he addresses his anxiety with the appropriate treatments and improves it. And you help him down that path, not band aiding the short term incidents.

        And if I was your boyfriend’s boss… and was spending thousands of dollars on a team building exercise on him… I’d question that choice if he had to bring along someone to keep his anxiety in check. Any thoughts I had about his potential promotion, alternative project work, intentions to send off for more training etc? I’d rethink them until I knew exactly what was going on and could see that your boyfriend was actually working to manage his own issues through. I wouldn’t necessarily cancel all such plans, but I’d think them over again. Team building exercises can be a chance for me to see how he plays with others, whether he can hold it together professionally outside the office, how he handles change and different situations. If he has to bring his girlfriend to cope with that then I’d have serious concerns. I’m sorry, this isn’t meant to be an attack, it’s an honest explaining of where my mind would go – which if your boyfriend really can’t cope with four days away he needs to hear – because this is a sure sign that his anxiety problem affects his life profoundly and no longer is a simple problem but has become one that needs professional attention. The fact that he even suggests this to you is a big tick for “get some help now”…

        Reply
        1. JAL

          This is very very judgmental. I have severe anxiety and if I’m in my home town I am generally fine. I know how to navigate my city and know where to go and where I won’t go into panic mode. If you take me out of here, there’s a chance that I’ll have a breakdown. Therefore I cannot travel alone in a different city. I am fine working in a team and in an office but I freak out if I’m in an unfamiliar town. Until you live with a severe and persistant anxiety disorder, you have no place to judge.

          Reply
          1. snuck

            I understand a little of that JAL, I am trying to understand. I have had some issues with anxiety in the past, including panic attacks, but not to the extent that you describe.

            I will say though that if the OP’s boyfriend has such an anxiety disorder then he should seek support and help for it professionally. The assumptions might well be judgemental, but unless a more true reason is given (like the anxiety) then this is how it will look to the outside. I am not alone in saying this – others here are saying it too, before I did (I later discovered a HUGE thread).

            And sure, it might be judgemental to rethink promotion opportunities based on this, but if I don’t have a good understanding of what’s going on, just the weird behaviour of a staff member then why will I invest considerable effort into that person over another in my team (or a new person from outside) when the current information I have at hand is that the person is displaying a lack of sensitivity to the social norms. Now if that person sat me down and said “Look Snuck, I’ve got some issues with anxiety, and I’m working on them… I’ve been talking to professionals and this is what they are suggesting I do into the future here at work to manage them” then I’d be all ears and supportive, but the OP1 is saying that this isn’t what’s happening, the OPs boyfriend intentionally intends to go to all the effort of dragging his girlfriend along because he doesn’t want to sleep alone, BUT knows it’s socially unacceptable to his workplace so intends to keep her hidden from his workmates. Yeeeahhhno.

            Reply
            1. JAL

              I understand that. I often wonder what people who don’t know me think because I know I go totally awkward when I’m anxious (my counselor told me this). I often fear how my anxiety will stunt my professional growth because it always seems like I get a handle on it then I somehow get triggered and I’m on a downward spiral again. I know that I would be covered under ADA but with the stigma I think it would be worse to disclose it. It’s a lot I have to think of as a young professional and I worry about my future

              Reply
      2. HR Recruiter

        I used to be responsible for booking travel for all staff. It was extremely rare for a staff member to travel alone. Who wants to travel alone? Often times staff members would take significant others. If they were single they would beg friends, family members, and sometimes other coworkers to go along. If a coworker went along they had to take the time as vacation because they were not selected to go by the company. I don’t find OP’s question concerning at all. I think it is actually very mature for OP to think of her boyfriend’s career instead of jumping at his invite

        With that said these were not team building activities so I would probably have to agree with AAM’s advice that this wouldn’t be the best time to go.

        Reply
      3. #1 OP

        Ok. So here is the latest. I went on the trip. I knew it would calm him if I was there. And so I am. So his first day of the training was yesterday. He went to training, came back to the hotel room, showered, went to the dinner, socialized, and came back. Same thing today. He only texted me on lunch (which he would have even if I had not come), and I only texted him if he initiated conversation. Yes I am young, 22 years old. I’m not sure why older folk thing that young people are ignorant. I feel I am intelligent. But, we have been together for 5 years and we do live together and have never been apart. So you can imagine I was slightly nervous about this situation. Hence the reason I came to this site in the first place. I appreciate everyone’s input and I’m glad I got insight before I went. So thank you all. (Did I spell everything correctly?)

        Reply
          1. #1 OP

            It is nice :) I brought my tablet and WiFi is free so I can catch up on all my shows! And the food is delightful as well. :)

            Reply
        1. Beebs

          Did he ever speak to his boss about this and ask permission?

          Also, there was a lot of insightful discussion around this from different perspectives and I am glad you took the time to review it and I hope you shared it with your boyfriend as well.

          Reply
          1. #1 OP

            No. We didn’t speak with the boss. But we figured, since I’m not interfering with his work at all, that he wouldn’t care anyways. Because I’m just sharing a room. That’s all. And I did share some things with my boyfriend.

            Reply
  2. Worker Bee (Germany)

    #5. So interesting. In Germany you always include recommendation letters in your application docs. Every Employer is obligated to write you one. Very rarely a potential employer will call the current one…

    Reply
    1. Cheesecake

      and in Switzerland and i assume in Austria too, which is a massive headache because a)nowhere else this is a must, thus employers from other countries either don’t give them because they don’t or because they are forbidden to due to potential litigation. So if you send your letters upfront in the US or UK, this will raise a lot of eyebrows or most probably have you removed from the process alltogether. b)these letters are still sort of “coded” with the specific word combinations so it will not cause company problems. Heck, “fired” is forbidden to write. So i do not really pay attention to these letters and use them a sense check positions on person’s CV

      Reply
      1. Marcy

        You can add Sweden to that list. I actually offered my letters from my employers in Sweden to my prospective employers here in the US when I moved back and every one of them took me up on it and appreciated having something to put in the file to satisfy HR’s requirement that they check references. They didn’t want to have to deal with an international call, a six-hour time difference plus the possibility of getting someone who didn’t speak English well or at all.

        Reply
    2. Kate

      That’s definitely a bad style to call current employer in my city, but they do call previous ones. You would normally not have your current employer as reference as well – you might not get a new job, you might decide to stop hiring process. Some people even go for interviews just to learn news about the market. If your current employer would get calls, you would soon loose your job ;)

      Reply
  3. Cheesecake

    #1 Our Xmas party is a very much “bring your spouse” thing. And even though our office is relatively small, everyone is friendly and there is free alcohol, my husband felt a little odd. Simply because he didn’t really know them and i was torn between not leaving him while spending time with colleagues. I can’t imagine having to deal with this for 4 days. So OP, do you really want to hang out with people you don’t know and entertain yourself while he is gone? If it is not “bring your spouse event”.. and it doesn’t seem so, i totally agree:do not go there.

    Reply
    1. Van Wilder

      At my company’s trainings, significant others often come along but they are not invited to the evening social events. I am assuming it would be similar here. So the question really is do you want to hang out all day and most nights alone? If it’s someplace warm, I’d be ok with it (from freezing NYC with love).

      Reply
      1. Mochafrap512

        The op specifically stated that she would have to stay in the room and they weren’t telling the boss. This is different.

        Reply
    2. Zillah

      I think that this is a little different, though, because there is an expectation that your spouse will interact with your coworkers – it’s a party, after all! In this, presumably the OP would not be included in any of the activities, or really interface with their spouse’s coworkers in any substantial way.

      I’m still not sure it’s a good idea, but I don’t think the two are really equivalent.

      Reply
      1. Cheesecake

        What i meant is, corporate events in general is a hassle for SOs, even if is SOs are officially invited. Now, OP wants to sneak in to a team building and this is completely new level of awkwardness. I personally do not go to my husband’s company events. It is time for him to network and not entertain me. Plus i have heard enough of his work at home

        Reply
  4. De (Germany)

    I seem to be reading #1 differently, or rather I wouldn’t assume that the OP actually wants to stay there to see her/his boyfriend. Maybe this team thing is in a location they really want to see or something and it’s really just about staying in the same room to cut down on costs? That’s something I’d sometimes really like to do with my husband’s conferences.

    Reply
    1. Cheesecake

      I think conference is a little different. I once had a business trip that my husband has “joined”; he came on Thursday evening, did stuff on Friday while i was working and then we stayed over weekend. But team building is different. There are activities in the afternoon and even more important informal hang outs in the evening. It would be quite strange if OP just got away from 12 pm till 12 am. And it would be difficult to incorporate OP in corporate get togethers.

      Reply
      1. De (Germany)

        “And it would be difficult to incorporate OP in corporate get togethers.”

        I don’t think that would be necessary – the OP really only mentions sharing a hotel room.

        Reply
        1. Cheesecake

          When i read it again it seems confusing. OP has originally mentioned: “He wants me to stay with him in the hotel room”. There is nothing about an interesting location and things OP would like to do there, just that OP is “requested” to stay in boyfriend’s hotel room. In that case i don’t see how boss is OPs problem; if that whole thing is boyfriend’s idea – he should talk to boss.

          Reply
    2. Tau

      This was my original reading too. Something like: OP goes sight-seeing for the whole day and evening and isn’t actually planning on spending time with the boyfriend, and maybe they take a holiday there before or after the event – I’ve seen that sort of thing before, although at conferences rather than team-building events.

      Reply
      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

        I read it the same way. I’ve taken my husband on trips before where it was critical that I spend social time with colleagues at every opportunity, including late evenings (without him there). He had a great sort-of-solo vacation, which we wouldn’t have spent money on otherwise (we use our limited vacation money to do things together). If, however, either one of you will feel pressure to make time for the other, it’s not a good plan.

        Reply
        1. EditBarb

          It’s so important that the non-working colleague realize that the working colleague is going to be busy. The girlfriend of a colleague at a former job would come along to our conferences, and then get annoyed because my colleague didn’t want to go out at night. He was already stressed about the conference and his work there, and this just made it worse.

          Reply
          1. Cath in Canada

            Yes, this – my husband has come on a couple of conference trips with me (we often try to tack a personal vacation onto the end of a conference that’s in a cool location – that way my flights and part of the total accommodation cost are covered), but my husband gets it 100% that I’m going to be busy during the day and most evenings. Luckily he’s very good at entertaining himself, and usually ends up knowing the city really well and meeting lots of interesting people in bars! And I’ve never taken him on a team building trip or when the trip is to meet with collaborators – just conferences. We’ve been to San Francisco, Nova Scotia, and Berlin so far on this kind of trip, and are crossing our fingers that I get to go to a conference in Tokyo later this year!

            Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      Only once did I go with my husband on a business trip. He went for a week’s training near my aunt’s house. He dropped me off at my aunt’s so we could visit and he went to the hotel. He would show up at my aunt’s when nothing else was going on at the hotel training. I think only one or two people knew that my husband had brought me with him.

      I did enjoy my time with my aunt, though. That was fun.

      Reply
    4. #1 OP

      Im not sure what events are planned, but my boyfriend’s plan is for me to just be there in the hotel room while he goes out. Just because he gets homesick and wants me there at night. Which I am totally ok with. I am more concerned that, his bosd has no idea I am going, and if my boyfriend would get into trouble, if the boss found me there.

      Reply
      1. The IT Manager

        Since it doesn’t cost extra for a second person to stay in a hotel room (usually), the company would usually have no complaint about spouse or friend staying in a hotel room. As we mention, the problem comes when a spouse joins what is meant to be employee-only or working events/dinners or takes up time that the employee should be spending team building or working.

        But this seems odd. It makes it sounds like your boyfriend cannot bear sleeping alone or cannot bear leaving you alone at home while he is away (trust issue). I think people expect that by the time a person is a working adult, they don’t suffer from such homesickness that they can’t leave a signifigant other behind for 4 days. Or if they did not know that your boyfriend asked you, maybe they’d think you have trust issues and came along to keep an eye on him.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          Wow, that surprises me. That’s probably my state-ish employee viewpoint, but my first thought was that this was not something to do without permission from the employer–and with mine, you probably wouldn’t get it.

          Reply
          1. The IT Manager

            Culture! I’m a federal govt employee. I would not mention it to the travel people. I might mention it to my boss, but I wouldn’t expect a problem with it since the only time I’d expect to spend with my signifigant other is time I would have spent alone anyway. That’s key though.

            Reply
          2. Cat

            For us, permission isn’t necessary but I think everyone would find it to be really weird if they were traveling with a co-worker and then happened to find out halfway through that his girlfriend has been up in the hotel room the whole time.

            Reply
              1. snuck

                Exactly.

                OP1… time for your boyfriend to man up. If he’s old enough to sleep in a bed with you… he’s old enough to sleep in a bed alone.

                I get it, strangle place and a little lonely. But unless he has some kind of mental or neurological issue that suggests he needs this (in which case I’m still not advocating it – I’d suggest instead he talk to his boss AND talk to some professionals about how to handle this) then you pandering to it is going to make him appear immature and socially tone deaf to his peers. And they will find out about you.

                And what are you going to do for four days in a hotel room? Seriously! You can’t watch pay movies and use pay wifi or order room service… so what do you plan to do?

                Reply
                1. TL -

                  Most American hotels I’ve been in have free wifi and cable. (not to mention smart phones and whatever else the OP has.)

                  Though, personally, I would not ever spend 4 days lying around a hotel, there are enough people around who really just want to relax by doing nothing on their vacations that I think the more appropriate question to ask is “do you want to spend 4 days doing nothing?” not “4 days doing nothing is awful!!!!”

        2. Cheesecake

          Absolutely agree with everything.

          I am not sure if your boyfriend is “new to the office culture”, but one simply does not sneak spouses to corporate events. It is a corporate team event, full stop. But if it is not a good enough explanation – there is a chance he gets a room with one bed, there are evening plans – usually dinner/drinks – if and when they have to count you in, it is just a last minute headache. Bottom line: would his boss care about you in general or that there will be +1 for no extra cost – no. But he definitely would care if he is not informed. I would be furious.

          I also find it odd that he can’t go away for 4 days. But again, if that was a serious issue for your boyfriend, he would have talked to his boss.

          (i totally don’t want to say “i read original letter right the first time on AAM”)

          Reply
          1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

            I’ll give you credit for getting it right!

            I would also fine it very strange if I wasn’t told that a significant other was coming, because it would feel like the person tried to hide it. if he’s going to tell his boss, he needs to come up with a different reason that doesn’t include homesickness or not being able to spend that much time away from you. Both those feel inappropriate and may reflect poorly on him.

            Reply
        3. #1 OP

          I appreciate your insight fully. And I understand you do not know me nor him. And you probay presume I am a girlfriend who listens to what my boyfriend says or else. But this is not the case. It is simply this. He has never gone away before on his own and gets seperation anxiety (which may or may not be an issue, and is irrelevant at the moment), so he asked me if I would mind staying with him. He did not force me to go. It is of my own will. Where I prefer alone time most of the time anyways, I agreed. My ONLY concern was, he hadnt mentioned this to his boss, because he also doesnt want his boss to think he needs me there. I will NOT be attending andy of the events, nor do I care to. I am simply staying in the hotel room.

          Reply
          1. some1

            If your boyfriend has anxiety to the point that he can’t sleep in a hotel room for 4 days on his own (because it sounds like he’ll be with coworkers the rest of the trip), then I would suggest that he gets help to manage his anxiety, because you being there is really just a band-aid.

            Reply
            1. Biff

              As someone that has anxiety… whatever fixes it is NOT a band-aid. It’s a genuine fix. I can do a couple of days without my dog or other company at night before I start to fall to pieces and stop sleeping. If my company wanted me to fly alone, to someplace for a week, it would literally put me past the limit of what I can handle effectively without my ‘power tools’ — aka, the dog.

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              1. Natalie

                I disagree (also someone with anxiety). One very effective treatment for anxiety is alcohol – it certainly works for me. That doesn’t mean it’s an effective or healthy long term fix. I don’t think the OP’s boyfriend’s solution is workable or healthy on a long term basis either.

                Probably too late for this trip, but there are lots of things the OP’s boyfriend could explore with a doctor that will be closer to a real solution than this one.

                Reply
                1. Another Ellie

                  Yes, this. Plus, people aren’t pets. Using another person isn’t ever an acceptable way to fix your own psychological problems.

                  My husband has extremely severe anxiety. We both recognize that it’s never going to be fixed. But we were, a few years ago, down the path of me being the “fix,” because I wasn’t setting up good boundaries and he was using me as a psychological release for him. It was completely terrible for me, psychologically and personally (“sorry, I can’t go out tonight/apply for that job/pursue that hobby/buy that cup of coffee because husband is worried about money/is anxious about me being away from him/wants to control everything in his environment”). It was also terrible for him, because he stopped dealing with his own problems directly and constructively.

                  If one person in a relationship is relying on the other for too much psychological support, it winds up subsuming the other person. Down that path lies all sorts of unhealthy things. It sounds like that might be happening here with OP.

                2. some1

                  This is what I meant — I believe having the LW there makes her boyfriend feel better, but since it’s obviously not practical to for her to come on this trip. He needs to find another plan to cope besides figuring out how to get his girlfriend to come after all.

                3. Beebs

                  Yes – there are adaptive and sometimes maladaptive behaviors that can help with anxiety. A good therapist will help you develop coping strategies that you can use across various situations and typically are things that you can do on your own, because it is not reasonable to always expect to have others to rely on. Mindfulness, relaxation, CBT, are all great examples.

                4. fposte

                  @Another Ellie–in fact, I just found an article entitled “The Maintenance of Anxiety Disorders: Maladaptive Coping Strategies,” and one of them was having a “safety person.”

                5. Biff

                  While I understand and appreciate the value of having coping mechanisms that don’t rely on a living, breathing security blanket, I also understand that sometimes, in unavoidable high-anxiety environments, they are the best solution. This is especially true early in therapy/treatment when you HAVE to deal with a high-anxiety situation that you haven’t developed more self-reliant coping methods for. Or in a situation in which you will NEVER be comfortable. You have to bring the big guns to those situations if you can’t avoid them. (Avoidance is a perfectly valid tactic, btw.)

                  I’m not saying this is ideal, I’m saying it is what it is. This guy seems to be very early into his treatment for seperation anxiety AND he’s got a new job. I bet his nerves are fried right now. As you say, it’s too late for this trip. But it may be that he needs this particular accommodation for a long time.

                6. Natalie

                  @Biff, either way I don’t think a person, other than a therapist with whom one has a professional relationship, is a good choice for a security blanket. Pets are different – dogs in particular, given how they’ve evolved with humans. I just don’t see how using another person doesn’t end up in a very unbalanced and emotionally messed up relationship. It seems like a fertile ground for abusive behaviors from either side, however unintentional they may be.

                7. Another Ellie

                  @Biff “As you say, it’s too late for this trip. But it may be that he needs this particular accommodation for a long time.”

                  Do you realize what “this accomodation,” ie girlfriend patiently accompanying him whenever he has anxiety, means for the girlfriend? Yes, it sucks that he has anxiety. Yes, it’s hard that he can’t do normal things easily by himself (sorry, it’s normal to be able go to a hotel room for 4 days by yourself). But that doesn’t mean that he gets to make those kinds of demands on his girlfriend! Her entire life will soon revolve around catering to his anxiety, at the expense of her own needs and well being. He can’t use her as a “big gun” anxiety coping mechanism because she’s a person with her own value and needs and personality. If she starts doing this, she will eventually be reduced to just a coping mechanism for him. The results of that are not pretty.

                  Now, she can be there to talk. She can learn his triggers and some of the ways to help him through situations that are hard. She can do small things to reduce his anxiety. But going with him on business trips she has no business being on? That’s not something he should not be asking her to do, and it’s not something she should agree to do.

              2. Observer

                But, it doesn’t fix it. Yes, in your case, it’s a useful coping mechanism. But, you haven’t fixed the problem. And, you haven’t found a different strategy for longer term trips. Now, that’s ok for you, since you apparently don’t have to do those kinds of trips.

                If you come to the conclusion that you are never likely to be able to take longer trips without company or a pet, that means that you don’t expect to be able to actually fix the problem. That’s ok, as long as you are ok with limiting your career opportunities to those that don’t require extended travel. There are a fair number of career paths where this wouldn’t be a deal breaker, fortunately. Sometimes a “crutch” is the best you can do, and it can be freeing to realize that. But crutches always have limits, and one of those limits is that you really cannot expect someone to be your crutch.

                It’s also important to recognize that you have a problem and the limits of your coping mechanisms. One of those limits is that it is simply unrealistic for someone to be able to accompany you on all trips beyond a couple of days – even your spouse.

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                1. fposte

                  Right, it’s more complicated than just cure vs. enable; there are accommodations and self-medications that are more compatible with functionality than others, and their compatibility may depend on their harm quotient, their impact on others, and what functions you actually need to perform–and, conversely, your functionality may be limited by what accommodations you’ve developed or can use. If you panic without your phone the world’s a lot more able to accommodate you than if you panic without your brace of wolfhounds.

                2. Biff

                  Hmmmm. I’m afraid I disagree with you. If you and your spouse are on the same page and have said that your job, for whatever reason, is the priority job in the household, then the reality is that your spouse needs to accommodate the need to travel. This is sort of like how a military spouse accepts that “packing at the speed of light” and “being lonely” is the cost of admission to that life with that person.

                  If I wanted a job that had travel as a large component, I would have had to find someone that was comfortable with a) making that job the priority job in the household and b) traveling that much. As it was, knowing that anxiety will probably be the death of me, I live in a household where my job is not the priority. howeve,r I’ve seen people make the opposite work.

                3. Observer

                  There is a difference between “job is the priority” and “wife doesn’t get to have a life.” The issues you describe for military spouses are one of the reasons why the military tries to help out military families – and that the military has a higher rate of family problems.

                  And even with that, what military spouses deal with is less than what someone who is a human security blanket in many ways. The day to day, sometimes even hour to hour, tether this creates is a whole level of issues.

                  In another comment you note that sometimes is takes a person a long time to get to the point that he doesn’t need that security blanket. The thing is though, that this is only a relevant conversation when someone is actually actively try to move on to a more healthy and sane strategy. In this case neither the BF or OP has acknowledged that this is a real and significant problem and this his coping strategy is, at best, “mal-adaptive.”

          2. Cheesecake

            OP, I see you are trying to support him. But that is a bad long-term solution. Please talk him out of this crazy idea. There will be a lot of business trips down the road, those that he will go completely alone on. He must deal with it NOW, while he can be at least surrounded by colleagues.

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            1. lawsuited

              From OP’s comment, it looks like boyfriend wants to pretend to his boss that he is an adult and okay with going on a 4 day business trip without his girlfriend. Even if that isn’t the case at all.

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              1. Adonday Veeah

                Given the OP’s information about her boyfriend’s anxiety issues, I’m not sure characterizing the issue as his not being an adult is appropriate.

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          3. Colette

            There are mental illnesses that include this type of separation anxiety. If he has been diagnosed with one, he could ask for you to come with him as an accommodation.

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          4. Allison

            It sounds like your boyfriend has a serious anxiety problem, and I’d suggest he get help for it, because you can’t possibly be expected to do this every time he has to go away. No matter how much he loves you, and no matter how comfortable he is sleeping next to you, a healthy adult is able to take trips on his or her own, without the company of an SO or spouse.

            If you do agree to go with him this once, you should make it clear that you won’t be able to do this for every trip, and he needs to get counseling to deal with his separation anxiety. You’re a person, not a blankie.

            Reply
            1. Colette

              Keep in mind that if this is truly a mental illness, it may take months or years before the boyfriend is comfortable with being away overnight, if ever. It may not be a matter of a few counseling sessions.

              Reply
              1. Allison

                Oh I understand that, but he does need to take that first step and start working on the problem, so that if the girlfriend does go with him, it’s a temporary solution rather than a long-term precedent.

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          5. Snowball II

            If I were your boyfriend’s boss, I’d be very, very concerned about his judgment/professionalism under these circumstances. It’s already kind of strange to bring an extra person to a business trip so that person can just sit in a hotel room all day long, and on top of it he’s not telling his boss he’s bringing you? It’s about 15 different kinds of unprofessional and not okay, at least in any of the corporate cultures I’ve ever worked in.

            (Also, as someone who volunteers with survivors of domestic violence, and without knowing the anxiety backstory, I was reading this as your boyfriend being creepily controlling and scary. The anxiety thing obviously makes his behavior less scary, but if I were just a coworker without the anxiety context, and I saw that your b/f brought you on a work trip so you could sit on a hotel bed for four days straight, I’d be deeply, deeply concerned about what kind of man I was working with.)

            Reply
            1. Nichole

              My thought went more to what they will think about OP…which doesn’t say much positive about the boyfriend either. I know in my area, the immediate gossip would be that she came along to make sure no other women went in that hotel room. It makes both of them look kind of dysfunctional. I’m surprised at how many office cultures this would be normal in. It’s one of those things that when it’s bad it’s really bad, so permission>forgiveness here.

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          6. Sunflower

            It really depends on the company. I pretty much only travel for conferences so my company has never cared if I brought someone with me. It might be different for team building activities though. Even though you say you will just stay in the room and not interfere, who knows if his boss will think that? And since your bf does have these issues, you might be unintentionally pulling him away from the activities.

            You bf should just ask his boss. He can frame it however he wants- like you have friends in town you want to see, whatever. But yeah the boss might care.

            I also want to add to tread lightly on this as if you do go and your boyfriend has to go away again sometime, he might expect you to come again. So that’s something you need to decide if you want to be a part of.

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            1. Lynn Whitehat

              Yeah, sometimes significant others accompany people on work trips where I work. The explanation given is always that the SO wants to be in that city for their own reasons. Either they want to do tourist stuff, or visiting old friends, or my co-worker and their SO are going to tack on a weekend and have fun there on their own (obviously paying the extra hotel nights themselves), etc. Nobody really thinks twice about it; for all I know, some of the SOs are really there because of anxiety issues, but it would never be framed that way.

              Agreed with everyone else.
              1) tell the boss, don’t try to sneak it
              2) frame it as you wanting to be in that city for your own reasons
              3) be self-sufficient; don’t expect your boyfriend to entertain you

              Reply
          7. Ezri

            It’s a good concern to have – he absolutely shouldn’t be sneaking you into his hotel room. If he wants you there and isn’t forcing you to go, okay, but he should make sure his boss is informed. Someone else should chime in if I’m wrong, but it might even be a liability thing if the company is paying for the rooms – they should know who is staying in them in the rare case something does happen.

            That aside, the issue here is that your boyfriend risks his professional reputation if he phrases it to his boss as ‘because I can’t be by myself for 4 days’. Anxiety is a valid issue, but unfortunately it is not always treated as a valid excuse in the professional world. It might help if your boyfriend could get a professional diagnosis of anxiety, but I don’t know the timeframe on this trip.

            The short of it is, it would probably be best professionally for your boyfriend to go without you and make the best of it. Can you set up Skype / phone calls for every night before he goes to sleep?

            Reply
          8. The IT Manager

            This is veering more into personal-side, but I am curious. What would he do if he were not dating anyone when this trip came up? He’d have to go on his own, right? You may not be able to answer this if this is his first ever work trip, but you say “he has never gone away before on his own” so has he gone on trips and taken others before. Without you in the picture, would he ask another friend or family member? Or is he never not dating anyone so he always has a GF to ask?

            Reply
          9. Ask a Manager Post author

            I don’t think he should even ask the boss about it in this case, unfortunately. What’s likely to happen is he’ll ask the boss, the boss will say, “Oh, this trip is for team-building and we’ll have lots of activities in the evening, so it doesn’t make sense to bring someone along,” and then the boyfriend will be stuck, because he really shouldn’t explain that it’s just because he gets homesick or anxious (that’s going to reflect badly on his maturity/judgment). So asking will likely just get a no.

            I think the boyfriend needs to go on the trip alone and accept that just because it’s the first time he’s done this doesn’t mean he can’t do it. It’s a normal part of being a professional adult for many jobs. (Obviously if he has a serious, clinical anxiety disorder, that’s different — but then he needs to seek treatment for it.)

            Reply
            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              And in fact, the way many people get over anxiety about this kind of thing is just by doing it. You’re doing him no favors by accompanying him just because he’s never traveled alone before.

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              1. Jillociraptor

                I don’t think you’re meaning to say this, but many people do believe that people with anxiety just need exposure to their triggers to get better…and then take it upon themselves to provide that exposure, often in unsafe, counterproductive ways that reinforce the anxiety or phobia. Exposure therapy is a real treatment, but it’s also a graduated, protocol-driven treatment that should be administered by a professional.

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                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Yeah, I’m not talking about clinical-grade anxiety. But I get the sense that the OP isn’t either — it sounds like her boyfriend has just never traveled alone before, gets homesick, and wishes she’d come with him. The best way to get over that is to just do it and see that it’s fine. (And I’ll repeat my disclaimer from above, that if he has a serious, clinical anxiety disorder, that’s different — but then he needs to seek treatment for it.)

                2. Cheesecake

                  I totally agree with AAM. Plus, if one has a real medical condition, a manager absolutely must know this to plan around this accordingly.

              2. Meg Murry

                Regarding the “just doing it advice”

                Any chance he could do a trial run by booking a hotel room in your home city and try spending the night there? If he really absolutely flips out and has a panic attack or something – well, then you need to address it with medical intervention/therapy. And if he’s ok beyond just being a little lonely – well then, now he knows he can’t handle it.

                It can be scary to do something for the first time. So my additional advice to the OP is to try to help him not have the first time away from her being a work event. Make it in his own control, and then his work event will be the second time, not first.

                Is there something else besides being away for the night that is upsetting to him? First time on an airplane (or first time without a traveling companion on the plane)? First time in a big city? First time expected to use public transit or cabs? If it’s something beyond not wanting to spend the night alone, try to nail that down, and perhaps you can practice it together, or do some extensive Googling and reading.

                Reply
                1. NoPantsFridays

                  This is a good idea. It will also help OP/boyfriend recognize if it’s something he might need to seek treatment for (i.e. medical anxiety disorder) or something he can overcome on his own (more like what Alison might be referring to above).

          10. Observer

            If this comes out, there is no way this is not going to hurt him. Think about it – your BF doesn’t want to mention it, because he knows it’s going to make him look bad. So, if it comes out, then your BF looks bad over the original issue, and also a bit like a sneak. And, unless this comes out AFTER the trip, everyone is going to assume that your BF is not going to participate fully in all activities. And that is best case.

            Are you sure that each guy is getting his own double occupancy room? In many cases, staff are expected to share rooms. And when they aren’t there is only one bed, and no guarantee that they are full sized. Of course, even if each guy in their own double occupancy room was what was planned, booking errors are common enough that you need to think about what happens to you if that happens. Your presence will be a complicating factor, and you can be sure that his boss is NOT going to be happy about it. Even if he’s a good boss it’s going to be an added and, from his point of view, totally unnecessary additional complication. Furthermore, his boss may be concerned about liability issues or other policies that your BF may not be aware of. In either case, your BF could get into significant trouble. In either case pleading ignorance is unlikely to help him as most employers will point out that bringing an SO to a team building exercise is so out of the norm that they shouldn’t have had to address it.

            Reply
          11. Sadsack

            OP, consider some statements you have made here. You claim you are going of your own free will, but because he gave you puppy dog eyes. That’s not your free will, that’s you being manipulated by an adult using childish behavior as a tool. Giving in to this behavior will not benefit you in any way now or in future situations.

            Reply
        4. long time reader first time poster

          Sounds like boyfriend has trust issues with the OP and doesn’t want to leave her alone for four days.

          Reply
      2. Helen

        Do you have a full time job? If so, I’d advise not to take time off work just to keep your boyfriend company during a business trip.

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      3. MK

        OP, I don’t want to intrude on your relationship, but to an outsider, like your boyfriend’s boss, this would come across as odd. That a (presumably) adult person gets so homesick and is so unwilling to sleep alone at night that they brings their partner along on a bussiness trip sounds immature, or aa someone with serious anxiety issues. That a man wants his girlfriend to come and spend four days cooped up in a hotel room, because he wants there at night, and that the woman is willing to do it, well, it gives a very odd picture about your relationship. And the fact that, if I understand correctly, your boyfriend is planning to actively hide your being there from his boss makes it worse: the boss may well feel that it’s an integrity issue.

        Again, I don’t want to make assumptions about your partner or your relationship. But if his boss found out, they might get a very unflattering picture of him.

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        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          Completely, utterly in agreement. This just sounds odd, and it makes your boyfriend sound immature at best and controlling at worst. I would be more understanding if the training were in some amazing locale or even just someplace warm and relaxing, but just going because he doesn’t want to sleep alone? I urge you to look really hard at what that suggests.

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        2. fposte

          I would imagine–I would like to think–that that isn’t what he’d say to his boss, though. He’d say, “Since there’s no extra charge, would it be okay to have a spouse or significant other come along and share the hotel room?” If you can credibly add this, say, “She’s keen to have a chance to sightsee in Peoria.”

          Reply
          1. In Peoria, ILLINOIS

            The Peoria comment made me chuckle a bit. I live in Peoria, Illinois. Not much but a big yellow tractor company to explore here. Agree with what you say though…

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        3. Allison

          I have to agree that it can look bad to a third party. Look, I’m sensitive to people with anxiety issues, and I totally understand being in a loving relationship and not wanting to sleep alone, but there are a lot of elements in this situation that can make the boyfriend look immature or unprofessional to his boss or co-workers.

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        4. Beebs

          There have been a lot of insightful comments here and I have to agree. As someone who travels to conferences, training events, and oversees a project that is being conducted in multiple cities, there are times where bringing someone is not unheard of. However, we also have an annual retreat and this is a situation where it would be wildly inappropriate to bring someone along, even though we get our own rooms.

          As others have noted, it could be a seriously problem if he doesn’t clear it first, but moreover it could just seem odd and out of touch (both with or without permission) even without knowing the reasons why he is doing this, and this could do a fair bit of damage to his reputation. Not a great judgement call to bring a guest here.

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        5. Sunflower

          I don’t know OP or the bf or the situation but it’s possible OP’s bf will take her being there as a safety net and end up only doing the minimal during the team building. THAT will probably piss the boss off.

          Reply
      4. Lori C

        I suggest your boyfriend ask his co-workers if husbands, wives, boyfriends and girlfriends attend these four day team building trips.

        Reply
      5. John

        I don’t know that getting in trouble is the issue. He may not get called on the carpet but there’s a fair chance that others would become aware that you’re there. And this is an event structured so that he and his colleagues bond. Having a girlfriend up in home base kind of makes a person less accessible. And don’t tell me he won’t spend more time than others in his room.

        There’s a maturity issue here. It’s not natural to get homesick during a few-day trip.

        Reply
        1. Zillah

          There’s a maturity issue here. It’s not natural to get homesick during a few-day trip.

          I’m not sure I agree with this – some people are real homebodies and much prefer the comforts of their own home. It seems overly judgmental to me to call them immature and unnatural. What’s problematic, IMO, is not the sentiment – being homesick and missing your partner is understandable. What’s problematic is that the OP’s boyfriend either isn’t capable of controlling those feelings or doesn’t see doing so as important. And that is a problem.

          Reply
          1. fposte

            It also sounds like the boyfriend hasn’t ever traveled on his own. And while I don’t think that’s a big step in life for most people, it can be for the anxiety-prone. And while I think that’s a reason to learn how to do it rather than avoid doing it, that’s going to be a decision influenced by many more important factors than what this random commenter on the internet thinks.

            Reply
            1. My two cents...

              traveling for a work conference the first time was a HUGE deal for me! i’m fairly anxious and actually loathe being alone-alone… but having come from a family of 5 where i always got the ‘cot’ or ‘sleeper couch’ as a bed, i remember being ultra-excited that the room was allllll miiiiine.

              first work trip, we were “cost efficient” and stayed about a walking-mile away from the staples center in los angeles. everyone else was groaning the whole time, and here i was happy as a clam and absolutely wide-eyed in the big city as a new college grad.

              but honestly. my favorite part of work-travel is coming back home to my dude after being gone for a few days.

              Reply
      6. Mochafrap512

        Why would you two risk him getting into trouble. Trust me, things always have a way of coming out.
        His boss is going to see you “staying in the hotel room for when he gets homesick” as needy, clingy and immature. I know this is going to be hard on both of you, but he is going to need to learn to do these things on his own. To flourish in his career, he is going to need to learn to travel solo because at same point, he may have to do this. It will limit him professionally.
        To help him with his he can take something of yours to sleep with, or maybe you two can FaceTime, etc.

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      7. CAA

        Is he 100% certain he’s getting his own hotel room? Team building trips are the type of event where some companies are more likely to ask employees to share rooms. Even if they don’t do this on normal customer site travel, the opportunity to save 50% of the hotel costs for a larger group can be irresistible.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          Oh, good point. Another reason not to spring this on people, unless OP is prepared to buy her own hotel room at the last minute–and maybe at a different hotel if this one’s full.

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        2. #1 OP

          He asked if he would have his own room. And they said yes. I agree he should just ask his boss. Ive suggested this to him mamy times. But I suppose he is afraid they will say no and find out im there anyways. And I have told him to go alone, but I couldn’t say no to his puppy dog eyes. We all know that look. Its very hard to resist.

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          1. Snowball II

            You’re doing him no favors by giving in. If he has anxiety so bad that it’s interfering with his ability to do what’s required for his job, he needs to treat his anxiety, not haul you around on business trips like a security blanket. That’s weird, and immature, and will ultimate hinder his professional future. Sorry, but you are being way, way too indulgent here, and don’t really seem to be grasping the profound weirdness of this.

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            1. #1 OP

              Well, its not weird to me because I love him and want him to be comfortable. This post wasnt to attack his problems with seperation. The post was meant to see if Id be able to stay in the hotel room while hes out. Thats it. Thats the question. Nothing about anyones problems. Please stop concering yourselves with personal problems. I only want to know the question I originally asked. Is it or is it not ok. Thats all. I appreciate everyones inputs that have related to the topic at hand. Thank you.

              Reply
              1. Cheesecake

                I think it is clear. The answer is “no” from whichever angle you will try to look at it. Even the one that over 10 people simultaneously wrote about you prefer to ignore.

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              2. Elizabeth West

                To be fair, people are telling you how it will look to his boss if you guys do this. And it will absolutely look as though both of you have personal problems. If he sneaks you in, that could get him severely reprimanded or even fired, depending on the company. If he asks and they say no, then he’ll just have to cope on his own.

                I realize you care about him and want him to be comfortable, but as a professional adult employee, he needs to be able to handle stuff like this. If he can’t, then he most likely needs some assistance so that he can.

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              3. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher

                And the answer is, clearly, you can’t.

                And you don’t seem to like that answer, so folks have been explaining *why* you can’t, to help you understand the answer. But it sounds like you’re going to go no matter what anyone says to you, so I kind of wonder why you bothered to write to Alison at all.

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              4. LisaS

                If I were the boss in this situation, I’d say unequivocally no, because pulling an entire team off-site & out of town for 4 days is a massive commitment of resources with the express goal of focusing the team members’ attention on each other in a sustained fashion. Letting team members bring spouses/partners etc negates that effort because it means that the team’s attention is focused elsewhere – on their spouses/partners – and not on what is supposed to be happening. Your boyfriend is putting a great deal at risk here, especially if the plan is to sneak you into the hotel… at the very least, you guys might think about doing a pros & cons/risk assessment exercise to figure out if it’s really truly worth it. And if he’s got a mentor at work outside of his own reporting structure, getting that person’s input and factoring it in might be useful…

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                1. AnonAnalyst

                  I think this is where I would come down on it, too, and this is why I also think I wouldn’t ask if I were the employee. And this is coming from someone who used to travel extensively for work, often to cool places people would want to visit, so it was almost expected that some employees would have their partners join them for at least some part of the trip to share their hotel rooms. But the difference is, those were conferences or meetings, not team-building events.

                  I think asking if a partner can accompany you to an offsite team-building event is one of those things that’s so tone deaf in many company cultures that it may harm your reputation at work. If this is a big enough concern for the OP’s boyfriend that he is willing to take the risk, he can try asking, maybe framing the question as the OP has been wanting to visit some friends in the area, so would it be okay if she shares his hotel room? But, he needs to be prepared to hear “no” (and accept it – as in, not sneaking the OP into the hotel room anyway).

                  I am sympathetic to both the OP and the boyfriend. That said, as others have already pointed out, this really isn’t a long term solution, so hopefully if nothing else, it will help them find a better solution for future trips.

              5. some1

                You didn’t ask specifically about dealing with your boyfriend’s separation issues, but I think the community would be remiss in not pointing out that your boyfriend needs to get professional help to deal with his anxiety.

                What if you had written, “My boyfriend has a lump on the side of his neck that appeared a week ago and it’s getting bigger, how can he cover it at work so people stop asking about it?” Would you really expect people not to reply, “OMG, get your boyfriend to a doctor, yesterday!”?

                Secondly, the response to “Can I come on this trip and stay in my boyfriend’s room?” has been an overwhelming heck to the no…so the advice about your boyfriend getting help is relevant.

                Reply
              6. fposte

                The thing is, this is a comment section, not a magic eight ball–Alison may just give an answer, but there’s also going to be discussion, which even she sometimes joins in on, which isn’t going to limit itself to the exact question asked. And it’s a blog about management and professional life, so we’re going to take an interest in aspects of somebody’s question that relate to that.

                With that said: I understand your wish to minimize your boyfriend’s discomfort, but I think it’s better for him to learn to manage that discomfort than to avoid it, especially given that he’s in a field where going away is apparently part of the job. So I think it’s no bad thing if the manager does say no. And if the manager doesn’t officially approve, I think the best thing you can do for your boyfriend is not to go, whether he begs or not.

                Reply
              7. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)

                Your question is a personal problem. You can’t seperate the two because you don’t like the feedback you’re getting, which is 1) no 2) this is weird and 3) he needs to manage his anxiety and you need to not enable him.

                Reply
              8. Formerly Bee

                Details about the situation, like why you and he would do this, are relevant.

                I think you already have your answer about whether people here think it’s okay. (I probably wouldn’t care, but I’m nobody’s manager.)

                Reply
              9. Ezri

                No, it’s not okay for you to go without asking the boss.

                If he asks and the boss says no, it’s not okay for you to go. If he tries to bring you secretly against his bosses wishes, he risks getting fired.

                If he asks and the boss says yes, it’s okay for you to go but he risks his professional reputation, which could negatively impact his career.

                As an off-topic bit of advice, you should give more credit to the AAM posters who are telling you that your boyfriend’s behavior is unusual. AAM has a great community, and they aren’t saying these things to jump on you or your boyfriend – there’s a lot of sympathy to mental illness here, and they’re saying these things to help you understand that this behavior isn’t normal. Your situation is outside the range of typical professional problems, because there’s a personal issue that needs to be addressed – his separation anxiety.

                As for “We all know that look. Its very hard to resist.”, that isn’t really valid here. Being able to say no to a significant other is a very, very important skill, particularly when it comes to enabling them. My husband is the cutest thing on God’s green Earth to me, but I’m perfectly capable of saying no to him if I think something is a terrible idea. If your gut is against this trip (and it seems like it is), don’t go.

                Reply
              10. Karyn

                But the “personal” part is relevant to the answer to your question. We’re not attacking his problems with separation – we’re suggesting that his separation anxiety is going to be a professional problem for him, either now or later down the line.

                The answer to your question is that no, it’s generally not okay to bring a spouse or significant other on a team-building business trip. I think it would be one thing if it were a major city where you would be doing other things or seeing other people (for instance, if it were Washington DC and you wanted to go sightseeing). Even then I would think he should ask his boss if it’s okay if you pay your own way and simply share a hotel room. But the reason behind his wanting you to go is a problem, because a) even if the boss says it’s okay this time, he or she likely won’t be okay with it EVERY time, and b) if your boyfriend gives the reason that he just can’t sleep alone, he is going to look immature professionally and personally.

                I don’t mean to sound like I’m attacking you or your relationship, but it would be better if your boyfriend dealt with his separation anxiety issues before they present a problem in his work life.

                Reply
              11. Allison

                “because I love him and want him to be comfortable”

                A lot of us feel that way about our spouses and SO’s, but even so, there’s still such a thing as being overly indulgent.

                “The post was meant to see if Id be able to stay in the hotel room while hes out”

                Unless your boyfriend’s boss is lurking in the comment section, that’s not a question that can be answered here. If you really want to know if it’s okay or not, your boyfriend’s boss is the one to ask. The only thing we can weigh in on is how it’ll look to others and whether it’s generally acceptable or appropriate.

                Reply
              12. Monodon monoceros

                Regardless of the reason he wants you to go, you shouldn’t go. Anytime someone has brought their spouse to a team-building trip, meeting, or even conferences, my observation is that they definitely do not engage in the same way that they would if they were alone. Example, at the end of the day, the group is talking about dinner plans. Person with SO either sneaks away or declines. Then at dinner, the group inevitably “talks shop”, or even just jokes around with each other, making it easier to work together. Person with SO is left out of things, and even left out of inside jokes (remember when that waitress said that hilarious thing to Bob! Whoa, that was funny! Oh right, you weren’t there…)

                If you are still considering going, boyfriend really must ask the boss. And if the boss says no, then <do not, under any circumstances try to sneak along. Boss may also agree that someone who brings their SO is not going to spend as much time with the group as they normally would, and will likely be pretty pissed off if they find out you came without their prior knowledge.

                Reply
              13. Observer

                I get what you are saying. What you should take away from what people are telling you is that it’s SOOO unusual and weird seeming to people that even if your BF is not going to get called on the carpet it is absolutely definitely going to harm his standing with his employer. Worse, it could have long term repercussions for his career.

                Think about this – no matter what corporate policies are, someone will always say something if the conditions are right. And, you can be certain that if someone calls for a reference and hears “Oh, you mean the guy who snuck his GF into a company team building event?” anything they hear afterwards is not going to help, no matter how nice it is.

                Reply
              14. A Teacher

                And you are the one that brought up the anxiety as an reason why he needed you. People aren’t judging him (or you) for the fact that he has anxiety–many of the regular commenters on here know someone with or have dealt with mental illness personally of varying degrees. When the anxiety issue becomes your crutch or your reason for “why” you need something–you going on the trip with him–its a problem. No matter how you look at it from almost all of the posts I’ve read, most of us are telling you it isn’t a good idea. Professionally it just looks bad and you want him to succeed or that seems to be your hope for him so he needs to find a way to deal with a four day trip since it sounds like its a requirement for the job.

                Reply
          2. lawsuited

            Your boyfriend will need to learn to travel on his own for business. I think developing some coping strategies for his homesickness/anxiety might be a better approach than enabling it by going on the business trip with him when you sort of already know it’s not a good idea (or you wouldn’t have posted here). We’re lucky to be more connected now than ever with text, Snapchat, Facetime Skype, etc., which can help a lot, and are more socially acceptable way of missing family while on a business trip than keeping them as a stowaway in your hotel room.

            Reply
            1. Karyn

              Oh, I didn’t even think of the video chat option! If it’s that he gets homesick, then yes, this would be a great idea – a quick goodnight, face to face, can cure a lot of ills.

              Reply
            2. Sadsack

              Great ideas! Why not Skype every night when he is back in his room? Chances are he will be so busy all day that he will end up not being as lonely at night as he is tired. A few minutes talking to you may be sufficient. OP, your best bet is to ask your boyfriend to consider the chances of getting caught sneaking you in rather than just having an open conversation with his manager before the trip. Also, I realize that you didn’t ask for advice regarding your boyfriend’s anxiety, but that is what is driving his behavior, so it must be dealt with. Please consider all the advice being given here and not just the specific question you asked. It is all relative.

              Reply
            3. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

              I had to go to Asia for work last year and I have major anxiety. Skyping hubby when I woke up (which was like lunchtime for him) and between leaving the office and dinner (as he was headed for bed) was HUGELY helpful in not making me feel totally alone 8,000km from home. I would definitely recommend making a time to Skype every day, OP — hopefully it will help!

              Reply
          3. anon1234

            And no, I don’t know the look one adult gives another that gets them to comply with an immature and unprofessional request. If a partner attempted a “look” to try and get me to agree to do something so patently outside workplace norms, it would be met with my equally convincing “give me a freaking break face” or perhaps my “you must be kidding me” look. It really depends on the day…

            Reply
            1. Allison

              Some sort of puppy-eyed look, perhaps. Not that he’s intentionally trying to manipulate OP by any means, but he may honestly feel that if OP refuses to go and makes him go by himself, something she knows he’s dreading, she’s somehow abandoning him or doesn’t really love him. Not that I endorse that mindset in any way, but it’s one that exists, and can cause problems in relationships.

              Reply
          4. Kelly L.

            My ex gave me the Look when I told him he couldn’t come to a work dinner at my old job. I told him we would talk shop the whole time and that it really was work, not a party, even though there was wine. I told him nobody else’s partner would be there. He insisted it was rude for me to go without him. I acceded, because I didn’t have a backbone back then. He came to the dinner. It was awkward. And he got painfully bored halfway through because we were talking shop. Afterward, he was like “Sorry! OMG, it really was a meeting!” Sometimes, it’s just not an event for partners.

            Reply
            1. some1

              Yeah, I had a boyfriend who seemed weirded out when I was in the same situation. He asked me if my work was having a holiday party and I told him yes, but it was in the afternoon and no one brought their significant others. I didn’t give in, though.

              Reply
            2. Cheesecake

              I should go give my husband a hug, because he always refuses to go to corporate events, those that are clearly not business meeting and where SOs are more than welcome to come (read – if they don’t it will raise an eyebrow or two)

              Reply
            3. Ezri

              Ha. When I have work events and I tell my husband he’s not invited, he just says ‘Good!’. He can barely tolerate listening to boring work stuff when I’m saying it.

              Reply
            4. TL -

              That look is really cute when you want to control the remote, or go to a restaurant your spouse doesn’t like, or want them to help you put together your Ikea furniture.

              It’s not so cute, and it’s really not a cute story, when they’re asking you to majorly disrupt your life and make a huge sacrifice and/or do something that’s a little shady, like sneaking on a business trip.

              Reply
          5. Observer

            Giving in to “puppy dog eyes” is really a bad idea. Even if it’s not manipulative, it’s a bad idea. There is no way this trip with you is not going to be a real risk.

            Oh, and just because they said he would have his own, room, it doesn’t mean he will. If nothing else, booking mistakes happen. For another, unless he spoke to whoever it was the booked the rooms, after the rooms were booked, what he was told could change. Someone might look at the budget and decide that it’s too much money. Or someone could look at this and decided that separate rooms are not in the spirit of team building.

            Reply
            1. Natalie

              For that matter, every hotel I’ve ever booked charges a small fee for every additional person in the room. If the rooms are booked as singles, the hotel isn’t going to be happy to find an extra person there.

              Reply
              1. Corporate Attorney

                Huh, this is rare in the United States, in my experience (and I travel multiple times per month). Typically the charge for an extra person is only if the room is literally a single (i.e., an individual twin bed only, which is uncommon) or for extra people beyond two (often, three). If you reserve a room with a full, queen, or king bed, hotels do not typically charge you for a second person.

                Reply
                1. Kelly L.

                  This is my experience too. For pricing purposes, they assume two people, and charge extra only if you go over two.

                2. Natalie

                  Could be the price level I’m usually staying in, when I’m paying for myself – they’re not business traveler places. :)

                3. Miki

                  This brings me to my student days: 2009: 2 rooms booked with that sharing door between them, 20 people in them (going to bouldering competition in St. Louis) Best times ever.

          6. snuck

            Then the answer from you needs to be no. No. Not unless you ask your boss, and I get to say hello to him at the event.

            If he’s so immature that he thinks puppy dog eyes wins the argument why on earth is the company spending thousands of dollars on him in a team building event and going to put up with him behaving like this?

            The more I read your comments the less tolerant I am becoming. The more I read that he wants this, needs it, has talked about it a lot of times etc… the less supportive I become. The way you describe him is that he is acting like an emotionally controlling man. Whether this is true or not, it’s how you are portraying it. And if it’s true then I wouldn’t want him on my team… and if it’s not then I wouldn’t want you along to muddy the waters.

            My vote is a resounding NO DON’T GO. I believe in (most parts of) America you can sack people for any reason you choose, no real reason at all? I’d seriously reconsider his employment with me if he pulled this stunt without having the balls to talk to me about it first.

            Reply
        3. blackcat

          I’d bet good money that they are sharing hotel rooms. Whenever I went on trips with groups of coworkers with my last employer, this was the expectation.

          Reply
      8. KerryOwl

        You’re going to sit in a hotel room for four days by yourself? That sounds incredibly boring. If you go, at least DO something whilst he’s out, jeez Louise.

        Reply
        1. TL -

          Hey, maybe the OP’s idea of an ideal vacation is to sit in a hotel room for 4 days, watching TV, taking long showers/baths with unlimited hot water, reading books/surfing the internet, and knowing magic fairies will come and clean up while you’re at breakfast/lunch.

          There’s nothing wrong with that! (It’s not my cup of tea, and I hope the OP doesn’t feel the same way I do at the prospect of doing that – no way in hell – but if it is truly her idea of a good time, then go for it!)

          There is something off about sneaking away on a business trip, about not wanting to ask the boss, and about her boyfriend not being able to go on his own (and the puppy dog eyes) – at the very least, he should start developing a plan to work towards being able to do that.

          Reply
            1. snuck

              Except you can’t charge anything to the hotel room… because the boss won’t pay for it and you aren’t supposed to be there.

              So no room service. No wifi (in Australia at least). No pay TV/movies. No second key for the room.

              Reply
              1. TL -

                Most American hotels I’ve been in have free wifi and cable. (not to mention smart phones and whatever else the OP has.)

                Though, personally, I would not ever spend 4 days lying around a hotel, there are enough people around who really just want to relax by doing nothing on their vacations that I think the more appropriate question to ask is “do you want to spend 4 days doing nothing?” not “4 days doing nothing is awful!!!!”

                I think you’re coming off as really harsh in these comments and generally this corner of the universe strives for a sympathetic realist approach – we don’t sugarcoat the truth, but we try to be kind to the OP nonetheless.

                Reply
                1. snuck

                  Thanks for the comment TL. I probably am coming across too harsh… I’ll take that as fair feedback. I just feel that the OP really isn’t listening. The more I read her comments the harder it was to feel warmth towards her. I’ll leave this post I think, I feel quite strongly about it now.

              2. #1 OP

                There were 2 keys to begin with. The WiFi was free. And I didn’t need room service because my boyfriend brought me food. So he was like room service. All in all, I had a good time. And the unlimited hot showers were great! And knowing I wouldnt have to make the bed or clean dishes or vacuum was a nice change of pace for me. :)

                Reply
        2. Alternative

          That’s the impression I got from OP’s comments. Even if the boss does say it’s ok for her to go along, it’s really, really weird for someone to bring a significant other along and have them hang out alone in a hotel room the whole time. OP – would you plan to be out and about doing stuff while he’s in training? Or, does your boyfriend not want you to do that?

          Reply
      9. H

        My boyfriend sometimes travels for work and there is explicit language that says no one but him (or another company employee) can stay in the company-paid hotel room (how they’d know if someone did…). This is obviously not a universal policy but I think checking if a policy like that exists should be step one as you consider whether or not to go.

        Reply
    5. Mochafrap512

      She specifically said she would be staying In the room And they weren’t going to tell the boss. He wanted her there so he wouldn’t have to “sleep alone.”

      Reply
  5. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

    #2, exactly what Alison said, of course. As a boss, I hate being blindsided months later, thinking that one thing has been happening all along, to find out that it wasn’t happening. Even if it is because, legitimate reasons, I like being looped in.

    Personally, I pretty much never make my goals. :) If I do make my goals, it’s a terrible feeling “woah, I didn’t shoot high enough”. Because everybody around me (above and below) understands that’s the way I operate, it works out well. I like having multiple high goals and working toward progress in each of them.

    *for Myers Briggs fans out there, ENFP. Ya see the P in action there?

    Reply
    1. Cheesecake

      ENTP here :D I absolutely need goals, as specific as possible, because i am a clinical case of NP – i like to do everything possible whenever i feel like it, so a specific goals brings me back to earth :)

      Reply
      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        ha ha:

        i like to do everything possible whenever i feel like it

        Which, is what I do! You can actually make a good living operating that way, within the right structure. In my case, I have many and multi high goals and working toward them is what brings me personal satisfaction + propels us forward. I just don’t like completing them. (But I’ve structured not to complete them.)

        Reply
        1. Cheesecake

          I totally see it working for myself, however, for that i need to do a bit of ladder climbing. I am an “individual contributor” and don’t manage a team, so i have more task oriented goals. But stuff like “produce teapot report in timely manner” is a totally crappy goal for me. I try to have them higher level; i need to see strategy behind stuff, some steps in vacuum make no sense to me.

          Anyway, deep inside i know i need to get my own business, but for that i need to grow a pair (i physically am not able to, but you know what i mean)

          Reply
    2. AdAgencyChick

      I guess it depends on corporate culture — because I’ve had a few situations where I didn’t meet my goals, usually due to some external factor (for example, sometimes you can write a goal that says “learn more about white chocolate production” but the company took only dark-chocolate clients that year), and although I didn’t periodically update my boss about this, when we got together to talk about my review, he would be fine with it. Then he’d write the review to say something like, “Client requirements did not allow for AdAgencyChick to do work with white-chocolate clients this year, but she made significant progress in dark chocolate” or something like that, and it was no big deal.

      But, this was in an environment where my boss and I were in regular communication about the needs of the business and what kind of a job I was doing. So it didn’t matter so much that what was on paper had turned out to be unachievable.

      Reply
    3. So Very Anonymous

      ENFP here waving back at you! It’s goal-setting time where I am and I feel like the queen of big, overarching goals… and this year my resolution is to make lots of lists so that I can remind myself of what concrete steps I should be taking towards those goals. It’s a bit of externally-imposed J-ness, so that I can have space to be P when I want/need to be.

      Reply
    4. A Teacher

      Just retook it because my dual credit kids take the Hartman Color wheel personality test (free online–kinda fun) to be grouped into their service learning project groups and then they take MB and do a project as a group with that and compare it to their color wheel. INJF all the way here!

      Reply
  6. Tim C.

    #2,
    OP Here – Yes I agree keeping the boss in the loop would have been better. He is a bit intimidating and does not usually accept excuses. The thing about client volume is is can be very sporadic. At any time it could drop and then I could have met the goals. So I believed if I presented this to him, such excuses would be rebuffed with “just wait for a bit”. In this case client volume was sustained at a high rate. It is not something you can predict. I did appeal to other managers who control staffing for additional help but was not successful. My other problem was I was given half a year, not a full year to complete the goal. Something else I picked up in your answer: “If goals are going to be real — something that really shapes your work and defines success in your job…” I was supposed to make a presentation to my coworkers for an hour of continuing education. It is a nice perk for the staff and makes my Director look good (to the staff), but not meeting the goal will not adversely impact the Department. Upper level management will not notice if it completed or not. In the grand picture, addressing client needs and managing the software upgrade are far more important.

    Reply
    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      Okay, well I live in a world that is ruled by client volume, so I certainly understand what you are saying.

      The issue I see with what you’ve written here is that you are just guessing about what your boss, who you’d only known for a few months, might have said if you told him that you were having trouble carving time to make that presentation. That’s on you, not him.

      Also if he did say, “just wait for a bit”, how is that rebuffing you? That’s just saying, okay, we’ll let’s see if some time opens up for you to work on this.

      I think you’re best served by internalizing that you should have kept him in the loop better and telling him that. That sets the stage for him to say, “Yes, I would have liked the heads up and the option to ask you to rearrange your time so that you could complete This Goal Thing” or “Ah, yeah, it was a crazy year. You’ve generally made great choices about your use of time and I’m fine with that”. And then you’ll know how he prefers to work.

      Definitely don’t get defensive with him. That’s not going to get you anything you want.

      Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      It might work into a non-issue for you if you get your ducks in a row. I think what you have written here is good practice for what you can say to the boss. “Yes, boss, I missed my goal that I set for myself. I have learned A, B and C about goal setting and achieving a chosen goal going forward I will be doing Steps 1, 2 and 3 to ensure I get better results.”

      In short, gear up for worst case scenario responses from your boss and be ready. Then, if he comes in on a lower level regarding your missed goals, you can quickly dial back your prepared response and match his level of concern. The tricky part is you anticipate a huge deal here, so you need to actually find out how big a deal he thinks this is. Don’t go into overkill. He could decide that your goal was not that relevant and you need to set more relevant goals. Keep your mind open that you may hear almost anything and make sure you are answering what is actually being said.

      (Am chuckling. I cannot tell you how many times I went into a review thinking “oh boy, this is going to be all about X.” Then X was barely mentioned and something else that I never thought of was the hot topic.)

      Reply
    3. Kathryn

      My team had a bonkers year in 2014. Multiple months long disruptions of planned work, lots of long hours and weekends on things that were not predicted by anyone at the company or in our industry.

      I sat them down every few months and we went over and readjusted goals – if you’ve spent three months doing something that was in your goals as 5% of your job, what got dropped or will be dropped, since this was now a quarter of your job? (I just watched you work weekends for three months. It was a quarter or more of your job this year. What are we throwing off the bus?)

      In some cases it was things like presentations that would have been nice to have, or training classes that didn’t get developed. In other cases it was solid project work that our team is known for. Do I like that? No, I’d rather the team be serving its purpose in the company. But the emergency work had to be done and we were the best suited for it.

      This also meant that I was going to my higher ups and being very forthright that if they wanted my team to meet the project goals we had set out, they would have to find other people to do the emergency work. Since there wasn’t anyone else, we all get to live with less project work (less than half of what we had planned, by the end of 2014.)

      Communicate early, communicate often. It isn’t about excuses, its about giving your boss the ability to help you prioritize appropriately so their goals get met (or don’t) so they can communicate to the rest of the business.

      Reply
    4. misspiggy

      Just a quick addition – given what you say about client volume, it sounds like your goals might have been something like, ‘serve x needs of 80% of new clients’. But next year, you could go for something more along the lines of, ‘serve x needs of a minimum of 10 new clients’ – something you can meet regardless of fluctuation.

      Reply
    5. The IT Manager

      I was supposed to make a presentation to my coworkers for an hour of continuing education.

      I have to ask, though, was this supposed to be a signifigant goal because it sounds like a nice extra that does not impact your department’s primary mission at all. I would think your goals should focus there.

      And at what point did you realize you would not meet the goal? You make it sound like minimal work project, but at some point (December 1st for example) you realized that you would not be able to complete the prep work and present the presentation. At some point a week or a month before that date (depending on how much work the presentation is), you should tell your boss that if client workload does not decrease this presentation won’t be completed.

      But overall, the fact that you just didn’t do the task you set for your goal and there’s no impact and no one really cares really make it sound like a bad goal. It would be different if your goal was 6 presentations and you only did 5, you did had an impact. But your goal was one and you did zero and no one noticed makes me think this was a bad goal because it doesn’t actually reflect where you should focus your work time on.

      Reply
      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

        To add to that. While it may be obvious that one goal should be a priority over another, it does not make me happy when one of my staff eliminated a goal as “not important” and informs me after the fact. while I’m more than happy to have conversations about prioritizing, you don’t decide on your own not to worry about something and then tell me after the fact when it’s too late. The culture might be different in your office, though.

        Reply
      2. Tim C.

        Well I had my review today and I was very surprised. He did not focus on the unmet goal, but rather that I stepped up on a daily basis to use what resources I had on hand to meet all client needs and get the job done despite the circumstances. He was impressed I did it all with no complaints. His evaluation was a good point above my self evaluation. Go figure. Better lucky than good.

        Reply
  7. Once Anon a Time

    In regards to #1, is it inappropriate to have your significant other accompany you on a work-related trip if it isn’t team building?

    I have a couple of training sessions coming up in another state that I have to attend. The company is paying for my airfare and hotel, but my boyfriend purchased his own plane ticket (row behind mine since the ones next to me were not available anymore) and said he’d be willing to even get his own hotel room if it would be an issue having him stay in mine.

    I would otherwise be traveling alone for this trip, not with anyone from work. I really want him there because I feel nervous being alone. My boyfriend plans to sight see while I’m at the training sessions and then we will meet up at night. Do I have to tell my boss that he is planning on accompanying me, or can he just come along (since he’s paying all his expenses)?

    Reply
    1. The IT Manager

      I’ll repeat myself. I sounds totally appropriate since it doesn’t cost extra for a second person to stay in a hotel room (usually), companies usually have no complaints about spouse or friend staying in a hotel room. As others mentioned, the concern with LW boyfriend’s idea comes when a spouse joins what is meant to be employee-only or working events/dinners or takes up time that the employee should be spending team building or working.

      In my opinion, though, I would not mention that you really want him there because you feel nervous being alone. Telling friends fine. The umprompted sharing of this irrational fear (I’m assuming you’re not actually going to a dangerous location) may make you seem less of a capable adult prepared to handle work difficulties.

      Reply
      1. Observer

        I sounds totally appropriate since it doesn’t cost extra for a second person to stay in a hotel room (usually), companies usually have no complaints about spouse or friend staying in a hotel room.

        That’s actually often not the case. Sometimes there is an added expense, and often there are liability issues (or the employer believes there are.)

        This is different primarily because the BF is paying his own way, and Once Anon is the only one from her company going.

        Reply
    2. hermit crab

      I agree with The IT Manager. People do this all the time, especially when the destination is a great place for sight-seeing or the beach or whatever. I’d personally give my boss a heads up about it in advance (“Boyfriend is going to tag along to the training — he’s excited to have this opportunity to go to State for the first time!”) but that’s all.

      Reply
    3. Apollo Warbucks

      I can’t see how this would be a problem, there’s no extra cost involved and your boyfriend wont be intruding on a work event with co works.

      Reply
    4. Cheesecake

      I’d also talk to boss to keep him informed, without mentioning you feel nervous being alone.

      But honestly, if it is your first trip out of many to come, i’d not take the boyfriend and try to do it on my own. I also felt nervous first time, but it passed. It will be hard to get your boyfriend drop his stuff when you are going away next time. Better nip this in the bud.

      Reply
      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        Yup.

        I get it when the location is fun. I went on a last-minute business trip to Vegas once and I and everyone on my team wished I had known sooner so my bf could get a cheap flight and join me. In vegas, where he had never been. That kind of situation makes sense. But don’t use your boyfriend– or anyone– as a crutch. Part of growing is learning to do things on your own, especially business trips.

        Reply
        1. PEBCAK

          I agree, but it’s still not something I’d do in the first, say, year of a job. It isn’t that weird, but I’d wait until I had a little social capital built up before risking it.

          Reply
        2. Zillah

          But don’t use your boyfriend– or anyone– as a crutch. Part of growing is learning to do things on your own, especially business trips.

          I think that this is an excellent thing to strive toward. However, I also think that when you have a chronic illness, especially a mental illness, there may be times when you need a little help to get over a rough patch. There’s nothing innately shameful about that, and the idea that needing the support of your loved one to get through it makes you immature or not grown up is unfair and even rather callous – it’s not as though that message is going to help someone who is truly struggling. I have a well-controlled mood disorder, but I can definitely see a couple isolated points in my life where a business trip would have been really hard and having my partner would have helped me immensely.

          The issue here isn’t the OP’s boyfriend’s request, IMO. It’s the way it seems to have been presented. There doesn’t seem to be any acknowledgment that what he’s asking is a huge ask or any effort to emphasize that this will not be a regular thing, and his avoidance talking to his boss about the subject is also a huge issue.

          Reply
          1. Zillah

            Ah – this was in response to something different! My mistake. My basic point still stands, though, I think – I don’t think it’s helpful to throw around sentiments like “You’re not a proper grown up if you struggle.”

            Reply
            1. TL -

              I think most of the commentors are trying to say that travelling alone is a normal and reasonable expectation of an adult, and if you can’t do it, you should be working towards being able to do it (or if it’s not a reasonable expectation for whatever reason, you should make that clear to your bosses and ask for accommodations.)

              Everyone has parts of adulthood they struggle with, and most of the people here get that, but it’s also helpful to have an idea of what people will expect from you as an adult (which I think the boyfriend and OP are maybe struggling with.)

              Reply
              1. Zillah

                Sure – I completely agree that one should be able to travel alone, and that it’s something to work toward if you can’t. I also think that I’ve acknowledged that in both the above comment and others in this thread. However, I think that comments like “don’t use your boyfriend as a crutch” and “part of growing up is learning to do things on you own” is a little patronizing and demeaning, and I don’t see any good reason why it needs to be.

                Reply
                1. TL -

                  I think those comments are coming from the OP’s follow-up, which seem to indicate that she doesn’t really see this as that abnormal?

                  If she had written in with a question like, “my boyfriend suffers from separation anxiety and needs me to go on a trip with him,” and then followed up in the comments with, “yes, we’re working on that” (because people would be recommending therapy) and “this is part of the long-term plan, but he needs to be able to function during these days and this is how we’re managing”
                  even though it would technically be the same scenario, the comments would have been completely different. No one would be suggesting he would need to suck it up and go; everyone would be giving advice on how to best present the situation to the boss.

                  Part of growing up is learning how to do things are your own – the commentariat is pointing that out not because it’s unadult-like to seek help, but it’s unadultlike to not recognize that you need to be working towards being able to do that.

                2. A Teacher

                  I don’t take the “as a crutch” to be demeaning, From personal experience, often when you suffer from diagnosed anxiety, depression, etc… you do use certain things as crutches or comforts and its because you get so lost in your own head space and don’t have a clear perspective. Depending on the “crutch” that’s okay, but when it can potentially impede something its necessary to find a way around the crutch. I’m sure there are people that wanted to tell me to get my head out of my a– a few times when I was actively dealing with depression, some actually did. Others wanted to “fix” everything which you can’t fix it. The GF here sounds like she is trying to be supportive of her significant other but she can’t fix his problem and that’s ultimately what she, as the crutch, is doing and it could have significant ramifications for his career.

                3. Zillah

                  @ TL – I don’t think we really disagree – as I said above, while I don’t think there’s an issue with the request, I do think that the presentation of it that we got from the OP is highly concerning. While I’m sure that’s influencing the comments a lot, I just want to make sure that we distinguish between the two, because I think a lot of people aren’t.

                  @ A Teacher – I agree with you in theory, but the presentation of the phrase in the comment came across differently to me, especially when coupled with the mention of what “growing up” is. Put together, they did come across as demeaning to me.

                4. AvonLady Barksdale

                  I understand where you’re coming from, but I want to point out that I didn’t say “growing UP”– I said “growing,” and I said that for a reason. It’s not about becoming a mature adult, it’s about growing AS a mature adult. We all have to grow, and I think we all have to aim to do things outside of our comfort zones. I have anxiety issues myself, and learning to cope with certain circumstances has been a big part of my own growth.

                5. Tau

                  Coming from another angle: I could imagine someone who genuinely has anxiety so severe that they can’t travel alone, no matter how much they try to work on it. Severe mental illness happens, disability happens, these things don’t always fit neatly into what we expect an adult “should” be able to do. I have a disability that means I’m probably never going to be as independent as people expect or I’d like (although thankfully I still travel okay!), so I can sympathise with that sort of thing.

                  However. If this is the case for OP’s boyfriend, he is still not going about dealing with it in a mature way. Dealing with it in a mature way would probably look more like: he seeks out a job that doesn’t entail travel, discloses his disability to HR and his boss explaining that he can’t travel alone, perhaps gets granted the accommodation of being able to skip this team-building event. Or maybe: he has an open discussion with his boss and with OP about whether OP would be willing to and boss would allow her to come along and sight-see during the day. In any case, it does *not* look like sneaking OP into the hotel room and expecting her to twiddle her thumbs for four days and it certainly does not look like manipulating OP into agreeing to come through “puppy dog eyes”. Anxiety or no, that latter raises all sorts of red flags for me.

      2. Mochafrap512

        I wouldn’t take someone on the first trip business trip. If you’ve done many and you take someone on a trip, then that’s cool. But if it’s the first one, the boss may think you’re unable to do it on your own and is going to wonder if you’re going to have to have someone accompany you every time.
        I still think that this situation is different and she shouldn’t take him at all. They stated they weren’t going to tell the boss and she would have to stay in the room the entire time.

        Reply
    5. Meg Murry

      Don’t miss out on any networking opportunities because you are bringing your boyfriend. A big part of these trainings is the stuff that isn’t officially on the schedule, like everyone going to dinner after the training, or to the hotel bar at night for drinks.

      Its normal to feel nervous about being alone, but there is a big difference between feeling a little jittery vs feeling that you absolutely can’t do it alone. What are you worried about? Staying alone in a hotel? Use the deadbolt. Navigating a new city by yourself? Do some research and make sure you have GPS on your phone. Airport troubles? You’ll get through it like any other traveler – just give yourself plenty of extra time.

      Reply
      1. blackcat

        +1 to trying hard not to miss out on networking opportunities. My husband once came with me to a conference. We had dinner plans one (with another person who lived in the conference city–my husband came because the conference was in our college city, so we both had lots of people we wanted to see), and I had to call and say “Super important/sorta famous person has invited me to dinner with his group. I need to go. Sorry.” My husband was 100% okay with this (and his friend also got it, because he knew who super important person was). When I caught up with the for drinks later and I apologized for disappearing, this friend said “I would have ditched you too to have dinner with super important person.”
        If your boyfriend isn’t happy to be self-sufficient in that type of scenario (and not everyone is! that’s okay!), it’s best that he not go on the trip.

        Reply
      2. Monodon monoceros

        I agree with this, and would actually recommend not bringing anyone to a training or conference. So many times no one else has brought their SO and the group gets together for informal dinners or networking or whatever. Even in the training class I took this past summer, I learned quite a bit from the other attendees while we went out to dinner after class. If I had an SO with me, I probably wouldn’t have gone out to dinner with them and made those connections.

        Reply
    6. ThursdaysGeek

      I’ve often joined my spouse on business trips, sometimes doing things with another spouse during the day, sometimes even attending some of the events, occasionally keeping myself busy on my own. But NEVER without letting the boss know. Even if it doesn’t cost extra, even if it doesn’t affect his attention to the rest of the team, the boss still needs to know.

      Reply
  8. illini02

    #3 This is an unfortunate situation. What can be funny about recommendations, is that a person could really be great at the work, but being a fit with an existing team is a bit harder to determine. I mean managers aren’t always even able to do that in interviews, so a recommendation makes it even harder. I know there are some places that I wouldn’t fit into, in terms of my working style, but that doesn’t mean I would be a “bad” employee. I wouldn’t worry about it, because it happens. Going back to the common dating analogy, just because there are 2 good people, doesn’t mean that they would necessarily work as a couple. Similarly, just because you have a bunch of good employees, doesn’t mean they work well as a team. Maybe your guy just didn’t mesh well with the existing team members.

    Reply
  9. MissM

    I’m going to say that it somewhat depends on how your team functions and on your boss. This issue came up with my team recently. Our team works out of different locations. We see each other once or twice a year when we get together to do project work face-to-face. My boss very strongly wants these business trips to include “team building” so we can work well together when we are back in our own offices.

    On our last trip, one guy kept declining to eat dinner with the group. On the third day, we were walking back to the hotel and saw him out on the street with his wife. I know this caused some issues with the group -and our boss. The impression was that he just isn’t bonding well with the rest of the team.

    Reply
    1. sunny-dee

      It also depends on the culture. I was on a team that had team building meetings roughly every year (we were all in different locations). It was actually totally open for SOs to attend; you just had to tell the lead in advance so that they could include the SOs in the head-count for dinner reservations and activities. No one took him up on that — mainly because the guys wanted an excuse to try out some breweries without being under the eyes of their wives. ;) But it was still nice to have the option.

      That was kind of unique to that team, though. Other teams I’ve been on haven’t articulated that kind of policy for special events. Although, the sales guys — who travel incessantly — are strongly encouraged to take their spouses along whenever they can (as long as they pay for their own plane tickets). It keeps their morale up in a really stressful job.

      Reply
    2. Elsajeni

      I would say this is the biggest risk if the OP and her boyfriend go through with the “better to ask forgiveness than permission” approach that seems to be his plan right now. There are a lot of ways that the boss and coworkers could find out that OP’s boyfriend brought her along, and some of those ways are out of their control, no matter how careful and secretive they are — I mean, imagine the hotel’s fire alarm goes off at three in the morning. The probability of it happening might be low, but the potential consequences — that he’ll be seen as unprofessional, not making an effort to fit in, or just generally weird, plus sneaky or outright insubordinate — are serious enough that I wouldn’t want to risk it.

      Reply
  10. John

    Re: Letters of Recommendation. Here’s how they work:

    Departing employee asks for such a letter. Unless the employee has exhibited some egregiously terrible behavior, how does a manager say no? At that juncture — especially if it is the end of the road of managing the employee out — the manager wants to get through the last days without drama. So, knowing the employee is standing outside their office waiting to read it, he/she composes a generic atta boy that is written for an audience of one — the departing employee.

    I was interviewing someone for an assistant’s position and she presented me with two such letters. Trust me, they showed me nothing other than that her managers wanted to avoid confrontation with her. And I kind of took it as her being proactive to attempt to head off reference check calls (in her case, she wasn’t our top choice, anyway).

    Reply
    1. ThursdaysGeek

      Back when I was still using letters of reference, I always made it clear that 1) they could contact any of these people on the letters to talk to them in person, and 2) I was still providing the requested reference contact information. They were never meant as something to replace a reference that you called and talked to.

      Reply
      1. Lizzie

        I work in a field where letters of reference are required for 98% of applications, and this is absolutely true for me too. I think all of my current letters end with something to the effect of “Please feel free to contact me at [number] with any additional questions.”

        Reply
  11. Cheesecake

    OP #3, while i agree with AAM about you apologizing about misjudging this guy. But don’t beat yourself about it and do not get more involved; i believed he passed various rounds of interview and got accepted by a couple of people.

    Reply
  12. NinaK

    Regarding Letter # 1, I agree with the comments so far that this is not a good idea, mainly because the point of the trip is ‘team-building.’ If it were a conference or some other more anonymous/independent trip it would be fine. My experience with team-building trips – and I have several – is that a guest in the hotel would be discovered and highly frowned upon. Also, there will be lots of ‘enforced fun’ and your boyfriend will have to attend. I know you say you are both okay with the fact that you are simply there to sleep in the hotel room but I think that will get old, quickly. Please reconsider this. There are just so many ways this can go sideways.

    Reply
  13. Bend & Snap

    #3 I think you’re asking the wrong question. At this point you need to minimize the impact on yourself vs. worrying about helping him out of the hole that he dug.

    Reply
  14. Case of the Mondays

    For those that get nervous traveling, I saw an interested personal safety package on the Damsel’s in Defense website. I don’t sell the product nor am I related to the company. I heard about it and considered selling it at one point. I’m not a fan of MMM scheme’s but the products in this one stood out to me. Anyway, there is a door wedge thing that becomes an alarm, a hair spray can to hide valuables and a few other things. It might make you feel more secure to have some of the security you are used to at home (like an alarm).

    As to the OP, I think part of dealing with anxiety is taking small steps to get over it. He isn’t saying he can’t do the trip at all. He just wants her there. That could be step one. After he has survived a trip or two with her there, then he can move to step two of taking the trip solo. Especially if he was to start working through this with a therapist, I think these are fair steps. I do think he should be upfront about bringing you but try to play it off as you have other things to do in town and won’t be in the way.

    Be prepared though that rightly or wrongly, some people look askance at couples that can’t be apart for a few days. I know everyone has their own thoughts on what is moral or immoral and what couple’s should or shouldn’t do. I’ve seen this come up more with the very conservative religious and it has prompted more than a few eye rolls.

    Even when there is a very good reason, people might still be put off a little because it is out of the ordinary. My (non military) husband had to do a 6 week trip where they were staying for free on a military base. No one but them could go on base. One guy’s wife was on maternity leave. On their own dime, they flew her and the baby out too, got a family suite hotel room, and he stayed off base with wife and new baby. That led to all sorts of speculation (that was frankly no one’s business) about how they could afford that, what their priorities were, etc. Seemed like a good solution to me, balancing home responsibilities with a new baby and work responsibilities to take the trip. He is just kind of known as “that guy” now though.

    Reply
    1. Cheesecake

      I think first step to deal with anxiety or anything is acknowledgment. Sneaking SO to team building event is not acknowledgment. Making “puppy eyes” as OP wrote, while she is trying to talk to him is also not acknowledgment. It seems to me boyfriend is oblivious to how serious this is, otherwise he’d talk to the boss and explain your point about “baby steps”.

      Reply
      1. Formerly Bee

        Hm, I think that not wanting to let his manager know about this could be a sign that he knows it isn’t normal and wouldn’t go over well.

        Reply
        1. Cheesecake

          Thats for me the whole “acceptance” thing. He knows it is wrong, but he tries to find ways around it, like sneak his girlfriend in, without even thinking about what the poor thing will do there for 4 days.

          Reply
    2. Observer

      Seemed like a good solution to me, balancing home responsibilities with a new baby and work responsibilities to take the trip. He is just kind of known as “that guy” now though.

      OP, please look at this. Here you have a case where mos people would consider what the guy did reasonable – and it STILL created a negative impression. The fall out to your BF will be exponentially worse if he gets found out.

      Reply
      1. some1

        Yeah, and I think this is worth noting.

        One thing no one told me about the professional world is that when you have mis-step like this, just because you don’t “get in trouble” or no one specifically says, “Don’t do that again”, doesn’t mean that that your colleagues don’t think less of you for it.

        Reply
    3. Phyllis

      When my husband and were newly-wed’s, he had to go on a training exercise with the National guard. He wanted me to come with him; I took my two weeks and went. BIG MISTAKE!!!!!!!!!!!! First, we had to stay in a separate hotel and I had to drive him to meet up his comrades. Next, I was terrified of the traffic (much larger city than I come from and much more aggressive drivers) so I spent most of my time at the hotel, would only go places on the road hotel was on. Not to mention all the ragging he got about bringing his wife along. Luckily, the second week they were required to go on manuvers (They didn’t know this ahead of time) so I had to go home (YAY!!!) Even though it was a 12-hour trip home, it was worth it. I spent my second week of vacation doing exactly what I wanted to do, and we never did that again!!

      Reply
      1. Phyllis

        One more on the flip side; when I worked for the phone company I was sent to a training session that would not require any outside socializing. My children were small then and my husband was in double-overtime season at his job, so I asked if my mother and children could come along if I paid their expenses.

        I got the okay, so off we went. We had a great time. Mom and kids did stuff during the day while I had my meetings and day-time socializing, then we met up at night. Win-win!!

        Reply
  15. Zillah

    OP #1, I don’t want to pile on, but there are a couple things concerning me about this letter that I don’t think anyone has addressed yet.

    Aside from everything else: what exactly will you be missing by dropping everything for four days to go on the trip with your boyfriend where you’re planning to just sit in a hotel room? Do you not have work/school/other responsibilities? That’s probably the thing that I found most concerning about your letter – you don’t seem to think that anything you might be giving up by going is at all valuable, and you’re willing to just go and sit in a hotel room. That’s an issue, and it gives me pause – as does your comment that your boyfriend gave you puppy eyes when you tried to say no. Maybe I’m hypersensitive, but that sounds really manipulative to me.

    Now, I understand mental illness and anxiety, and I am very sympathetic to it. I can even understand not sleeping well without your partner, and if he’s going through a particularly bad period of anxiety, I can understand how having you there could help him get through this. I’ve certainly had isolated periods of depression where that would have been true for me.

    However, the way he’s going about this and the way you’ve presented it here is hugely problematic. He absolutely cannot, under any circumstances, just not ask his boss if it’s okay that you come along because he’s afraid of hearing no, and if his boss tells him no, he absolutely cannot just bring you along anyway. Both actions have the potential to seriously impact his standing at this job and, potentially, other jobs going forward. Mental health issues are hard, but it’s imperative that people work through them as best they can and have as little impact on their work as possible.

    If he really wants to bring you on this trip, he needs to ask his boss yesterday, and he needs to present it in a very different way than you have here (as I’m sure you know!). For example: “Hey, boss, I have something I want to run by you. My partner, OP, has been talking for awhile about how she wants to explore City-We’re-Going-To/do some hiking (if it’s in a rural area)/other plausible excuse. I understand that it’s a team building experience, so I absolutely wouldn’t be skipping out on any activities – I’m just wondering whether it would be okay for her to crash in my room at night.” If the boss says no, though, or even if the boss just doesn’t immediately say yes, your boyfriend needs to drop it.

    Reply
    1. some1

      These are good points and I’m wondering if some of the disconnect here is coming from the fact that it’s a trip for the boyfriend’s job and not her’s. She sees her boyfriend as her boyfriend only and not as an employee of his company and maybe she saw this as some kind of romantic getaway?

      Reply
  16. AdAgencyChick

    #3, I just want to say that I feel for you. I once recommended someone whom I had worked well with in the past, but then he went kind of bananas after he started working with my employer at the time. And this was someone I thought I actually did know reasonably well!

    I learned to be much more careful with whom I said I recommended and whose resume I passed on just saying, “I know this person in passing and her resume looks interesting, do with it what you will.” But like I said, I feel for you, because unfortunately this will reflect poorly on you and you should probably wait a while before recommending someone again :(

    Reply
  17. Vet Tech Gal

    For #5, is there any kind of acceptable pushback I can give as a candidate for not having letters of recommendation if they are asked for? I personally feel that having my references jump through hoops before the company I’m applying with has even indicated they are interested in me is not a good way to spend my references time.
    (There probably isn’t, but I would love to hear if anyone has had success and how you did it).

    Reply
    1. Rindle

      You might consider offering to write a first draft of the letter yourself. I used to write these letters for a former (highly placed) boss, and that’s what he required. I’d use the draft as a jumping off point and ask the boss what kind of tone he wanted. (“One of the best teapot casters I’ve ever encountered!” vs. “Produced timely teapots that met all technical requirements” kind of thing.)

      Reply
      1. Lizzie

        I’ve done the same thing for letters of reference for both academic and employment purposes (but best to ask the recommender first if it’s something he or she would like you to do).

        Reply
  18. Student

    #1 Less focused on your boyfriend and more focused on you. If you want to do this, please be aware that your boyfriend is not going to be spending most of his time with you. If you are an independent person who can come up with things to do to make this trip enjoyable for yourself while he is unavailable, then there’s probably no real harm in you going. You have to understand that you two may not get to see each other from waking up to well past dinner. He will probably be expected to eat all meals with co-workers, and they may go as a group to a bar or similar after dinner (or simply stay at dinner to talk for hours). You will not be welcome at these employee meals, and you should not expect or ask to attend.

    Do you have basic logistics worked out, like meals and transportation? Being stuck in a hotel with no car in a business suburb is very different from being on a major public transit route in a city with lots of tourist appeal.

    Reply
  19. Aknownymous

    #4 – I would say the exception would be for any resume / cover letter for a design company of any kind, particularly within graphic design. In that case, a traditional resume (one font, same size etc) would definitely count against you, because proper understanding and use of typography is an essential requirement.

    Reply
    1. Development professional

      But…….doesn’t proper use of typography dictate no more than two fonts in three sizes on a single page anyway?

      Reply
      1. Aknownymous

        It depends on the fonts and how you use them. For example Helvetica has tons of versions, maybe 80 or so? You could easily use 3 or 4 of them in a few different sizes or with different spacing (or both) with the caveat that they are used properly to emphasize / separate / prioritize. For my field (graphic design) and in my experience, a traditional-looking resume would be weeded out unless you have a truly spectacular portfolio. That said, you can certainly go wrong with multiple fonts and sizes, but your portfolio would most likely reflect that as well. The graphic design industry is ruthlessly fickle!

        Reply
        1. A Designer

          I own over 150 variations on Helvetia, but that does not mean its a good idea to pair together. Often the fonts can be two close in style to be effective when pairing and to create hierarchy.

          Reply
    2. fposte

      Is that true for the cover letter as well as the resume, though? I think the answers for the two would be different even in my academic world.

      Reply
      1. Aknownymous

        The cover letter can be simpler, but it should have design elements that tie into those of the resume, and ideally the portfolio as well. Same fonts, colors etc. So you’re presenting a cohesive design, a suite of materials that belong together visually, but are distinct on their own.

        Reply
  20. HR Recruiter

    #5 I agree letters of recommendation usually don’t hold much weight. This is stereotyping but I often find the individuals that provide letters of recommendation are given them by managers who feel guilty for having to let them go or the individual is one who tends to follow antiquated advice.
    However, in some situations and industries it may be a good idea. In those cases I would agree, send them in when you are asked for references.

    Reply
  21. Cassie

    #5: Let me start off by saying that I would love just sitting in a comfy hotel room doing nothing all day. Get me a wifi connection, some books, and I’ll bring snacks – I’d be in heaven!

    I agree with others here who say no, it would not be acceptable. How is the BF going to hide the OP for the entire time? Is the entire group traveling together (e.g. flights, taxi to hotel, etc)? What if a coworker or the boss stops by to talk – is the OP going to hide under the bed? It just would be really odd.

    Traveling by oneself can be a bit nerve-wracking (esp depending on the location) but the BF won’t really be all alone. He’s traveling with coworkers and I assume they will be together for much of the time. Also, we have cellphones and wifi and all of that. I wish that technology had existed when I was younger and attending ballet camps and stuff – I always felt really awkward talking to my mom on the landline with roommates sitting there in the room. The phone conversations were always short (plus probably cost an arm and a leg too).

    Reply
  22. A Designer

    #4 Never more than 2 fonts for the non-designer. Often the idea behind font pairing is to use one font for headings/titles and the other for body copy. Also a good tip for font pairing is to use a sans-serif font with a serif font. Or you could use one font and bold the headings/titles. Also font size of body copy should not be larger than 12, I recommend 10 point (it really depends on the font.) You do want uniformity and organization.

    Reply
  23. EvaR

    Pick a nice, easy to read font. One font is better than multiple fonts because multiple fonts can be distracting or look cluttered. You can’t go wrong with Arial, Times, Georgia, etc. Don’t use Comic Sans and generally don’t use a font that isn’t standard on most PCs unless you are in design.

    It is fine to use a larger font for contact information and headings. Two sizes larger is probably plenty. I have subheadings, so my resume uses a font 2 sizes larger and bold for headings and a bold face for headings. Any difference in font size or bolded text needs to make the resume easier to read and highlight main points. Too many headings and subheadings, fonts and all that jazz will make your resume much harder to read and organize. If you feel the need to spend a lot of time telling the reader’s eyes where to go, you might need to condense your writing to make things more succinct. Four different font sizes makes it seem like maybe the person making the resume didn’t use paragraphs and spacing well, or didn’t trust his writing to pull the eye to the main idea.

    A resume isn’t a website- you don’t need click bait, dynamic tag clouds, etc. to compete for people’s attention and keep them engaged. It’s more like a book. Most books don’t use a ton of different subheadings and tricks to draw the eye of the reader, because the point of the typography is to make you forget it exists and best showcase the content of the book, so when in doubt, simplify. I’ve never heard of someone making a safe font choice and not getting the job (assuming you aren’t in design) but if you make a font choice that draws attention to your font choice, the odds are good that this is because the person in question is bothered by your font choice, and that might cost you the job. When you’ve done it right, no one will comment on your font choice, they’ll be too busy asking about your experience.

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