making new hires sing a song at a staff meeting

A reader writes:

My husband worked at a marketing firm last summer after 18 months of unemployment and learning website design. They offered him a very low salary due to him being new to teapot design, even though he had a 15-year background in the broader field.

On his second week, the owner insisted that all new hires have to get up in front of everyone and sing a song during their weekly meeting. My husband was nervous and expressed that he would rather not participate but was forced to do so anyway. It’s no surprise that he was absolutely humiliated, as he was being laughed at while being forced to sing a full three-minute song in front of a group of young women and the owner. I told him that if it were me, I would have taken it as a sign that this job was not meant for me and I would have left. However, he spent so long being unemployed that he was fearful of losing the first opportunity he had gotten in 18 long months. How should he have handled it?

I agree that that’s awful. I’m sure the owner thought this was a fun way to haze a new hire (and it’s pretty likely that people were laughing with him, not at him), but good lord, for many of us this would turn “decent new job” into “house of horrors.”

How to handle something like this depends on how much you need the job and what other signals you’ve been getting about how happy or unhappy you’d be there. If you really need the job and/or this seems like an aberration in a company that you  otherwise could be reasonably content in, walking out over this would be overkill. Tempting, but overkill.

But if you have lots of options, don’t need the job, and/or were already seeing a bunch of other signs that this place wasn’t right for you, then the answer could be different.

For what it’s worth, it’s good to remember that no employer can “force” you to participate in this kind of thing, and if they try to, that’s actually a much worse sign than any of the rest. If you firmly say “no, thanks” and “that’s really not happening, but I’m excited to get to know more about (work topic)” and they don’t give up the pressure, that would alarm me much more than the original request itself.

{ 367 comments… read them below or add one }

            1. Snazzy Hat

              Ha! I vote for that and any of the more bizarre songs by Skinny Puppy. I can see myself genuinely scaring people if I sang “The Second Opinion” or “Dog$h!+”.

              Reply
              1. Pearl116

                Whoa, as in the Maiden song? :) Excellent choice (and I may seen what you may have done there, with that choice in this particular circumstance!)

                Reply
        1. greta garbonzo

          That’s priceless! If I ever had to sing a song in front of coworkers and I got to pick the song, I’d either go with a tune by The Carpenters, something in a foreign language, or “The Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas.

          Reply
    1. Not So NewReader

      I could go a lot of ways with this. I could sing something religious just to watch them beg me to stop. (Dedicate Amazing Grace to the management of the place?)

      Or maybe the Marine’s Hymn and watch to see who jumps to their feet. (In a restaurant that did sing-a-longs you could always tell the Marine’s family. They were on their feet in NO time. Like a wave, everyone else in the restaurant would stand up also.)

      Sometimes when I get really ticked I lose some of my inhibitions. Maybe I’d do a sing-a-long song and DEMAND that they sing with me. I would not continue until everyone joined in. I’d egg them on with “IIIIII CAAAN’T hear YOU!”

      Reply
      1. Rachel

        Camp songs! “Great green gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts” would work here. So would “Found a peanut” or “Bringing home a baby bumblebee.” : )

        Reply
        1. Hlyssande

          Camp songs would be perfect. I have two that I think my counselors wrote when I was in grade school that are ridiculously inappropriate for everything.

          Reply
    2. CrisA

      I think I’d go with the entirety of “Hole in the Bucket”. They’d regret this decision in no time (dear Liza, dear Liza).

      Reply
  1. Master Bean Counter

    If I’m forced to do this I’d be singing “My Ding-a-ling” off key and loudly. Also asking for audience participation.

    Reply
    1. Ann Furthermore

      If I could work up the nerve, my choice would be “I Touch Myself” by the DiVinyls. I would never have the cajones to actually do that though.

      A friend of mine invited a bunch of friends out to her favorite bar for her 30th birthday. They were all doing karaoke and she told a couple people to pick a song for her to sing, and that was their choice. And she got up in front of the whole bar and rocked it. Years later, I am still in awe of her ability to do that.

      Reply
      1. Marcela

        I’m sorry, Ann, but I almost piss myself laughing because of the “cajones”, because that word means “drawers” in Spanish:D

        Reply
        1. Ann Furthermore

          Ha!! Now I’m thinking of The Princess Bride. “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

          Reply
      2. Dr. Johnny Fever

        “If I could work up the nerve, my choice would be “I Touch Myself” by the DiVinyls.”

        While staring at the owner the whole time, never breaking contact.

        Reply
      3. manybellsdown

        I’ve done Bloodhound Gang’s “The Bad Touch” (You and me baby ain’t nothing but mammals …) at work karaoke. The subject matter isn’t even the hard part – it’s a really fast rap with no pauses for breath!

        Reply
        1. Sarahnova

          I’d take a line from Patrick Swayze in Ghost. “I am Henry the 8th, I am…”

          Or start “American Pie”, and manifest a clear determination to sing the WHOLE THING.

          Reply
      1. Trillian

        “Be kind to your web footed friends” … campfire song that repeats over and over, rising in pitch, until the singer runs out of pitch. 2 1/2 octaves ought to do it.

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    2. Cath in Canada

      Before I went to Japan for a conference last year, I spent some time thinking of good songs to pick if you’re forced to do karaoke but you can’t sing. This came in handy, as a group of us (no co-workers, fortunately – just my conference buddies!) did end up in a karaoke place. Think short and shouty, or spoken rather than melodic. White Stripes worked well, especially Fell in Love with a Girl (very short and shouty), and also A Boy Named Sue by Johnny Cash. OR something that everyone will know and join in with, e.g. Hey Jude. Most of it is just Nas that everyone will join in with.

      Also, make sure that everyone present has video of everyone else. Mutually assured destruction = no-one posts anything on Facebook :D

      Karaoke in Tokyo with this particular group of people on that particular night was a blast, but it is NOT becoming a habit!

      Reply
    3. Hlyssande

      I’m thinking JB Dubs’ “I hate my job” would be just about perfect, especially if I could pull off some of the dance moves (I couldn’t, but it would be awesome).

      But really, any song sung at full off-key bellow would be lovely. How about “My Heart Will Go On”?

      Reply
    4. Yetanotherjennifer

      I was at a wedding years back where each table was asked to sing a song before being able to go to the buffet. We could either choose a song or sing the one provided. I really wanted us to do “sing for your supper” by The Mamas and The Papas but no one else knew it and I didn’t want to sing it alone.

      Reply
  2. Washington

    Mouthing the words to the song without saying anything. Ignoring any and all questions about volume, what song it is, etc.

    Playing the song on another device, Andy Kauffman-Mighty Mouse style.

    All my less-than-helpful suggestions. BUT it you’re in a place that thinks this is ok, less-than-helpful responses might work.

    Reply
  3. Bartlett for President

    “while being forced to sing a full three-minute song in front of a group of young women and the owner”

    So, would it have been less humiliating if they were young dudes?

    Reply
    1. OP

      I believe for him the answer is yes. He previously worked in a male dominated industry and so more than 2 women in the workplace is new for him.

      Reply
    2. Heather

      For me personally (I’m a woman), doing anything in front of a group of men makes me infinitely more nervous than performing for a group of women. Even though I’m married, even though I have no interest in those guys, it’s still unsettling. Especially since the women were much younger than OP’s husband, I can appreciate if he already feels like an outsider in that group. Being forced to do something embarrassing in front of a group that he shares no common ground with can’t be easy.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        I think there is a tendency to think of the other gender as more critical OR more accurate in their critiquing which is even worse than random criticism.

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      2. NJ Anon

        I have no shame. I don’t care who I was singing in front of. If they are going to make me do something that dumb, they are going to pay! Guess I’ve been around the block a few thousand times. “The wheels on the bus go round and round!”

        Reply
    3. Miles

      Yes! Hearing members of your preferred sex or gender giggling when you’re in a compromising situation makes it infinitely worse. This is true even when you know they’re talking about something else and paying attention to something else, and especially so when their focus is you.

      Reply
    4. Allison

      Margaret Attwood once said that men’s biggest fear is that women will laugh at them, whereas women’s biggest fear is that men will kill them. So in this case, yeah, the gender can make a difference.

      Reply
        1. Kelly L.

          Are you suggesting that women laughing at men makes men kill women? This may not be coming across how you meant it!

          Reply
          1. TootsNYC

            well…no…let’s see. Maybe less “cause” and more “linked to” or “springing from the same cause.”

            Being laughed at or ridiculed puts you in the ultimate “negative power” position. So, do the men who will abuse or kill women do so because they are aiming at preserving or gaining power?

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          2. JessaB

            In some rare cases, yes. It’s part of the calculus of “is this safe for me,” that women have to go through. In the last year there have been a number of reports of women being attacked/killed for laughing at or turning down a man’s advances. Rare yes, but absolutely possible. It is actually happening.

            Reply
      1. Oryx

        That’s actually not the quote, it gets truncated often and neither part of the phrase originates with her. It comes from a 1998 article about violence against women:

        “…when [Atwood] asked a male friend why men feel threatened by women, he answered, “They are afraid women will laugh at them.” When she asked a group of women why they feel threatened by men, they said, “We’re afraid of being killed.”

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    5. Tomato Frog

      Yes. Same as if you were the only person of your race, much older than everyone else, or much younger — it enhances the sense of being singled out.

      Reply
  4. Gandalf the Nude

    Even as someone who would love to sing karaoke at a company party, I would absolutely not want this to be colleagues’ first impression of me. I’d probably fake getting over a cold or something, though I’d be tempted to make the boss regret it by picking something incredibly inappropriate like “You Can Be As Loud As the Hell You Want (When You’re Making Love)” or “Sweet Transvestite”.

    Reply
    1. NutellaNutterson

      There are a LOT of songs that would be inappropriate for the workplace. It seems like many people don’t really pay attention to lyrics, right up until they notice the horrified looks on others’ faces. (See: every first dance to “Every Breath You Take.”)

      Reply
      1. Arjay

        Ha, my husband put Bryan Adams’s Run to You on a mix tape for me once. “Uh, honey? You know that’s a cheating song, right?”

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        1. mander

          When my sister got married, the DJ she hired had a list of suggested songs for a first dance. It included such gems as “Band of Gold”, “Saving All My Love for You”, etc. They were almost all about cheating, being creepy and possessive, or mourning for your lost love.

          I forget what she chose in the end, but it wasn’t one of those!

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        1. ASJ

          I wasn’t there, but my cousin got married a couple of years back. Song chosen for the mother/son dance? Lonestar’s “Amazed By You”. My sister had to go to the bathroom because she was laughing so hard.

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    2. JMegan

      I’m going to sing a lovely little song called “Closer to God,” by Nine Inch Nails.

      “I’m Not Okay” by My Chemical Romance would be my other favourite choice. Anything loud and with lots of swearing…what? It’s the only song I know!

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    3. Lily in NYC

      I am laughing remembering Arrested Development when Michael sang karaoke at work with his niece and they chose “Afternoon Delight” without knowing the connotation and awkwardness ensued. It was so funny.

      Reply
      1. NotherName

        I remember that! As someone who majored in English, I find it weird when people don’t seem to pay attention to the actual words of a song…

        Reply
    4. Allison

      I’d be careful about this. The boss isn’t stupid, they’re gonna know when someone is choosing an angry or inappropriate song to rebel against the activity, and it’s actually a better way to be seen as “not a team player” with a “bad attitude” than if you found a reason not to do it at all.

      Reply
      1. Agrees with Allison

        It is an awkward attempt to see if someone is a team player. I’d be careful to. I’d sing something like “Happy Birthday” or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and keep it moving. The OP and her husband seem very angry/uncomfortable about this. The boss has no clue about this because he just meant your husband. You might be over reacting and your husband may be setting a bad precedent as to what it will be like to work with him.

        Reply
      2. The Strand

        I disagree that it is “awkward”. It is an incredibly stupid, shallow way of identifying “team spirit”. While it’s true that rebellious, rude songs set the wrong tone in most new workplaces, it’s also a crappy exercise to put a new employee through.

        You know, of course, the saying about people who are so afraid of public speaking, they would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy.

        Public speaking causes lots of anxiety; public, solo a cappella singing causes plenty more, including among people whose profession (acting or music) requires it.

        I disagree strongly that the OP and her husband are overreacting when most people need a snootful to get up in a karaoke bar (not work) with their friends (not strange new coworkers).

        Reply
        1. manybellsdown

          I am that rare person who *loves* public speaking. And singing in front of people is still terrifying. I’m not a good singer. But I am a decent mimic, so with a song I know really well, I can sometimes fake it.

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    5. Elizabeth West

      I wouldn’t either, and I’ve got four years of operatic training.

      My vote for a song would be House of the Rising Sun, if I were going to do it. Also, do you know if you sing Amazing Grace to the tune of House of the Rising Sun, it actually sounds WAY better? ;)

      It might be worth doing that just to see who would catch where the new tune comes from, LOL.

      Reply
      1. OriginalEmma

        I’m experiencing a mental-verbal version of viewing an Escher painting by imagining Amazing Grace sung to the tune of House of the Rising Sun. My brain…it can’t comprehend such a thing! I need to actually listen to this.

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      2. Lacey

        SO glad to see someone else thought of “House of the Rising Sun” as well. That’s one of my top 10, maybe top 5 favorite karaoke songs.

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      3. Sue Wilson

        Also, do you know if you sing Amazing Grace to the tune of House of the Rising Sun, it actually sounds WAY better?
        Not when gospel groups sing it.

        Reply
  5. Also out of work

    maybe not as long as your husband; but close to it.

    However, I would have walked out – on the spot – without even asking to opt out of this stupid game. I would have just decided that they were crazy and I need to work with sane people.

    I know that isn’t a helpful suggestion. but, it let’s you know it wouldn’t be crazy to quit. (At least I think I’m sane)

    P.S. AAM; for whatever it’s worth the ads (or something) are screwing with my browser again. Twice while trying to post this I’ve locked up. Also, it is so slow that it drops at least 1/5 of my typing; I’ve spent quite some time going back and adding missing letters. This doesn’t happen on other sites. I’m on a desktop PC running Windows 7 and Internet Explorer. Just FYI.

    Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I have something that will solve the typing thing, depending on what browser you’re using — you can stop Flash from automatically playing and that will fix it. Let me know if you need instructions and what browser you’re using if so.

          Reply
  6. Kate

    Ugh! I interviewed at a company that also did this. When it was mentioned at the interview, my wide-eyed panic was met with, “Oh, don’t worry. I just told a joke,” by my potential boss. I didn’t get the job, but was told juggling would also be accepted. So while this doesn’t help the OP’s husband, for future reference it MIGHT be worth offering to showcase another talent.

    Reply
    1. Lily in NYC

      Sounds like a consulting firm where my friend works – they did the same thing to her; she could choose a song or a joke. She is one of the most outgoing people I know and she was mortified by it. I think she told a joke.

      Reply
      1. TheAngryGuppy

        Oh man, I would totally suck at this. I’m pretty sure that the only jokes that I could recall under those circumstances would be dirty ones or otherwise wildly inappropriate – jokes I’ve heard but would NEVER repeat.

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      2. Annabeth

        “I was made to choose between singing a song or telling a joke amongst a group of professionals instead of doing something productive or worthwhile. … that’s it. That’s the joke.”

        (I am not a role model, though.)

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    2. sarakg

      I did once have to perform at an interview. I was given a poem/song on a piece of paper and asked to present it to the interviewers. But! This was for a job as a presenter at a science museum with a young audience and fun/energetic vibe. It was called “The Dancing Pants” and I did it as a repeat after me song, thanks to many years as a guide leader, and also a desire to make them all participate as well… I got the job but that was not my favourite part of the interview…

      Reply
      1. JessaB

        Yes but that at least was job relevant AND they gave you the thing in advance rather than cold, because probably you’d be doing somewhat prepared presentations where you’re given research and talking points.

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    3. TootsNYC

      in this case, a person would be well served by having grown up in my town. On Halloween, “Trick or Treat” was really “Trick FOR Treat”: You had to do a trick in order to get the treat.

      Usually it was a joke, but it could be a song. And I still remember one young boy who decided his trick was going to be to stand on his head. He was a riot.

      It was good practice for something like this!

      Reply
      1. Sammie

        Me too! There were certain neighbor’s who were known for withholding treats until one performed a trick.

        I cannot, however, imagine that occurring today.

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        1. TootsNYC

          It was still happening in Des Moines, where my friend lived, about 5 years ago. She was originally from somewhere else and was completely floored when she opened the door to the first group of youngsters, and they all lined up to tell their joke or sing their little song.

          (Sammie, where are you from, roughly? It’s such an unusual thing. I grew up in southern Iowa, and most people across the country have never heard of it. We also delivered May baskets to our friends, and if your friend caught you, they were supposed to kiss you.)

          Reply
          1. SaraV

            Beggar’s night….I believe they hold it on October 30th for Des Moines and the suburbs. I had no clue about it (Illinois born and raised) until I met/married my husband. Each child is expected to have a joke/riddle ready to say before they get their treat. I haven’t heard any stories of “refusal” if the kid does not do it.

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  7. Miles

    It’s not harmful enough to warrant leaving over. Yes, it’s weird, but there may be reasons for it.

    The big question here in my opinion is how this actually affected and will affect his relationships with the rest of the team. If this is a fraternity hazing style event that everyone’s gone through, it’s something you get over quickly and creates a common ground with everyone else that makes a good jumping off point to build positive relationships with coworkers. (tangentially, this is why hazing rituals are still a thing: Fraternities that don’t do it can’t keep enough members to keep going, fraternities that do it well end up creating a sense of membership in the group that makes the discomfort worth it… as long as it isn’t overdone)

    On the other hand, if this is something done just to humiliate him, a pattern will quickly become obvious, both in how management treats him, and how coworkers treat him with less respect than before. That’s the point when it’s time to start thinking about moving on.

    Reply
    1. Melissa

      I would like to respectfully disagree with you about hazing rituals and fraternities/sororities. There are plenty of groups that don’t participate in hazing activities and still keep enough members to keep going. “Creating a sense of membership” through hazing is dangerous and leads to escalation. Some people can see hazing as a way to “get revenge” for what they were put through as underclassmen and it can get scary pretty fast.

      Reply
      1. Miles

        Every fraternity still has these kinds of things. I’m not talking about the stuff that makes the news or is illegal. That would fit under the umbrella of “overdone.”

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        1. Melissa

          Every fraternity? Again, I will have to disagree.

          Even hazing that makes people mildly uncomfortable is going by the wayside. It doesn’t have to be illegal or a media nightmare to be considered hazing. There are plenty of groups (both men’s and women’s) that advertise themselves as completely hazing-free and stick to it. As Ad Astra said below, “…they decided humiliating people isn’t a good way to show someone you’re their friend…”

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          1. Miles

            They may call it an initiation now, or have some other word.

            A karaoke night where all the pledges are required to do at least one song is 100% still part of the kind of thing “hazing free” Greek Life groups do.

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            1. Ad Astra

              Don’t conflate initiation or new member education programs with hazing. I assure you, there is nothing about my sorority’s initiation ceremony that would constitute hazing. In fact, our national organization changed or removed some of the elements originally designed to be “spooky” or mildly disorienting because it determined those practices were forms of hazing — though they wouldn’t come close to meeting the average person’s definition of the term. There is nothing similar to a karaoke party or any other event that would make new members feel conspicuous or uncomfortable. (The fraternities at my school do still perform “serenades,” but see my point below about men’s an women’s organizations being held to different standards.) That’s not to say it doesn’t happen in other organizations, or that it isn’t happening at some chapter of my own organization, but it’s not nearly as common or acceptable as you’re suggesting.

              And, even if it were rampant, it wouldn’t ok. Seriously, even the military has done away with much of its hazing.

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              1. Miles

                Let me assure you I sincerely regret the wording I used. Clearly what the term means to me and what it means to others are very different, and it’s creating a lot of confusion as to my meaning.

                If I could edit my post, I would change “fraternity hazing style event” to “fraternity initiation style event” or “fraternity initiation/teambuilding style event,” and remove the tangent in parentheses, because I’m not trying to insinuate that the kind of abusive practices that make the news every once in a while are even remotely acceptable or what’s going on here.

                The meaning I was going for is “an initiation event that incorporates teambuilding activities.”

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                1. Ad Astra

                  Yeah, I got halfway through my post and wondered, “Am I nitpicking word choice?” Sorry for the derail.

                  You might be surprised what kind of seemingly harmless activities are considered hazing on college campuses (or by Greek organizations), but I agree that this situation was an attempt at “initiating” the new hire. But, of course, a positive, non-humiliating initiation would have been a far better option. Like letting him pick the music for the day, or asking him to make a presentation about himself to share.

              2. TootsNYC

                ” There is nothing similar to a karaoke party or any other event that would make new members feel conspicuous or uncomfortable. ”

                Really? This whole letter is about someone feeling conspicuous or uncomfortable because of a karaoke party.

                Reply
                1. Ad Astra

                  Sorry, what I meant was there’s no event/tradition of that kind in my sorority’s (or most other sororities’) initiation process. I agree with everyone else that being forced or even pressured into performing would make most people feel conspicuous and uncomfortable.

    2. Observer

      If this is a fraternity hazing style event that everyone’s gone through, it’s something you get over quickly and creates a common ground with everyone else that makes a good jumping off point to build positive relationships with coworkers.

      I’m sorry, but that’s utter nonsense. Humiliating people is never a good way to build camaraderie and team spirit, unless what you need is Stockholm syndrome. This is especially true in the workplace with adults who should be ready and able to work with others anyway.

      Reply
      1. Miles

        If this were done under the guise of a corporate team-building retreat, you’d have no problem with it. Singing badly is actually a pretty standard activity.

        It’s certainly not something that somehow causes psychological disorders if done once…

        Reply
        1. JMegan

          I can’t speak for Observer, but I would absolutely have a problem with it as a required workplace activity, under any guise. If people had the option of singing, and it truly was optional, then terrific. But I would 100% hate being forced to get up and sing a song in front of my colleagues, especially when I’m new and don’t know or trust them. In fact, I am so averse to public humiliation that I won’t even play Charades with my closest friends at the cottage – I literally hate this kind of activity SO MUCH.

          What’s fun for one person isn’t fun for everybody. And not everybody is comfortable laughing at themselves like this, especially in the not-so-subtle pressure situation of “Hey, your new boss is watching!”

          Reply
          1. Miles

            I don’t think it’s about fun or even laughing at yourself. It’s more of a “you embarrassed yourself in front of the group and we still accept you (because anything else would be hypocritical and result in people talking behind my back). Hopefully you’ll be more comfortable voicing your opinion in front of everyone now than you would have been otherwise.”

            Reply
        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          Whoa, no, definitely still would have a problem with it! Humiliating people and forcing them to do things that they feel compromise their dignity isn’t a team-builder; for many people, it’s an alienator.

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        3. Observer

          I most definitely WOULD have a problem with it.

          It may or may not be “standard”, but that really doesn’t make it a sensible or valuable practice.

          And while humiliating someone “once” may not cause psychological disorders, that’s an incredibly low bar for acceptability. And, “not causing disorders” does not make something useful.

          Short version: You have not provided any support whatsoever for this practice.

          Reply
          1. Miles

            If you want arguments that support this practice, read some psychology texts dealing with group dynamics, especially where they talk about group membership. That’s still a very complex subject on its own but eventually you should find some that talk about this particular sub-sub-sub-sub-subject and this technique.

            ————————-
            p.s. As far as setting bars, I was responding to your comment about Stockholm syndrome. That’s not a bar being set, it’s a rebuttal to the “appeal to extremes” logical fallacy

            Reply
            1. Observer

              I was not making an appeal to extremes. I was pointing out that while it’s true that humiliating people can be a tool to create group cohesion it is NOT a tool to create HEALTHY group cohesion, in a reasonable and healthy way.

              The effectiveness of these tactics is also really dependent on having a high level of control over people’s lives – like they live on premises.

              Reply
              1. Miles

                “unless what you need is Stockholm syndrome.” sounds pretty extreme for a karaoke event, even if some participants are being pressured into it. Sorry if that’s not what you intended.

                As for controlling people, while individuals tend to be fairly unique in a lot of ways, groups are much more predictable. Especially if the hiring staff do a good job of bringing in people with positive attitudes.

                Reply
                1. Miles

                  Forgot a sentence. I meant to say:

                  “As for controlling people, while individuals tend to be fairly unique in a lot of ways, groups are much more predictable. Micromanaging anyone’s life here is unnecessary. Especially if the hiring staff do a good job of bringing in people with positive attitudes.

        4. Callie

          I’m a musician, and I sing, and I would hate this. “Singing badly” is NOT an enjoyable activity for me, nor is listening to other people sing badly. And if I sang well, when everyone else is singing badly on purpose, I look like a show off.

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      2. LQ

        Yeah, my thought was that the same sort of thing happens has been shown to happen in prisons, but…I hope we aren’t aspiring to that.

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    3. eplawyer

      I’m sorry but when did “hazing” become acceptable in a professional workplace? It’s not even allowed in Frats/Sororities anymore. Why would we allow it the workplace. Humilitating the new hire is not actually a great way to great good workplace relationships.

      Reply
      1. wanderlust

        I believe in the NFL they make the rookies stand and sing their college fight song when camp starts. Not that the NFL should be held up as a paragon of workplace excellence.

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        1. eplawyer

          I said professional. And a lot of the rookie hazing is going away too. Mostly the making the rookies pay expensive dinner tabs. Baby steps.

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          1. Elizabeth

            That has basically been toned down to “bring the donuts & sit on the floor in team meetings, and never speak unless asked a question.” And yet there are still some rookies who screw it up.

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      2. Jennifer

        We allow it because people depend on paychecks so they can live?

        Seriously, if this happened to me after 18 months of unemployment I’d by god turn myself into Pavarotti if I had to, though.

        Reply
    4. Ad Astra

      Sororities have largely eliminated the kind of hazing you talk about, because they decided humiliating people isn’t a good way to show someone you’re their friend (though I’m sure the horrendous PR of certain extreme incidents was a motivator, too). I truly don’t understand why fraternities have largely continued these practices — especially since every national fraternity has officially banned stuff like that. Humiliating your friends or coworkers can instill a certain bond in the same sort of way that beating your children can instill obedience — besides being unethical and cruel, it leads to some very unhappy friends/coworkers/children.

      Greek Life takes a lot of (sometimes deserved, but often unfair) heat for hazing. It’s weird to me that it’s taken so lightly when it happens in the marching band or the student newspaper or in “professional” environments.

      Reply
      1. College Career Counselor

        “I truly don’t understand why fraternities have largely continued these practices — especially since every national fraternity has officially banned stuff like that.”

        Because putting 19 year old guys in charge of 18 year olds, WITH ALCOHOL AROUND, has forever been (and remains) a stupid idea.

        Reply
        1. AMT

          I think you misread. Ad Astra was saying that s/he doesn’t understand why hazing has continued, not why it’s been banned by some fraternities.

          Reply
          1. Ad Astra

            Right. I can agree that putting 19-year-olds in charge of 18-year-olds is part of how this keeps happening: there’s less oversight at the individual chapter level, and your exec board (made up primarily of juniors and seniors) is cool with hazing, it’s unlikely anyone will report it to an advisor or someone else who could put a stop to it. There are also too many alumni who still think hazing is just part of being in a fraternity.

            But, by and large, that’s not how it works in sororities — which are also organizations that put 19-year-olds in charge of 18-year-olds. On the books, men’s and women’s organizations have similar hazing policies. In practice, men’s organizations are held to a ridiculously low standard of behavior. I’m honestly not sure if it’s because of how their national orgs function, a product of our cultural expectations for college men, or some shortcoming of Student Life departments on college campuses.

            Reply
      2. Miles

        Remember there’s a difference between public humiliation and having it happen privately among people who’ve gone through the same thing.

        Besides, it’s karaoke for crying out loud. There’s no conceivable way that it can cause any lasting damage to someone’s health or reputation.

        Reply
          1. Miles

            I believe i was thinking of a different comment when I replied there. I’m kind of running damage control for a disastrous word choice when I said “hazing.” It seems like several people are landing on that word and it’s causing confusion.

            The meaning I was going for was the “initation + teambuilding + long-term icebreaker” combo that hazing was supposed to be, and not the “lasting damage” events that they are remembering from the news and associating with my comment.

            Reply
            1. Oryx

              I don’t think people are confused, it’s just that “hazing” has a very specific meaning separate from initiation.

              Reply
            2. Observer

              The problem is that making people do things that humiliate them, whether it’s formally “hazing” or not, does NOT create a healthy sense of team and camaraderie. Especially when people laugh.

              Reply
              1. Charity

                Agreed. Especially since it is a solitary activity. If they were all singing together, it might build camaraderie better. I still wouldn’t do this in a work setting, but it would at least make it less isolating.

                The coercion is probably the worst part of it though. Pretty much any activity, no matter how pleasurable it can be, can be made into an awful chore when someone bullies you into doing it.

                Reply
        1. mander

          I think I’d feel forever embarrassed by it, personally. I still cringe at a memory of a karaoke event some 20 years ago, and I don’t even speak to any of those people anymore.

          Reply
      3. AMT

        The a capella groups on my campus were known for their crazy initiation rituals that bordered on hazing and usually involved a lot of alcohol. The one I joined was the dorky madrigal group whose “hazing” consisted of everyone sitting around on someone’s dorm floor drinking wine and playing word games. Much less scary.

        Reply
      4. Kelly L.

        In part, because there is a subset of people who believe that if they suffered, everyone else should suffer, rather than believing that if they suffered, maybe that was wrong, they shouldn’t have had to suffer, and nobody else should either. I think, for some people, if the suffering is recognized as wrong, then they feel like it was for naught. Making others suffer, however, makes it feel like their own pain had a purpose. When I realized this, it made a lot of things make sense in the world.

        Reply
        1. Florida

          This is so true. I hope that when this company hires a new employee, OP’s husband suggests that it might be time to get rid of the singing initiation. He might get overruled, but I hope he at least tries to get rid of it.

          Reply
        2. Carrington Barr

          Essentially the attitude of my former director and manager.

          Crappy aspect of the job? No way are we going to change it — we had to go through it, so you have to as well.

          Reply
      1. Miles

        Having a common and highly emotional experience heads off morale issues caused by an incoherent company culture.

        It may not be a good experience, but it’s memorable, and if everyone has gone through the same thing, there’s no shame in it.

        Reply
          1. Anna

            Initiation rituals/bonding experiences are pretty common in all sorts of settings. Miles isn’t talking to the kinds of activities that have lead to serious injuries, deaths, or arrests, but almost every organization has some sort of ritual that new people participate in.

            Reply
            1. Observer

              Initiation rituals are common, but HUMILIATING ones are not all that common. And they really don’t work all that well. To the extent that you get cohesive teams, it is DESPITE this kind of thing, not because of them.

              Reply
            2. Windchime

              Yeah, you should see the crazy initiation activities we put our new hires through. They include attending orientation, computer training where you learn how to use the time clock system. Then when they come to our area, we take them on a tour of the building so they can find the restrooms, break room, and their mail slot. It’s rigorous and tough, but most new employees make it through just fine.

              Seriously, though, embarrassing a new employee by making them sing in front of everyone is awful. People might be bonding over it, but I can tell you that the new employee isn’t part of the bonding. It’s only the bullies who are hazing the new employee who are bonding.

              Reply
        1. Elsajeni

          Wait, the “reasonable reason” you’re suggesting is “Our culture is such a mess that the only way to prevent morale issues is for everyone to experience public embarrassment”? No! If you have a company culture that’s such a mess it causes morale issues, fix that, don’t try to compensate for it by creating an alternate source of morale issues.

          Reply
          1. Bwmn

            My guess would be that another way of phrasing this would be to equate it to basic training in the military. Basic training both serves to bond a group of recruits joining at once, but then it’s also a common experience that military personnel can relate to with one another. Sports teams often have various particularly difficult conditioning training that serve a similar purpose (once you run to the top of blah blah hill you’re on the team!).

            I think that bringing up fraternities and hazing brings an immediate “ack, always bad!!” response – and it’s not like basic training or sports team participation is exactly everyone’s cup of tea. Which is why such an activity can be so problematic in a workforce. But I think the idea doesn’t necessarily have to be seen as negatively as “bonding through humiliation” but rather “bonding through shared experience”.

            Reply
            1. YawningDodo

              I can see your point, but the other aspect to consider is that the grueling conditioning training for a sports team actually serves a purpose: conditioning. It’s something everyone goes through because they need to get up to a certain level of performance, and it’s something in which the team members participate as a team. The singing thing is something where the newbie is singled out and made to feel awkward and alone in front of their new peers, and it serves no purpose in getting them ready to do the job.

              “Bonding through shared experience” is a totally different thing from hazing for the sake of hazing. At my workplace we have a major annual event during which it’s all hands on deck and everyone pretty much spends a week doing nothing but working and sleeping. It’s long, difficult work, and the words “trial by fire” are often used to describe a new staff member’s first time through it. It’s an experience we share and yes, going through something difficult together brings us closer to one another. The difference is that we’re going through it *together,* and it serves a purpose beyond generating shared misery. We don’t put new staff members through their trial by fire because we want them to prove that they’re willing to embarrass themselves; we put them through it because we need everyone pulling together to accomplish our mission. That’s what a real shared experience is.

              Reply
              1. JMegan

                Agreed. And also, sports teams and military training are explicitly opt-in – it’s reasonable to assume that everyone who signs up does so of their own volition, and also that they are fully aware of the culture before they get there. In fact, not only do they want to be there, but in most cases they have dedicated years of their lives to getting there. They literally want nothing more than to be part of that particular group, and they expect and understand the initiation rituals that are involved.

                There’s also an element of “taking them down a notch,” which I don’t love, but don’t think is unreasonable in cases like this. People who have spent their entire lives preparing for something like this are often the biggest fish in their pond, and it actually is important to let them know that that is no longer the case now that they’ve made it to the big leagues. For twenty or more years, they have been the best basketball player (or whatever) that they know, and have probably gotten a lot of praise and recognition for it. Then all of a sudden they’re in a situation where they are no longer the big fish, and they are surrounded by people who have ALSO dedicated their lives to this activity, and were ALSO the biggest fishes in their ponds. So the initiation rituals serve as a bit of a reminder that they are now the smallest fish in a much bigger pond.

                None of that is true, or necessary, when you’re taking an office job in teapot design. They are not usually the biggest fish in their ponds before they come in, and the ponds they’re coming into are often more diverse than a sports team, with lots of different sized fish in different areas. And they’re not usually expecting initiation rituals of any kind, so the combination of the surprise plus the power imbalance means they’re not really able to refuse (and hence, they’re not really consenting to the activity.)

                Reply
            2. The Strand

              Yes, YawningDodo is right. Basic training is also about social conditioning, and not just “bonding” over a not-fun experience. You have a lot of young guys and girls full of piss and vinegar who need a tough experience to help them start thinking as teammates.
              A late friend of mine was a drill instructor in the Vietnam-era Marine Corps; he didn’t yell at people just to break them, it was because he wanted them to come home from SE Asia. He also taught people how to work together through obstacles and “missions”.
              According to my husband, there was yelling, no one physically hazed him, and his group helped each other through obstacles.

              Reply
        2. Observer

          You know what that comes down to? “Our culture makes no sense, and we can’t hire people who know how to behave with others, so we’ll get people to get along by uniting them against their idiot bosses.” Somewhat how Dilbert and Co “get along” when faced with their PHB.

          Reply
          1. Not So NewReader

            It takes real management skill to build a cohesive team. I would assume that the person driving these song fests is short in one or more management skills.

            People bonded together by fear/anger/ upset only form a temporary bond to get through the crisis of the moment. If the boss wants the employees to be in crisis mode all the time, this is a great start. The next problem is that employees who are worried about what will happen next are therefore preoccupied and not giving their best to the work at hand. Mistakes happen, work flows bottleneck, deadlines get missed, outcomes are inferior and so on. And management can’t figure out why. Anyone who has worked in such a place can attest to the fact that this is what happens next.

            Just because a boss thinks it’s fun to humiliate me, does not mean I am having fun.

            Reply
        3. LQ

          So, this is a cheap and dirty short cut to actually creating positive morale through good shared experiences? I mean sure, it might “work” but beating children also “worked” in this way. I don’t think that means it was good.

          Reply
    5. Bwmn

      I think that a lot of places of employment that don’t have initiation/hazing rituals are still inclined to revert to language of “now you’re a real team member”. Where I am now there is being yelled at by one of the senior directors (notoriously difficult to work with and very likely at some point you’d end up on the nasty end of a rant) or having a snarky/passive aggressive experience from one of our partners (and often both). While none of this is an official ritual, it’s still tied to an unpleasant experience and often connects with larger office bonding. At one place where I used to work, the “now you’ve really arrived” statement was applied to crying in the office after being yelled at by the ED.

      I’m not condoning shouty/mean/humiliating work environments that have semi-regular open crying, but the reality is that a form of bonding does happen over those kinds of shared negative experiences. Is forcing that by public singing the way? Maybe not, but I can see where the logic comes from.

      Reply
      1. Observer

        Sure, there is a kind of bonding. But it’s a very toxic kind of bonding – and it’s often no more than surface deep. And people will throw you under the bus in a heartbeat.

        Reply
        1. Bwmn

          I disagree with that. In both my previous place of employment (that was very problematic) and where I am now (which I think is far more standard) – those negative bonding moments do not equate to throwing people under the bus.

          A major professional skill where we are includes “dealing with difficult people and not taking it personally” – so having that super snarky or passive aggressive experience from our partner, it’s not great – but it’s not a sign of our office being toxic. It’s a reality that in our line of work, we deal with a wide variety of challenging people and groups.

          I agree that bonding over negativity can end up in a toxic place, but I hardly see that as uniform.

          Reply
    6. Student

      I have belonged to many different social groups, some of them long-lasting social clubs.

      None of them involved hazing in any regard, or rituals of any name intended to embarrass people or be some “right of passage”. Hazing is not a normal part of being in a social group for most people. I am very sad that you’ve led a life such that you think it is normal to try to purposely embarrass your “friends” to “bond”.

      I’ve always walked away from anyone who wanted to pressure me into doing something I was uncomfortable with simply to entertain them or “prove myself” or some other nebulous excuse. I’ve never regretted it.

      Reply
    7. MashaKasha

      Nope. A job is not a frat. You can say no to joining a frat (like my son did) and go through life having never joined a frat, and nothing bad will come out of it. But you have to have a job. You don’t have to join a frat to put food on your family’s table, but you have to have a job for that. Let’s not bring optional rituals into a mandatory setting.

      Here’s a novel idea, how about creating a common ground with everyone and building a positive relationships with coworkers by… wait for it… getting work-related things done together? This has worked for me for my entire career. And it helps the company stay profitable, win-win!

      Reply
  8. Kyrielle

    I think it would be hilarious to sing a certain Rick Astley song, but I wouldn’t do it, either.

    That’s a really horrible way to treat someone, honestly.

    Reply
    1. Kyrielle

      Hmmm. It’s a Small World After All would be another good one. :D

      Or maybe “Let It Go” from Frozen, but really, I kind of want an earworm that’s either humorous or painful here, and that one isn’t guaranteed to be either.

      Reply
      1. Kyrielle

        …or, if you don’t mind being That Guy, then perhaps Seanan McGuire’s “The Black Death”. Because perky pop songs that include the phrase “internalized necrosis” are pretty rare, it’s kind of an awesome song, and it’s correspondingly really hard to get out of your head. :)

        Reply
        1. I'm a Little Teapot

          My go-to filk would be “Banned from Argo.” I know I made several suggestions above, but I’m also imagining myself reverting to childhood and singing “Great big gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts” or “Miss Susie had a Steamboat.”

          Reply
  9. Hush42

    There was a math related movie a few years ago (I think it was called Proof) where there was a band that play a song called i where they just stood there quietly for 3 minutes (because i is imaginary). I think I would probably sing that if I were ever put in a situation like this. Or ReliantK has a song called Crayons Can Melt on Us for all I Care which is 10 seconds long and goes “I just wasted 10 seconds of your life” which I might choose.

    Reply
    1. A Non E. Mouse

      It would be a really, really tough choice for me between two songs: “Mississippi Squirrel Revival” or “Poisoning Pigeons In The Park”.

      I would be mortified, but at least I’d be laughing WITH them while I was mortified.

      Reply
      1. Transit Whisperer

        I was at a work meeting where latecomers were forced to sing a song. One person went with the Tom Lehrer option.

        Reply
      2. SusanIvanova

        When I was in 6th grade – 1976, Lubbock, Texas – the teachers were having us bring in lyrics to our favorite songs, read them, and the teachers would analyze them. Well, I had a friend who picked Hotel California, and you can just imagine how well that went over in 1976 Texas – the teacher’s reaction was along the lines of “that’s a bad thing and you should feel bad”.

        I hadn’t gone yet, so whatever I’d originally picked (Fleetwood Mac, most likely) got dropped for the completely harmless “Tennessee Bird Walk”.

        Reply
      3. ThursdaysGeek

        I could sing “I hold your hand in mine”!

        “…my joy would be complete, dear, if you were only here. But still I keep your hand as a lovely souvenir.”

        Reply
          1. ThursdaysGeek

            Both of which were played at my wedding (music only!) I think our pianist also played “The Old Dope Peddler” and “When You are Old and Grey” – the ones with pretty music that doesn’t match the words. :)

            Reply
  10. Melissa

    Someone at my company (not my supervisors) tried to tell me that “new hires have to bring treats on Fridays” (until, presumably, the next new person started). Thankfully, one of my bosses told me to ignore it and it hasn’t been mentioned since.

    Reply
    1. TootsNYC

      I goofed once, early on, with something like that.

      We hired (well, *I* hired; I was her boss, officially) a new person, roughly our age (“us” being 3 or 4 people who were friendly in the office).
      We had a thing of sending one of us. Once a week or so, to buy Pepperidge Farm Mint Milanos at the newsstand in the lobby, and someone suggested we make her be the one to get them, in her first week, as a “making you one of us” kind of initiation. I gave her the money and said, “This is your initiation as a new person in our area; you have to go get the cookies for us all this week.”

      She objected pretty strongly and refused to do it, pointing out that it was really unfair.
      I remember being a little puzzled, because it wasn’t that hard, it wasn’t humiliating, she was being invited to eat the cookies with us (and I was paying for them), and it *felt* to us like a welcoming joke, or teasing.

      But I took her at her word and apologized, and took back the money and got the cookies myself.

      However…we never again suggested she join us in eating the cookies in any subsequent weeks.

      And eventually, we dropped a lot of that social sort of stuff, because it wasn’t as much fun when 1 out of 4 people isn’t participating.

      Reply
      1. Liana

        Hmm. I’m really torn on this! On one hand, you’re completely right – what you asked her to do was lighthearted, not humiliating, and included cookies, so it doesn’t sound like it should have been a big deal. It’s certainly much better than forced singing. On the other hand, I think I would have been a little put off by it too, although I’m having a hard time articulating why. I think if I was the new hire, I’d go along with it for the sake of appearing agreeable, but I’d feel awkward about it.

        Reply
        1. Oryx

          I’d be weirded out by it, too, but I think it’s because it would be every day for that week. Doing it once? Fine, whatever. But something about being sent down to the lobby to fetch cookies for my new co-workers every day of my first week feels a little…. subservient.

          Reply
          1. Not So NewReader

            Yeah, combined with never eating the cookies with them, I bet that new hire took quite a while to acclimate to her new job.

            Reply
          2. Random Citizen

            I understood it as “cookies for us all” – as in, for all four of the coworkers for that week (she said they only got the cookies once a week or so).

            Reply
          3. TootsNYC

            No, it wasn’t every day. It was, “Today’s Thursday, let’s get Mint Milanos!” We only did it once a week, and not every week. And it wasn’t her first day, at all; it was just the first day we’d decided to have cookies.

            I explained the context when I was giving her the “assignment.”

            Reply
        2. Beti

          “I’m having a hard time articulating why”

          I’ve mellowed a great deal since my women’s study days back in college but I really really don’t like the idea of women delivering food in a professional office setting. I’d probably have done it but not liked it at all. And I’d be keeping my eyes open for how I was treated in the future. And whether new men were asked to perform the same task.

          Reply
          1. TootsNYC

            Well, 3 of the 4 people were women (me, her, another woman, and a guy).

            So it wasn’t really gendered. The person who usually went and got the cookies was the guy, but the rest of it did it almost as frequently.

            Reply
      2. Miles

        The reason she was upset by this, I suspect, is because by having her get the cookies for you, you’re implicitly pushing her into a lesser position in the group. The comment about her being new also drives it home as a “you’re only here to bring us cool kids coffee” kind of inclusion. I’m sure there was a rotation & it was fine, but since this was her first time joining you she couldn’t have known that, and being in a new environment has a way of making you sensitive to this kind of thing. I think if she’d had the opportunity to see others bringing the cookies before being asked to do so herself, she might have been more comfortable with it.

        Reply
        1. TootsNYC

          That may have been it. I don’t remember now exactly what she said, but this could have been part of it.

          Even though I was sort of puzzled, I took her at her word that I was out of line. I couldn’t persuade myself that SHE was wrong. I remember thinking that she took it in a way it wasn’t intended (though yes, it WAS intended as a “we outrank you, you’re the newbie”), or at least to a degree it wasn’t intended. But that there was some logic behind her objection that I couldn’t argue with.

          I did explain the context: “We usually get cookies, you can be in the club, but you have to run the errand the first week.” And I think part of her objection was, “Maybe I don’t want to BE in your cookie club!” And that’s probably part of why we didn’t bother her with cookies.

          I don’t think she had a horrible time acclimating to her job. I know that other than not pushing the cookie thing, I didn’t really think about it often. She had other actions that sort of pushed people away a little bit, and I try to honor those signals when I get them, so that may have been part of it as well, not just this one incident.

          Reply
          1. TootsNYC

            and, I explicity said, “You only have to do it the first week.”

            But yes, it was a lower-status thing. (all initiation things are, by definition)

            Reply
      3. Student

        It’s not the specifics, it’s the power dynamic you’re setting up. The reason she objected is because you were pressuring her to be your coffee-fetch underling, which is demeaning.

        It’s different for the rest of you. The rest of you decided to trade off getting cookies as a mutually-agreed-upon friendly activity. Presumably, any of you could’ve stopped participating when you wanted to, and it’s likely that you never ordered each other to go to the cookie stand.

        When you as her boss told her to do this, it’s different from asking a friend for something similar. When she has no context for your social gathering, it sounds like a boss telling a new hire to got fetch coffee from the corner store. If you really wanted to include her, it would’ve been compassionate to just invite her to share cookies the first time or two, and then asked her if she’d be willing to take a turn fetching cookies once she got steady on her feet. That establishes her more as a welcomed underling, rather than emphasizing that she’s on the bottom of the pecking order by directing her to do this the very first time she joins you and before she’s figured out your social norms.

        That, and perhaps she’s not interested in cookies. It’s a rather awkward demand for a new hire to navigate if she doesn’t want or can’t eat cookies, isn’t it? Maybe she doesn’t want to explain her gluten-free diet, or her diabetes, or admit that she just hates the boss’s favorite cookie.

        Reply
  11. Chriama

    I don’t know if the comment about pay indicates a general dissatisfaction with the job or employer or was just background information, but I think if he’s overall unhappy with having to take a pay cut it might have made this hazing more upsetting. Either way I don’t think this was meant to be personal, but it might just be he doesn’t fit in with this culture.

    Reply
    1. OP

      I mentioned the pay being lower to kind of summarize the position and like you said, the dissatisfaction with the whole situation and how this company chose to treat the employees.

      Reply
      1. Miles

        Speaking of lower pay, my advice to him (for what it’s worth) is to make sure he starts putting out feelers for better work within the next year or sooner. Since he negotiated the position from a place of desperation I can almost guarantee he got less than he should have.

        That said, right now is not the time to think about that, but to impress the new employer.

        Reply
  12. Liana

    I absolutely would have walked out over this. I hate singing. I hate singing, I hate karaoke, I hate any type of artistic performing (where I’m the one performing, not all art performances in general). I’m not even a particularly shy person, but I AM a particularly terrible singer and this would have been so, so uncomfortable for me. I think Alison’s advice is good though. If this happens to anyone else, god forbid, try firmly but pleasantly refusing and see what they do with that.

    Reply
      1. AMT

        Agreed. I will jump at the chance to sing at a bar with friends, but in a conference room with people I just met. My GOD does that sound awkward.

        Reply
  13. Allison

    Does your husband work for Buddy the Elf?

    There are people out there who think that singing is a fun activity that everyone enjoys, and making people sing in front of people is just a fun, silly activity to help people get more comfortable in front of each other. They don’t realize how many people get legit stage fright, or hate singing, or like it but are self-conscious about their voices and would rather save it for the car and shower, and someone needs to give them some real talk about how this activity is so NOT fun for some people.

    Reply
    1. OP

      Luckily, he no longer works at this place and his current job requires zero singing :)

      I believe owners/managers/whoever is in charge of businesses should stop doing these kinds of activities.

      Reply
      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Very glad to hear that he found something else. I would have run, not walked, away from this place as soon as I could. And I used to perform professionally! But we had months of rehearsal time, and, you know, a stage and an audience who paid for a concert. Not a bunch of people jeering at us!

        Come to think of it, if I had to do this, I probably would do just the bass part of Mozart’s missa brevis, as I still remember it from decades ago!

        Reply
    1. Myrin

      What would they do if he just refused to? Like, just didn’t to the thing, no matter how much they insisted? Move his jaw with their fingers and use him as some kind of ventriloquy puppet?

      (Not trying to criticise your husband in any way, btw. I’m just a very big fan of Not Doing The Thing if it isn’t of absolute vital importance.)

      Reply
      1. fposte

        Yeah, I actually wouldn’t be that bothered by singing for three minutes but I would be really bothered by being strong-armed, and I’m kind of thixotropic–the more you force me, the more I resist :-).

        Reply
        1. Myrin

          Yeah, I’m a pretty bad singer but I enjoy singing some stuff, don’t get stage fright, and have no problem with doing embarrassing things. I feel like my biggest problem in such a situation would be to actually think of a song because I’m terrible at thinking of things on the spot! It’s the principle of the whole thing that gets me!

          Reply
        2. Liana

          I’ve never heard of the word “thixotropic” – I LOVE it. My family always just refers to me as a contrarian, which doesn’t sound quite so eloquent.

          Reply
        3. Not So NewReader

          Okay, now I understand that flashlight that someone gave me, you had to shake it to make it light up. I kept hoping it would work better and surprisingly all that hope did not fix it.

          fposte, wouldn’t you be anti-thixotropic- since you stiffen up? I would presume though that not too many people strong arm you, though. In a battle of wits with you a lot of people just won’t have the fire-power.

          Reply
      2. Observer

        From the letter, it sounds like he felt like it was a “Do it or you are fired.” That’s hard to resist under any circumstance, but especially when you are coming off a LOOOONG jobless stretch.

        Reply
        1. Myrin

          That’s what I thought but I wonder if they’d actually do that if it came down to it or if they just bank on people’s fear.

          Reply
          1. Anna

            Even so, it can still create the dynamic of “do it or be That Guy” and especially if you’re new, that can be just as threatening. The problem might not be specifically with asking new hires to present something to the team; the problem is that it HAS to be a singing a song with no choice.

            Reply
        2. Charity

          Definitely, and it could also be “do it or develop a bad reputation here”. It can be hard to start burning political capital in a workplace on your first day or first week; even if it’s totally justified on your part it still requires a lot of steel and that can be hard to marshal when you’re coming off a long (LOOOONG) jobless stretch and you’re caught off guard by something like this.

          Reply
    2. The Butcher of Luverne

      And when it’s the LAST thing you’d expect to hear at the office, and everyone is staring at you, it’s pretty tough to harness your thoughts enough to insist that you won’t do it.

      Reply
  14. Lily in NYC

    I am a total ham and would love this. BUT! I still think it’s a terrible thing for a workplace to do. It’s so unfair to introverts and to non-introverts who just don’t want to do it. We have new employees answer benign questions at our division meetings – things like: what’s your favorite food; what’s your favorite NYC neighborhood. It goes over pretty well.

    Reply
      1. Lily in NYC

        I am mad at myself for writing that when I meant “shy”. I’m a gregarious introvert and should have known better.

        Reply
  15. LizB

    I would pick the shortest song I know. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star might be a good choice. Or the birthday song that goes “This is your birthday song, it isn’t very long! Woo!” and that’s the whole thing. I sing in two choirs and have been in community musical theater productions; I have a decent voice and no fear of performing. This is just a weird thing to ask for at work, and a completely ridiculous thing to insist on.

    Reply
    1. Xarcady

      “This is the song that doesn’t end,” might also be a good choice.

      My brain tends to freeze up in this sort of situation. While reading the OP, all I could think of was “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” I’d make everyone join in on the hand movements, to make it a real team bonding exercise. (Or get revenge, whichever way you’d like to think of it.)

      Reply
  16. PennyT

    If this is in Atlanta (or nearby suburbs) I worked for the same company, and it was horrible doing that! Very curious to know where you are OP.

    Reply
  17. The Optimizer

    I have a horrible, HORRIBLE voice and the only other being that has heard me use it in the past 10 years is my dog. Even he gives me side eye when he’s subjected to it!

    There would be NO WAY I would sing in front of people I worked with for any reason.

    Reply
  18. ginger ale for all

    There is a movie scene in Austenland where the character played by Keri Russell was asked to play the piano and sing to entertain everyone in the drawing room. The premise of the movie was that everyone there paid a lot of money to go to a historical house and pretend that they are all living in Jane Austen’s time. Keri Russell’s character couldn’t get out of it and played Nelly’s “Hot in Here”. I think she was promptly banished to the attic. I think you can find it on you tube. There was a coda at the end of the movie where they all got into the song.

    Reply
    1. Owl

      It’s based on a book by the same title by Shannon Hale. Haven’t read the book, but Hale is *awesome* and I’ve read most of her stuff.

      Reply
  19. Ad Astra

    I fear this is marketing’s “fun place to work” culture gone horribly awry. Whoever thought of it is probably the type of person who would ham it up and have a great time showing his karaoke skills to his new coworkers, and this person is somehow completely unaware that most people — even most extroverts, I think — would rather eat glass. (Literally, I would have to carefully consider the health risks of eating glass in order to avoid singing in front of a bunch of my coworkers.)

    At my first weekly meeting, they put me on the spot — if you can even call it that — by showing a (non-embarrassing) photo of me in their slideshow and then asked me what my favorite movie was. And the HR rep warned me about the movie question, so I even had an answer ready to go.

    Reply
  20. Bekx

    For what it’s worth on the pay thing, game design and web design are very different. They don’t share programming languages (except for really rare circumstances).

    Maybe I’m being sensitive…but as a web designer who gets irritated when people think all I do is ‘play around in wordpress’ or that I ‘learned code from myspace’, I wanted to point out that just because he knows C++ doesn’t mean he knows HTML/CSS.

    I’m sure you were referring more to the fact that he has 15 years of experience in a professional environment, and not trying to insinuate that game programming skills should translate to higher pay in web, but I just wanted to make that point. They’re similar, but different.

    Reply
    1. Kyrielle

      They definitely are. I have a lot of C/C++ time…I do have some HTML and CSS…totally different beast. And the user interface design considerations in something where you wholly control the presentation are different, and IMO simpler, than they are in web design, where you’re not only having to try to make it work for arbitrary users but arbitrary browsers and their quirks and adjustments of whatever you are doing.

      Reply
    2. Observer

      Well, there is one key issue of commonality – and actual DESIGN. So while the purely technical issues won’t translate well (or at all), many of the design issues that affect one, affect the other. How much overlap depends on what kinds of games and what kind of web design, but at minimum, there are significant overlaps. So, while I would never say that 15 years in one translates into 15 years in the other (in either direction) it is worth something.

      Reply
  21. Whippers

    I think it’s particularly bad to do this to somoone who has just started. It probably wouldn’t bother me that much at my current workplace as I’ve been there a while. But to have to do this in front of people you don’t know and are trying to build a professional relationship with? Really terrible.

    Reply
  22. Camellia

    I grew up with this song and have no idea where it came from, but it is easily sung for 3 minutes (I think that was what the OP said they had to do). And it would have the added benefits of making them nuts! Here are the lyrics; does anyone else know it?

    The old lady was chasing that boy ’round the room,
    She was chasin’ that boy ’round the room.
    And while she was chasin’ that boy ’round the room,
    She was chasin’ that boy ’round the room.

    Reply
    1. Chinook

      I have another one that I don’t know where I learned that would work:

      I am slowly going crazy
      1-2-3-4-5-6-Switch
      Crazy going slowly am I
      6-5-4-3-2-1-Switch
      (Repeat until it becomes true)

      Reply
  23. Jenn5686

    Sounds like something the previous President of my company would do! He was notorious for figuring out ways to humiliate people. We have these monthly incentive lunches that top performers are invited to and I will never forget the time when he was randomly picking people from the table to give them a random topic that they had to speak about for 1 minute straight while everyone laughed. Of course all the topics were nothing you would want to speak about for a minute and all the people he would choose were the ones who he knew would feel the most uncomfortable doing it. Needless to say I took an extremely long bathroom break that day. Oh he also used to randomly rip pocket squares off of male employees’ shirts. He is no longer the President of the company. I am sure you are not surprised!

    Anyways, regarding the singing thing, maybe this is the owner’s warped way of trying to make the new employees feel like “we’re all in this together!”? Start together, work together, embarrass ourselves singing together, laugh together, cry together.

    If I was truly uncomfortable with it (like if I knew it would cause me a panic or anxiety attack) I would just pull the owner aside to let him know that and make it clear that I will not be singing. Any reasonable human being would understand and if he didn’t then I would start my job search again immediately. Obviously doing this might cause the rest of the new employees to resent you, since you got out of it and they didn’t, but perhaps it could go the other way and they will respect you more for speaking your mind! Maybe you can cause a mass rebellion and the singing performance will be done away with for good! ;)

    If it wasn’t that big of a deal to me though then I would just suck it up and sing.

    Reply
    1. Artemesia

      I can imagine asking teams to make up songs and sing them and there is protection in a team — might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is a way to create inclusiveness and fun rather than humiliating individuals.

      Reply
    2. Charity

      I think it’s interesting that they focus on humiliating their top performers. It seems counterproductive to me; I guess the theory is that top performers are more invested in the job and in the company and less likely to balk?

      Reply
  24. Vulcan social worker

    I’m fine with public speaking, but public singing? I’d freeze and forget every single song I know, including “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” I’d be stuck with, “My bolonga has a first name, it’s O-S-C-A-R…”

    Reply
      1. Vulcan social worker

        Haha – I came back to see if there were any more responses, and noticed my typo. It’s great when the song spells out B-O-L-O-G-N-A. But I also should know enough Italian that I could have gotten the city right, even if the lunch meat didn’t have a song.

        Reply
    1. Jenna

      I would probably be stuck singing, “row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream”
      I’m horrible at recalling lyrics at the most relaxed of times, and then if I am put on the spot like that my mind tends to blank.

      Reply
  25. TootsNYC

    I get that these sorts of things are stupid, and that people loathe them.

    But when you are stuck in some stupid thing like this, the least-damaging pathway is to just go all-in. Hold your nose, and jump. All the way.

    You look worse if you fight it, and you also look bad if you do it half-heartedly. Just GO!!!

    Even if you’re awful, people will respond to your emotional subtext, and if that subtext is, “I’m w/ you guys,” they’ll respond positively. If your subtext is, “I really hate this,” they’ll respond to that.

    It’s sort of like using a friendly tone of voice for calls when you’re on receptionist duty. It’s not the Real You; it’s a performance.

    Reply
    1. LQ

      This is absolutely something I’d go all in on to not have to deal with the ramifications of not and then go home and immediately start looking for a new job. (Well maybe the next day, after that day I’d need to drink all the wine and go to bed immediately. Maybe wine in bed.)

      Reply
    2. manybellsdown

      Over-the-top comedic would be my go-to. Like “Itsy Bitsy Spider” in a heavy-metal growl, or the worst off-key yodel-y rendition of “My Heart Will Go On” until they beg me to stop – a song which I don’t even know all the words to, so there’d be a lot of “blah blah something” in there.

      Reply
  26. TootsNYC

    Also–my kid wants to pursue game design (he starts college in the fall), and this post is scaring me on his behalf!

    Reply
    1. Prismatic Professional

      I have a significant number of friends in the game design industry. This is not normal, all of them would run if a company tried this with them. Reassure yourself.

      Reply
      1. TootsNYC

        No, I’m totally OK with someone making him sing in front of a group–it would probably be good for him. I’m kind of heartless that way.

        It’s the 18 months of unemployment that was worrying me.

        Reply
  27. sam

    I usually avoid singing in front of groups by prefacing any coerced singing with a very entertaining (and somewhat humiliating) story to everyone about the time in the fourth grade, when we were putting on a class play, and I was supposed to sing a song.

    And my teacher, who was actually my favorite teacher ever (just to note that she was not mean or cruel, unlike some other teachers I’ve had), after hearing me rehearse several times, decided that it would be the time to teach me the beauty of spoken word poetry, rather than subject the school/parental audience to my “singing” voice.

    99% of the time, this very true story is enough to get me out of any further singing. If it doesn’t, 3 actual notes of singing does the trick. I am completely, 100% tone deaf.

    Reply
    1. sam

      oh, and I’ve been to a few work-related events that have involved sort of mild “hazing” rituals for new employees, but they were always social events – new employee dinners, etc., and it was generally a group thing – my old law firm would have a “summer” and “fall” welcome dinner for summer associates and new fall associates (and then a spring event for laterals, who only got intro’d), and the new folks would have to (a) introduce themselves to everyone and (b) participate in a very mild “thing” in front of everyone, but the way it generally worked was that they all got questionnaires to fill out beforehand asking things like favorite foods, tv shows, etc. and then, for example, the six people who listed Project Runway as their favorite TV show had 30 minutes to use basic law firm office supplies, as a group, to make a really terrible outfit.

      Reply
  28. ElCee

    I’m a musician, and regularly perform in front of people I don’t know, and I would have trouble with this. I don’t want my coworkers to know what my singing voice sounds like unless they are putting cash in a tip bucket or paying a cover for the privilege ;)

    Reply
    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      Heh– I’m a singer (not professionally, though I have been paid!) and I would probably say I couldn’t risk ruining my instrument.

      Eh, who am I kidding? I would bust out something really operatic and skilled (or a favorite song in “opera style”). It would ensure that no one would ever invite me to company karaoke.

      Reply
        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          Occasionally I like to annoy my boyfriend (also a choral singer) by singing, “Manda liet! Manda liet!” in a really pinched, nasal tone. I also do it every time we hear Mandalit del Barco report a story on NPR.

          Those are two really, really nerdy sentences.

          Reply
  29. JTD

    In those circumstances, I tell people I’m banned from singing under the Geneva Convention. Most of them get it.

    For those that don’t (I can hold certain tunes, but if I try to project my voice, everyone looks for the strangled cat), I have a range of songs depending on how the pressure is put on me.

    But the Geneva Convention joke usually works.

    Reply
    1. Snazzy Hat

      (After a hallucination ends…)
      Leela: “Uh, were you all singing just now?”
      Bender: “No, I was telling you not to worry. I’m not allowed to sing. Court Order.”

      Reply
  30. Omne

    “Michael Rennie was ill the Day the Earth Stood Still…”
    or
    “It’s astounding, time is fleeting….”

    Either one or the other. ( I don’t have a lot of songs memorized ).

    Reply
    1. Beti

      Freaking brilliant!

      Jesus. What ever happened to just walking into the office, meeting your co-workers and then just getting to work? All this TEAM! FUN! MORALE! is completely ridiculous to me. I’m an adult and a professional. I’m not going to punch anyone out but I’m not there to find new BFFs and play stupid games. I just want to get on with things.

      Reply
      1. MashaKasha

        Seriously! Can we agree that we’re all just there for the pay and the benefits, so that we can spend them on the people in our lives who we DO want to have fun and play games with.

        Reply
  31. Gwen

    Totally would have picked the hey song. You know the one played at hockey games. Or the karaoke standard…I will survive

    Reply
  32. Libretta

    So – what would you do if you say no, and then the group starts chanting and shouting at you to do it?? In my case it was a position I was very interested in and excited about, and it was at a company party (read: booze!) about 2 weeks after I arrived. All new employees were supposed to come up one at a time and do a shot poured into your mouth by the guy leading the show (not management, just a loud guy). So they got to me and I declined politely, so they skipped me, which was a relief. But everyone else did it, so they came back to me at the end. I declined again, and people started shouting, then as I dug my heels in and refused, they started chanting ‘do it, do it, do it!’ It was getting really uncomfortable and even scary (one new guy leaned over to tell me he would protect me if anyone touched me), when someone offered to do the shot for me. This was enough – the guy went up and did it and it was over – but what would you do? I had just made a several-year commitment to these people and I was still really interested in the project, and I felt I had worked hard to get there.

    I talked to management and they said that was not how things were to be done, and said they would reprimand the people involved, but they never did. I ended up leaving with no plan two years later – on the one hand I wish I had walked out immediately and saved 2 years of grief, but I would have wondered forever if that was the right decision.

    Reply
    1. Not So NewReader

      If it’s alcohol, I would tell them that if I drank that, it would be a medical emergency and the company would be on the hook for my hospital bill and possible lawsuit.

      Or I could just turn around and walk out. In as much as I think it is important not to preach to other adults about drinking/food/etc, I also think that other adults need to reciprocate, by not shoving alcohol, food, whatever down my throat.

      In fairness, I will say I try to scope out a place before I put an application in, because these types of situations are the very thing I fear. I brought my husband to a company party one time. I said he would not be drinking, but I did not explain. They said they were going to spike his drink. I said, “Congrats, you just unnecessarily sent a diabetic to the hospital in crisis. I will send you the bill. If he dies or has permanent damage, I will introduce you to my lawyer.” That was the end of that.

      Reply
      1. Libretta

        FWIW I do drink, and I was drinking that night, though not heavily. I just don’t participate in hazing, of myself or of anyone else.

        Reply
    2. LQ

      I’ve definitely found myself with an incredibly urgent need to go to the bathroom sometimes. (Heck just during “sharing” kinds of icebreakers.)

      Reply
  33. Kathryn T.

    Oh goodness I had this happen once, at a startup, more than fifteen years ago. Heavily male-dominated environment, new young female employee, and at the first all-hands I attended (there were about 80 people there) the CEO introduced me and said “And now, Kathryn, we ask all our new hires to treat us to a song. Take it away!” and then he stepped back with a smirk on his face.

    Well, I knew something that he didn’t know, and that is that I am a trained professional singer with loads of performance experience. So I smiled sweetly, took a breath, and sang “When You Wish Upon a Star,” which is what I usually sing when someone says “Oooh, you’re a singer? Sing something!” When I was done, everyone was really quiet and then burst into applause, and the CEO came forward sort of shamefacedly and said “Uh, thank you. Thank you, Kathryn, that was really great” and then hurriedly moved on to new business.

    I found out later that traditionally, the new hire’s performance was an opportunity for an impromptu “roast” about how awful they were, you know, “all in good fun” (in other words not at all fun for anybody). Apparently it had never occurred to them that they might get someone who could actually sing. I think I was the last person whom they laid that particular burden upon. Honestly, it should have been a bigger red flag for me than it was, that company had a lot of toxic culture.

    Reply
    1. junipergreen

      A company I used to work for also did this at staff meetings. It was a rapidly growing company that retained this tradition from their start-up days. New hires were *usually* introduced in groups, so the solo factor was often removed, but not always. There WAS an opt-out: It was either “Sing to us” or “We’ll sing to you” – if the newbie/s chose the latter option the whole staff would sing a well-known song re-written with lyrics about the company. Once or twice we’d have a new hire who was professionally trained… the one that sang an aria was quite a hit!

      For my start date, I was with a group but I don’t even remember if we elected to sing… I think I blocked it out!

      Reply
  34. Maggie

    I can’t sing and have used the “Geneva Convention” excuse mentioned above myself.

    But if I had to sing I’d be torn between (assuming the words would be available) “I wanna be like you” from The Jungle, getting others to join in on the chorus while singing in the direction of the boss, or “Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West)”, as it can be spoken in a sing-songy way and is a bit risque.

    From “Ernie”:

    Now Ernie had a rival
    An evil looking man
    Called Two Ton Ted from Teddington
    And he drove the baker’s van
    He tempted her with his treacle tarts
    And his tasty wholemeal bread
    And when she saw the size
    Of his hot meat pies
    It very near turned her head
    She nearly swooned at his macaroon
    And he said now if you treat me right
    You’ll have hot rolls every morning
    And crumpets every night
    He knew once she’d sampled his layer cake
    He’d have his wicked way
    And all Ernie had to offer
    Was a pint of milk a day

    Reply
  35. Vicki

    This big problem I see here is that, even though an employer really cannot “force” you to do anything, the power imbalance is so large that it feels that way. And this is why the OP’s husband felt humiliated. He didn’t want to and yet, felt that he could not refuse.

    Years ago (now) at one job I worked, some people hired a — what shall we call this … a prankster? — to come into the office for a co-worker friend’s 30th birthday. All in “fun” of course. Not a professional idea at all.

    She wasn’t a stripper; it wasn’t that awful. But it was a woman who handed my friend (a non-beer-drinker, mind) a can of cheap beer and then she sang, claiming she’d just “hold this note” until he drank the beer.

    He was embarrassed. I was embarrassed. I’m sure others were embarrassed. My friend popped the top and drank some beer and looked… queasy.

    And my respect for the co-workers who “hired” the prankster vanished in an instant.

    Reply
  36. Also Out of Work

    This is at a JOB; not a volunteering gig.

    If this kind of “hazing” happened at something someone volunteered to join; then, yea, I’d be okay with it. I could easily decide that this wasn’t my thing and leave.

    If it were work related; for example at a help desk, the newbie had to take their first call from “customer-from-hell” as an initiation; Sort of a trial-by-fire to show what the toughest part of the job is. I’d be okay with it
    .
    But, this isn’t either of those. It isn’t about “team-building” (Except in the manager’s head only). The only actual team-building that might happen is this might make everyone feel that there is a common enemy – the boss!
    It would be interesting to hear about a follow up on this to see what the company turn-over rate is.

    Like I say, I’m with the OP’s husband in being out of work for a long time; but, even I wouldn’t stay for this. How many people do stay because they are desperate for a paycheck; but, leave as soon as they find something else.

    Reply
  37. F.

    I would have said, “No.” and stuck to it. No excuses, just, “No.” Nor would I laugh at the person who had to sing. This manager is someone who 1) enjoys the power trip of humiliating others; 2) is sadistic enough to force others to participate in humiliating people; and 3) preys upon people who are so desperate for a job that they will do anything to keep it. The culture is only going to get worse from there. Get out as soon as you can. Your boss is an a$$hole.

    Reply
  38. SH

    I’m in my first real professional job and these types of posts make me fear for my future. The only embarrassing thing my company makes employees do is wear “funny” hats during networking events they host because it reflects the CEO’s quirky personality. If I had to sing or play spots (referencing a recent post) I would quit on the spot and deal with the consequences later.

    Reply
  39. The Strand

    I still hate this, but I have an idea for this misguided manager!

    To help new people bond with the group, give them a little challenge, and then have a tradition for everyone that you would pull out of your hat occasionally, you would have the new person sing or HUM one round of “Frere Jacques”. (The manager has to teach it if they don’t know it.) Then the whole group can sing a few rounds of “Frere Jacques” *together*.

    If it worked for Captain Picard with a bunch of scared children, I’m sure it would work for a crappy startup.

    Reply
  40. TotesMaGoats

    Once for a team building thing we had to come up with a chant, video, song or something like that to talk about why our part of Teapots Inc was so awesome. No one actually had to sing but my group did. Thankfully they were all into it. We changed the words to Mickey Mouse Club and one guy played the guitar. It was actually pretty awesome. Another group did a video where they changed the words to YMCA. We should’ve won because of our live performance. Anyway, my point being that I’ve seen where something like this can work and not be humiliating. Because it what you actually did was decided among the group and voluntary.

    We do think that one great way to get to know people was to have them pick the song that was their “entrance music”. You know in baseball when the new batter is stepping up to the plate they play 15 seconds of some particular song. No singing required.

    Reply
  41. atspake13

    I once worked for a division where all new people had to get up and tell everyone (around 200+ people) during the monthly dept. meeting their most embarrassing moment. Not only was it horrifying for me to get in front of a bunch of people in general, but to also tell them an embarrassing moment about myself when I didn’t know most of them in the first place was awful. And required by the Vice President of the division so there was no chance to refuse. All it did for me was make me think A LOT less of the department and of that VP!

    Reply
  42. Lacey

    On Derby Day in 2012, my department had an outside party during lunch, and knowing full well how much I love karaoke, my direct manager arranged for a karaoke machine to be brought, and then IMd me to tell me so.

    I went out there at lunch and did I Will Survive from memory in front of 20+ of my co-workers (many of whom weren’t listening, but some were), including several members of management. It was glorious.

    Afterward, some person I’d never seen before brought me candy and cookies. Another co-worker heard that the machine was for announcements and that I walked up, commandeered it, and started singing, and asked me whether that was true. I admitted that it wasn’t, but told her that if she wanted to tell others that it had, that was fine with me.

    I live for the day that someone just asks me to sing something in front of a group like that. Please do.

    (No, I’m not a great singer. At all. But I enjoy it, and it shows.)

    Reply
  43. Lacey

    I’ve been thinking about this, which songs I would choose, and I think I have some additional candidates, depending on my mood/whether I could remember the lyrics:

    Don’t Stop Believing (seriously, easiest karaoke song there is and everyone knows it)
    (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
    Dani California
    Milkshake
    My Life
    My Cherie Amour
    Overjoyed
    House of the Rising Sun, as another commenter suggested
    If I Ain’t Got You
    ‘T’Ain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do
    Ladies Who Lunch
    Not Getting Married Today (might have to use my inhaler for this one beforehand)
    “Maude” theme song, because why not
    Know You Now
    People Are Strange
    Don’t Stop (another easy, fun karaoke song that many know)
    She Works Hard For the Money
    Until You Come Back to Me
    Rolling in the Deep (couldn’t come anywhere close to pulling it off, but it would be fun, and if I have to do it, I might as well do it all the way.)

    Really, list goes on and on. So many choices!

    That said, I do of course realize it would quite literally be a nightmare for the vast majority of people, and it really is an inadvisable practice that I’m relieved isn’t more common.

    Reply
  44. Kelly

    This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue singing it forever just because…This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue singing it forever just because…This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue singing it forever just because…This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue singing it forever just because…This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue singing it forever just because…This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue singing it forever just because…This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue singing it forever just because…This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue singing it forever just because…This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue singing it forever just because…

    I bet they would be begging me to stop … and still complaining three days later! I would fricken sing this EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. on my way past everyone and to my desk, from my desk to the bathroom… I would sing this until they all puked. lol

    Reply
  45. mander

    I absolutely hate this concept, but I might choose something from Weebls Stuff. The annoying song, or badgers, or chutney, or hats falling out of jars.

    Reply

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