my boss is livid that I don’t have experience I never claimed to have, employee always barges into my office, and more

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

1. My boss is livid that I don’t have experience I never claimed to have

I recently applied for a job that asked for experience in X, Y and Z. I have tons of experience in X and Y, but not much in Z. However, the job sounded interesting and the company would be great to work for, so I applied anyway. My cover letter and resume highlighted my experience and X and Y, and I really didn’t address Z at all. To my surprise and delight, I was brought in for an interview. The interviewer asked a lot about X and Y and nothing about Z. I must have done well in the interview because I was offered the job. Great, right? Well, no.

Turns out my new boss is livid I don’t have experience in Z. Livid to the point that I think I’m going to be fired. But, in my opinion it’s still workable: I’ve offered to go training and I’ve suggested adjusting workloads with colleagues so that they could do more of Z and I could do more of X and Y until I get up to speed. I don’t think it’s a deal breaker, but he’s the boss, I guess.

He’s pretty upset that I don’t have all the skills he’s looking for – and I get that if he had a vision for how his team would function, then this is not ideal – but he’s even suggesting that I shouldn’t have applied for a role that I wasn’t fully qualified for.

Now, I get that if I can’t do the job (even though I think there are ways around it), then he’ll have to fire me. But, did I actually do anything wrong in applying? I didn’t misrepresent myself, and HR never asked about this skill – so what do you think? Should I have passed from the beginning on throwing my hat into the competition?

What?! No, absolutely not. Your boss is the one who messed up here, by mismanaging his hiring process. If not having experience in Z was a deal-breaker, then he damn well needed to be sure to probe into Z during the interview process.

People apply for jobs all the time without having 100% of the qualifications in the ad. That’s completely and totally normal. You did nothing wrong. I suppose I could argue that it was in your best interest to ask about Z during the interview, to make sure that you felt it was a job you could thrive in … but that pales in comparison to your boss’s responsibility to find out if you had the skills and experience he needed before offering you the job.

2. My coworkers are always trying to feed me and I have an eating disorder

I recently started a new position (this is the end of my third week), and am incredibly uncomfortable with the office culture. It is a huge facility with 350 employees and I am the receptionist, so everyone knows me but I don’t know them. I have struggled with an eating disorder my whole life, and am currently in a bad place.

My performance is excellent, and I am complimented very often by owners and administration. However, my weight has noticeably plummeted in these three weeks alone (20-25 pounds). Everyone is always reminding me there is lunch (they provide lunch daily), bringing me treats, and then following up on if I enjoyed the food they brought me. I am not comfortable discussing food or eating in front of others.

I do not know how to handle this. I do not want to be rude and often lie about eating, but even the act of stating I enjoyed eating something (even if it’s a lie) is very embarrassing and uncomfortable for me. I am getting very anxious daily when this happens. I cannot directly tell these people my situation, because 1. I don’t want to and 2. There are SO MANY of them! How can I even begin to handle this without causing offense OR sharing my personal information?

Ugh, I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. First and foremost, I do not have expertise in eating disorders, and I think you really, really need a professional helping here. I’m hoping you have a therapist since the eating disorder is ongoing, and this would be excellent thing to discuss with her, because ultimately we live in a world where people are pushy about food and you’ll want to have strategies for handling that. If you don’t currently have a therapist, please take this as the nudge to get one! That kind of weight loss in three weeks is a big deal.

From a workplace relationships angle, you could try shutting some of this down with “Thank you, but I try not to talk about food at work” or “it’s kind of you to check, but I’d rather not talk about food.” Or you could say, “I have a medical condition that impacts what I can eat, so I’d actually be grateful if you didn’t bring me food or check in on my eating — thanks for understanding.”

But again, a therapist who specializes in eating disorders is going to be key in getting you through this. Call, call, call today.

3. Employee always barges straight into my office

I recently hired a new employee, who is performing well but can be a bit pushy. Every time she has a question for me, she walks at a brisk pace through the hallway, straight into my office and to the corner of my desk (where my screen can clearly be seen), without pausing.

I feel like this is a bit of an invasion of my personal space as well as privacy, especially since my desk is situated so the side of it faces the door and someone approaching can quickly see my monitor. Moreover, I tend to get very focused so it is just a bit jarring.

Everyone else here is in the habit of pausing each other’s doorway and speaking from there before entering, or knocking on the open door before entering.

I am leaving this employer next month, so I know I could just ignore this for a bit and it will go away, but I want to hone my managerial skills as well as coach my direct report properly and not leave a problem for the next person. Is the best thing to do to just politely request that she pause at the door before entering my office due to privacy concerns on my screen, on the spot, next time it happens? Or would it really be better to just forget about it since I’m leaving so soon? Or, am I just being too sensitive?

Nope, you’re not being too sensitive at all. It’s a completely reasonable expectation to share with her. (You’re only being too sensitive if you’re frustrated that she’s doing it when you haven’t yet asked her not to.)

I’d say this: “Even when I have my door open, would you mind knocking before coming all the way in? I’m sometimes working on sensitive documents or otherwise focusing on something where it would be better not to break my focus at that exact moment. Thank you.”

4. How do I handle being on a city council on my resume?

I’m on a small nonpartisan city council and I’m wondering how I should handle it on my resume. It’s a very part-time job. I currently have it listed under a Community Involvement section and I emphasize the position in my cover letter if I feel like it’s relevant to the job I’m applying for.

While some managers seem impressed by it, I’m not sure if it might hurt me with other companies. I wouldn’t want to leave it off because a simple Google search would turn it up and I wouldn’t want to get hired at a company where having this position would cause problems.

I’d include it, in exactly what you’ve been doing. It’ll be a plus for most employers, but it might present worries about conflict of interests for others. But as you say, if it’s going to cause problems, you want to know that before you’re hired rather than afterwards.

5. Do I negotiate salary with the hiring manager or HR?

I’ve just been offered an permanent position at a company I’ve been doing some contracting work for. I know and have worked with the hiring manager for the permanent position, though she wasn’t my main point of contact as a contractor. The hiring manager told me in person that I would be getting an offer, but didn’t name any details (including salary). HR called to extend the offer officially, and I’m supposed to give them my response (I asked for a day to think everything over). I’d like to negotiate the pay–but should I do that with HR or the hiring manager?

It depends on the company. If I were you, I’d call the hiring manager with one or two other questions about the position/offer and then include salary in there at the same time. If you don’t actually have any questions for the hiring manager aside from this, I’d still start with her — she’ll tell you if you need to talk to HR instead.

{ 251 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Green

    #2: I’m sorry you’re going through that. A lot of people have a tendency to “mother” other people at work, so I’m sure the majority of this comes from a caring place, but it’s still uncomfortable and potentially harmful.

    If you’re OK saying this, the last one will probably shut down the comments most effectively (“I have a medical condition that impacts what I can eat, so I’d actually be grateful if you didn’t bring me food or check in on my eating — thanks for understanding.”). Some particularly obtuse people will ask what the medical condition is, and you can just say “Oh, I don’t really want to discuss it.” For some reason, people are much more likely to take a medical condition more seriously than a preference.

    Reply
    1. A Non

      To be fair, an eating disorder is a medical condition. But yes, they’re likely to take it more seriously if you let them think you’re dealing with illness not based in the brain.

      Reply
      1. Mando Diao

        I’m reluctant to give her ways to conceal her disorder. One of the quirks of eating disorders is that you can look at books and blogs for “how to tell if my daughter/son/partner has an eating disorder” and pick up even more tips for how to keep other people from catching on. She doesn’t have to be 100% honest with her coworkers, but the typical “none of your business” language is verboten in eating disorder treatment.

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        1. Sami

          I will say that I know nothing about the treatment for eating disorders, but it really isn’t her coworkers’ business. I’m sure it’s coming from a place of caring, but I can definitely see why she doesn’t want to talk about it.
          And I echo Alison’s plea to see your therapist ASAP. Good luck!

          Reply
        2. Katherine

          I actually do think that it is 100% ok for her to conceal her disorder in the workplace. Going to work is what allows her to buy food she is comfortable with eating, therapy, medicine, or whatever else she needs to get to a better place with her eating. Plus, work offers routine, self esteem, and a host of other things which help people get better that you may not appreciate if you have never had to question whether a condition will keep you from working. And I can guarantee you that if people at work find out she has an eating disorder it will be harder for her to keep her job because ableism. I feel like we are not in a place to judge how she chooses to hold it together nor did she ask for advice on this. I get that you have personal experience with eating disorders, but she still didn’t ask.

          Reply
          1. Mando Diao

            I absolutely have experience with eating disorders. This is an instance where workplace advice 100% counteracts the medical and psychological help that will save OP’s life. She does not have to tell her coworkers the details (she can stop at, “I have a medical condition that I don’t want to discuss”), but she cannot get into the habit of lying (saying she has eaten lunch when she really hasn’t, inventing food allergies and related illnesses that she does not have, making up reasons to avoid food-centric events like parties and communal meals) and actively concealing her illness. We cannot tell her that it is okay to do that or she may get sicker and eventually die. We cannot enable the disordered behavior. Honestly, writing to a workplace blog is basically asking for permission and support in continuing to act in damaging ways. This isn’t a knock against the OP, who I feel for and relate to. This is simply how eating disorders work, coming from someone who has been there.

            Alison, I’m not going to ask you to remove this email from the post, but I guess I’ll ask you to keep an eye on how many commenters suggest that OP should lie about eating when she hasn’t, that she should distract people away from noticing that she isn’t eating, or that she can get comfortable with lies about food. I don’t want to be telling her that it’s okay to do any of these things when her life is at risk.

            Reply
            1. Amtelope

              I think the OP needs to take this to a medical professional, absolutely. But I don’t think it’s our place to tell her that she can’t have privacy for her medical condition. Everyone is entitled to privacy, even with a life-threatening condition. Perfect strangers don’t have a right to tell someone they can’t have privacy because they think it would be healthier for them to be honest with their coworkers.

              Reply
              1. Mando Diao

                I am not telling her to be honest 100% with her coworkers. She can say she is I’ll and doesn’t want to talk about it. I am stating with the authority of experience that empowering her to outwardly lie about eating will hamper her recovery and go against everything her doctors advise her to do. We are giving her permission to do something that kills people with her illness. This is not an armchair diagnosis; she already has a diagnosis. I have the same diagnosis. Do you?

                Reply
                1. Amtelope

                  I don’t think anyone suggested that she “outwardly lie about eating.” Alison suggested that she say that she has a medical condition that impacts what she can eat and doesn’t want to talk about it. That is true. Anything else is not information that her coworkers are entitled to. And no matter what our experiences, we are not qualified to advise her on how to treat her eating disorder. That is a matter for a professional who she is seeing in person, not strangers on the Internet, no matter how knowledgeable or well-meaning.

                2. I'm Not Phyllis

                  Just a note, too, that in a site with this much traffic, a solid percentage of people will have some form of eating disorder, and not everyone will be comfortable sharing that information.

                3. JenVan

                  I get where you’re coming from Mando. I think the problem is this question is not at all apropos for a work-advice website. The gal needs professional treatment. Unless she was a healthy weight when she started, which it doesn’t sound like she was, then she probably needs to be in-patient. I realize how presumptuous that sounds, but 20-25 lbs in three weeks is A LOT. She’s likely either relapsed or is in crisis.

                4. BSD

                  I really want to caution here against the idea that there is a one size fits all approach to treating eating disorders. There are different therapeutic modalities and personally I can’t even imagine my therapist of four years issuing an absolute injunction against lying about what I eat/if I’ve eaten, especially in a workplace context.

                5. Ellie H.

                  I think this really misses the point – how OP#3 behaves in the workplace is completely separate from what would be ideal for recovery or whatever (we don’t even know if she is in treatment). She has absolutely no obligation to be forthcoming about her personal medical information at work and saying that this empowers her to lie about eating completely misses the point. Is telling her coworkers “I’m not eating this because I have an eating disorder” going to help with anything whatsoever? Her goal here, at work, is not “How can I behave according to someone else’s prescribed standard of what would be most empowering for recovery?” but “What can I say to negotiate a workplace social situation that makes me feel uncomfortable and is ultimately irrelevant to my actual work?” Anyone with an eating disorder already knows a thousand and one ways to behave to hide it if he or she so desires and doesn’t need “empowering” in order to do so. This is just a question about appropriate and effective workplace social communication, not how she should act in the most psychologically ideal way for recovering from her illness.

                6. Turtle Candle

                  Seconding I’m Not Phyllis that I think that “Do you have X diagnosis?” and similar questions are not great, because they essentially force people to either make extremely personal revelations in public or back out of the conversations. (I have had the “are you X?” question pointed at me myself, in a situation where I did in fact match the demographic category they were asking about, but where I could not reveal it for my own safety, and it was pretty upsetting.) I really respect your perspective on this specific issue, but that particular rhetoric is something that I would encourage you to not use in the future.

                7. LD

                  So far, I haven’t read all the comments and I haven’t seen anyone recommend lying. It’s great that you are bringing this to the attention of the community, and it’s obvious from your comments that you have passion about the illness and compassion for the OP. It’s important to caution people, and it’s important not to assume they are saying something that isn’t there.
                  Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

                8. KS

                  No one’s medical business is their coworkers’ business. Full stop. Where was anyone encouraging her to lie?

            2. M

              I don’t see anyone telling her that it’s OK to lie about what she’s been eating or continue in her damaging behaviors? All of the suggestions for what to say are factual statements: “I have a medical condition” or “I don’t like to talk about food.” And the advice is bookended on all sides by “Get professional help.” What else can we possibly say?

              Reply
            3. Ruralpsych

              Thank you! Eating disorders are an insidious and often scary thing – for those experiencing them and those who care for them.

              This is one occasion I think Alison should decline to answer and refer/defer to professionals. OP, get help now. You can recover your life.

              Reply
            4. I'm Not Phyllis

              But I think this was the OP’s point – she’s saying she doesn’t want to lie about eating what they bring her, but she’s looking for advice on how to deal with their repeated (inappropriate) requests. Sorry, but I think Alison’s response was correct. If she’s not doing so already, she should seek a professional’s help, but there’s no reason she has to provide information on this to her coworkers. That’s what the advice said, and I think it’s sensitive and spot-on.

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            5. Oryx

              I am not seeing anyone encourage the OP to lie about anything. In fact, the majority of comments are agreeing that she should A) Say she has a medical condition that impacts what she eats and B) Get professional help.

              We all seem to be in agreement here, so I’m not sure why you are trying to argue something that doesn’t appear to be happening. And I say this as someone who has a history with disordered eating — no, the OP should not lie about her food habits but saying she has a medical condition is 100% the truth.

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            6. Erin

              Hmm, I hear you and don’t doubt you’re correct, but it’s a workplace blog and it makes sense for Alison to answer the question from that standpoint. I think her comment on referring OP to a therapist or someone more equipped in this area adequately addresses the non-workplace/medical aspect of the question.

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            7. lobsterpot

              To add to this – it might be helpful to remove the comment about weight loss in the original reply from Alison.

              That kind of comment whilst entirely well meant can actually double down on internalised competitive ED behaviours/thinking.

              Reply
            8. LBK

              I’ve read through every comment at the time I’m posting this and there isn’t a single one suggesting she do anything like what you’re saying. I understand that you have really strong feelings about this issue, but I think you’re projecting your own experience here – no one is doing what you’re claiming they’re doing.

              Reply
              1. JB (not in Houston)

                +100 I totally agree. Mando Diao, you seem to be projecting. Nobody has suggested what you are arguing against.

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            9. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

              This. This times 100%.

              My therapist always gave me permission to tell people that I’m not eating. But I could never make up a reason that hid it or excused it.

              Reply
              1. charisma

                Yes, this. Plus, anxiety + ED = BAD.

                OP is feeling anxious about dealing with coworkers. We all encourage therapy, but it’s not our job to “save” OP, and no one is giving her permission to continue with the disordered behavior.

                I have had an ED for 16 years, I too have had to deal with the “Wow, you look so thin!” or “Are you eating?” comments, and even had a boss who regularly commented on my weight and told other people, “She never eats.” I get it. I wish I had had a strategy then, to help me deal with the workplace stress, so I could actually put my energy into how to get better.

                Honestly, lots of EDs are lifetime illnesses, and they will “flare up” with stress. When I read the OP’s post, I hear that the stress of what the coworkers are doing is contributing to the “bad place” she/he is in. Having a response in place will help now, and later if there is another “flare up.” I still have times of struggle, so I am keeping this in my back pocket as well.

                Reply
            10. HRish Dude

              I think maybe we need to leave the therapy to the therapists and not try to armchair treat someone off of a 100-ish word e-mail posted on the internet.

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            11. KR

              I don’t think most people will suggest that she lie about her eating disorder. I understand that lying about her disorder or distracting people from her disorder could be a step back in her recovery, but she is entitled to her privacy. I have a lot of serious anxiety issues that interfere with my day to day life and obsessive compulsive tendencies that result in a lot of skin-picking and you bet your buttons I lie about it to people I work with when I’m having problems because it isn’t any of their business. When I’m home with my roommate or around my family/friends – that’s when I’m honest about it because I know they’re the ones who tell me if I’m getting to the point where I might need professional help or not be taking adequate care of myself.

              Reply
          2. Middle Name Jane

            Katherine, I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. I don’t have an eating disorder, but I have anxiety disorder, depression, and PTSD. No way am I disclosing any of that at work. I’m lucky that my job provides excellent insurance and even better mental health coverage. It is this job that enables me to get the therapy and medications I need. There are a lot of days it’s hard to function, but I have to hide it and I’ve gotten really good at it. It’s harder to hide a really thin figure than it is a brain that’s acting up, but the reasons why are the same.

            Reply
            1. Middle Name Jane

              Just wanted to clarify that what I meant by “the reasons are the same” is the possible discrimination by an employer if an employee discloses a mental illness.

              I agree with everyone who is saying the OP needs medical treatment. There is only so much strangers on the internet can say, but I don’t think anyone here has said something wrong. We’re all urging OP to get professional help. I think OP is entitled to privacy just like anyone else with a medical condition.

              Reply
              1. Marian the Librarian

                I agree with this, as well. I have depression and anxiety, and I would never disclose that at work. Mental illness is still stigmatized by much of society, and revealing that you suffer from any kind of mental illness can irreparably alter your coworkers’ opinion of you, with the worst outcome being discrimination as Jane pointed out.

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      2. Green

        Absolutely agree it is a medical condition. My point was that of the phrasing choices the one about a medical problem is most likely to shut down the behavior.

        Reply
      3. Rusty Shackelford

        To be fair, an eating disorder is a medical condition. But yes, they’re likely to take it more seriously if you let them think you’re dealing with illness not based in the brain.

        Yes, I think that’s why “I have a medical condition” is the best response of those given. It’s true, and it doesn’t invite the kind of scrutiny/interference (even if good-intentioned) that an ED would. People are more likely to drop it if they think “poor Jane can’t eat those cookies because she’ll get violently ill, and it’s cruel for me to keep bringing it up” instead of “poor Jane can’t make herself eat those cookies, maybe I can help her.”

        Reply
        1. DeskBird

          +1

          I might also add “I have a medical condition – I’m uncomfortable talking about it” or “I have a medical condition – I don’t really like to talk about it”. I have a condition where sometimes I just cannot eat anything solid or have to carefully time when i eat because the pain later will be debilitating. When I was first diagnosed I was so deeply embarrassed about it I didn’t tell my coworkers or even my friends. I lost 20 lbs in about three weeks as well – and my coworkers treated me like glass. Once I established that, yes, something is wrong, no I don’t want to talk about it, yes I am getting treatment they were a lot better about food things. I was mothered in some other ways though. A simple “I have a condition” actually works pretty well most of the time with people you don’t know well, it’s vague enough to indicate you don’t want to talk about it any more.

          Reply
    2. snuck

      I’m sorry this is being such a problem… it sounds exhausting.

      Is it possible that you could be overly sensitive? It might be more that people are saying to get some of the lunch and isn’t it good because this is normal small talk with people you don’t know, to share and do ‘water cooler talk’ about the nice perks of the job – they like you, they want you to stay, they share what they like, in a question, form?

      It sounds like a strong food culture there – that might become a deal breaker for you, but from what you’ve said it almost sounds like it’s the culture – it’s not YOU they are targetting, it’s the new person, sharing what they enjoy, touching base with a small thing that might be the one thing they can chat about with you that isn’t weather, sports reports or politics… everyone wants to be friendly with the receptionist, reception sees everyone… maybe try turning the conversation to something about them and let them talk about themselves a little? “Nice tie! Where did you find that one?” or “Hey, I see you have been busy lately, can I do anything to help?” and keep it somehow off food, more on track.

      Reply
      1. Julia

        ‘Is it possible that you could be overly sensitive?^

        So what? Even if the talking about eating is just friendly small talk, a “sorry, I don’t like to discuss food at work” should shut it down.

        And even if the OP has a condition that makes her hide her eating/non-eating, she should not have to justify herself to a ton of non-therapists at work. As we have countless times here on AAM, people make stupid comments about food and weight all the time and it is rarely ever helpful. This is what OP hopefully has a doctor and therapist for.

        Reply
        1. snuck

          No where at all have I suggested she ‘justify herself to a ton of non-therapists at work’… I’m with you. There’s absolutely no need for that.

          I was merely trying to suggest that there is at times a different perspective. To have free lunches at work is an unusual perk, and one of the easy small talk options to run past a new staff member… that’s all I was trying to say. The OP is very likely to have a higher sensitivity to conversations about food than others because of her condition, and this *may* be a factor – the OP is the one who would need to sit back and decide if that was true for them or not… and even if it is true, even if the OP is more sensitive, I haven’t said they just have to take it, quite the contrary – I’ve made suggestions of how they might change the subject, find new things to talk about with the person, and acknowledged that a food based social culture might be a deal breaker for the OP.

          I don’t really want a pile on here folks. I wasn’t trying to set that dynamic up.

          Reply
          1. fposte

            I think if she had said “This is an inappropriate work culture–how do I shut it down?” your point would have been useful. But she’s not saying that or denigrating the culture; she just wants to know how to negotiate her illness in this work culture. So to that extent of course she’s too sensitive, because that’s what illness does in that situation, same as somebody with a peanut allergy is too sensitive to peanuts.

            Reply
            1. my two cents

              Snuck was trying to comment that it might not be a particularly ‘huge food culture’ workplace that she needs to leave and get a job elsewhere – just that it may seem like a lot of food talk due to OP’s condition. Co-workers making small talk about a free food perk (oh man, Dorris brought in her cookies today! did you try one?! they’re amaaaazing!”) is pretty normal.

              And one way to side-step food small talk is to offer up another topic, such as a co-worker’s tie or asking about how their day/week has been, or offering up a personal anecdote about a pet or OP’s commute to work.

              Reply
              1. Biff

                I agree. Food talk is a daily thing at my work. We have a ‘meat guy’ and a ‘baker’ and several ‘specialists’ in other categories. We also have a weird habit of hiring hobby chefs, despite not knowing this detail about them. It crops up a few days into their employment.

                Food is NOT an inappropriate topic.

                Reply
                1. Turtle Candle

                  It does make a huge difference what kind of food talk it is. It’s easy to say that anything that triggers a mentally ill person is inherently inappropriate, but speaking as someone with a seriously unusual trigger… that’s not always reasonable or realistic. It’s perfectly acceptable to set a boundary against people pushing food on you. It’s acceptable but may be interpreted as odd to tell people not to make casual “I brought cookies, they’re in the second floor meeting room!” comments to you (and that’s going to be a ton of work, because it’s perceived as such a ‘normal’ interaction, so it’s a conversation you’ll have to have repeatedly).

                  But some people (to be clear, I’m not talking about the LW necessarily) are triggered by nearly all food talk, and yet insisting that nobody ever talk about what they made for dinner or this awesome new bakery they found is just not going to work. (Again, not that I think the LW is doing that. But sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of ‘triggering anyone ever is the worst possible thing,’ and speaking as a mentally ill person… that’s just not realistic.)

                  And again, I am not without sympathy. I have a trigger of the type that is basically impossible to get people to not do pre-emptively, so I deal with this on a semi-regular basis. I get it. But that’s the reality of the situation: there is a point where you shift from setting a boundary about yourself to attempting to control somewhere else, and it’s difficult, but there’s no real way around it.

              2. snuck

                Pretty much. I’m not sure why this didn’t come across as clearly as you have seen it.

                I’m a coeliac. I can’t eat gluten… People constantly forget this and offer me foods I can’t eat, even though I have politely once or twice explained that I can’t (or have been that person with their own food labelled at catered events). It means I hear more food talk than others possibly, rather than socially blocking it out as ‘nothing space filler talk’… I notice it more, because it’s a big part of my world interaction space – the world is FULL of people who talk about food, share food, use food as a social lubricant, and I can’t eat most of what they make because we use wheat (oats and barley) in soooo many things. I’m aware I ‘hear’ more of it, than others realise, and just assumed this might be the case. I’m not a cat owner so I don’t notice the cat talk as much, and I don’t follow sports teams so while I register and make the minimum input, I don’t notice those conversations either.

                Reply
        2. Lily in NYC

          I don’t think that’s the case. I’m assuming here, but my guess is that if OP has lost 20 to 25 pounds in three weeks, people are noticing and that’s the reason people are offering her food.

          Reply
      2. Juli G.

        I doubt she’s being too sensitive.

        Look at it from their view and you can easily see an AAM letter from one of the coworkers – “We have a receptionist that just started and she’s been wonderful. However, in the three weeks she’s been here she has dropped a significant amount of weight (I estimate 20 pounds) and she was slender to begin with! I don’t think that she’s having issues with food scarcity (we have a free lunch here). Many of my coworkers offer her treats and snacks and she always refuses. We’re really scared that she has a serious illness or maybe an eating disorder and no one knows what to do. How do we help?”

        Best wishes to you, OP! It’s probably very frustrating to have an illness that’s so easily noticeable especially in a food culture.

        Reply
          1. Green

            A good lesson to everyone not to follow other people’s weight ups and downs unless you’re actually close enough for them to tell you. My very thin brother lost 25 pounds in three weeks as a result of a serious Crohn’s flare that resulted in surgery (but he was being treated the whole time). Offering him food would not have been helpful there either. (He wanted to eat, believe me!) On the other hand, I was recently asked if I was expecting (complete with “big belly” hand gesture) by my administrative assistant. ALSO NOT HELPFUL. A “is everything OK?” without mentioning weight or eating or anything else is probably enough from a “concerned coworker” angle.

            Reply
            1. Pennalynn Lott

              At the beginning of this semester I noted that one of my professors had a big belly. I was making small talk with her and *almost* asked if she was pregnant. Then I remembered all the posts on here about never asking a woman if she’s pregnant, and found something else to talk about. I reasoned that if she *were* pregnant, it would be obvious by the end of the semester.

              Welp, her big belly has stayed pretty much the same size, so she’s just overweight (like me). Thank you, AAM community for keeping me from putting my foot in my mouth. :-)

              Reply
            2. Marcela

              Well, my mom lost several kilos in less than one month when she discovered my dad had another family and 3 more children. I do not think her coworkers’ intentions would have help either. People just simply should stop considering other people’s weights their business. They just don’t know what happens and more often than not, their meddling just can not help.

              Reply
              1. Anna

                I think it’s natural when you see a dramatic change in appearance to be concerned. How that concern is expressed and keeping boundaries is what’s up for discussion.

                Reply
            3. Middle Name Jane

              As someone who is overweight (but thank God–no one has ever asked me if I was pregnant), I don’t want to be asked “Is everything okay?” like that. I don’t understand why some people feel the need to comment on other people’s weight. I would never do that. It’s not my business. Why do other people so often make it theirs?

              Reply
              1. Anna

                You’re conflating commentary on weight with expressing concern. When it’s handled clumsily, it can look like that. But if I saw a coworker go through a dramatic change in appearance over a brief period of time, I would probably ask if they were okay. Because their change in weight might be indicative of an issue, not because I want to have an opinion on their weight.

                Reply
              2. Green

                I meant that more in the sense of trying to express concern after the dramatic change. I obviously don’t want to be asked if I’m OK because I put on an extra 15 pounds on a smallish frame and people are angling to know if I’m pregnant (although “Are you OK?” >>> “You look pregnant.” in my book).

                However, I also understand the urge to not say anything when someone may be in need. Some people don’t have anyone who cares about them, and somewhat distant coworkers may actually BE the closest people to them. I had a coworker/friend who was suffering from serious depression, serious anxiety, hoarding and was not leaving his house. He’s repeatedly told me that my reaching out to ask him if he was OK may have been the only thing that saved his life. That’s why I think the quick check-in suffices as polite shorthand for “I care about you; if there’s anything wrong you can tell me.” It also leaves an easy out for someone who doesn’t want to talk about it.

                Reply
      3. AvonLady Barksdale

        I don’t think the OP is being too sensitive because she’s not dealing with healthy circumstances. Her sensitivity generates from her illness. However, I do want to point out that her co-workers’ concern doesn’t sound like regular workplace busybody-ing. The concern may be a little much (and I’m certain it’s amplified in the OP’s eyes by her condition) but in their place, I would be just as concerned and I would struggle with what to do, if anything.

        It’s a tough line, because the sensitivity is understandable… but her co-workers don’t know that and it’s not their business. So I do hope the OP finds a good way to head off the concern with humor and politeness.

        Reply
        1. Juli G.

          Agreed. It would be hard to watch someone lose an incredible amount of weight in a short period of time and not be concerned. Similar to a situation we had where an employee came in with a black eye. Everyone respected her privacy but when she came in two weeks later with another black eye, people were very worried for her safety but didn’t know how to approach it.

          Reply
          1. the gold digger

            I got a black eye when I fell and hit the windowsill (dizzy spell in the middle of the night – I have no idea why it happened) and I was super ticked off that people I had worked with for years would not mention it. The only person, besides my boss, who said, “What does the other guy look like?” who commented (outside of my friends) was a realtor at an open house. After several minutes of her staring, I volunteered, “I fell.”

            “Oh honey!” she said as she gently touched my arm. “My ex used to beat me, too.” (Which made me so sad.)

            However, when fell off my bike two weeks after starting my current job, I did not expect questions, even though the entire left side of my face was bruised and battered. Nobody there knew me and it’s an awfully personal thing to ask of a stranger.

            Reply
            1. Pennalynn Lott

              I tripped carrying a very heavy casket on Halloween, slamming into a door frame, and showed up to class the following Monday with a massive black-and-purple bruise on my upper arm. I showed it to a handful of people [I was actually proud of how I’d bounced back after falling hard] and a few too many of them, including my favorite professor, thought that my boyfriend had beat me. I was like, “Wha–?? I’m just clumsy, especially at midnight when I’ve been drinking all night.” :-D

              Reply
              1. twentymilehike

                “I tripped carrying a very heavy casket”

                Adding this to the list of things I didn’t expect to read this morning :)

                Reply
              2. TootsNYC

                I fell off my scooter, so my bruise was accompanied by scrapes and a smaller bruise. I was furious about all the jokes people made about my husband beating me. I don’t think many people were serious about it.

                I had a boss who was always ending up in the emergency room w/ odd little injuries and bruises, usu. in the morning. She lived alone, so I wasn’t worried about that; I just thought she was clumsy. My dad suggested alcohol withdrawal, which was interesting.

                And since some illnesses throw off people’s balance and perception, I think if I had a colleague who came in w/ rapidly spaced injuries, esp. black eyes, I might worry less that someone was hitting her and more than she was klutzy in an unusual way, and I might say, “is everything OK? You seem to get injured more than normal” on the theory that sometimes those comments spur people to take care of themselves.

                Reply
              3. Cath in Canada

                I used to know someone who got into downhill mountain biking when she met her new boyfriend, who was really into the hobby. She was working in a leukemia research lab at the time, so when she started coming to work covered in bruises from falling off her bike, half her colleagues thought she was really sick and half of them thought the new boyfriend was abusive. After a few questions from concerned colleagues, she started loudly explaining any new bruises when she came into work on a Monday.

                Reply
            2. Biff

              Funny story that has very little relevance other than to inject some levity in a heavy thread:

              I had to have oral surgery some years ago, and it came with a good possibility of a black eye. Spoiler: I ended up with a black eye. The next day I had to do some errands with my Mom. Hey, I could see out of one eye, I was good right? I threw on some ‘rockstar’ sunglasses and we headed out. Now, I have to explain, my Mom is sort of the ‘contained tornado’ type. She talks with her hands and gestures as though she’s on stage. At some point she was gesturing wildly in the middle of one of the stores, and because I couldn’t see out of one eye, I flinched and ducked when one hand got too close.

              Everyone in the room turned to look at us.

              We could NOT leave fast enough.

              Reply
      4. lobsterpot

        So, food talk, diet talk, putting values/morals on food consumption or non-consumption – all of these things are triggers for people with ED. It isn’t a choice to feel or not feel sensitive. I am sure you didn’t mean it in that way, but I think it is important to separate food culture around enjoyment of food, bonding over food, from the health concern/concern troll/personal boundaries culture that stigmatises people with this type of mental illness.

        Reply
      5. The Strand

        When you have a specific type of illness, it makes you sensitive to everything tied to it, but that does not make you “overly sensitive”. Even if some “go along to get along” workspaces pressure everyone to be “cool and breezy”.

        I get along great with almost everyone I work with, though occasionally have annoyances like anyone. I’m also infertile, so other people’s pregnancies or fertility struggles are things I’m more sensitive to. That doesn’t follow that I’m overly sensitive, though, even though this is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever faced as an adult. People can talk to me about their children, childrearing, show me baby pictures. I even went to a baby shower for a coworker who had previously experienced infertility, and it was nowhere near as painful as I expected. On the other hand, when coworkers ask me point blank why I don’t have children, etc., that’s been a kick in the gut. One person asked me about my children in our first meeting, right as my condition took a turn for the worse, and my eyes teared up. It still doesn’t mean I’m overtly sensitive about friendly overtures or even gawky behavior. I usually tell people the truth as well, because it’s educational for them to think twice about when to pose that kind of personal question – other infertile people often suffer in silence.

        Every person, every one of us, has an Achilles heel – a button that can be pressed. But an overtly sensitive person is one raw nerve.

        Reply
        1. TootsNYC

          When you have a specific type of illness, it makes you sensitive to everything tied to it, but that does not make you “overly sensitive”.

          “I scraped my shoulder rock climbing, and it’s still pretty raw. It hurts when someone touches me there. Am I too sensitive?”

          Reply
        2. the gold digger

          I was at dinner with a young (mid 20s) co-worker and a middle-aged co-worker, both women. The younger one asked the middle-aged one if she had children.

          Middle-aged one said no.

          Younger one asks – and I start kicking her under the table as I see the word balloon coming out of her mouth, “Why not?”

          Middle-aged co-worker managed to say calmly, “We wanted them, but it didn’t work out.”

          Younger woman and I had a conversation after that where I advised never ever to ask someone at work if they have children. If they do, it will come up. If they don’t, there might be a sad reason they do not.

          Reply
          1. TootsNYC

            And sadness aside (which is a nicely uniform-value-system reason), “why not” implies that the asker assumes the person SHOULD have children, and that it’s her right to ask them to justify themselves.

            Reply
            1. Liz T

              Agreed–I wouldn’t be automatically annoyed if someone asked me whether I have kids, but if they followed up with “Why not?” I would be very annoyed, and think less of that person.

              (I’m childless by choice, and likely to remain that way.)

              Reply
          2. Middle Name Jane

            Thank you. That goes both ways. I’m in my 30s and have chosen not to have children. It’s nobody’s business why not. Glad you were able to speak to the young coworker.

            Reply
          3. Anna

            I think it’s okay to ask if a person has children, much like you ask if they have a dog or ride a bike or whatever. It’s socializing stuff, getting to know you, etc. What is not to be done is asking the follow up questions, because that’s NYB.

            Reply
    3. Granite

      Another important point when thinking about some of these suggestions is that the OP is not in a small department that could become part of her support system. She’s a receptionist in a large company that is dealing with hundreds of people per day. Those hundreds of people do not need to be involved in her health.

      It actually reminds me of a coworker who had a minor breast cancer. She ended up talking through things more with me, because I was the only one willing to limit my response to: “gosh, that’s a hard decision, there are pros and cons to both treatment plans. Is there anything I can do to help you figure out what’s best for you in your situation?” Instead of just telling her she’d be crazy to do anything but x. That was in a small office and she found the unsolicited advice super stressful. I can’t imagine the nightmare of dealing with hundreds of people telling you what was best for you.

      Reply
      1. So Very Anonymous

        This is a really important point. I’ve recently been diagnosed with a chronic illness that affects how I eat, and unsolicited advice has been tough to deal with. I’ve had at least one person react negatively to me trying to be firm about boundaries, because *they* looooove food/talking about food. I don’t have an ED, but I have issues around food and dislike talking about food. If I were dealing with it on the scale OP is, I’d be asking for screipts too, because having to field *that much* unwanted help and that many potential bad reactions to boundary settings would be setting off a tremendous amount of anxiety. It’s a workplace issue because the OP is trying to maintain work relationships. I definitely agree that a therapist should be involved, too.

        Reply
  2. Mando Diao

    OP1: It’s lousy, but I’d start looking for a new position. It’s absolutely the boss’ fault that he didn’t communicate his requirements to the interviewer, but if you’re not what he wants in an employee, you might not be retained after your probationary period is up (if there even is one). His attitude is absolutely, positively uncalled for, but it’s fairly common for a good employee to nonetheless not be what the company needs.

    OP2: This is tricky. All of the easy suggestions (saying you have a medical condition that limits your diet, carrying a “fake lunchbox” and leaving obviously during lunch break) are signs that an eating disorder is taking hold, and these actions shouldn’t be encouraged in this instance. (I know this from experience.) I don’t want to delve more deeply into this because it’s truly a case that warrants professional help. The goal is to be able to snack on the free food at lunchtime if you’re hungry and the food is palatable.

    I won’t offer advice, but I’ll point out a distinction that might be valuable: This isn’t about the fact that OP2 is thin. It’s because her weight has noticeably dropped and also because she most likely is not visibly walking to the break room at lunch or eating in the office at all. Her coworkers are most likely responding to those actions, not judging her looks.

    Reply
    1. M

      Again, nobody suggested that she carry a fake lunchbox. We’re all in agreement that she should get professional help and tell people she has a medical condition in the meantime.

      Reply
      1. Rebecca Anne

        I think M, that some of the strategies are coming from Mando’s own experience with eating disorders and disordered eating rather than what people have suggested.

        Good on you for sharing your experiences Mando. It may be that advice from someone with a similar history will strike a cord closer to home. My personal view on this is that there are two issues: workplace and the illness. The OP has taken a huge step in admitting that they are suffering from an eating disorder even if it’s anonymously on the internet. I hope that this means that they are either working on getting themselves back to an even footing in the larger world, working with a therapist or medical professional to recover.

        The work problem is dealing with people who are really putting their noses in the wrong place (even if it is in a misguided view of helping). I think that sticking to scripts like Alison suggested: “Sorry, I have a medical condition that’s impacting what I eat” will give some coverage. Yes, there will be some push-back from those individuals who can’t help but pry, but if the OP shuts it down with “I don’t want to get into the details here at work”, this may help.

        I really wish the OP the best and that if they are not working with someone right now, that they start the process of reaching out for help.

        Reply
        1. Liz T

          The thing though, is that I don’t think this IS a work problem. Her coworkers aren’t necessarily being oblivious and pushy–they’re watching their receptionist waste away in front of them. I don’t know what they should do, but I do wonder if “How do I get my coworkers off my back?” is the right question here.

          Reply
          1. Amtelope

            They’re not responsible for her health, nor should they be, so … yes? I mean, “How do I recover from my illness?” is a question that is totally beyond the bounds of a work blog. “How do I avoid my coworkers critiquing what I eat without revealing my illness to everyone?” is a work question, and I think Alison’s answer was a good one. Whether her coworkers are being oblivious and pushy or genuinely trying to intervene in a health crisis, they still shouldn’t be critiquing her food choices or prying for medical details, because even people who are sick are entitled to privacy.

            Reply
            1. Koko

              Yes, we’ve had similar letters from people dealing with cancer or other serious illness who are looking for ways to navigate work without disclosing their illness to everyone. It’s a fair question for a workplace.

              And I think Alison’s response if it was a coworker writing in with concern about the new receptionist, her advice would probably be, “I understand how concerning this must be. Unfortunately, unless you’re especially close to her, your concern is unlikely to be effective or well-received. As tough as it is, this is something you need to let the receptionist manage on her own.” (I believe this has been the tone of her response when people have suspected addiction or DV of a coworker.)

              Reply
              1. Liz T

                I agree, except that there’s less reason to worry that someone with cancer isn’t getting the help they need. I’m not saying her coworkers are handling this well, but eating disorders convince you not to seek help in a way cancer does not.

                Reply
            2. Mel

              Yeah, and even if the coworkers’ intentions are entirely good, “how do I deal with THREE HUNDRED well-intentioned people trying to help me” would still be an entirely appropriate work-related question.

              Reply
              1. Turtle Candle

                And the fact that it’s potentially 300 people with whom the LW doesn’t have any kind of close working relationship means that it’s all the more important to be able to develop a fairly short, simple, non-engaging script. Something like, “I actually have medical issues around food. Thanks for understanding!” followed, if necessary, with, “Oh, I’d rather not talk about it, thanks.”

                Because it’s something that may need to be said repeatedly, and to people with whom the LW’s relationship may be barely-existent. It’s very different than a close teammate who knows you well being concerned about whether you’re a domestic violence victim, or having a serious discussion with your boss about your needs re: depression, or hiding an eating disorder from a parent. The people with whom the LW interacts are both numerous and probably fairly distant, and thus a distant reply is totally appropriate.

                Reply
    2. lobsterpot

      RE: goals…

      Snacking on free food at lunchtime if you’re hungry (i.e. intuitive eating) may be your goal/is an indicator of progress in recovery.

      It may not be OP’s goal right now… this comment feels quite prescriptive but I do get the context you offered above.

      Reply
  3. Observer

    #2 PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE get (better) help. This is not really a workplace issue.

    I get that you need a way to navigate this, but the best person to help you here is a good therapist not Allison. Her advice is perfect as far as the workplace is concerned. The thing is, though, that it’s not likely to really work all that well as long as you continue to drop weight at this rate (and apparently starve yourself.) Even if they don’t push you to eat the office lunch, you are going to get asked things like “are you ok?”, “Do you have a good doctor?” etc.

    Lots of luck in dealing with this!

    Reply
    1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

      I think you raised a really good point. People will continue to raise questions no matter what.

      This is where your therapist can be so, so helpful. My therapist and I worked through all the possible questions people could ask me at different point of my recovery. She was great in helping me at each stage (including back sliding into bad behaviors.

      Reply
    2. KR

      Disordered eating is not always not eating enough and starving yourself. I took a nutrition class and was surprised to learn that not all eating disorders are those where someone is trying to be skinny, even though they often manifest themselves like that. There’s a wide range of disordered eating. I do agree with you that I hope the OP is getting help and I hope she knows that we’re all thinking kind thoughts about her and hope she’s doing okay.

      Reply
      1. Observer

        I realize that. But, in this case that’s what it sounds is going on right now – she’s not eating and she dropped 20-25 lb in less than 3 weeks.

        Reply
    3. Ad Astra

      The part about feeling anxiety and embarrassment just from saying “Yeah, the food you left for me was great, thanks!” really strikes me as a pretty severe symptom. It sounds like OP needs her coworkers to cease any and all mention of food in the workplace in order to alleviate that anxiety, and that’s not going to happen. She needs to address that anxiety in therapy. (And OP may already know all this, and may already be addressing it in therapy, since she’s had an ED for quite a while and seems pretty self-aware.)

      In the meantime, I think Alison’s “medical condition” script is the best way to navigate this. That will at least stop the flow of snacks and food-related gifts.

      OP, we are all sorry to hear that you’re struggling, and we’re all rooting for you.

      Reply
  4. TootsNYC

    #3: Absolutely you can tell people this sort of thing.

    I would add to it, “Please don’t come over here on my side of the desk; I prefer for you to stay where you aren’t looking at my screen.”

    And I might even add, “It’s generally considered good form not to step into people’s personal space, which includes their computer screen, without being invited. It’s certainly the norm in this office.”

    Reply
    1. TootsNYC

      Oh, wait, I forgot that your screen can be seen by pretty much anybody; she doesn’t have to get that close.

      I’d say tell her you want her to knock and wait for you to ask her in, instead of knocking and coming in without waiting.

      A little pushback on this from you will serve her in good stead, actually–her behavior really wouldn’t be polite at most places. The reason you have an office is because it’s presumed you should have a little more privacy. And all colleagues should respect that, even if your door is open.

      Reply
    2. Rebecca Anne

      There’s a difference between what you can see on a screen from the door and what you can see from the edge of the desk. If you have line management responsibility, then there are going to be forms and evaluations and information that isn’t for general consumption, think HR/Appraisals/Business Sensitive information. It’s completely appropriate to pull them up on this and ask them to wait at the door until you are ready to speak to them. That gives you time to minimise anything that you are working on that they don’t have clearance to see.

      This happened with my old (witch of a boss) and she felt completely justified to shift the entire office around until no one but her could see her screen without being completely obvious about it.

      Reply
    3. AnotherFed

      I like this much better – it clearly states what the problem is. if I were the one getting Alison’s answer, it wouldn’t make sense to me – how is knocking less disruptive? I’d still do it, because mentor asked, but I would think it was a quirk of my mentor and not a thing I should do for everyone.

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        But you would find it ‘normal’ to just barge into someone’s office without first getting their attention and nod? I find that very odd to do.

        Reply
        1. AnontherFed

          Not at this point in my life, but only because someone trained me that open door =/= come on in. I also used to stand way too close to people in my first professional job because my previous food and cashier jobs had totally different norms about being in other people’s space.

          Reply
      2. SusanIvanova

        Speaking as an engineer: knocking is something you register on a subconscious level that cues you in to finish your thought and then look at the person, so long as the person knocking knows to knock once and wait for you to react. There have been studies about how long it takes to recover your thought process after it’s been interrupted; IIRC it can be up to half an hour – and sometimes the chain of thought is lost forever (you don’t want to be the “person from Porlock”!)

        Reply
    4. Green

      I’d probably be more conversational: “Sometimes when you come in it startles me when I’m in the middle of something. Could you knock, even when my door is open, and wait to see if it’s a good time?” I’d also grab a chair and direct her to sit in it: “Have a seat.” Should help with both issues.

      Reply
      1. KR

        I like this idea – hopefully the intruder will realize that she’s been barging in and be embarrassed and stop. Then if the intruder still doesn’t do this, you can spell it out that she’s not following the office norms for the workplace.

        Reply
      2. Hootie

        Totally agreed. I didn’t like the way TootsNYC phrased the request because it sounded more like a scolding.

        Reply
        1. Green

          Yes; usually when it’s an etiquette or preference issue (vs. a true boundaries issue) I’ll just put the quirk/preference on me and try to use social engineering to get them to help me out. If it’s a true boundaries issue (people being very nosy, inappropriate sexual conversation, etc.) I go with the very firm “This is how this is happening from now on.”

          Reply
        2. TootsNYC

          I actually think this is wrong enough that a slight edge of scolding is not inappropriate.

          Even if you just want to be matter-of-fact, I don’t think there’s any need to make it be “my own quirk”–just say, “please knock and wait for me to invite you in.”

          Reply
          1. OP 3

            I’d prefer not to scold, but I also don’t want to imply that I’m apologizing by suggesting it’s my own quirk. I guess what I’m saying is I agree with you.

            Reply
  5. Engineer Girl

    #1 An outsider can’t possibly know for sure an employers wants Vs needs for a job. It was 100% up to them to decide what was or was not important. It was 100% up to them to see if you had proficiency at Z if it was needed.
    That said, the attitude of your boss is pretty clear. You may very well lose your job.
    I would note that the anger of your new boss is a huge red flag. He should be taking responsibility for this and is instead blaming you for his sloppiness. He is rigid and unwilling to work at solutions to this problem. Honestly, getting fired may be a blessing with a boss like that.

    Reply
    1. RVA Cat

      This. Though if the boss is this petty and vengeful, he may well fight your unemployment claim (as apparently your failure to read his mind counts as misconduct….).

      Reply
      1. Observer

        Hopefully, someone at the company will have enough sense to keep him from doing that. He’d almost certainly lose, and there is always a cost to this.

        Reply
        1. TootsNYC

          “He’d almost certainly lose, and there is always a cost to this.”

          I’m curious–what specifically does “this” stand for?

          Is there always a cost to losing an unemployment-claim challenge?
          or is there always a cost to mishiring (i.e., in this case the unemployment claim) that he should simply be resigned to?

          Reply
          1. Observer

            There is always a cost to fighting an unemployment claim, in that it takes time that could be used for something else. Now, if you win it can be worth it. But, if you are definitely going to lose you are going to be spending time that could be used elsewhere for absolutely no gain. That’s just stupid.

            Reply
    2. Stranger than fiction

      Exactly. And I’m not clear who interviewed the Op, because it doesn’t sound like the boss did at all, which is really odd. If I were OP, I’d take it up with HR and point out the fact it never came up in the interview, now he’s acting like it’s a dealbreaker, she’s got some solutions and workarounds but isn’t so sure he’s open to the ideas. Maybe then Op can get a read on whether she should start looking to move on, or they’re willing to work with her.

      Reply
    3. Artemesia

      Absolutely. The boss made a mistake if he didn’t explore the skills he needed when interviewing; you made no big mistake, although it would have been prudent to raise this issue. But it is 99% on him.

      That said — fairness and whose fault is not the issue. The issue is your future. Of course you are doing the right thing in offering to get further training. But his anger would be my clue to start a very active job search. Reason when asked by your next interviewer would be ‘It turned out they needed a very specific skill that I don’t have and that they didn’t ask about during the interview process so this is just not a good fit.’ Don’t wait till you are fired to start this.

      Reply
      1. Chriama

        Good point. Better to leave now (hopefully even with the blessing of angry boss) than to be pushed out. It’s ok to have 1 short stay on your resume, and if you’ve been there less than a month you might even want to exclude it altogether.

        Reply
    4. Chriama

      It also sounds like this boss didn’t even conduct the interviews himself, which is ridiculous. How can he assume that other people will be able to suss out exactly what he needs for his own team?!

      Reply
      1. JD

        I’ve seen some weird hiring mechanics before. I’d assume that if a skill was listed but not asked about during the interview that it would be only a small part of the job and something that could be trained on the job with no problem.

        That said though, I’ve seen managers hire people for technical jobs that can’t even use a screwdriver(and weren’t bothered at all that it took days for them to learn the basics, let alone proper sizing), and they didn’t have any of the other skills the job required beyond some reading and writing ability, which put them below any high school kid who bothered to pass shop class.

        Reply
  6. abankyteller

    3. As someone who has a tough time with knowing how to act, thank you for thinking about talking to this person to help them. It’s very kind. Please take Alison’s advice, and be direct and kind to this employee.

    2. I’m really sorry you’re dealing with this. I really hope you get yourself some help.

    Reply
    1. OP 3

      It’s just so hard to do without either being too apologetic or feeling like I’m being a jerk. I am not great at being assertive.

      Reply
      1. abankyteller

        I’m not either and I would really struggle with needing to do that, which is another reason I think it’s so kind that you even want to help this way. Good luck! Even if she doesn’t react well at first, eventually she’ll realize you’re right.

        Reply
  7. Retail4Life

    #2 I’m so sorry to hear you’re struggling. I might suggest that you talk to your boss directly and say that you don’t want to talk about food because of a medical condition. They could be a good ally to help get the word out to so many people so you don’t have to tell everyone yourself.

    Reply
  8. Chocolate Teapot

    1. Reading the question, it sounds as if the interviewer was not the livid boss. If that was the case, then it could be a crossed wire on the company’s side, although that doesn’t excuse the boss’s behaviour. However, it would probably be prudent to start looking for a new position.

    Reply
    1. MK

      I think that’s the real issue: the boss is blaming something that is the company’s fault (either their hiring process doesn’t give the feture manager of the candidate sufficient input or there was miscommunication between the HR person who conducted the interview and the manager) on the OP.

      Reply
      1. Erin

        Exactly. It’s a miscommunication between the hiring folks/HR and with the current boss. That should not be on the OP.

        To answer your specific question OP, no, you should not have not thrown your hat in the ring. You’re completely in the right here and are continuing to act in a logical, rational manner. Let’s take a look:

        1) You applied for a job you had most but not all of the listed requirements for. You played up your experience in X and Y. Nothing on your resume or cover letter indicating you had experience in Z. You acted in accordance with normal standards of applying to jobs and did not misrepresent yourself.
        2) You were not asked about Z in the interview. Again, no misrepresentation going on. If they really needed Z, that needed to be communicated between Boss and Hiring People/HR. This is where the big mistake is. Their mistake, not yours.
        3) When you realized what was up, you laid out a plan for ensuring all the work gets done and you offered to get further training. Here you are again, acting logical and reasonable.

        But, your boss’s behavior signals he is not logical and reasonable. So, you can try explaining to him where the miscommunication occurred and continue offering suggestions to now work around this obstacle, but I’m not optimistic it will get you anywhere.

        To echo others’ I think you need to start job searching again. Sorry this sucks. But be rest assured it’s them, not you.

        Reply
        1. KR

          I agree that what the OP did was within normal interviewing practice. If the skill was so important to the job, the interviewer should have brought it up (“Polishing chocolate teapots is an important part of this role. I noticed you stress your experience in testing and assembling teapots in your application, but I need to make sure you’re able to polish.”). If I was in an interview and they didn’t even ask about a certain skill set that was in the job listing, I would assume it’s not that important or can be learned on-the-job.

          Reply
    2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      Irritating.

      Lookit, I’m Alison camp on this. If Z listed as one of the required skills, and you don’t have it, it’s prudent to ask about it a some point during first or second interview — but for the reason of making sure the job is a good fit for you, not to save the company from hiring the wrong person.

      This isn’t the way companies normally behave. It’s not out of the ordinary for a job to list “required” skills that aren’t really required – either because the company changes their mind, because they engaged in wishful thinking when ad writing, or because there was a miscommunication between the hiring manager and the ad poster.

      It’s 101 for the person hiring to make sure the person being interviewed has the skills they really need.

      Grrrr. Sorry, OP.

      Reply
      1. Stranger than fiction

        Well…except that most people would likely assume it didn’t end up being all that important because they didn’t talk about it, and worry that if they then brought it up, it’d throw them out of the running.

        Reply
        1. A Bug!

          Yeah. A number of assumptions appear to have been made by multiple people in the process, and the OP is one of them, but in the circumstances OP’s assumption was pretty reasonable. The primary responsibility for the oversight lies with HR or the boss or some combination of the two, depending on what went on between them before and during the hiring process.

          And the boss is a jerk in any event.

          Reply
    3. AnotherFed

      Whether the boss was the same as the interviewer or not, he is still behaving pretty badly. Even if the OP is not fired, he is unlikely to do a complete 180 on his opinion of her, so long-term she’ll lose on raises, choice assignments, and opportunities for advancement. Plus he’s a bit of a jerk. OP should keep the job search going while this job is short enough to leave off the resume!

      Reply
      1. KR

        He is definitly a jerk. And even if the OP doesn’t have the experience he’s looking for, OP’s still a professional with a lot of other experience who is worthy of the boss’s respect. If he really truly couldn’t live without OP having this experience, he should have said so politely and been sorry that his hiring people messed up.

        Reply
  9. Former Retail Manager

    #2…yes please, take Alison’s advice and find a good therapist if you don’t already have one and I hope this gets better for you soon.

    However, if using any of Alison’s suggested responses, I would personally go with the third option about a medical condition. The other two just sound really odd to me. People don’t talk about personal relationships, politics or religion at work….not food. In fact, food is a common topic in both my current workplace and past ones. To me, this response screams I have or had an eating disorder and may end up with you being labeled “weird.” Where I work, you would be labeled weird. I think a comment that you have a medical condition should be plenty to shut anyone down. Best of luck in your current in and future treatment!

    Reply
    1. lobsterpot

      I think this is true, but I also think employers have a moral obligation not to enable stigmatising workplaces where ED (which is a deadly and complex mental illness) is culturally “weird”. It is OK to challenge inappropriate social norms around food culture, without banning food talk.

      Reply
      1. Observer

        That’s true – but that’s not the OP’s battle to fight. She has more than enough on her plate right now.

        Reply
        1. lobsterpot

          Not at all, I agree with you. I was more challenging the notion that the previous commenter felt it would be “weird” – mental illness isn’t weird, and stating that people better hide away signs of their mental illnesses (which may be impossible to conceal, and concealment may be harmful) is unhelpful.

          Reply
          1. Turtle Candle

            Although, Former Retail Manager didn’t say that it would be weird, they said that it was likely to be labeled as weird. That’s rather different. I am myself mentally ill, but it doesn’t do me much good to pretend that something would be seen as ‘normal’ if it wouldn’t–even if I fully believe that it should be seen as ‘normal.’

            And sometimes something that is perfectly acceptable as a general workplace norm is bad for someone with an illness, mental or otherwise. I had a friend in college whose ED would be triggered by someone sending a “extra doughnuts in the break room!” email to the department mailing list, but the fact that it triggers her doesn’t make it objectively bad (and I would have trouble suggesting that she should tell the department as a whole not to send those emails, because even if I believe that she should be able to set that boundary, I do think it would have impacted the way she was perceived in most workplaces that I am in, and pretending it wouldn’t would do her no good). For myself, I am triggered by compliments on my sweaters (not gross or sexual compliments, but even just ‘what a beautiful knit pattern!’) for reasons of personal trauma, but there is no way to say “no compliments on sweaters” that doesn’t sound, well, bizarre. If someone told me that I could totally say that without repercussion, it would not be helpful to me.

            Reply
      2. fposte

        It doesn’t really sound like anything I’d consider an inappropriate social norm is existing here, though. It’s just a culture that’s a real problem for somebody with this illness–but that’s not the same thing as inappropriate.

        Reply
  10. Newbie

    #1: I somewhat agree with Alison that during the interview you could have asked about the required skills that were noted in the job description. But the bulk of the responsibility lies with the company. They really should be making sure the people they hire have the core skills they really want. The various requirements in the job posting may bear different weight or they may be willing to train on one aspect more than another, but the candidates really have no way of knowing that.

    I once hired a person that touted her skill level as higher than it really was during the interview. When that became apparent, I recognized that maybe the hiring process hadn’t been thorough enough. So I took the time to step back a bit and revise her training schedule to try to address the deficiencies. We did wind up having to fire her, but that was because of her attitude (didn’t want to actually work, wanted to make her own schedule and workload, etc.). She was given every opportunity to take advantage of training and show her ability to perform the essential functions of the job.

    With another hire, the interviews were done by committee. Some of the committee members liked one candidate, but that candidate didn’t have one of the most essential requirements of the job. The committee members lobbied for the candidate to be hired anyway because they were sure she would be able to learn what was needed. But I held firm that she not be hired because the role being filled really needed someone that was already experienced so they could hit the ground running.

    I don’t have great advice for your current situation, other than trying to find a way to gain the knowledge you need, if that’s possible. For example, if it’s a specific skill or knowledge of certain software, is there training or courses available? But don’t let this keep you from applying for jobs in the future that you’re not 100% qualified for. Job postings are written with an ideal in mind, but hiring managers may use some flexibility once they are evaluating the candidate pool. For example, candidate X has more experience in A and B, candidate Y has more experience in D and E, but neither have experience in C. The manager then has to determine with aspects are most important or if they should wait to see if they can find a candidate with experience in C.

    Reply
    1. Bwmn

      While I understand that bringing up “hey, how important is Z” may make sense from an employers side – from the job seeker side and given how long job postings can be in some industries – there’s a huge fear that will make you appear to lack confidence.

      I work with a number of international companies where assorted foreign language skills are “highly desirable”. This mix of when those skills are crucial to the expensive of other skills or when it truly is a wish list will vary from job to job and employer to employer. I’ve been invited to interviews where fluency was crucial – despite having no reference of that language anywhere on my CV (I only list English to avoid any expectations anyways). I’ve also been invited to interviews where my assessment of the job duties and colleagues would be that while language skills would be a plus, it was hard to see it as necessary – but where mid-interview the employer decided it was a must to the exclusion of other skills. And being professionally functional in a foreign language is definitely not going to happen to the level they’re talking about with a little ‘on the job’ training.

      Obviously there’s always room for the OP’s situation where you can unfortunately end up in a really inappropriate job. But in my field, I’ve found that a few “wish list” items and what the job actually is and what the salary actually is just ends up producing a bit of an eye roll. Ultimately this may be more industry specific – but I’d just be so wary about going in and highly emphasizing “I have no experience in points M-R on the job posting”.

      Reply
  11. Katie the Fed

    #3 – Even if you didn’t have potentially sensitive stuff on your computer, it would annoy the crap out of me. I like to finish my train of thought or the sentence I’m typing, and people who just bust into my cubicle and start talking drive me crazy.

    It’s totally fine to say “Hey – I’d like to you start knocking or alerting me to your presence before you come in here. It’s very distracting when you just walk in and start talking. I’d recommend you do the same with others unless they tell you otherwise – it’s just good workplace etiquette.

    Reply
      1. Liz T

        I think it’s good etiquette generally, in the workplace and elsewhere, to give people a chance to realize you’re approaching them. Nobody likes an ambush.

        Reply
    1. Stranger than fiction

      Absolutely agree. I would never ever just barge into someone’s office and walk right up to their desk. I always stop in the doorway, and it just seems natural and obvious to me. I guess she’s either new to office norms or may have come from a place where people did trample allover one another’s personal space.

      Reply
    2. MashaKasha

      Oh god yes! I hate it when I’m in the middle of something and then all of a sudden I find out that there’s a coworker standing behind my back in my cubicle, talking at me, who has apparently been here for a good couple seconds. I’m sitting more or less with my back to the cube entrance and people just barge in from behind me. You’d think they could at least IM to let me know they’re coming. Not to mention 90% of their questions can be answered via IM. Luckily, very few of my coworkers do this, most prefer IM (whew.)

      Reply
    3. INFJ

      One of my coworkers always says, “knock knock” when she approaches my cubicle, which I appreciate. Though, I can now tell by her gait whether or not she’s stopping to talk to me or just walking by, so I’m usually already prepared!

      Reply
  12. Katie the Fed

    #2 – You can accomplish a lot with a firm “no thank you.” Don’t offer any more information – that just opens the door to more discussion. Eventually people will either realize they’re annoying you or think you’re kind of a jerk, but either way the behavior will stop

    Reply
    1. TootsNYC

      I have a mother-in-law that pushes food. I don’t have any eating disorder issues, but it was really annoying, especially when I was dieting. Plus, i didn’t really like her cooking all that much (she’s a fine cook, but I don’t much like Italian food), so it ended up having the effect of rubbing my nose in my feelings of shame for my ingratitude.

      So I went on the offensive with this strategy:
      1) Acknowledge the goodwill behind the comments (“I know you want me to feel welcome in your home”; for you, maybe “I know you want me to feel included here at the office”)
      2) Provide a positive emotional return (“That makes me feel very loved”; for you, maybe “It’s so nice of you”)
      3) Reassure (“Please believe that you always make me feel welcome here; you have succeeded! I love you”; for you, maybe “I feel very welcome in the office, and I really value your friendship here”)
      4) Describe the problem (“Unfortunately, when you pressure me to have more food, it makes me feel less welcome; it’s actually working against the very thing you’re trying to achieve”; for you, “Unfortunately, when people keep mentioning food to me, and pressure me about it, it makes me really uncomfortable”; I don’t think you need to give any reason why)
      5) Describe the solution (“I’m going to ask you to please not suggest I eat something more; I always feel free to take more food, but I would really appreciate it if you would not mention it at all”; for you, maybe “I’m going to ask you to please not pressure me about food, or actually, to not mention it to me at all. It would help me a lot”)
      6) Describe the future (“I’m going to remind you if you forget, OK? And when I do, please would you remember that I do truly feel welcome in your family”; for you, maybe “If you forget, I’m going to remind you–I hope you’ll understand that I do genuinely feel welcome and included, even without the food”)

      It worked really well for me, though I did have to say, “remember that conversation?”

      I’m thinking that there are probably a core few people who do this, and having this conversation with them might cut WAY down on this problem for you.

      If someone brings up your weight loss, I think you can say, “I’m talking with my doctor about it, yes, thank you for worrying. But I don’t like to dwell on it, so thanks for understanding that also.”

      Reply
      1. Bibliovore

        #2
        this is nicely said and very good scripts.

        Also- it might help to state that you have a food plan provided by professionals and it is recommended that you stick to that. My favorite go to is ” I do not wish to discuss this further and change the subject. “Does this package have to be out by 4:00?”

        A receptionist position is very public and you are always on. Find a quiet room- empty conference room etc to eat your planned lunch. If anyone comments about you not taking lunch with the group note that you need quiet time to recharge. If anyone comments on my food- oh try this cake, have some of this chocolate, oh you must…I say no thank you. If they insist, I just say I am on a proscribed food plan and its not something I like to talk about.

        Reply
  13. Mike C.

    OP1: Your boss has an anger management issue and she’s doing little more than protecting her own incompetence onto you. You may have limited options but you should always keep this in mind.

    I can’t help but think it would be a fun experiment to respond to these temper tantrums with statements like, “Why are you upset when I was upfront with my skill set?” and “Why shouldn’t I apply for jobs that end in job offers?”. I also wonder if there is a point where HR needs to get involved.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth S.

      I agree with getting HR involved, because what worries me for OP1 is that the boss appears to feel, quite unfairly, that he was taken, and that sort of thing can do a number on your professional reputation. If you do end up losing this job, you don’t want the boss going around telling people you lied about your skills!

      Reply
      1. RVA Cat

        Yes, OP1 needs to play defense. Presumably your resume and application are on file with HR, etc. as I wouldn’t put it past someone this unreasonable to try to fabricate something….

        Reply
      2. Mike C.

        Yeah, let’s say there’s a firing/laying off, what would the reference be? “Oh, OP1 was completely incompetent and couldn’t perform primary job tasks!”

        Reply
  14. I'm Not Phyllis

    OP 2, I think the most important part of Alison’s advice is the first. If you’re not already, please PLEASE seek some help. There is no need for shame in your illness and it could save your life.

    But the second part of this advice is also correct – you have no obligation to discuss your medical issues at work. Telling them you don’t want to discuss it and/or that you have a medical condition is valid. Keep in mind, though, that this might not solve the issue. You’re in a very visible position and with a weight loss that alarming, it’s natural for people to worry.

    Good luck OP.

    Reply
    1. KR

      I suggest that if people comment on her weight loss, she could use a similar line. “Oh, I have a medical issue that causes my weight to fluctuate sometimes. I really would prefer not to talk about it at work.” It could be passed off as a GI issue or an autoimmune disorder. Not that eating disorders are something that need to be kept a secret or should be stigmatized, but I can totally understand not wanting everyone to know about it.

      Reply
  15. Argh!

    re: barging in

    I have a coworker who does this even though I make a point of knocking before entering her office. I have solved the problem (and of being startled, generally) by rearranging my desk so that I face the door. Now I at least have a couple of seconds to catch movement out of the corner of my eye.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth West

      I wish I could do this. I’m in a large cube with my back to the entrance, and I have a coworker who just walks in and comes up behind me a lot. It’s annoying, startling (I often have headphones on), and rude–I don’t do that to her. If I stop and talk to someone, I stay OUT of their cube unless it appears we’re going to have a longer discussion (and sometimes I don’t go in even then).

      I did hang a sign at the entrance with “knock if I’m wearing headphones” and it’s cut down on some of it, but it still happens sometimes. I really don’t like that people can just walk up behind me.

      Reply
      1. Liza

        I have one of those little mirrors designed to mount on the side of a monitor. It helps a lot with being startled by people walking up behind me.

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth West

          I need to look into that; thanks for the suggestion.

          I can usually hear people coming, and there’s something about the floor near my cube where people who have a heavy tread actually shake my monitor (I think it’s a space in the floor maybe, where cables are? Or something) so I kind of know they’re approaching. But that doesn’t mean I know when they’re trying to enter my cube.

          I wish I had an office, because it gets loud and is hard to concentrate. My level (admin) doesn’t warrant one. I could work from home but the setup is better at the office. Plus, my neighborhood has turned into a kennel and that’s no better as far as noise. :(

          Reply
          1. What worked for me

            I don’t lightly recommend this, but–in addition to the excellent suggestion of the mirror, which I have done in the past, I seem to have an unshakable, knee-jerk, shriek reflex when people loom up behind me in my cube.

            A loud shriek reflex.

            People don’t do that anymore.

            Reply
        2. Cath in Canada

          I got one of those mirrors after someone decided that the best way to get my attention when I’m focusing hard on something while wearing headphones is to grab my chair and suddenly pull it backwards. Of course, sometimes I’m focusing too hard to actually look at my mirror, but at least the chair grab has never happened again after I yelled at the guy who did it…

          Reply
      2. Turtle Candle

        I have a coworker, otherwise a very nice person, who had this habit of ninja-ing up behind me and then waiting until I noticed him. I think he was under the mistaken impression that it was more polite to wait for me to see him than to interrupt me by knocking or clearing his throat? Or something?

        I finally broke him of it when I shrieked out loud in surprise when I turned my head and saw him lurking out of the corner of my eye. (It wasn’t intentional, it was purely reflexive–for some reason it had the exact same impact on me as a horror movie jump-scare!)

        Reply
    2. OP 3

      It is tempting to move my desk like that, but I am naturally on the timid side and it would feel like defeat to me if I did that.

      Reply
      1. Rebecca

        But why? What is it that matters here, the process, or the result? If the result matters more, move the desk! If you feel you absolutely must confront this person about her behavior, gird your loins, steel yourself, and have the conversation! You’re the person in the superior position here, you need to start to act like it!

        Reply
      2. TootsNYC

        I get why. And I think this is a great way to help coach yourself out of being quite so timid. Because if it gets awkward (bcs she’s pill), you’re leaving!

        Reply
      3. Clever Name

        One of my biggest victories at my last job was when I turned my desk around and put a screen up between my desk in an open area and the window of my boss’ office. I did it on a weekend, and he never said a word to me about it. :) I wouldn’t see it as defeat at all.

        Reply
  16. Oignonne

    OP #2- I just want to empathize. I know what a challenge eating disorders can be, and how uncomfortable they can make discussions about food. Even in periods of recovery, I get quite anxious whenever food and weight are brought up, especially when others question me or are pushy with shared treats or meals. I hope you receive the help you need and I wish you the best in overcoming this illness.

    Reply
    1. Tacocat

      Food and the workplace can be so tricky for people with eating disorders or recovering from them. My current challenge is the opposite of OP #2. People are always talking about their extreme diets, doing company weight loss initiatives, and expressing extremely unhealthy attitudes towards food, often very candidly towards me since outwardly I am a slim, healthy person. It’s really hard to not internalize it and go back towards controlling my food, especially in times of stress. It really opens up your eyes to how strange our relationship with food is in the modern world and how comfortable people are making comments that are not appropriate at all. Which leads to OP’s problem, people who she is not close with think it’s appropriate to feed her and force her to eat! That’s so out of line! I hope she is able to get the help she needs and that she can establish better boundaries with her coworkers. Might be good just to say, I really don’t feel comfortable discussing my eating habits, saying something is sometimes all people need to realize they are out of line.

      Reply
      1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.

        Thank you for your comment! I think this was really well said.
        We need to be more respectful of our own relationship with food, and respectful to others’, as well.

        Reply
      2. TootsNYC

        I think those of us who don’t have eating disorders should just start saying, “You know, talking about food like this can be really hard for people with food issues; I don’t know if anyone here has that, but I think we should stop talking about it.”

        Reply
        1. Oignonne

          That’s a good idea for anyone! I have usually stuck to “I don’t talk about food,” or “why don’t we talk about something more interesting than weight?”

          Reply
          1. Tacocat

            Yes! I love both TootsNYC’s suggestion and yours, Oignonne! I agree that it’s a great idea for everyone, even those who don’t have eating disorders. There are so many strange normative values attached to food and eating these days that I think it’s a helpful reminder to everyone to think about how you could be impacting someone else and their relationship with food. In general, I think we do a lot of shaming of food, ourselves, and (usually unintentionally) others that we would all be better off if everyone was more mindful about what they say.

            Reply
        2. TootsNYC

          One thing about this, if we do it often enough, we can do it for ourselves without people assuming, Oh, YOU must be the one who doesn’t want to have kids! or whatever. They’ll think “she’s always pointing out that people have issues.”

          Reply
  17. lobsterpot

    Hello, just a comment for OP2. Food culture, diet culture, and workplace culture can collide really unpleasantly and it can be super triggering and make an active ED worse. You are NOT alone in this and I hope it helps to hear that. Many of us have to fight this particular fight on two fronts (self and others) to varying degrees every day. It’s really positive that you recognise this is unhelpful for you, and that you need some help shutting these conversations down. It is not okay for people to comment on others’ bodies/bodily function, weight, or eating habits/dietary health unless they have been given consent to do so, and even then there are limits people transgress all the time out of inappropriate or inappropriately expressed concern. I think this is especially true in a work sense.

    I hope that Alison’s advice of seeing a therapist and discreetly but clearly explaining your needs to coworkers is something you are willing and able to consider. I would further suggest identifying a bit of a safety plan for yourself in the context of work. ED is a mental illness and often links closely with anxiety and even PTSD, so having a safety plan for moments of crisis or being triggered can be valuable. I have found this has helped a lot with people I have supported in the past as well as managing my own anxiety (not ED-related).

    This issue is definitely something that in the right environment could be brought to a supportive manager’s attention, especially if you are becoming more sick, or are seeking therapeutic/medical support. That needs to be at your discretion but in addition to handling it directly yourself, (something which is difficult to do as you acknowledge, but can also be important as part of recovery, if you are currently working on recovery) letting a supportive manager know can be very helpful. However, you know your situation best. Just remember that you are worthy of support and that you have the right to carve out boundaries and space and assert your needs! From what I have seen with friends and family who have experienced ED, it can sometimes make you forget that.

    I would just comment as well (which you are probably 100% aware of) that times of stress or productivity can trigger or worsen ED-related behaviours and thought processes – it’s that perfectionism/self punishment loop that ED likes to get your brain stuck into. So if you have a supportive ED and/or mental health recovery community around you that can help a lot. This can include professionals and peers obviously. It could also include support from charities like B-eat and Mind (in the UK, I’m sure there are USA and elsewhere equivalents).

    In addition, your workplace may be able to offer you some assistance through an employee assistance programme. In my experience this tends to be short sessions which could lead to onward referral, if you require that. I’m in the UK so do not know what your circumstance is, but where I work and in past workplaces, EAP has been able to offer counselling and CBT. Some employers here would also take a proactive and supportive approach with an Occupational Health referral if there was a concern about impacts on work/work impacting on health. But that varies.

    All in all it is really positive you have reached out for support. Recovery from mental illness generally can be a really loopy and unpredictable journey and whether you are in that space or not, I wish you the best.

    Reply
  18. anonanonanon

    #3: Barging into your office is definitely something you should address, but I’d be careful of equating walking briskly with being pushy or aggressive. I walk quickly and, as I’ve been told, “with purpose” and I’ve been told it’s “too aggressive” for a woman and I have to walk slower and with less purpose (whereas I doubt this issue would ever come up with a man).

    So, yes, you should definitely address your coworker’s behavior about barging straight into your office without pausing or knocking to see if this is a good time, but I don’t know if the way she walks has anything to do with it (but of course, I’m a bit biased about this issue).

    Reply
    1. Ama

      I walk very quickly, and I have been told, quietly, and spent much of my early career being accused of “sneaking up” on coworkers, so I have trained myself to pause at a doorway and catch the eye of the person I’m going to see before I actually enter their office.

      What helped me was a boss who I surprised quite often (he had a partial hearing loss, which made it even easier for me to seemingly appear out of nowhere) noting a couple times that he needed a second to recover from being startled to think through my question. It helped outline the problem for me in terms of the effect it was having on him as opposed to something being inherently wrong with how I walked. Maybe the OP could frame it to their employee that way.

      Reply
      1. TootsNYC

        yes, a slight productivity loss!

        I once used that argument with a boss when approaching him about how a colleague’s rudeness was damaging to the staff. He’d be rude, and then people would spend several minutes recovering from the adrenaline spike; it cost us productivity, attention to detail, etc.

        He said, “You’re the only person who has ever framed it that way. I hadn’t thought about the business aspect.”

        So, saying that, “giving someone advance warning gives them time to break their train of thought at an efficient stopping point” is probably likely to go over better than, “you’re rude.” (even though I was OK up above w/ a little bit of scolding–this would probably be way more effective, since defensiveness shuts down mental processes)

        Reply
    2. Camellia

      This reminds me of a comment made to me by a man at a local dance where people sat in groups at the tables and I had just returned from a trip to the restroom. “When you walk that confidently across the floor, no guy is going to ask you to dance.” I guess that’s as good a way as any to weed out those lacking in self-confidence!

      Reply
      1. TootsNYC

        yep! Because there are a ton of guys who are actually turned on by women w/ confidence. I married one of them.

        Reply
    3. OP 3

      I agree there’s nothing wrong with walking briskly (as long as you’re not constantly colliding with others), and I do so myself, but I do feel it’s aggressive to walk briskly into my office, without slowing, until she’s within a couple of feet of me and in plain view of my screen.

      There are other behaviors she engages in which I believe I would find aggressive and off-putting coming from a man or woman reporting to me.

      I did consider the sexism angle when I wrote the original question, but I do feel I would be bothered by this behavior coming from anyone other than a higher-up. (By the way, I don’t condone higher-ups doing it either, and I always pause at the door of my peoples’ cubicles.)

      But again, maybe I’m too sensitive.

      Reply
  19. Erin

    #2 – Sorry you’re dealing with this. Definitely use Alison’s go-to phrase there or something close to it. “I actually have a medical condition that restricts my diet. So, thank you but no thank you.”

    I think the key is to remember 1) Keep in mind most of these people are probably coming from a good place, with good intentions, however misguided they may be and 2) Be firm but pleasant with whatever your go-to response ends up being. Make eye contact, smile apologetically, but be firm.

    Reply
  20. Catherd

    #1 is a red flag. This happened to my SO, who was hired to a marketing position at a marketing firm and then it became a big deal with the boss that my SO had no PR experience.

    My SO ended up getting fired/laid off after a grim year of trying their best, even taking classes (at own expense) and working on getting PR skills…all the time being a marketing exec at a so-called marketing firm.

    Now my SO has a better salary, working at an actual marketing firm that knows what it is doing, and NEVER does PR.

    Reply
    1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      Yeeesh. PR and marketing are tangential to each other. Nearly like being pissed off that you hired a web designer who, turns out!, can’t code or vice versa.

      Reply
    2. Chloe Silverado

      I thought it was strange when this happened to me, but at least it was for an in-house marketing job at a smaller company so I could somewhat understand where their confusion came from. I can’t believe this happened to your SO at an actual marketing firm!

      When I was hired at my current company for a so-called marketing coordinator role, we were all saying the same words but the hiring manager truly believed that marketing meant graphic design. When they asked me about my experience and I described campaigns or events I had coordinated, they were hearing that I designed advertisements and invitations. Nobody asked me for a portfolio, my resume gave zero indication that I ever designed anything, and the only design-related question was about my comfort level with Adobe InDesign. I naively assumed we were all on the same page. It was so demoralizing. I came close to quitting multiple times, but I luckily had a rational manager who came to understand his mistake and saw some value in the skills I actually did bring to the table.

      Reply
      1. Yggdrasil

        Wow, I could almost believe you were me until I got to the part about having a reasonable manager. I got hired in large part because I know InDesign and Photoshop. Note: simply knowing these programs does NOT make you a designer! But I soldiered on, did passable work until my manager decided I could do web design as well, and oh, that’s in addition to the 50 hours a week I’m doing graphic design. Couldn’t get the hell out of there fast enough.

        Reply
        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

          Good lord again.

          Of course, since a marketing coordinator isn’t a graphic designer, and a graphic designer isn’t a web designer (per se), then I guess it would make sense, in twisted logic, that you might as well also be a web designer.

          CSS me, baby.

          Reply
          1. Yggdrasil

            Yep, and all for a low, low price! And the funny thing is, I do know enough code to build a decent website. But not only did I not get any time to do it, but they were pointing to the IBM site as something they wanted. Pretty sure the guys who designed that site made a crap-ton more than me. Moral of the story is, marketing is one big monkey house.

            Reply
      2. Stranger than fiction

        Yeah, with these things, it depends on the size of the company. At a smaller company, a marketing person may very well do PR as well, maybe even some graphic design and social media. In a bigger marketing department, those could be four separate roles.

        Reply
  21. Accountant

    OP 2- I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I’ve sort of been on both sides of the issue myself. Several years ago I was in a bad place. I didnt have an eating disorder, but I just was so anxious all the time that I didnt eat much and was visibly underweight. It was exhausting and upsetting having to constantly defend myself when people would ask “is that all you’re eating?” every time I ate in front of someone. I know they were concerned about me but it made me feel horribly self-conscious. A waitress once badgered me to the point of tears. I just wanted to scream at people to mind their own business.

    Fast forward several years, therapy, etc. I’m doing much better, and all of a sudden sharing an office with someone who has, if not a full blown eating disorder, something like orthorexia. I just wanted to hug her. It was horrible watching someone visibly struggling so much especially because it was an office that loved food. I care about her and I want her to be okay. But I kept my mouth shut because of my own experience. Its so hard for coworkers who want to help to know what to do or say. I would guess that they know you are struggling, and many of them have never been through it, so they dont realize how self-conscious they are making you.

    Reply
    1. motherofdragons

      So glad you’re in a better place, Accountant. Thank you for sharing your story, I hope it is helpful to OP #2 to know they are not alone in having dealt with this in the workplace before.

      Reply
  22. the_scientist

    I understand that OP 2 wrote to this blog looking for advice on how to deal with her ED at work…..but I kind of feel like offering workplace advice for this is like using a bucket to try and bail out the Titanic, or something. What OP2 really needs is therapy, probably inpatient. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. They are not trivial matters, and they are extremely difficult to treat. However, the OP has made a big step in admitting that they are struggling. Please seek help ASAP, OP.

    Reply
    1. lobsterpot

      People can be extremely effective in the workplace, have an active ED and recover whilst receiving outpatient therapy … I don’t think it is necessarily the right forum to suggest specific medical treatments.

      Managing an ED in work is definitely a workplace issue, not just a health one. It is a category of illness that is so all-consuming and overlaps with every facet of life, that having tools to deal-while-working are vital. So the views of an experienced manager on how to go about that in a professional setting, combined with suggestions of therapy (generally), means this question definitely belongs here. In my opinion.

      Reply
    2. Not me

      I completely agree that treatment is the most important thing right now, but the type of it is for medical professionals to decide, not us.

      Also, having an eating disorder intersects with every other part of your life, and so does recovery. Advice for the workplace is extremely helpful, especially if someone’s being harassed about their weight or diet. With a full-time job, that’s advice for improving a pretty big part of your life.

      Reply
  23. MousyNon

    re: #5, I have to say I’ve had three separate job offers in the last five years, and all three have been offered and negotiated by HR, with hiring managers carefully siloed away to prevent independent communication by me the candidate. I can’t imagine I’m the only one with this experience, though I recognize it’s anecdotal. Anyone?

    Reply
    1. OP #5

      OP #5 here. I did end up negotiating though HR (this all went down before this post came out). Maybe not the ideal way to do it, but they met my counteroffer, so it worked out for me! :)

      Reply
      1. Mockingjay

        I’ve negotiated with both HR and with Hiring Managers. I think it is simply comes down to how a particular company operates. I’ve had managers who were very busy (which is why they were hiring, yay for us) and delegated the negotiations to HR. I’ve had offers from very large companies with strict policies that only HR / recruiters handle the offer. I’ve had hiring managers call me directly. I did have an issue with one manager early in my career. He mentioned leave benefits in the interview which I accepted on face value. Turned out that the company had changed the benefit package for new hires after the first of the year; he wasn’t aware of the change. Imagine my surprise during orientation when my leave turned out to be a lot less (two weeks annually instead of three).

        Since then I ask for the benefits package in writing as part of the offer, to be sure it matches what was expressed to me. Lesson learned!

        Anyway, congratulations on the new position!

        Reply
    2. DeeBee

      My latest job offer negotiation was conducted via HR. She took my offer through to the hiring manager and his boss. I actually prefer this a lot. No bad blood when it’s time to start the job.

      Reply
      1. Liza

        DeeBee, I like getting the offer from the hiring manager because my experience has been like this: I attempt to negotiate upwards, they say they’ll have to get approval for that, then they either get the approval or they don’t, and either way I know my manager values me enough to try to get more for me. No bad blood there!

        Reply
    3. motherofdragons

      The hiring manager for my most recent new job called with the tentative offer, and stated the salary. I was planning on waiting for the final offer from HR to negotiate salary (armed to the teeth with the great advice from AAM!), but since she brought it up, I asked her right then if it was flexible. She said no unfortunately, and I don’t feel it caused any bad blood.

      Reply
    4. Stranger than fiction

      Yes! Me too. Most of the time, I’m not even given the manager’s business card. Therefore, I just assumed I wasn’t supposed to speak directly with the hiring manager. Only when reading here did I learn that it was normal, and actually advised, to attempt to have these conversations with the hiring manager first.

      Reply
  24. MissDisplaced

    #1 I’m sorry, but your boss is a jerk and is being unreasonable to blame you for a fault on the hiring process.
    You did nothing wrong by applying and interviewing. Sure, maybe you could have asked about Skill Z, but often the employer leads the Q&A and you may not get the chance to even do so. Many companies list many skills that they desire from applicants. It is up to them to decide what is essential and necessary, and what it merely a “wish list.”
    You are doing the professional and reasonable thing by offering to train in Skill Z, and your boss is still being a jerk and unreasonable, which is a huge red flag to me. I hope it works out, but be prepared if it doesn’t.

    I often wonder when this kind of thing happens: Do you think it because boss had “earmarked” another candidate?

    Reply
  25. Chloe

    #2 – Sending all my love! I have had bulimia for 8 years and am currently in the recovery process. I can vouch for the fact that a therapist who specializes in eating disorders has been instrumental to this! Best of luck to you. Know you are strong for even acknowledging the existence of the disorder; sometimes that can be one of the hardest things.

    Reply
  26. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.

    OP 2 : I fullheartedly agree with all the sentiments to talk to a professional.
    I have never had an eating disorder (though I do believe our culture primes women to take power / control in their lives through food / lack of food), but I experience a similar issue from time to time where I just have no appetite. I finally went on the medical offensive a few years ago to find out what was happening, and was able to put on about 20 or 30 pounds over a few months that brought me up to a healthy normal for my height. However, it still strikes some days / weeks, and I’ll subsist on the same little bag of chips for a few days. Of course, when this strikes, I lose a little weight, and I get lots of comments about how great I look that would certainly reinforce an eating disorder.

    Point being, I am so, so understanding of how it feels to have people constantly commenting on your food, your body; and we (as a society) think it’s ok to do because you’re not talking about how much fat a person has gained / has on their body, you’re talking about how *thin* they are! It’s not as bad / offensive as the other way around, right?
    No! It’s just as rude. People serving / making you food (not your family, either – total strangers at their jobs) will comment “Are you sure you can eat all that?” etc. Plus, people who are being publicly shamed for being overweight really only have to hear that hurtful message going one way – ‘there’s something wrong with you; change now.’ Very very thin people are getting the whole barrage, from ‘Wow you’re looking so amazing, and you’re wearing that top/skirt/etc so well! I wish I could look like that!’ to ‘What is wrong with you, you need to eat more! Change now.’ It’s really confusing, and just as damaging.

    After a while, it is maddening, and I really think that anger that stems from feeling helpless in the situation only confounds / compounds the situation. On top of routinely talking to a professional, see if you can get a handle on your own wellspring of emotions that’s struck when somebody mentions food. I think being able to answer from a place of calm and safety will help you build a strong answer that you can both use to escape the conversation and also believe in, which may be helpful in the long run. Part of doing this means reflecting a lot on your situation, how you think this started, and especially focusing on identifying your triggers.

    Oh! And group therapy can be amazing. See if you can get involved with a program that deals with eating disorders or depression and anxiety in general. I have never gotten much help from therapists one-on-one, but one of my most valued experiences in addressing my own mental health was a therapy group that consisted of about 10 widely, wildly (like sitcom character diverse) different types of people. Like what AAM provides, it was a place to talk and ask questions to people who were in the same situation, as opposed to only seeking advice from those who happened to be holding the pen. And it can be hard to approach people for advice who seem to ‘have it all together’, so being able to listen to others’ stories and concerns can make it easier to open yourself up a bit, and break through those walls when you’re ready.

    Reply
  27. OP #5

    OP #5 here. I did end up negotiating through HR (this all went down before the post came out). In hindsight, I think Alison’s strategy would have been better…but it worked out anyway: They matched my counteroffer, when I was really aiming for something a bit lower! So add this to the pile of Yes!-negotiation-really-does-work! anecdata :)

    Reply
  28. newlyhr

    #2: please please seek help if you have not already. In the meantime, I think either just saying “no thanks” or “I’m good” or ” I have some dietary restrictions” is good. I’m not even sure I would use the “medical” word since that can carry its own set of issues in the workplace, and the more you talk about it, the more people will feel like they have permission to give you advice. Your workplace might have an Employee Assistance Program, so if you are not currently in treatment that can be a good place to start.

    A long time ago, I worked in an office with someone who I am sure had a severe eating disorder It was so evident and we tried hard to accommodate her extremely unusual and restrictive diet when we ordered lunch or went out, but were not successful no matter what we tried. We finally stopped that, just made plans, but always invited her—because where I’m from it is the ultimate insult not to include someone in your eating plans or offer them food if you are eating! She always said no, but at least we stopped asking her a thousand questions that probably made her uncomfortable. We really did not understand how difficult that must have been for her. Best wishes to you OP, please get help if you aren’t already, and know that your colleagues are probably concerned about you–which is reasonable if you’ve lost that much weight in a short time.

    Reply
  29. M from NY

    I think the problem with OP1 is HR doing interviews and placing different priorities than what the OP boss requested. In past lifetime this happened to me multiple times. HR “falling in love” with a candidate and completely not paying attention to what I ranked as “must haves” for the position based on future plans. Your excellence in X & Y means nothing if I need Z to accomplish current or future goals. None of this is OP’s fault but if boss has been backed up because of needing person with Z skills it is frustrating to have yet another employee brought in who is lacking the skill set needed. (Having the I told you so conversation when these hires flamed out did nothing to change hiring process. Upon review, plenty resumes came in with needed skills, however HR was not bringing these candidates in for interviews. One of many reasons why I finally left.)

    Again, not OP’s fault but HR likely dropped the ball. Newly trained isn’t the same as experienced. It’s unfortunate OP seems to be caught in a power play between HR and the boss but I’d focus on looking for work since training doesn’t appear to be an option.

    Reply
  30. alter_ego

    Re #1:
    Just popping in to say that even if the OP had mentioned her lack of skill Z to the interviewer, if the interviewer was a different person than her boss (which it sounds like is the case) it may not have mattered.

    I went to an interview for a lingerie company to be a bra specialist. I knew going in that I didn’t fit their bras, but hell, they have men working there as well, and I can sell a product without owning it myself. I told the interviewer upfront that I couldn’t wear their bras, and explained that my sales experience should be enough that I could sell without owning. I get hired. At the end of my first day of training, the manager, who was not the one who interviewed me, took us in back so that we could get fitted for our free bras. I told her the same thing I told the interviewer and she lost. it. Started yelling about how was I supposed to sell bras I couldn’t wear, and I would just send people to other stores, and this is why they don’t hire or have customers that “look like me” and have “my body type” (read: fat).

    She was shocked, completely shocked when I quit the next day. Genuinely couldn’t understand my offense, and just started telling me how much everyone who worked there loved her and threw her a baby shower and a birthday party every year.

    I was really lucky, because I had a full time job, and this was just a part time job for some fun money and to get some socialization, so I had the freedom to just walk away. But, long story short, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the manager was still pissed, even if the op had mentioned her lack of Z skill in the interview.

    Reply
    1. RVA Cat

      Wait, they threw her a baby shower every year? I know it’s a typo but it had me kind of worried for all those poor kids having to put up with the crazy….!

      Reply
      1. alter_ego

        haha, yes, one baby shower per baby, and one birthday party per year. I’m sure her being a nightmare boss who expected these things had nothing to do with their spontaneous, I’m sure, generosity.

        Reply
    2. Allison

      Yeeesh, that’s ridiculous. Did you tell anyone what she said to you?

      If she was concerned that you wouldn’t be able to sell the products, she should have taken that up with the person who hired you. Speaking to you that way was incredibly unprofessional.

      I mean really, ohh no you’ll send people to other stores? Well yeah, maybe, if they come in and can’t find product that fit, maybe you would have told them where they could find stuff that did.

      That company’s bra sizing/fitting scheme is dumb anyway, lots of people have found it to be inaccurate. One time, I was telling an associate that I was having trouble finding my size, and she told me to try the “sister size” (one cup size smaller, one band size bigger) because it was practically the same thing. In what universe do bras work that way? I’d tried on that sister size before, I knew it wasn’t gonna fit.

      Reply
      1. alter_ego

        I didn’t tell anyone. It wasn’t a battle I was willing to fight, and as there were about 1000 other reasons I was soured on the job after that first day (a couple of my future co workers got into a full on screaming match with each other during a meeting and the manager just sort of waited for them to finish and then suggested we get lunch, plus a very very very heavy emphasis on pushing credit cards, which I really dislike), I already had one foot out the door anyway.

        Reply
        1. Allison

          I really feel bad for store employees who have to push credit cards. Those are high interest cards, and it doesn’t make sense to have one unless you shop there frequently, no one should be made to feel bad for not getting enough sign-ups!

          Reply
          1. Bowserkitty

            That’s something that has stopped me from picking up a part-time retail job. It’s difficult to find stores that don’t require you to push their cards, and that don’t operate on those quotas. As much as I’d love the discounts there is no way you could get me to be so pushy, because I already know how much I hate it when it gets pushed on me and I don’t want to cause that to others.

            Reply
      2. Elizabeth West

        I mean really, ohh no you’ll send people to other stores? Well yeah, maybe, if they come in and can’t find product that fit, maybe you would have told them where they could find stuff that did.

        This manager is a dingbat if that’s what she thought. It’s good customer service to refer people–they will remember that you helped them even if you couldn’t sell them your product. And when they need something you CAN provide, they will be more likely to come back!

        Reply
      3. Bowserkitty

        The sister size thing is stupid and I don’t even listen to it, nor do I let them measure me unless there’s promise of a freebie (happens every now and then). I know my girls better than anyone else.

        alter_ego, I cannot believe that happened…and it seemed like the manager even needed validation? What in the heck.

        Reply
    3. Stranger than fiction

      Ok so, in addition to that woman being a B, what about the men that work there? I’m pretty sure they don’t wear their bras either.

      Reply
      1. alter_ego

        well, and I didn’t know this at the time, but none of the men were “bra specialists”

        But also, yeah, she was just a fatphobic B, so I just shop at a different VS now for my underwear needs.

        Reply
    4. Three Thousand

      She told you out of the blue after you quit that people love her and throw her birthday parties? Was she straight up trying to prove to you/herself that she wasn’t a terrible person? It always weirds me out when people are transparently trying to do that.

      Reply
      1. alter_ego

        well, I told her I was quitting because of the way she spoke to me the day before, and how I wasn’t willing to subject myself to that, and she responded by telling me how much everyone loves her. So I think yeah, trying to prove that she’s really nice, and that I was being unreasonable.

        Reply
  31. hayling

    Reading all the stories about food on AAM has definitely increased my sensitivity on the topic. I try to refrain as much as possible from commenting on other peoples’ food choices and habits, because for so many it’s very sensitive.

    Also, I imagine that if you have any sort of non-mainstream food preference or allergy/sensitivity, it must be exhausting to talk about! I have a coworker who is vegetarian (which is not actually unusual where I live) and also drinks Soylent for lunch, and people love to talk to him about both. I won’t lie, the Soylent thing sorta intrigues me (although I think their advertising and branding is really weird), but I have kept my mouth shut.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth West

      I think if they’re asking about the Soylent (like they might want to try it), then it’s probably okay–but I agree they don’t need to comment on it like “Oh this has X and Y and did you know blah blah blah,” whatever.

      Reply
    2. Nancie

      Well, the guy who founded the company is really weird, so that sort of fits. :) I drink Soylent for breakfast and lunch, and it amuses me how weird the founder is:

      * He got rid of his refrigerator. Soylent tastes better cold, but he likes not having to listen to the fridge running more than he likes his Soylent cold.

      * For a while, he was buying new clothing every couple of weeks, and donating the old stuff, just to avoid doing laundry. He sort of implied that the old clothes were getting laundered before he donated them though, so I’m not sure how that was more helpful than just having 2 weeks worth of clothes and laundering them every 2 weeks? He has quit doing that, fortunately, since some of us suspected that he just thought the donation place was laundering them.

      Reply
      1. Stranger than fiction

        Well he must be weird, because he named his drink after something in an old sci-fi movie that turned out to be made out of humans.

        Reply
    3. Stranger than fiction

      Yes, it’s amazing how some people think any kind of diet limitations makes you weird. My friend does not eat dairy, and every time she has to go to work dinners or meetings where there’s food, the choices almost always all contain cheese, and they give her a hard time about it and act like she’s so picky or something. Sometimes she gets pissed and says “Um no, my Dr told me if I didn’t get my cholesterol down I’m going to die”. In other words, Shut the F up.

      Reply
      1. KTB

        People are ridiculous, and also incredibly nosy. My BFF and I give up drinking for a month every year (not Lent), and I immediately end up spending the entire month saying “I’m not drinking. No, I’m not pregnant.”

        Reply
  32. KaloraKid

    I can’t help but feel like the scenario LW1 has found themselves in is due to the way a lot of job listings are worded these days. They ask for a candidate that can walk on water, cure polio with a wink, make a mean pecan pie, and manage a team of 50 for a salary of $37k. So many job seekers (smartly, in my opinion) treat the job listing as a wishlist, not a list of must haves. It’s during the interview process that you find out what the real show stopper requirements are and it sounds like the company didn’t convey that LWs missing skill was a show stopper.

    Reply
      1. KaloraKid

        Yep, that could totally be it. I just don’t think we can reasonably expect applicants to parse out what’s a show stopper and what is just a nice to have based on the job description. The onus is really on the company to make that call since they’re the ones writing the job descriptions to outline their dream, pie in the sky, ask for the moon, never gonna happen candidate.

        Reply
  33. Bailey

    #2 – I’m not sure how much longer she can “hide” her condition. If she’s lost so much weight in such a short time and continues to lose weight, people will figure it out. That doesn’t mean they will understand it – many people think with an eating disorder all you have to do is eat, as if it were that easy.

    Interesting that the recent weight loss started around the time she started the new job . . .

    Reply
  34. Alternative

    #2 – Lots of great advice from people above, but I’d suggest the response of “Oh, I’m good, thanks,” when you are asked about or offered food. That response works for just about any question or statement –

    “would you like to come to lunch?”
    “have you had lunch yet?”
    “here I brought you some food to eat”

    This response deflects in a friendly way, and you don’t have to lie, or reveal anything personal.

    Reply
  35. Narise

    In my office my co-supervisor and I sign off on paperwork so our employees need to come in. What I told my group was that they needed to wait to see what we were doing before they started speaking. Some would began speaking before they entered and not understand why I didn’t follow what they were talking about because I didn’t hear the first part. Now they are better about waiting for my attention before speaking.

    Reply
  36. OP #2 here

    Hello everyone, OP#2 here.
    First, thank you Alison for taking the time to read and respond to my question!
    Second, I have read through each of your comments and am very flattered and moved by everyone’s concern. It is also very comforting to hear stories from those of you who are able to relate (but it also makes me very sad, of course). In response to the fact that there was so much concern for whether or not I am getting professional help for my illness, I wanted to assure you all I am. However, I have had serious food issues (binge eating, purging, restricting, compulsive exercising, orthorexic tendencies, you name it) for my entire life, so sometimes the demons voices can be louder than my own.

    I would also like to apologize as I read many comments stating this was not an appropriate question for AAM. I did not mean to put Alison or anyone else in a position where they felt they needed to provide me with medical advice or guidance – I did not intend on making anyone feel uncomfortable or making anyone feel like they were having such a huge responsibility forced on them. I will try to be more sensitive moving forward when asking these kinds of questions. I do not and did not expect anyone to take responsibility for my medical care (except for me of course!), but I still appreciate all of the valuable advice I was offered.

    To clarify for those who I misled, I was really looking for thoughts on how to address the “social aspect” of my issue, per say, in a professional sense. I have previously worked in only very small companies and therefore have been able to establish my “food boundaries” effectively. This new environment (a long term healthcare facility) has so many people coming in and out daily that it is impossible for me to communicate my boundaries to everyone, nor do I really want to share that information with so many people. I guess this new dynamic really throws me off, since I can’t do my normal one time “food talk” and be done with it.

    I appreciate everyone’s suggestions and input and will definitely be utilizing them!

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Thanks for weighing back in!

      I think it was a perfectly appropriate question — you were asking for guidance on the workplace aspect, which is what this blog is for. (I think the people raising issues around that were taking issue with me for answering it, not with you for asking it. But I’m comfortable with where we ended up.)

      Reply
    2. I'm Not Phyllis

      I think it was an appropriate issue to raise – and obviously one that a lot of us deal with, whether we have eating disorders or not. I think that if you use some of the language suggested here, it will help with most of the people at work. You may still get the occasional one who tries to push food on you no matter how many times you say no, but they will be in the minority.

      Best of luck, OP … you’ll be in my thoughts.

      Reply

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