my company told me to change my LinkedIn information, interrupting coworker, and more

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

1. My company told me to change my LinkedIn information

My company does not have a social media policy. I was recently told that I needed to change my LinkedIn profile as HR felt that I was misrepresenting my duties. My duties are varied. I was told to change it in order to reflect my job description and not actual duties. I was also asked to remove my accomplishments. Although I am doing an active job search, I made these changes out of fear of termination. Can a company with no written policy dictate these changes? I have since blocked my coworkers from finding my name in LinkedIn.

Yes, as long as you’re working there, they can require you to do that. They don’t need to have a written policy allowing them to; it’s really up to them. (In general, an employer doesn’t need to have written policies before being able to take action.)

But it’s a weird request, and I’m curious about why they care. If your profile was inaccurate, I could definitely see them not wanting you to misrepresent your role — but if what you wrote it accurate, it’s really not something a reasonable employer would be concerned with.

2. My relationship with my new boss and director has taken a bad turn

I was recently promoted and assigned to work under a boss who was promoted at the same time. I was given no new training to go with the position, but received no negative feedback for my work. One day, with no warning, Boss appears at my desk and escorts me to the office of our director and proceeds to lecture me about my attitude in front of said director. About a week prior, I printed an email from Boss and put it up in my workspace; it outlined new instructions for an existing (but new to me) process. Boss thought at I was making fun of him. I was so stunned by the accusation that I could only state (and repeat) that I kept the email as a reminder, which I felt I needed since I am still new to the position. I pointed out that I had not received any formal training on new tasks, so the reminder was helpful.

Director then proceeded to accuse me of having a negative attitude and of possibly demoralizing my staff, citing examples of other notes or documents I had at my desk. It took me a few hours after the meeting to get over the shock, but I finally realized that they had referred to specific items I didn’t have anymore – filed away or discarded – so Boss had been going through my desk for weeks, it seems. I had valid reasons for retaining every item mentioned. There were no specific performance incidents, missed goals, or policy violations cited.

Since then, I have been careful to clear my desk at the end of every work day and there have been no more issues related to that. However, I’ve started to receive increasingly rude/aggressive emails from Director regarding tasks, projects, etc. I’m so terrified of saying the wrong thing now that I send the briefest possible responses, which I retread and edit a half dozen times before they’re sent. When I see him in staff meetings, he refuses to speak to or acknowledge me (others have noticed). Boss is acting like none of it ever happened. Is there anything to be done?

Ooof, this is a bad situation. If you have a semi-decent relationship with your boss (which I realize may not be the case after the printed-instructions incident and if he indeed has been snooping through your desk, WTF), you could try talking to him about what’s going on with your director and asking for his guidance in repairing the relationship. He may have insight into what the director’s issue is or things you could do that would help, or he may be able to talk to the director and smooth things over.

But if that’s not feasible or doesn’t work … ugh. I’d be paying close attention to what kind of feedback you’re getting now (proactively ask for some if you’re not getting any) and planning for the possibility that this might not work out. It can be really hard to succeed in a role where your boss’s boss has a problem with you, rightly or wrongly, so you want to keep assessing things through that lens. I’m sorry.

3. My coworker keeps interrupting me

We hired a new member of our team almost a year ago now, and her work product is generally fantastic. She’s been well received by our team and people she works with on other teams, from what I’ve heard.

Unfortunately, she has been a bit difficult for me to work with. She is constantly interrupting and correcting me, even when she isn’t correct about her correction. I’ve tried giving her the floor when that happens and just ignoring it, and also tried just continuing my thought as though she didn’t ignore me, but this morning it got to a breaking point. She asked me a question and halfway through my sentence interrupted me with her own answer. I’m not sure if anyone else has experienced this or not, as I haven’t brought it up with a colleague or our manager.

On our team of six, I was the youngest until she was hired. It could be that nobody has told her yet and she just needs some coaching. It could be other reasons, but I don’t think it’s right to speculate on those. Is it reasonable to bring it up with her in private? If so, how would you phrase it? Or better to bring it up with our manager? If so, how would you go about that? I know it seems childish to complain of someone interrupting you, but it’s gotten to the point where I feel disrespected.

I’d actually bring it up in the moment, which will make it less of a big deal than a whole separate conversation. From now on when she interrupts you, call it out! For example:
* “Actually, please hang on — I wasn’t done.”
* “Please let me finish.”
* “Whoops, I was still talking. As I was saying…”

It’s possible that a few times of this will solve the problem. But if it doesn’t, then after one of those interruptions I’d say, “I’m not sure if you realize, but you interrupt me a lot. Would you be more vigilant about letting me finish my thought before you jump in?”

4. How to thank coworkers for a generous gift

I very recently got married. On my last day in the office before leaving town for the wedding weekend, my colleagues surprised me with a “bridal shower” breakfast. They also gave my spouse and me a very generous monetary gift with a sweet card. I work in a small office with 5-10 colleagues, which is part of a larger national company with about 200 employees. I’ve been in this job for 6 months, and I’ve come to really like all of my colleagues, even though we are still getting to know each other.

Together, my colleagues pooled together and gave us an average of $100 per colleague. I was blown away by their generosity, but I am not sure of the proper “thank you” response for a pooled office gift. Should we write each colleague a separate thank you note, or should I leave a common thank you note for all of them in the office kitchen, where everyone can see it? Any other ideas? I did bring in some homemade cookies for the office, but didn’t exactly phrase it as a “thank you” gesture related to the wedding gift. This is the first gift I’ve ever received from professional colleagues, and I’m struggling on the best way to express my gratitude!

If it helps for context, all of my colleagues signed the card. In addition, I am much younger and less senior than all of my coworkers. They all have 15-30+ years of experience and make low six-figures, by my estimates. I am in my mid-20s and make mid five-figures.

I think a single group thank-you would be fine because that’s so often how it’s done with a group coworker gift … but I also think that it would be particularly gracious of you if you instead sent individual thank-you’s to each person, especially given the degree of their generosity. No one ever receives a personalized thank-you and thinks “eh, she shouldn’t have taken the time.”

5. My boss wants me to take a full-time job with him but I’m waiting to hear about a better offer

I’ve been with my current internship for a year now and my boss wants to hire me on full-time, but I may get an offer from a different company.

At first, I was excited to work here, but the compensation he offered is way less than I could make anywhere else. I love the job, but I feel like the new job I might get will offer greater future opportunities and it’s right down the alley of my dream job. I’m at the final interviewing process now, and apparently if you get this far, then you basically have the job unless you butcher it somehow.

My boss wants to “lock me down” now, which most likely means an offer/contract to sign, but I don’t want to sign it until I know if I was accepted/rejected from the potential job I’m interviewing for.

My annual review is in a week, and I think this is when my boss is planning to present the offer to me. We have a good relationship as well. I would call him my mentor. How should I proceed? I don’t want my boss to think that they’re a second choice, but I feel like the new job would be more beneficial in the future.

I’d say this: “I really appreciate this offer. I’d like some time to think it over to make sure I can commit long-term. Can I take the week to think about it and give you an answer by X?”

If the timelines just don’t match up well enough — if your boss needs an answer before you’ll have heard from the other company — you can see if the other company is willing to expedite their process (here’s advice on how to do that). But even if you don’t get the other job, are you sure you want to lock yourself into a job that you say will pay much less than you could make elsewhere? There’s a third option in here, which is to turn down your boss’s offer and keep looking elsewhere. (It might not be an option to do that and still stay in your current role, but it’s something you could talk to your boss about.)

{ 331 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Sara M

    For #3– I’m an interrupting colleague. I’m sorry, I really am. I try not to, but it happens! I think fast and I have ADHD, so it’s just my brain zipping about like usual. I don’t mean any disrespect.

    I _want_ to be called out. Interrupt me back with, “Hang on,” and I’ll sheepishly say “sorry”. And I’ll let you finish. Hopefully I won’t interrupt again.

    If you do this a few times and your colleague tries to re-interrupt you, your colleague is being a jerk, and you can speak more seriously to them at a later time.

    Reply
    1. Mando Diao

      Practice the two-second rule! You can still say everything you want to say, but people will think you’re ~mature and ~captivating!

      Reply
      1. Misc

        Hahaha, you’re assuming one can *remember* the 2 second rule (and yeah, the whole description I was going… this sounds like me).

        >>also has ADHD, mouth is often halfway through a sentence while *still listening* to the other person talk, before realising and apologising (…my friends usually ignore me and keep talking so I don’t sidetrack the entire conversation!). It’s often either verbal processing which happens because the Brain Is Occupied With The Conversation, or occasionally, it’s impulse control/boredom – we see the end of the sentence and automatically fill it in (the same way one automatically pops bubble wrap… >.> ), or get frustrated because it won’t end and try and help wrap it up, or because my brain has bounced over so many topics in the last two seconds that I forget I was listening to you half a word ago. Or I KNOW I’m about to forget an idea, and not saying it and waiting means I don’t hear another word you say, so it’s best to quickly get it out there somehow.

        There are better and worse ways to do all this, of course. As for the OP, ignoring it completely (if you don’t feel you have to address every moment of verbal processing, it may make it a lot easier) or acknowledging the interruption *as* an interruption is fine. Aside from the ‘oh no I did it wrong I must be more careful’ reaction, reminders help keep ‘don’t interrupt’ in the forefront of the brain, as well, so it can definitely cut down on interruptions going forward. But yeah, keep it light and straightforward – if they need SRS Intervention/it actually is disrespect, it can be dealt with harder in future.

        If it helps, if it IS something like this (not to get into internet diagnoses, as a lot of ADHD stuff overlaps with neurotypical, anxiety, and poor social behaviours, ADHD people just have a lot more/more intense versions most of the time) – this is how we try and interact with the conversation. Not talking and concentrating on listening politely means I am NOT concentrating on the words. At all. In fact, I may just fall asleep standing up because my brain decides it isn’t needed.

        [also half my family has ADHD and gets very upset about sharing conversations cause they don’t want other people interrupting and distracting them, so the whole ‘it’s disrespectful’ thing is something I learnt very young. Still did not help. I have to sit there actually biting my lip trying to give less impulsive people the five extra seconds they need to answer questions, and if someone expected me to engage in that time, I wouldn’t be able to].

        Reply
        1. Sara M

          Exactly my experience! Anyway, the point remains–sometimes people know they interrupt and they want kind reminders not to do that.

          Reply
        2. neverjaunty

          I have a dear lifelong friend who is a chronic interrupter (there are times where I have just gotten up and walked away from him during a conversation where I’m sick of it). One thing that helped him was to realize that for him, interrupting is a kind of dysfunctional listening noise – where other people might say “oh yeah?” or “uh-huh” or throw in a short phrase like “right, like last time?” to show they are listening and to engage, he jumps in and tries to finish your sentence. Learning to switch from interruptions that mess up the conversation to interruptions that help is MUCH easier for him than just sitting there biting his tongue.

          Reply
      2. Anxa

        I do not have an ADHD diagnosis, but my doctor thinks its pretty likely I have it. I am not a big interrupter in most settings, but that’s because I just suppress the thoughts. Even just a brief pause means I’d forget what I was going to say.

        I’ve prioritized social etiquette over idea retention and making contributions to a conversation, but I can see why others may not wish to.

        Reply
        1. Mando Diao

          I was going to say this. I think there’s more value in being a good listener than in spouting every thought you have.

          Reply
          1. Anxa

            I should clarify:

            When I’m worried that I’ll start cutting people off,* I am actually listening to them less carefully. Almost all of my attention is focused on conversational cues, looking interested, trying to repeat phrases they’ve said already in my head to get them to stick, trying to repeat phrases for my self…etc. I pay attention to styles instead of content.

            I am more worried about the perception of my listening and politeness than the content of the conversation.

            This is not to say that I’m a categorically bad listening. I have had many instances where a stranger, customer, client, student, or whoever mentions how well I listened to them. But those situations are almost always where my guard is down, I interrupt perhaps or ramble or mumble…but I am far more engaged.

            *I don’t worry just because of worries of impulsiveness, but there are a lot of reasons why I’m paranoid of interrupting and being rude

            Reply
      3. twig

        soooo… uhhhh… what is the two second rule? I assume that you’re not referring to picking up something tasty that you dropped on the floor.

        Reply
          1. kms1025

            Thanks for this…I had never heard of the 2 second rule and my husband will love it…if I can remember
            :(

            Reply
          2. Vicki

            For many people, 2 seconds is taking a breath. And then, they’re back!

            Also, the talker is not going to be happy if I’m counting seconds when they breathe, hoping to get in before the conversation moves so far along that I might as well not have been present.

            Reply
          3. INFJ

            This is brilliant. I need to tell my boyfriend about this. I don’t know how many times I’ve wanted to butt in to his rambling and say, “Actually, I wasn’t done talking about…”

            Reply
    2. Devil's Avocado

      Me too! My brain works fast and I get frustrated when people talk slowly. :( I try really hard to mitigate this though. I sometimes still catch myself doing it and feel so bad!

      Reply
      1. Chaordic One

        Sometimes there are situations with people where, if you didn’t interrupt them, you’d never get a word in edgewise. That may not be the case in this situation, but it is something to consider.

        Reply
        1. Chickaletta

          I just came here to say this because that was my experience. I became an interrupter when I worked for someone who literally talked nonstop for 15 or 20 minutes, sometimes longer. It was so frustrating to me because I felt like I was being held hostage in her office and forced to listen to her diatribes. It was unproductive for both of us because she wasn’t getting feedback from me and didn’t give me a chance to make clarifications or provide any input, and I was sometimes wasting time listening to something I already knew or didn’t need to know. Out of self-survival I started interrupting her and our conversations became more productive. Unfortunately, it became a habit and I unwittingly started using that technique on other people. It’s taken me years to retrain myself to be a good listener again.

          Reply
    3. Mookie

      Thirding this. Chronic interrupters — good, bad, or indifferent (I also like to think of myself as well-meaning, but it’s a bad, impolite habit, and stems from a heady combination of insecurity and overexcitement in my case) — need to be nipped in the proverbial. They do no one, including themselves, any favors. The nice ones will understand, and the arrogant ones will be huffy, but bringing attention to it in the moment, preferably around other people, and in a diplomatic, even-handed way is, as Alison says, your best bet. Be firm and be consistent, LW; your thoughts and contributions matter, and you are absolutely not being petty or childish for wanting to express them.

      Reply
      1. Mookie

        (Also, as with nearly everything, ever, interruptions are not usually “personal,” in the sense that they’re being used strategically to undermine someone in particular or as a form of peacocking, although that can happen and it’s pretty obvious when it does. It doesn’t matter the reasons or intent. It feels and functions very much like a slight, it’s slightly embarrassing to be interrupted by someone keen to teach you the proper method for sucking eggs when they demonstrably haven’t a clue, and it feels especially disrespectful coming from a colleague with less experience / seniority. Whenever one is accused of creating a slight, particularly unintended, they’re likely to take it hard or interpret it as an attack. So long as you’re reasonable about it it’s not your responsibility to stage manage or predict your co-worker’s emotions, so please don’t let the possibility of hurting her feelings keep you from saying something. It’s a nasty, unprofessional habit and I’ve had to train myself, over and over, to stop using it as a crutch.)

        Reply
    4. AnotherFed

      Same! I had issues figuring out what was a pause and what was the end of someone’s statement – partially it was that I came from the northeast to the deep south and the conversational pace was just so different, but I was also well trained to be a serial interrupter by a large family that never stopped talking and I hadn’t realized everybody isn’t like that. I’ve mostly trained myself out of it, but that’s only because I had help from people pointing it out – we had a lot of engineers from PR who often came with the same bad habit, so we all got the same ‘recalibration’.

      If you think something like that is in play and the coworker isn’t defensive, it would be kind to her to talk to her about it, OP, but it’s certainly not something you’re obligated to do!

      Reply
      1. Laura (Needs To Change Her Name)

        YES. I am 7 months in after a move from the Northeast to the South and it is SO HARD. I had a reputation for being so polite and friendly at home and here apparently I am a bulldozer. My “conversational overlap” means I’m engaged and interested!

        Reply
        1. neverjaunty

          Yes, cultural differences of all kinds can be a real issue here. I’m in a profession dominated by men, and people with large egos (with a healthy overlap between those two), and interrupting is something that is par for the course both consciously as a power play and unconsciously by dudes of the “That was an excellent idea, Ms. Smith, perhaps one of the men here would like to offer it” variety. So I’ve had to work hard remind myself that a sharp Mom Voice themed “I wasn’t finished. Thank you. As I was saying–” is going to startle the hell out of a group of friends who were just excited about which restaurant we’re going to for dinner!

          Reply
        2. Lindsay J

          Same here. I think I’ve gotten better after being here a few years (at least nobody has called it out recently) but it was a huge problem when I first got here and so hard for me to control.

          Reply
    5. AdAgencyChick

      Me too, and I apologize on behalf of OP’s chronic interrupter and all the rest of us. Boyfriends and roommates have called me out on it. :(

      I’ve tried to train myself to listen to people’s entire thoughts before saying something, with mixed success. And, as Sara M says, a “please let me finish” will shut me up. OP, you may have to repeat this a LOT — since you’re not her boss, you can’t tell her she HAS to stop, but you can ask her to, and you can insist on finishing your thought every time she does it to you.

      Chronic interrupting is a REALLY hard habit to break, and she’s not going to break it unless she wants to for herself. But if you insist on finishing your thought each time, you can at least minimize the impact it has on you.

      Reply
    6. Katie the Fed

      I really, really don’t understand this. If I had a behavior that was causing my colleagues distress, I would do everything in my power to control it.

      Would it help to think about it from the other person’s point of view? Because when I’m interrupted frequently I get physically tense, frustrated, lose my train of thought, and increasingly nervous when talking to someone who interrupts. I find it so jarring if it keeps happening that I can’t really continue the conversation after a while. So – yes, there’s distress going on inside your head. But you’re also causing quite a bit of distress in mine.

      Reply
      1. Mreasy

        Agreed. I too am an adult ADHD-er with a horrible tendency to interrupt. But I have worked really hard both to lessen the frequency of my doing so, and to notice it so that when I do pipe in, I apologize, bite my tongue, and let the other person finish. I am in executive management, so often the interrupted person feels the need to defer to me, which makes it even more imperative to do so. I would have loved to have had this brought up earlier in my career, and I don’t think it’s fair for those of us with the tendency to do anything but work hard to minimize it.

        Reply
        1. Kelly L.

          Someone at Captain Awkward called it releasing the word-kraken. I totally identified with that. The more relaxed I am around you, the more I just want to SHOW YOU ALL THE SHINY WORDS THAT ARE IN MY HEAD.

          Reply
          1. Tinker

            Oh gods. I’m neurodiverse and have a bunch of neurodiverse friends, and our basic form of socializing a lot of times is to take turns (more or less) uncorking our respective rants.

            Reply
            1. Kelly L.

              There is literally a stretch of road in the nearby city that I call the Ranting About Politics road. Because my SO and I travel this route extremely often, and we always seem to hit this stretch of road at just about exactly the time we run out of “stuff that happened today” to talk about, and start going “OMG DID YOU HEAR WHAT SENATOR BLOWHARD DID TODAY?!?!”

              Reply
      2. AnotherFed

        I think all of us here confessing to this ARE trying to control it, and sincerely apologizing for when we fail. But we only got as good as we are by recognizing that it’s a problem to other people, which often requires the other people to speak up and say it’s a problem, and that’s the piece we’re trying to encourage the OP to do!

        Reply
        1. AdAgencyChick

          Yup. I recognize that it drives people crazy, as a pattern. That recognition is something I have achieved only in the past few years. It is not as deeply ingrained as the decades-old pattern of OMG-I-have-a-reaction-to-what-you’re-saying-it-needs-to-come-out-NOW!

          This isn’t an excuse; it’s something I continue to work on. But I think that’s why, even with recognition of the pattern, we interrupters still interrupt.

          Reply
        2. AnotherHRPro

          Yes. The OP isn’t helping her colleague by not addressing this. For someone to be successful they will need to manage this habit. Imagine if she becomes a manager someday. Would you want to work with a boss who was always interrupting you? At best this behavior is rude and insensitive to those the individual is interrupting. But it is also doing the interrupter a disservice as they never actually fully hear what the other person was saying. Maybe you think you knew exactly what they were going to say, but now you will never know. And over time people will stop trying to share information with you as it is too painful.

          Reply
          1. neverjaunty

            OK, but… this comment makes it sound like it’s the OP’s moral duty to help her interrupting colleague for the sake of that colleague’s career. Yes, the correct response is to stop the interruption, and yes, it is much more effective than quietly seething, but it’s not OP’s responsibility to fix the habit; it’s the interrupter’s. (And I feel fairly confident that most workplace-age adults know that interrupting others is rude, even if they have trouble not doing so.)

            Reply
            1. Katie the Fed

              Thank you, NJ – that’s where I’m struggling on this. It’s not the OP’s job to fix it, and the theme in a lot of these comments seems to be that it is. Although I get that it’s ultimately more expedient for the OP to do so that her goal of not being interrupted can be accomplished.

              Reply
              1. Kelly L.

                I think people are advising the OP because the OP wrote in–if the interrupter wrote in, people would be advising them to stop and suggesting methods of doing so.

                Reply
                1. neverjaunty

                  I understand that’s why people are advising the OP (and rightly so!) on how to address the co-worker’s behavior. That’s very different from suggesting that the OP has some kind of moral obligation to help her co-worker fix the interrupting habit, and honestly that also strikes me as belittling the co-worker, as if she had no idea that interrupting people is a problem.

                  Also, while I think the many comments about ADHD and ADD and so on are very helpful in noting that something other than rudeness may be at play, to be blunt: some people multiclass. People who have difficulty focusing for neurological reasons can also be peacocking or self-important or rude; it’s not either-or.

                2. Not me

                  You’re right, neverjaunty. :)

                  And you know what else is difficult with ADHD? Not being allowed to finish a chain of thought.

              2. Not me

                I agree, and I might just be annoyed about being interrupted, but I feel like I’m seeing this:

                “If I interrupt, just stop me!” Oh, so you are able to stop, but it’s the other person’s job to get you to do it. Okay.

                Reply
                1. Sparrow

                  I think most of the people here are actually saying, “I try not to do it, but if I screw up, please feel free to call me out.” That seems like a reasonable attitude from someone trying to correct a bad habit.

              3. TootsNYC

                I don’t think this is so much a suggestion that the OP owes this, but that the OP shouldn’t REFRAIN out of a desire to be kind to the interrupter.

                That doing what Alison suggests will actually benefit the interrupter, and so the OP should feel comfortable just going ahead and interrupting back.

                Reply
      3. Kit

        ADHD is only manageable to a certain (very individual) degree. I know it hurts people’s feelings when I zone out of conversations, but the best I can do is re-engage the instant I notice I’ve done it, I can’t keep myself from doing it in the first place. I’m not a chronic interrupter, but for someone with ADHD, at lot of times the most they’ll be able to do is interrupt their own interruption (“Today we’ll need to get to the temperature checks—” “Oh yeah, I meant to— oh, sorry to interrupt!”). Impulse control is deeply affected by ADHD and it’s not a disorder you can will yourself out of having.

        Reply
      4. PontoonPirate

        When you say you’d do everything in your power to control it (implying we’re not), I have a hard time not feeling defensive. I am/we are doing what we can to control it, by and large. If we’re on this forum admitting we’re the problem, outlining our tactics for dealing with it and asking for help, I’m not sure what else you want us to say. I think about the impact I’m having on the other person all the time … to an unhealthy degree, probably.

        I totally get what you’re saying, really. But like any other disorder, my ability to control my ADHD tendencies is a daily challenge with peaks and valleys.

        Reply
        1. Katie the Fed

          But, like…do you do it to everyone? Regardless of seniority? Would you do it to your CEO? Pastor? Grandmother? Is it really uncontrollable like a tic? That’s the part I’m not getting – and I know I’m sounding judgmental, but is it like some legitimately uncontrollable compulsion? Because it seems (to the non-interrupting world) that it’s something you should be able to control.

          Reply
          1. Kelly L.

            Well, for me, and I don’t have a diagnosis, so YMMV, but in my experience, keeping my trap shut around higher-ups seems to lead to more babbling when I get into a more relaxed situation. Like I put all the words behind the word-dam and held that word-dam in place with all my effort, and then I relax and the dam collapses. I know there’s a recent study that casts doubt on the “willpower is worn down by being used constantly” theory, but that’s what it feels like from within my head.

            But as PontoonPirate says, we’re talking about the strategies we do use to control it. It’s a thing we’re working on. In addition to everything everyone else has mentioned, sometimes it helps me to spew out a bunch of thoughts onto paper or into a private file. Maybe I should start LiveJournaling again.

            Reply
            1. Meg Murry

              I also have ADHD and an interrupting problem, and part of it is that I just! get! so! excited! But I am working hard to recognize it in myself, and squash it (and say “oops, sorry, go ahead” if I accidentally jump in at what I thought was a stop but was actually only a pause).

              Like Kelly said, it is exhausting to keep myself on my best behavior, and when I leave those situations, I am either even more explosive and interrupt-y, or I go back into super introvert mode where I have to go be by myself in a quiet place.

              Most of my interactions with the CEO, pastor, etc are:
              1) A situation where I’ve had to prepare myself to be on my best behavior
              2) Short
              3) A group setting, not a conversation. If I was having a 1-on-1 conversation with the CEO, I might accidentally interrupt (but I’d apologize and then literally bite my tongue).

              During key meetings when I want to participate but know I shouldn’t jump in, I will come out of them with teeth marks in my lips and tongue, and fingernail marks in my palms, because I am literally holding myself back.

              OP, I agree that you need to say “wait, let me finish” and hopefully the interrupter will recognize her interrupting habit and work to break it. In a one-on-one, mentoring type situation, you can also point it out to her. For me, the way a boss/mentor said it was “I know you get really enthusiastic and exited about these projects, but that often results in you interrupting the speaker, which is a habit you really need to break to maintain good relationships with your colleagues, as it can come across as rude and is often a pet peeve. Especially right now when you are newer, you tend to jump in and think you know what the speaker will say, but that isn’t always the case, so please let them finish.”

              It sounds like the new employee has a bit of “let me show you how much I know” teacher’s pet syndrome (which I am totally prone to), and you would be doing her a favor by gently squashing it.

              When I was dealing with another chronic interupter, who also tended to run off and try to start step one as soon as I finished saying it instead of waiting for me to get through all 5 steps, I would often have to start by saying something like “let me get through all of this, and then we’ll go over any questions you have” – and if it was something that was a variation on what we usually did, I would point that out in the beginning too – “This is different than how you’ve seen procedure ABC so far, so please let me get through the whole process.”

              Reply
          2. Judy

            As the mom of an ADHD child, my observation would be that it’s not uncontrollable like a tic, but it takes more or less effort depending on the peaks and valleys of the disorder. Some days it can be controlled with moderate ease, other days it takes iron control to appear partially normal. Sleep and diet pay a roll, along with the stress of previous days. I don’t look forward to the week of standardized testing the week after next. He’s going to have a rough time in the evenings and that next weekend.

            I can say with my son, he controls it around the Pastor because he only talks to him one on one for a few minutes every few weeks. He probably doesn’t control it as well around his principal, because she was his second grade teacher, so there’s a comfort that makes it both easier and harder. The grandmas get what they get.

            I like what was said by Anxa above I’ve prioritized social etiquette over idea retention and making contributions to a conversation, but I can see why others may not wish to. There is a cost of paying so much attention to not interrupting people that you miss the actual conversation. You can certainly control interrupting by never speaking, but that’s not a solution either.

            Reply
          3. MsChanandlerBong

            I don’t think it’s completely uncontrollable, but it’s definitely difficult. My best friend has a pretty severe case of ADHD (the combination type). If she’s not taking her medication (she stops taking it when she’s pregnant and breastfeeding), she interrupts constantly and literally stops in the middle of a conversation to stare off into space. The ADHD also manifests in dangerous ways, such as running red lights/stop signs. The difference when she’s on her medication is like night and day.

            Reply
          4. ActuallyAutistic

            Sometimes I spend so much time focusing on controlling my urges and my OCD ticks that I lose focus of the actual conversation. Medications and all these other techniques only go so far when your brain is literally wired different from everyone else’s. I really don’t want to derail the conversation but I do need to say that what you said would be considered very offensive and ableist in some circles.

            Reply
            1. NotMeForThis

              Yes, your brain is wired differently but that doesn’t excuse everything. My abuser was a serial interrupter, and would do so with violent outbursts. I nearly stopped talking for over a year, and simply didn’t talk around him at all unless very directly asked a question and then only tiny answers. To this day when someone starts interrupting me over and over I still get shaky and shut down. This whole conversation is making me tremble. People should be allowed and unafraid to speak. People have the right to speak, the whole thing they have to say, not the first few words before you deem them unworthy of being heard.

              Reply
              1. also anon for this

                I’m sorry about what happened to you, but people with ADHD can’t just stop having ADHD because it makes you uncomfortable. A lot of us can stop interrupting–but we will lose focus of the conversation. That’s what happens. There’s no option for us that is ‘pay attention and follow conversational norms’; we can pick one or the other. If we’re trying really hard to be polite and not interrupt anyone, then we get accused of spacing out. And yeah, that’s better than upsetting someone who has issues with being interrupted, but it’s not an ‘excuse’ to say that happens. It does happen. There’s no magic button where my brain just starts working right because I want it to–trust me, I wish there was.

                Reply
          5. JaneB

            For me, yes, it’s uncontrollable – I either say NOTHING (and my face shows the effort or complete inattention despite my best attempts to look neutral) so I get criticism later about being sullen or disengaging, or I get into the conversation and over-talk, whether it’s the VC of the university or the newest most junior clerical assistant – I can best describe it as is being like other people have a dimmer switch, I just have on or off. It’s horrible, I KNOW it’s happening, but it’s like watching yourself being taken over by an outside force.

            Yeah, I can overcome it for a short period, but it’s incredibly hard and tiring – and I’m 47, been practicing this since I first started talking (my family have never been backwards in pointing out when I’m doing it, kindly and supportively), throughout school and university, at all jobs. I’m book-intelligent, I’m quite good at empathy and mentoring, but I cannot make myself shut up, even if it’s just a lot of mms and OKs and I get that but type interjections.

            Reading this thread makes me wonder if I should actually look into the possibility of me having ADD/ADHD, I have always just thought it was one of the many ways I’m not very good at the being human game, but maybe there’s actually a reason for this?

            Reply
            1. Misc

              That on/off thing is… classic. I have people who I literally never shut up around and people who think me having ADHD is ridiculous because I never talk. It’s like a split personality controlled by context.

              Reply
          6. Interrrupter

            I’m an interrupter, and it doesn’t happen every single conversation. It’s only sometimes. I’m under 30, have been working full-time for a decade, and I’ve been working on this for several years now and I’m much better now.

            It’s a natural thing for me, if I have something to say. If I have nothing to add to the discussion, I have no problem being quiet. It’s usually a friendly interruption with good intentions, like adding context or background info, or answering your question before you’ve finished asking it, but I understand it’s often unwanted so I do try to control it, and I’m usually successful. I interrupt all kinds of people, even my boss on occasion, which is really horrible because it’s his biggest pet peeve.

            I’ve tried narrowing down the circumstances that I tend to interrupt accidentally, and it’s generally:

            1. I’m tired, irritated or in a hurry
            2. The other person is talking too slow or giving too many details
            3. I’m so excited I have trouble containing myself

            If it’s my mood or excitement that’s the issue at hand, it’s a lot harder to control because I’m in a mindset that naturally interrupts. So I try to avoid conversations that are long if I’m not in a good mood. If it’s the other person, like Slow Talker or Every Single Little Detail Guy, it’s easier for me to practice being patient and use techniques to wait my turn.

            Reply
          7. toa

            |do you do it to everyone? Regardless of seniority? Would you do it to your CEO? Pastor? Grandmother? Is it really uncontrollable like a tic?

            For me – yes. I have interrupted my CEO before (I’m the “overlap” end of conversation type – not a right-in-the-middle interrupter) and other senior execs who I work semi-frequently. My colleagues, my mother-in-law, everyone. The more “casual” or on the fly a conversation is, the more likely I am to do it. So if I run into one of those people (CEO OR colleague) in the hallway and start chatting about a project, I’ll probably interrupt. If we sit down in a formal meeting, it’s somewhat less likely.

            It’s embarrassing, and I take full responsibility for it, but sometimes the best I can do is stop myself and say “Please go on” when I interrupt.

            Reply
              1. PontoonPirate

                I did it once to my CEO (I interrupted him in a one-to-one meeting to ask him about his coffee of all things) and I swear as the words were coming out of my mouth, it was like I was watching from the outside. You know, like when you’re watching a horror movie and you’re yelling, “Don’t go in there”? Awful. In that split second I was praying for a fire alarm, a tornado, a freak storm of snails … anything to shut me up.

                Didn’t happen. I can laugh now but I felt miserable the rest of the day.

                Reply
          8. AnotherFed

            Yep… I primarily still do it because I mistake a pause for a finished thought. If it’s a conversation and I make that goof, it doesn’t matter who it is. The exception is if it’s someone so boring or a conversation so uninteresting that I’ve totally checked out mentally and have nothing to say. It’s worse if it’s people I’m comfortable with, because then I fall into the trap of trying to help if they pause mid-thought to find the right word, or mistake a rhetorical question for one that wants an answer.

            Reply
            1. Kelly L.

              And then sometimes someone pauses at a natural stopping point, and they probably really did want to stop, but if you don’t say anything, the silence gets awkward and they say something anyway, and you’re like “Would they have wanted to say that even if I’d interrupted, or did I wait too long?” It’s hard!

              Reply
          9. Lindsay J

            Yes, at least for myself, I do do it to everyone. And it is uncontrollable because I legitimately don’t recognize that I’m doing it until it has already happened.

            If you don’t have ADHD or similar you won’t understand because our brains are functioning in completely different ways than yours. Telling us to just not interrupt is exactly like telling a depressed person to just cheer up or telling a person with anxiety that they just need to get a grip.

            Reply
            1. Katie the Fed

              But not everyone who interrupts does it because they have ADHD. There’s also no way to know if the person is doing it because of that, unless they’ve pulled me aside and said “hey, I have ADHD and I want to apologize because I know I’ve been interrupting you, and I’m trying to get a handle on it but still haven’t quite mastered it.”

              Reply
              1. Anxa

                Hmm. I have interrupted (although I’m probably not even An Interruptor and this may just be Anxiety Brain blowing focuses only on my flaws), but I don’t think I’d want to apologize.

                First, I’d feel like it only draws attention to it. Second, if I apologize, but don’t correct the behavior, it feels like I brought it up without presenting a solution. And I’d certainly be nervous to disclose ADHD to coworkers so casually, even with a Dx.

                While some people disclose there, I think many, many people are afraid to disclose to discuss it openly (and for good reason).

                Reply
          10. L McD

            There is a massive spectrum between fully controllable and uncontrollable like a tic. Of course it *seems* like something we should be able to control if it’s something you can personally control in yourself. Those of us with differently wired neurology have a profoundly different experience than neurotypical people do, to the point where it is unhelpful to try and apply those experiences in understanding it. It’s like applying your experience of triathalon training to someone who was born with a muscular disorder.

            Reply
          11. Misc

            The more fraught an interaction is, the more attention goes to ‘oh god, what is my face doing, is there anything on my teeth, am I nodding occasionally, do I need to make eye contact?’ and the less on the Actual Conversation (sidenote: ADHD people tend to also be very emotionally sensitive, and I am personally highly sensitive to rejection to the point where it can override my impulses a lot of the time. But I don’t become ‘non-impulsive’ and engaged, I just avoid anything that might be risky because my brain impulses are focused on risk minimisation).

            The less attention is on the conversation, the fewer thoughts I will have on it, and the stronger my awareness of my behaviour/interactions, so the less interrupting will happen.

            That doesn’t mean I’m actually being a *better listener*, just that they think I am.

            Reply
      5. Not me

        I agree. I have ADHD. It’s a little harder to stop interrupting, but it’s not impossible. And I know just how distracting it is on the other side, too.

        And as someone with the occasional stutter, I don’t like being spoken over & others finishing my sentences. Hold on for the 1 second I took to repeat a word that I mispronounced the first time, please.

        Reply
      6. LiptonTeaForMe

        I grew up not being listened to and being interrupted is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. And yet, I work in a call center and no one, absolutely no one seems capable of carrying on a conversation. They ask a question, as I am answering it they interrupt, this happens over and over until I finally ask them if they called in for help because they are not allowing me to complete an actual sentence. The one that goes hand in hand with this is the yes or no question I ask and they then answer the reason they think I asked the question and not the actual question. Some days are more difficult than others and it really seems like the art of an actual conversation is going the way of cursive writing.

        Reply
        1. Marian the Librarian

          I’ve experienced the whole, “ask a question, then interrupt with what they think is the answer” thing, too. SO frustrating!

          Reply
    7. Wildkitten

      ME TOO. I am also an interrupting colleague. I am also sorry! If you say either “hold on” OR if you just stop talking I’ll realize it.

      Reply
      1. JaneB

        I AM an interrupting colleague, but my efforts to rein that in have been badly impeeded by the way that waiting politely often means I don’t get a ‘turn’ or a say at ALL, especially under my current boss who likes the ‘timed agenda’ model – ten minutes on this topic and that’s the only chance to have a say, and those ten minutes are very easily taken up by the first speaker if no-one interrupts, especially if the first speaker is long winded or one of the boss’ (all male) ‘approved’ speakers.

        If I was a good little girl and waited to be recognised and permitted to speak, or for anatural pause or opportunity, I’d never get to say anything – and as the local expert on certain topics and someone with a fairly senior position in terms of title, I have a responsibility to speak out, and will get (and deserve) some measure of blame if I don’t and things don’t work out. I’ve tried emailing after the event – ignored. I’ve tried talking to my boss about this calmly and neutrally in a private meeting – he complains I don’t speak out enough and in the same sentence tells me off for interrupting. I can’t get any clear advice or feedback from him on this.

        I know I am annoying and I try not to do it – but increasingly resent HAVING to constantly second-think my own conversational style (which works well for me in some contexts and under past regimes at this organisation) when other people are not apparently making any accomodations for me – I’be happier about being corrected publically if other people also were – if the person who always tells a long irrelevant story about how when he worked in a different country 25 years ago things were different were occasionally asked to get to the point, or the person who always takes five minutes to get to the point and another five to repeat the same point multiple times was interrupted politely, or the person who is notorious for being a good record-keeper but a lousy teapot maker was not allowed to spend what feels like hours explaining how we should all make our teapots…

        I guess I should apologise for the rant, but I don’t feel sorry, because whilst I know my ‘interrupting’, the overlapping constructing conversational style that is typically associated with people who think fast and with female conversational modes or apparently with ADHD tendencies annoys some other people, quite frankly, THEIR slowness and insistence on having a big chunk of air time all to themselves all the time stresses me out, annoys me and wastes my time. Concessions and accomodations need to go both ways, or rather all ways, or they become problematic.

        Reply
        1. PontoonPirate

          Yes, and when I’m increasingly concerned about forgetting the important point I need to make because of all the dominant talkers, the amount of energy I have left to focus on the conversation at hand decreases proportionally.

          I honestly often wish for the “put your hand up” kindergarten approach to conversations.

          Reply
          1. Meg Murry

            I actually kind of do “put my hand up” – I’ll lift my hand (often with 1 finger up) and my elbow still on the table to get either the speaker or meeting leader’s attention, as a signal to say “I have something to add when you are done speaking”, or in larger meetings partially raise my hand (not straight up Hermione Granger/elementary school style, but casually, about head high, until I make eye contact with the moderator and they nod. I save it for when I have something that the whole group really does need to hear and I have the experience/authority to add it, often as a clarification or correction – for instance, if someone is talking about needing 20,000 teapots by July 1st, but in fact the customer revised their request and wants 10,000 by June 1st and 10,000 by July 1st, or to point out that since the customer is in Europe we need to have them ready to ship 2 weeks earlier than usual.

            Reply
          2. Vicki

            Yeah. I”ve done the hand thing. And then I stand (or sit) there with my hand up. And I put it down again. And up. And down. ANd now the moment has become 5 minutes and I’ve completely forgotten what I wanted (or needed) to say, and it’s too late now, that train has left the station and is halfway to Chicago.

            If I had managed to get a word in edgewise, back when I first tried, I could have reminded people that, due to XYZ, we’re supposed to be headed to St. Louis. But too late for that now.

            Reply
        2. Katie the Fed

          I struggle with this too – how to jump into a fast conversation without interrupting. I haven’t figured out a good way to do it either.

          Reply
        3. newlyhr

          this comment has such a ring of truth to it for me. I work in an organization where it’s impossible to get the floor back from a few people who jump in and don’t breathe for 10 minutes. They won’t cede the floor, they use conversational fillers all the time to keep the floor.

          That said, I realize that not everyone is like that and I would want my colleague–who isn’t doing that–to let me know when and if I am interrupting her. But for goodness sakes, can some of these people who run meetings PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE shut off the motormouths and let someone else talk.

          When I run meetings I use the one minute rule when we move to a new agenda item and I explain it up front–I’m giving everyone one minute to get their most important input and/or question on the table about topic X. We will go around the room, starting with person A. I will ask you to stop talking at one minute, but we will circle back around and you will have a chance to follow up or provide additional info about the topic once everyone has had a chance to be heard. I get good feedback about that method and it’s taught people how to organize their thoughts better.

          Reply
          1. Anxa

            I found running some meetings that it doesn’t always work to give everyone a chance to speak with the expectation of them having to say something. Sometimes that just makes them feel put on the spot and they’re less likely to assert themselves later on. This was in an environment with a lot of young people (well, only young people), mostly college freshmen and sophomores. So this probably wouldn’t be as big of a problem in most settings.

            But I have found that simply pausing and making brief eye contact with the appropriate nodding gestures to work wonderfully in some situations.

            I’ve also used a method very similar to yours where I asked for a brief show of hands (not up in the air, just a little affirmative gestures) for anyone who has some input on topic X. I’ve found those that didn’t have anything to contribute felt more comfortable by abstaining from joining the line up of speakers than by being expected to pass or actively defer their opportunity.

            Reply
        4. Vicki

          “the overlapping constructing conversational style ” was my family’s style of conversation and, due to 21 years of practice, I am very very good at it. I really can listen and comment at the same time and I can also keep an ear on another conversation, turn to that one and add a comment, and not miss what you’ve said in the meantime.

          It’s a skill. People who don’t have it don’t understand it, but it’s real.

          At a former job, I was blessed with a set of co-workers who had the same skill. We’d have meetings, or go to lunch, and have two or three simultaneous conversations!

          Spouse hates this; he didn’t grow up that way. He wants one conversation and obvious stopping points before the other person says anything. One of our rare argument types occurs when he’s on a roll, I “interrupt”, he gets annoyed and I say “Sorry, I didn’t know this was a monologue. Carry on.”

          “Concessions and accomodations need to go both ways, or rather all ways, or they become problematic.”

          Reply
      2. Vicki

        But please, when you say “hold on”, don’t _go on_ for more than a minute afterward!
        Finish the paragraph, not the next 3 pages.

        Reply
    8. LA

      Ditto. I am a chronic interrupter. I have improved with practice and attention to the habit, but I still slip up. I really appreciate people who give me a cue in the moment.

      Reply
    9. Erica B

      I’m an interrupter. It’s an issue i know i have and I try really hard to not let it get the best of me.. I also tend to talk too much, and actually tell folks sometimes that I have this tendency and please let me know if I need to stop.

      I don’t think any one has mentioned this little factoid yet:
      As a woman, I tend to unconsciously finish people’s sentences and I think people think I’m interrupting. I see all sorts of women doing this all over the place. In my family, my husband’s family, in my work place, etc.. and not so much men. I don’t think many folks are aware of this tendency. I want to say I learned about it in one of my communication classes in college…. similar to if you compliment a man on, say, his sweater, he will simply say “thank you”, but a woman will say, “Thanks! I got it at [store]” or “thanks! I saw so & so had one, and liked it so much I did too”.

      I wonder if she is really interrupting, or is doing the finishing of the sentences thing?

      Reply
    10. Murphy

      I am too. It’s one of my worst work qualities. I try so, so hard to not do it, even literally sitting on my hands to give me a physical reminder to shut it, but I still do it a lot. I hate it about me and feel awful when I do it. Gentle correction, while it would make me very self-conscious, is still appreciated. It pulls me out of myself for long enough to remember my manners.

      Reply
    11. Vicki

      #3 – First, be sure that you are not one of those people we discussed in the “how can I get my co-worker t be more concise”. Are you leaving pauses? Do the pauses cause the listener to believe you may have finished speaking? Do you intentionally leave gaps for someone to respond?

      Is this a conversation or a monologue?

      I have been known to interrupt (I don’t think of it as interrupting. I think of it as talking at the same time) because I want to be sure I’m understanding, asking relevant questions, etc, and truly I can hear you while I’m doing that. What you might view as an interruption (from me) is my version of “uh huh”. Just keep talking.

      Unless this is a monologue, not a conversation

      But. I had a co-worker once who tended to go on and on without pauses and then complain that I was interrupting. The day he interrupted me in a meeting was an AWESOME day for me.

      Be very very careful what policies you set.

      Reply
  2. Mando Diao

    OP2: I’d start looking for a new position. There’s no repairing a relationship with someone who lacks the fundamentals of rational thinking. He sounds really paranoid, and he’ll never stop seeing offenses where their aren’t any. (I realize that this language makes it sound like I’m armchair-diagnosing him with something, but really I’m not; just describing an obnoxious personality type.) For your own sanity, I’d avoid being drawn into lines of questioning that pull you off-track and re-cast the truth. That’s how gaslighting happens, and it sounds like your boss is treading on that territory by making up bizarre accusations. You haven’t done anything wrong, so don’t answer questions that seem designed to get you to ramble uncomfortably or to make you trip on your words to make you look guilty. The answers are, “That’s not what happened,” and, “Wait, I never did that.”

    OP4: The new employee seems young, energetic, and eager to please. In the past, I’ve been open to people kindly telling me, “You’re smart and you have interesting things to say, but when you interrupt people, you’re making them think that you don’t care about what they have to say.” I don’t know if you could work it into the conversation, but I like the idea of the two-second rule. You wait until the other person has been silent for two seconds before saying something. It’s a good way to make sure you’re genuinely listening to other people, and it helps you develop a mature sense of authority that allows you to command the floor when you do decide to speak. Cynically, you could see it as a way of manufacturing false charisma for yourself, but I don’t think that’s a wholly bad thing either. So yeah, the two-second rule.

    Reply
    1. Sherm

      OP2, I agree with Mando Diao. You’re of course thinking of the short-term crisis, but long-term it doesn’t sound likely that these people will allow you to thrive, sadly.

      Reply
    2. Dot Warner

      I was about post exactly the same thing about OP2. OP2, I’m sorry, but there’s no fixing this situation. Run like the wind!

      Reply
    3. Doriana Gray

      I agree with the advice to OP #2. The boss is being a paranoid weirdo, and now the director has taken up this person’s position. OP, you don’t have any advocates in this situation, so I can’t see this ending well for you. It would be one thing if it was just your direct manager being an ass, but your director still likes and respects you – you could have probably had boss’s boss help you come up with a plan to smooth things over with your direct manager. But they both sound petty and immature, and neither one sounds reasonable enough to reason with at this time. Furthermore, it would be absolutely miserable to have to walk around on eggshells every day in fear of even breathing the wrong way lest they both think that was some slight against them as well.

      Start job searching, OP. Crazy people in power can not be managed – been there, done that, lost that battle and had to find a new job to preserve my sanity.

      Reply
      1. Jack the Treacle Eater

        Yes, me too. If someone has taken irrationally against you the chances of rectifying the situation are slim. I’ve been there and tried all sorts of things without success. I wish now I’d baled out a lot earlier.

        Reply
        1. neverjaunty

          Yes. This is not a situation you can fix by being rational or pleasant, OP. Something is going on with these people that has nothing to do with you, and that you don’t know about – and that’s not something that you can fix. All you can do is get out.

          (Also, seriously, what kind of person sees an email instruction posted in an employee cube and immediately thinks “she is making fun of me”? And continues to think that after receiving a perfectly rational explanation as to why she’s not?)

          Reply
          1. Anna

            Seriously. It’s so weird. Even if the OP wrote something on it like, “IMPORTANT” I can’t imagine what would make someone think the next word would be “Whatever.”

            Reply
      2. RVA Cat

        Add me to the chorus of people urging you to run. Joffrey’s having his Kingsguard beat on you – run before he whips out his crossbow.

        Reply
      3. AMG

        Same, OP. I wish there were another answer and I suppose you could try talking to them again because you really have nothing to lose, but why make yourself crazy riding it out for a year? It just doesn’t seem salvageable. This stuff has a way of wearing on a person, making them second-guess themselves, get paranoid, etc. You are at the beginning of that already–anyone would be! Take your sanity and all that you have to offer somewhere more rational and professional.

        Reply
        1. Doriana Gray

          This stuff has a way of wearing on a person, making them second-guess themselves, get paranoid, etc.

          Yup. Three months after getting a new (better) job in a new division, and I’m still working through the emotional trauma sustained from my last terrible manager. Having to unlearn bad habits and/or protective measures that make you yourself seem paranoid is hard – get out before this job does any further damage to your psyche, OP.

          Reply
      4. themmases

        When someone crosses a line like that– searching your desk, making stuff up about you– just get out. It doesn’t matter why they did it, it’s a sign that the situation is not salvageable. If they had a good reason to do it, you probably can’t fix this relationship anymore. And if they didn’t, they’ve basically put it out in the open that they are literally out to get you.

        I had a boss turn on me and do this once. She was mad that I told a trainee they couldn’t do something (something illegal/unethical, I worked in research), so she searched for my name in her Outlook so she could forward anything she’d ever asked me for that hadn’t been done to my supervisor. It’s funny now because she only found four items, all of which were either not due yet, low priority, or waiting on her. But at the time, I was so surprised and stressed and upset that I cried in front of my supervisor. I left that year and she continued telling some people I walked on water and others that I didn’t respond to her questions fast enough after I didn’t work for her anymore.

        You can’t understand people like this, and you can’t fix them. Just leave before working around their bad behavior makes you seem weird, too.

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth West

          My impression is that they are trying to push her out. I had a boss like this–he replaced the person who hired me, and I could never ever do anything right as far as he was concerned. He acted cold toward me from day one, and finally at the end of one shift, he told me I was fired for being too slow, not doing the work assigned, being rude to a customer (this was a video store). All bullshit. I found out later than he immediately hired his best friend to replace me.

          And to top it off, as I was leaving that night, he said, “Come back and rent with us soon!” ARE YOU KIDDING!?

          If OP doesn’t want to quit a job, I understand that, but in this case, I think she’ll have to. I wouldn’t recommend staying any longer than necessary.

          Reply
      5. Stranger than fiction

        Would this be a good situation to loop HR in? If just to simply get her side documented and on file? Job search yes, but it doesn’t sit right with me for Op to just leave without at least trying to set the record straight. Maybe that’s wishful thinking though, if HR is as wacky as the mgr and director.

        Reply
        1. Doriana Gray

          The only way I’d advise going to HR in this situation is if OP doesn’t care about the fallout. It will get back to her manager, and her manager’s a nut. I wouldn’t risk it unless I had another job offer waiting for me. Some battles are not ours to fight.

          Reply
  3. Revanche

    OP#2, it’s also possible that they’re setting you up to be “managed out”. In quotes because this isn’t how you responsibly manage someone out. This was a pattern of aggressive behaviors that one of my previous (also, terrible, obviously) bosses engaged in when he wanted someone to leave. He never had the management chops or the spine to fire them, so instead he would bully them, accuse them of outlandish “crimes” in front of his directors, give them unreasonable and contradictory feedback so that they would quit. His entire management plan was “I’ll make them so miserable, they have to see the writing on the wall and quit so I don’t have to do paperwork.”

    Awful humans.

    Reply
    1. Alison Read

      Revanche is describing a constructive dismissal – creating a work environment that is so hostile it is untenable. I’m so sorry OP#2, I really hope somehow this isn’t the case for you.. Sadly it sounds like it might be. I don’t think I can offer much more, just know that if it is a constructive dismissal you do have legal protection if you end up deciding to quit.

      Crazy is out there. Like another poster mentioned, gaslighting might be what’s going on. I hope you don’t get too caught up in their crazy, I hope you’re able to move on from this soon. Please write a follow-up once all of this is settled/happily behind you.

      Reply
      1. misspiggy

        I think you have legal protection in the UK and possibly Europe, but not in the US, from what I’ve gathered here.

        Reply
          1. DCGirl

            If a person is targeted for disparate treatment on the basis of a protected characteristic, then it’s illegal. If you just have the misfortune to work for an equal opportunity jerk, then it’s not.

            Reply
          2. Snowglobe

            Legal protection for “constructive dismissal” means that you might qualify for unemployment. Constructive dismissal implies that the work environment was so bad, that you had no choice but to resign, so therefore it is treated as a dismissal for unemployment purposes. It doesn’t mean that the dismissal is necessarily illegal.

            Reply
            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Right, exactly. You might get unemployment, but it’s not illegal (unless they targeted you because of your race, sex, religion, etc. and you can show that).

              Reply
          3. Misc

            Ha, sorry, I was riffing on the standard ‘Is it legal’

            but seriously guys, your working conditions suck and are absolutely terrifying

            Reply
            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Could we lay off the U.S. bashing that’s been rampant here? There are legitimate issues with employment practices here, as there are in every country, but this kind of thing is not a useful or constructive contribution to the discussion, and it’s pretty exhausting to hear day after day.

              Reply
              1. anooooning

                Thank you, especially since it’s kind of depressing to constantly hear “wow, your working life sucks, we have it better X way over here!”

                Reply
              2. neverjaunty

                Thank you. As Miss Manners once pointed out, these same people would undoubtedly get their tails in a knot if they were on the receiving end of “wow, your country does that? how barbaric, unlike my awesome country!” from the Americans.

                Reply
                1. Kelly L.

                  Yep, I often even agree with some of the employment-policy rants, but in other places online, discussions sometimes devolve into people thinking Americans do nothing all day but drive SUVs that run on Big Mac sauce while belching the Star-Spangled Banner and shooting guns wildly into the air like Yosemite Sam. It…does get old.

                2. Rebeck

                  Welcome to our lives: especially as an ex-pat American living in Australia – I get hit over the head by US cultural imperialism AND the bagging of the US by everyone around me.

                  There are times when I wonder why I read this blog: so much of the advice is totally wrong for my industry and the country where I live (try not providing reference details in your application here, just try) and then anyone pointing out that things are different elsewhere gets absolutely jumped on.

                  I’m probably touchy because of just how very bad the US looks internationally right now, but comments like this leave me saying “well, pardon the rest of the world for daring to exist.”

                3. Ask a Manager Post author

                  For what it’s worth, Rebeck, I don’t see people here getting jumped on for pointing out “this is different in Canada” or “this is different in X industry.” I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone here outside Country X assert that they know better than a resident of that country how things work there.

                  I just want people to stop making unhelpful “your country sucks” comments. That seems like a pretty low bar to request.

                4. neverjaunty

                  I don’t see people getting jumped on for saying “things are different” here either. Quite the contrary – there’s a lot of “oh, you guys in Country X are so lucky that you have those things we don’t!” from USians.

              3. NoProfitNoProblems

                I don’t think this qualifies as “U.S. bashing” or at least not the kind that should be so actively discouraged. It’s not like people are saying things like “Americans are so fat/lazy/crazy/hostile/racist” which would be incredibly aggravating to hear. But by most standards, U.S. employment laws are incredibly lacking in worker protections compared to other OECD nations. I mean, that’s an objective fact, and the lack of all these protections must be horrifying to people from other places. I think it’s valuable for Americans to hear that the protections we lack are considered standard in most advanced economies.

                Reply
                1. neverjaunty

                  C’mon. You know that there’s a difference between presenting an objective fact (“the laws are X in my country”) and bashing (“your country doesn’t have X? Wow, you guys suck”).

      2. Stranger than fiction

        Yep, and if you haven’t already Op, document what you can. Save emails, make notes (that you keep in your purse) of conversations, etc. If they wrote you up for this nonsense, ask for a copy.

        Reply
      1. Sadsack

        Yeah, taking the time to rummage through drawers and probably trash cans seems like more work than just telling an employee to improve in an area. So weird. I feel bad for you, OP. I hope you find another job soon.

        Reply
        1. Stranger than fiction

          Right?! Why’d they even promote her if they were just gonna do this bs so shortly into it? Maybe they have someone else in mind already.

          Reply
          1. Sadsack

            This is what I think. Her manager was promoted at the same time she was, and possibly has someone else in mind for her job.

            Reply
    2. AMG

      Yep–been there and done that. I tried to show that I really was a good employee and I really deserved to be there but his mind was made up. Ironically, the same thing happened to that boss and his henchwoman (henchperson?) after I left. Corporate loved me and hated him, so they froze him out. Karma.

      Reply
  4. irespectfullydisagree

    The answer to #1 surprised me. As far as I have ever read, personal/private social media profile content (including LinkedIn) is owned solely by the person to whom the profile belongs, regardless of whether an employer has a policy or not, so long as the content is not produced as a result of or in conjunction with one’s work responsibilities; therefore an outside party could never “force” someone to change their personal profile content (assuming it is not otherwise obscene, illegal, or harmful in some way, which isn’t really an employer issue). Although a falsified profile could be detrimental to one’s credibility as well as conflict with recommendations… I am ultimately surprised and disagree that the answer given to the question was an unequivocal “yes.” My understanding is courts have ruled employers may ask or attempt to persuade these types of changes. Nevertheless, the choice is up to the profile owner.

    Reply
    1. Tinker

      Well, it’s kind of splitting hairs. Usually employers can’t actually FORCE force people to do things like that, but they can attempt to persuade by threatening to fire the person in question and many people find this argument to be fairly convincing.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Exactly. Usually “employers can force you to do X” doesn’t mean they can literally force you to take a particular action; rather it’s that you need to do X in order to continue working there. They’re requiring it as a condition of employment.

        Reply
        1. nofelix

          Are there any limits on this, beyond breaking the law and collective bargaining agreements? They can’t fire you for refusing to break the law right?

          Reply
          1. AnotherFed

            At that point, it’s such a terrible company that they’d fire you for wearing blue socks, not whatever the actual thing is, and if you don’t have anything documented, you’re SOL.

            Reply
          2. Social Media

            I’m an executive assistant who also is in charge of our website, worked with graphic designer for our new logo, use Google analytics and tag words, etc. I was told to remove all marketing references because I am an executive assistant and my profile should reflect this and not the projects that I volunteered to do that are above and beyond my normal duties.

            Reply
            1. Social Media

              They felt that me listing this is a misrepresentation of what I do even though it is well known that I perform these duties. I felt bullied. Morale is very low at my job and this is one reason why I am actively seeking other opportunities.

              Reply
              1. Mike C.

                They’re actively trying to undermine any effort to find work elsewhere, because they know that’s the only way you will progress in your career.

                Reply
                1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

                  This. Removing accomplishments is a way to keep you from standing out.

                2. neverjaunty

                  Bingo. Social Media, setting aside the fact that your employer is being unreasonable and is wrong, you may wish to consider why it is that they are resorting to stupid means (ordering you to limit your profile) to keep you at your job, rather than reasonable means, and whether a different employer might see you in a better light.

              2. Tsalmoth

                On the plus side, they can’t make you change your resume. Make sure that’s what’s getting in front of potential employers (not your LinkedIn profile), and that it lists accomplishments like the website and marketing.

                Reply
              3. Stranger than fiction

                Wonder if that’s something to do with pay grades? A friend of mine works for a company that just implemented them, and suddenly her boss is pulling her back on some things she’s doing, and she’s pretty sure it’s because of the pay grades and working within then, etc. God forbid they’d have to give someone a raise. but I mean, who’s this pay grade police watching what employees are doing down to the last detail like this? Seems ridiculous.

                Reply
            2. Doriana Gray

              That’s insane. You can’t even write something like, “Volunteered to assist the marketing team with X and Y activities during peak work periods and increased web traffic 79%?” Because that’s the language I use on my résumé when discussing accomplishments from my previous place of employment (a law firm) – it shows that I was doing paralegal work prior to actually becoming a paralegal, and makes it clear that those duties/accomplishments were outside of the duties/accomplishments expected for someone in my (much lower) role. No dishonesty about job duties there.

              Reply
            3. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

              It’s funny (not the ha ha kind), I just wrote a post “defending” the possibility of a company being in the right in such a request and now here’s a highly irritating example of misuse.

              This makes me mad because they are asking you to delete legit, valuable experience. I hope your internal references will back you up on that experience, despite the LinkedIn police, because that belongs on your resume.

              Reply
          3. Ask a Manager Post author

            They can’t fire you for engaging in “legally protected behavior,” meaning behavior that’s specifically protected by law (not just behavior that’s legal) — so they can’t fire you for, for example, reporting harassment or organizing your coworkers around wages and working conditions (or discussing those things with coworkers), or refusing to break a law.

            Reply
          4. Anxa

            I don’t see why not? Maybe it’s because I’m low-income and a lot of peers are more contingent workers and Have Stories about their bosses, but I really don’t even think I’d look askance at an applicant who’d been fired a few times at this point. Because there seems to be just as good a chance someone was fired for being a good employee or having stronger ethics than otherwise.

            I feel like I was fired for this, indirectly. I was training to serve in a new restaurant. I didn’t realize how focused on ‘nightlife’ it was going to be. I always tended to be on the more quiet and reserved side for a server. I wasn’t an entertaining or excellent server, but I was attentive and service-oriented and polite.

            On opening weekend when I was slow with some of my drink orders. I was fired (well, I was on the ‘cut’ list) for be ‘timid.’ Months later, they had a PR nightmare for serving a teen with a fake who ended up hospitalized. But I was poor and did not want to willfully over-serve and end up in legal trouble so a restaurant could sell a few more drinks.

            Reply
            1. I'm a Little Teapot

              Yeah, any hiring manager who assumes being fired necessarily says something bad about a candidate has a hell of a lot of unexamined privilege.

              I’ve seen online forms that ask if you’ve ever been fired from a job for any reason and if you answer yes you are automatically disqualified – no room for explanation, no exceptions. It’s infuriating.

              I’ve been fired several times. Sometimes I deserved it (I was a screwup in my youth). Sometimes I really, really didn’t.

              Reply
              1. Anxa

                I think that’s a great point about privilege. One of things that I love about this site is learning about the norms in so-called ‘professional’ or more white-collar fields. One thing I had never heard of before was a PIP. I HAVE known people who have had warnings and second chances before being fired, but the concept of having management talk to you about performance issues and giving you a chance to improve is definitely the exception to the rule in my experience.

                I’ve usually witnessed people get away with slacking indefinitely or being fired on the spot (or just not asked back and taken from the schedule).

                I think knowing whether you’re being fired is also a privilege in and of itself. When you’re cut for the season, I guess that could be compared to RIF (another term I learned here), but really the best workers tend to survive all the rounds, so in a way it feels like a performance firing. When you’re not put on the schedule after your hours started dwindling, is that a layoff? A firing? It’s completely normal to just have a week or two with fewer hours, then to just get weeks worth of schedules emailed to you without your name. Is this a lay-off? A soft-fire? Demand shrinks, but maybe it’s a performance issue? A culture clash issue? Do you think ATS has an option for “slowly removed from schedule” or “I don’t know, my employer won’t tell me” or “Was let go, was too embarrassed and dejected to call about the particulars” or “change in management, they kind of forgot about some of us in the transition?”

                And of course these wouldn’t and shouldn’t be actual responses. But it’s very hard to demurely walk around why you were let go when you’re not even sure. Even if you take full responsibility, it can seem like you’re badmouthing an employer because it makes them look petty and unreasonable. So you have to give a vague stock answer, which I guess is the point of the whole thing anyway.

                Reply
        2. KarenD

          Yeah, on stuff like that employees without a contract can be pretty powerless. A very significant set of restrictions on my right to free speech (including all my social media) comes as one of the restrictions of my job. I can accept that or move on.

          One more thing: If I were that OP, at this moment in time I’d be very cautious about locking my co-workers out of my LinkedIn profile.

          Obviously, somebody has been looking at her LinkedIn profile, and and it’s pretty likely someone will want to follow up and make sure she did what she was told to do (restrict her profile to the job in her job description.) If they try to look and find themselves blocked, that’s going to raise all kinds of red flags.

          Reply
        3. Stranger than fiction

          Can she push back on the accomplishments part though? They’re basically asking her not to post her achievements, why? Maybe they know she’s job searching and they’re one of those places that thinks you’re their property and how dare you look elsewhere.

          Reply
    2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      And there’s another layer: the employer might not be in the wrong for asking for the change.

      Personally, I don’t care, but I’ve seen some wildly inaccurate job descriptions from former employees. I don’t have any recourse after their employment (and, I don’t care), but if those same job descriptions were up while they were employed, I might ask them to change them. LinkedIn isn’t only for job hunting, it’s also a resource that outsiders use to look up a company (you’re attached to the company profile if you’ve linked to your employer) and who does what there.

      Let’s say you were the assistant to the head of purchasing and your main job duties were scheduling meetings and helping to prepare RFQs, as well as keeping track of responses. Maybe, during the time of doing that, you had some low level conversations suppliers about obtaining better pricing.

      So, negotiating with suppliers isn’t in your job description, but, putting your best foot forward and wanting to advance, you play up your role as a negotiator and supplier contact on your LinkedIn, and leave off that 98% of your job is administrative.

      The employer has an interest in making sure that what you do isn’t grossly misrepresented while you are employed there and connected to their LinkedIn profile.

      Reply
      1. F.

        As far as not caring about what a former employee has on their Linkedin profile, our company currently has the problem that the last three Controllers (two of whom were fired, one for embezzling) still have the position listed as their current employment on their profiles. We have had people refuse to consider working for us because they think one of them is still employed here. I wish we could get them to change their profiles to at least reflect that they do not still work here. It is hurting our reputation.

        Reply
        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

          Wow.

          I never considered that as a possibility. That’s something. Although we do have several employees who are long gone who have us as their current employer, it’s never been impactful like that.

          I wonder if you have any recourse with LinkedIn? That’s a big deal.

          Reply
          1. Margali

            A couple of years ago I had to contact LinkedIn to let them know that there were about 5 people falsely stating that they were employees of my company. There were some emails back and forth, and eventually our name got removed from those profiles.

            Reply
        2. Carly

          My company hired a Controller once and he lasted for two months but according to his LinkedIn he still works here… three years later.

          Reply
          1. valc2323

            I recommend following up with Linked In. We had a situation recently where someone was fired and a few weeks later still listed us as her place of employment. Her supervisor reached out to Linked In to report that the person did not work for us any longer, and a representative from Linked In followed up with the supervisor to get proof of the termination (to ensure it wasn’t just someone trying to harm another’s reputation). The person’s posting was changed very quickly.

            Reply
            1. Tommy

              Ehh, a few weeks I would attribute to carelessness or busyness. I would probably wait a while longer and then contact the person directly.

              Reply
      2. anonanonanon

        This.

        We’ve had past Editorial Assistants write, “Edited/developed manuscript X for author Y” on their resumes when all they did was photocopy some pages or send the production paperwork through the system. Not only does it make it a sticky issue when they’re looking for jobs outside the company, but it’s caused some tough issues when new EAs say, “But former employee Z said she worked on manuscripts so why can’t I?”

        Reply
        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

          I just did a quick tour of LinkedIn. In addition to three long ago employees still attached, and two people who have never worked for us saying they do, I spotted one of our entry level people who processes (resizes) product photos saying his job is graphic design branding work.

          Now, I don’t care, but his reference will never match that, so, it’s something to think about.

          Reply
        2. Rusty Shackelford

          I knew someone who did desktop publishing, who put some books and articles on her “list of publications.” In her case I know it was ignorance.

          Reply
      3. Stranger than fiction

        Eh, but at that point who’s it really hurting if someone exaggerates? I guess possibly the new employer who hires them only to find out they’re not all that adept at vendor negotiations. Ok nvm answered my own question.

        Reply
        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

          In this case, it’s not unlikely for a vendor or potential vendor to look up the company employees to understand people’s roles and the company would have an interest in someone not misrepresenting their role.

          That interest would evaporate after the employee was no longer current.

          Reply
    3. NDQ

      In defense of the employer, I can see that if an employee listed accomplishments on their LinkedIn that reflected poorly on the company, it would prefer not to have than information online even if it is true.

      “Successfully created and implemented cost-cutting program that eliminated $20 million in annual production waste allowing Corporation to claim its first-ever profitable year in its 10-year history.”

      NDQ

      Reply
      1. Anon For This

        ^^ Agreed. Our salesguy’s LinkedIn is all about how he’s a real sales tiger, can sell ice to penguins, etc. It’s a little awkward because he uses LI as a sales tool.

        Reply
      2. Construction Safety

        “Successfully defended the company against 12 EEOC claims against a degenerate manager.”

        Reply
      3. Meg Murry

        Yes, I was wondering if it was a case of too much detail regarding projects that should be confidential. One of my former companies added a session at the end of the summer for the interns helping them revise their resumes – and while it was partially billed as a service for them, it was also so we could look at the resumes and say WHOA STOP, you can not put that on your resume or LinkedIn, and you can’t be that specific, especially if you are interviewing with competitors. Especially since we had interns working on developing project teams where the final product wouldn’t hit the market for a year or two – the competitors did not need to know that we were working on a product to solve problem X, and they really didn’t need to know that we were working on problem X using Raw materials ABC123 from Supplier LMNOP. It was ok to be general, and even ok to say they were part of the team that developed Product X in a few years once that product was commercially available – but not OK to put on your LinkedIn or resume before the official press release or product launch.

        Reply
    4. Preggers

      I was surprised by answer #1 too. We an employee who is teapot assembly line worker who said on LinkedIn they were Teapot Sales Manager. We found out about it when we had a customers call asking for Mary the Teapot Sales Manager. And only wanted to do business with Mary. Our legal council told us there wasn’t must we could do. I didn’t agree with their opinion at the time and still think management should have done more to fix the issue.

      Reply
      1. Anna

        I think if there’s a flat out lie it’s easier to address it directly with the employee. In your case it wouldn’t have been that difficult for Mary’s manager to ask her to change how she’s representing herself because it’s wildly inaccurate and becomes an ethical issue. For the OP, it’s different because they actually did the things they listed on their profile and the company is being weird about them listing those things. I think the company is confusing what LinkedIn is for (listing your duties and accomplishments) with what a job listing is (listing the basic duties of someone in a given position).

        Reply
    5. Bee Eye LL

      You have to be really careful when posting about your workplace on social media. I know someone who was fired for making a comical post about a dead mouse in the building.

      That being said, this reminds me of a job I had where I had the duties I was hired for, plus a whole other set that got dropped on me. Two different field, really, but all in the same job. When it came time to do salary surveys at work, I was told to “pick one” even though I clearly wore two hats. An employer like that really makes you want to update your resume and get out of there, which I did.

      Reply
      1. Jimbo

        Not LinkedIn but I’ve worked at places that told employees to remove their workplace from MySpace and Facebook. Usually it was people right out of college posting the typical stuff like pictures taken while obviously drunk, women in various states of undress, etc. It wasn’t bad enough to effect their employment but we didn’t want our company name attached to it. I’m so thankful social media didn’t exist when I was that age because most of us probably had poor judgement.

        Reply
        1. Amadeo

          Yeah, I got into trouble in 2005 when this was just beginning to become an issue and ended up ‘dismissed’ from a job because someone found my Livejournal (and I’ll be honest, I was 24 and stupid and I was less than discreet). That journal and my other social media is buttoned up tighter than a bank vault now.

          Reply
          1. simonthegrey

            Oh, livejournal. Luckily my dad raised me to be as paranoid as he is (no images, no identifiable information readily available, everything locked down to just friends) but let’s be honest, no college student is perfect about keeping that stuff buttoned up the way they will be 10 years later.

            Reply
  5. Engineer Girl

    #2 – I’d be really suspicious of your boss. Who knows what he told the director!
    Look for another job. And whatever you do, don’t resign. Force them to lay you off, fire you, whatever. That way you can collect unemployment.
    This is not something you can fix. No amount of high performance will fix this. No amount of deference will fix this. You’re dealing with a malicious dishonest bully.

    Reply
    1. Jeanne

      I agree he is a bully who will not see reason. I would only resign after finding a job. Do not resign just to escape. This will be difficult but possible. I think OP needs a couple of go-to phrases. “I had no idea that would be offensive.” or “I needed it for my work.” and then stop talking. (There might be better phrasing.) Then escape the meeting.

      I have a question. Many times someone like this is advised to go to HR. Why not in this case? I have not found HR helpful but other posters say they are. Without every exact detail, OP appears to be right while the bosses are horribly bad managers. I find it surprising that the advice is to manage up.

      Reply
      1. Engineer Girl

        HR is notoriously bad at helping in a bully situation. Many people feel that HR makes it worse. In this case the boss is bullying and HR will most likely support the boss and director.

        Reply
        1. F.

          It is also entirely possible that the HR person is being bullied. In most companies, HR is at the mercy of management.

          Reply
          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            I know you’re in a crappy situation with your own HR job, but I think in most cases that’s a stretch. The answer is generally more just that HR has (and should have) very limited power. There are some cases where HR can and will effectively intervene in this kind of thing but they’re fairly rare, and as an employee it’s hard to predict the blowback going to HR may end up causing. Ultimately, HR isn’t there to referee this kind of thing.

            Reply
            1. Whippers

              Just as a matter of interst; what are the situations where HR can/should intervene? Are they mainly just situations that have legality at stake?

              Reply
            2. F.

              I did not generalize this situation to “most cases”. I was simply pointing out that abusive managers seldom stop their abuse at the door to the HR department, especially if they are senior management and have substantial leverage over HR. I actually agree that taking abusive manager complaints to HR is rarely a good idea unless they are doing something actually illegal. I have been both the misguided employee attempting to complain and the HR manager on the receiving end of complaints.

              Reply
      2. swedishandful

        “and then stop talking.”

        This is really the key here. Engaging as little as possible in the shenanigans is the only protection you have. The more you say the more ammunition you give.

        Reply
    2. Stranger than fiction

      Well, if she could prove constructive dismissal, she could get unemployment, (depending on her state) eventually, and after a long stressful fight. Finding a new job is probably easier and less stressful.

      Reply
  6. Let it snow

    My boss is the interrupter and it’s very annoying. I usually let her finish and then continue what I was saying but she interrupts about 20 times in a 5 minute conversation. I never say anything to her because she thinks anyone telling her about her faults is disrespectful, even if she really needs to hear those things.

    Other people have heard our conversations and told me they have no idea how I keep up. I don’t either.

    Unfortunately, it’s very rude but I just deal.

    Reply
    1. Not me

      Same here.

      I’ve picked right back up where I left off with “as I was saying,…” but then I just get interrupted again. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      Reply
  7. Chocolate Teapot

    2. Something sounds horribly wrong and it might be time to start looking elsewhere.

    4. If the office is only 5-10 people then individual thank-you notes is doable.

    Reply
  8. Matt

    #3: I have a coworker who seems to need me (or someone else) to develop his thoughts. He calls me (unscheduled) to ask me questions I can’t answer – actually I would ultimately need those answers from him (he’s the software architect and requirements engineer, I’m the developer). He calls me, asks questions, thinks about them and answers them by himself with me listening to him on the phone (while I really can’t contribute much).

    Reply
    1. Jen RO

      As someone who also functions like your coworker – I’m sorry. I usually only use select coworkers as a sounding board, and let them know in advance that I am not actually expecting an answer… (Before she went on extended leave, I talked to one particular coworker who also used me as a sounding board, so it worked great for both of us. I miss her a lot…)

      Reply
    2. Tommy

      I do the same thing! For some reason, thinking out loud gets the mental juices flowing in a way that thinking silently doesn’t. When I’m at home, I get my wife to help me. She’s not a math or programming person, but she has helped me come up with difficult proofs and complex algorithms.

      At work, it is awkward to ask someone to do this. I’ve read about the “rubber ducky method,” where instead of wasting your coworker’s time, you literally explain your problem aloud to a little rubber ducky on your desk, but I’ve never really tried it. It doesn’t help that no one at my company (not even the CEO) has an office…

      Reply
      1. Melissa

        Ooh my husband is a programmer and when he gets stuck he will “rubber duck” the kids, me, the wall, himself…. The kids were his go to when they were babies. He just has to say stuff out loud, but not in a conversational tone, not muttering to himself. I highly recommend this.

        Reply
          1. Not me

            I do this in drafts on my blog sometimes… I’ll realize 3 minutes in that it’s not worth a post, but trying to explain it is helping.

            Reply
        1. VintageLydia

          We may be married to the same man. He works from home most days, too, so he’ll come in to use the restroom or to get a snack and before I know it I’m being talked at for an hour about things WAY over my head.

          Reply
        2. Anna

          I do this on occasion and it is very helpful. It was hugely not helpful when I tried to use my manager one time as a sounding board and she got very condescending. Annoying.

          Reply
    3. Camellia

      I had a co-worker who thought out loud like this. I learned to just sit back and listen, and I would learn something new every time.

      Reply
    4. TT

      Real life conversation between me (total extrovert) and my husband (total introvert) after I took a lengthy course in MBTI and work styles:

      Me: So babe, it turns out when I’m just talking at you that I’m forming my thoughts…I’m thinking out loud. Hearing it helps me think!

      Him: (silent pause) Aren’t you supposed to think BEFORE you speak? (smirk)

      Me: You’re lucky you’re cute.

      Reply
      1. hermit crab

        Oh my gosh, this is my life too. My husband is a pro at interjecting helpful questions like “Why do you think that is?” while not actually devoting any of his attention to what I’m saying. Works for both of us! :)

        Reply
    5. themmases

      Your coworker needs to Google rubber duck debugging.

      I do this to my partner all the time because I am a data analyst and he is a database administrator. I find it way less annoying if someone just tells me up front they need to talk something out and I may or may not need to come up with the answer. I think/hope he does too. We’re getting a big whiteboard for our next apartment. :)

      Reply
    6. TootsNYC

      The most valuable thing I’ve heard in recent years was a management/workflow trainer who said, “introverts think in order to speak–if they’re speaking, or someone else is, they can’t think; extroverts speak in order to think–if they can’t speak their thoughts aloud, they have trouble thinking.” That’s me–I think best out loud.

      Now that I’ve figured this out, it’s life changing. If I need to think out loud, I go find someone who is appropriate to pull into this. And say, “I need to think this through–help me think out loud.” I have a deputy, and I do often need her advice, plus I’m supposedly “coaching” her (she doesn’t need much, and not really on those topics), so it’s OK to take up her time and attention this way.

      And I find myself now trying to use notes, or detaching from a boring part of the conversation to mentally say what I’d say aloud, if it were appropriate.
      And I save some things that need thinking through for the shower.

      (That’s actually a huge reason why I interrupt, if I do–I’ve managed to stop myself. But that “I’m thinking, therefore I need to speak this” is why I’ll start and then stop myself.)

      Reply
  9. KWu

    For OP#3, I think you may need to take into account how your co-worker seems to be handling other feedback so far. If she seems like someone who gets rather defensive, it may be more effective to phrase it as, “Hey I need your help with something, I’ve been feeling so distracted lately and I think finishing my thought before you jump in could really help me feel a bit more centered. If an idea comes to mind, could you write it down and we’ll make sure to get to it?”

    I say this as someone with interrupter tendencies myself and I *know* that it’s rude and wrong, so I feel rather embarrassed when it’s pointed out to me. I would hope that I could handle it professionally and not turn it into resentment against the person who pointed it out, but it’s hard feedback to take and you don’t want to end up as like…the person who’s squishing enthusiasm. I’ve worked with a fair number of other interrupters, though, and I totally get the irritation that builds up over time, especially for people that aren’t even doing “worthwhile” interruptions with correct, relevant information. But you’re not responsible for coaching her as though it’s a larger communication problem she has with other people, it’s mostly so that you don’t have to store up your (justified) irritation. Judgment call on your end though, for whether you should deploy this “it’s not you, it’s just quirky ole me!” kind of phrasing.

    Reply
    1. Mookie

      Great insight into the mind of an interrupter, particularly about people on the receiving end being treated as dull buzzkills. Oh, god, I’m entering a shame spiral remembering some of the guilt trips I’ve laid on people for daring to request (in highly deferent tones) that I stop speaking over them. As the strip goes, “Christ, what an asshole [am I].”

      Reply
  10. abc

    for #5; if it’s that much lower than you can get elsewhere, I might include that in your feedback to him.

    “I’d love to sign Adam, but at the moment I’m not sure I can sign a contract because you’re rate is actually about X less than I’m seeing elsewhere. Would you be able to raise the wage to Y if I’m going to be coming aboard full time?”

    I’ve worked for a guy who wanted a full time worker at student rates, this is likely to be the same sort of thing. ‘they’re an intern, they’re used to X, I’ll lock them in now whilst they’re used to it before they have the chance to think they’re worth more’

    Reply
    1. Jerry Vandesic

      I saw a similar situation earlier in my career. A colleague of mine and I were both at the same level, and with the same amount of experience. The only difference is that I came in as a new graduate, and he came in as an intern while he was in school (and thus had been at the company several years longer than me). But during a bankruptcy proceeding (the company ended up closing), the salaries of every employee were published and he was making about $20K less than me (and others in the department with similar backgrounds). He was justifiably upset, and when he brought it up with management they essentially told him that his salary was anchored to the lower intern salary where he started, and that this cascaded through the time he was at the company. As expected he left soon after and found a job that paid him well.

      Reply
    2. LotusEclair1984

      This. Even for grant-funded positions, I have learned (thank you AAM + AAM community!) there is room to negotiate. If your current boss is your mentor, presumably that person is listed as a reference for the job you are in final interviews for? I would tell your current boss/mentor about the other opportunity – and then wait for that person’s reaction to guide your next move.

      Reply
  11. Firm but Fair

    On the other hand…I am a manager who has an employee whose LinkedIn profile is delusional. What this does say to the employee is that her manager either feels she does not have those job skills and/or the manager does not acknowlege the work that is beyond her job description. Either way, the LinkedIn profile is the least of her job related problems.

    Reply
    1. Michelenyc

      Was my friend working for you? She has completely overstated her experience on LinkedIn. I know when she was at one company the manager called her out on it and asked her to change it. She was applying for permanent roles and the manager told her straight out that her work was at the level of an assistant not an associate. Which was absolutely true. She has also made up her own job titles both on LinkedIn and on her resume which in our industry is just weird because almost every company uses the same terminology. I am helping her with resume right now and it is a disaster!

      Reply
  12. Nico M

    #1. Are the extra tasks and accomplishments crucial to your search? Is this bullshit enforced consistently?

    Id change the current job description to: Acme inc / chocolate teapot designer / designs chocolate teapots , i think an obvious bare bones placeholder is better than half the truth.

    Reply
    1. Blake A

      #1. Ditto. I’d only put basic information on Linkedin. The company could object to certain aspects of the way the OP described the job (and they have), but they shouldn’t get to dictate word for word what goes on OP’s personal profile. If OP puts everything the way they want it, she’d be minimizing her duties, and if she leaves it like it is, she’s going to get backlash. Better to leave the whole description out and save it for her resume, provided the manager is willing to give an accurate reference. If the manager is unwilling to do so, there’s a bigger problem than a social media issue, and she should confront the manager about why she is performing tasks that in a reference will be denied she was responsible for.

      Reply
  13. nofelix

    #2 – Did the boss say what about the email he found humiliating? Printing emails is such standard business practice, how could he be insulted by something *he* wrote? Maybe they are just fabricating reasons to push you out as others have said. I can’t even imagine any way their behaviour makes sense otherwise.

    Reply
    1. BuildMeUp

      I think it’s “You can’t possibly need a printed copy for reference, so the only possible explanation is that you’re making fun of me by posting it in your cubicle!” Not at all rational, but it is the way some people think.

      Reply
    2. Myrin

      As I understood it, the boss didn’t find anything about the email’s content humiliating but rather the fact that the OP put it up in her workspace (probably put it next to her computer on the wall or her desk). He probably construed some weird theory about how she hung it up to look at it and point at it with others and laugh about it or something. Super strange all around.

      Reply
  14. Doriana Gray

    OP #3’s letter reminds me of the new assistant I helped train on some of our job tasks last week. I can tell she’s very bright and eager to learn (and thus will want out of this role within a year, but that’s another matter), and she also kept saying she was really nervous, so all those things taken together can explain why she kept interrupting every. single. person who trained her (including my boss) – but man, it was still annoying. Sitting with her was the longest hour of my life. I felt bad for wanting the session to be over quickly because she seems nice, but I just can’t with people talking over me or interjecting what they think is the correct answer to a problem when you don’t even know what we do.

    OP #4 – Since your office is so small, absolutely write individual thank you notes. There’s no way in the world I’d give $100 to a coworker (especially not one I’d only known six months!) no matter how much I liked them. Shoot, I don’t even give family members that much money! You work with some lovely people, and I think a handwritten card from you would go a long way to cement the positive impression they all apparently already have of you.

    Now – is your company hiring by chance?

    Reply
    1. OP #4

      I agree – I was blown away by the generosity. I think I will definitely go home tonight and write each person a thank you note. I really do have some great coworkers! (And now I know there are High Expectations for the next time a coworker has a significant life event! :D)

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        On that last point — definitely don’t feel like you should be spending that kind of money! There’s a significant salary differential, and I’m sure they don’t want you spending that much money on them.

        Reply
        1. Doriana Gray

          Agree completely with Alison. You are not expected (or shouldn’t be) to reciprocate in kind when it comes to dollar amounts. But do be thoughtful about the gifts you give to your coworkers if you choose to participate in things like this. Like, if you know Lucinda really loves gardening and it’s her birthday and everyone’s getting her a gift either as a group or individually, you could go and get her some bulbs to plant or some cute flower containers. Just something that shows you’re paying attention to the people around you.

          Reply
        2. Erin

          This is also the beauty of a group gift. Everyone can contribute what they are able, but the gift receiver doesn’t need to know these amounts, hopefully just the discreet organizer of the gift

          Reply
        3. TootsNYC

          As someone who pitches in generously when the bride/groom/parent-to-be is lower ranking than me–absolutely do NOT pitch in to match me.

          This is one of the ways I give back (and it’s what I see happening from other higher-ranking people as well), and I’ve never worked with anyone who expected lower-ranking employees to be that generous.

          Give what you can afford.

          (I also give more when I have other messages to send: I work closely with someone; I really like them; I want them to feel welcome bcs they’re new…)

          Reply
        4. OP #4

          I agree completely – I was joking! While my office is great, I’ve heard of plenty of situations where gift-giving does not flow downhill and there is a lot of pressure on all (including low-paid employees) to give gifts above their means.

          Reply
      2. Granite

        Don’t assume that. The baby shower and gifts we gave an admin, one of the lowest paid employees in the company, was very generous. Showers for higher paid staff are more modest, and for management non existent. This is another one of those situations where gifts mostly flow downhill.

        Reply
  15. Kelly L.

    Holy crap, OP#2. I’m sorry. They’re loons.

    As far as #3 and interrupting, I have kind of a bad case of this in my social life because I just get So!Excited! about something and…yeah. I had to start practicing the 2 second rule mentioned above. At work, it’s one of my bosses that has it. She finishes my sentences. Thing is, she usually doesn’t finish my sentence with what I really was going to say, so after the interruption I have to backtrack and tell her what I was actually saying. It’s a pain.

    Reply
    1. Katie the Fed

      My boss does this too. Sometimes I give him a long sigh and say “no….that’s not where I was going at all. Can you please let me finish?”

      Reply
      1. Kelly L.

        “Is the tea–”

        “YES THE TEAPOT ORDER IS READY JUST SEND IT OUT” (tone is not actually angry, but really loud)

        “Actually I was asking about the–”

        “JUST SEND THE TEAPOT ORDER OUT, DON’T WORRY ABOUT THAT”

        “–tea cozy order ready.”

        “OH NO THAT’S NOT READY I DIDN’T REALIZE THAT WAS WHAT YOU MEANT”

        Reply
      2. ExceptionToTheRule

        I have a co-worker who is just like this. I tend to do the same thing Katie the Fed does, “no, that’s not where I was going at all.” It’s even worse when she interrupts me before I ever get words out of my mouth. Like the question was directed to me, “Exception, can we do X?” and interrupter answers with the wrong answer.

        Reply
  16. Anon Accountant

    OP2- Start job searching NOW. You can’t fix this and it is only going to get worse. The only thing you can do is leave because it IS going to get worse.

    Reply
  17. PeachTea

    OP4, I got married last year and my co-workers were similarly generous. I received our entire everyday dishes set. The 12 place setting plus all the extras like matching cream and sugar dishes, salt and pepper shakers, butter dish, gravy boat, lasagna dish, serving bowls and platters, etc.. I was FLOORED and so thankful. It was given to me as a group gift at a dinner they took me to the night before I left for the wedding (out of state, none of them came). I wrote them each an individual thank you card. I doubt they would have cared if I only wrote one, but when it’s overly generous, I think you should err on the side of individual notes.

    Reply
    1. Michelenyc

      When my friend was pregnant her entire office gave her a Bugaboo stroller complete with every accessory known to man. She was in total shock at her office shower when that puppy rolled in but also thankful that she didn’t have to buy it!

      Reply
  18. Cleo

    #4 – You should write an individual card to each person. I know it can be a little overwhelming, especially with all the other thank you cards you will be writing, but once you get in the groove it won’t seem like much. I just had a baby in November, and my department threw me a shower. They pooled their money and got one of the large items off my registry and then many gave me individual or smaller group gifts, (there are about 75 people in the department) as well as a few people from other departments.
    I didn’t write cards to all 75 people, but I did write cards to each person that gave me an individual or small group gift. I also wrote a card to each team rather than just the whole department.
    I was so blown away by what they did so I did not feel right only writing one card.
    We both sound like we are very blessed to have such giving and caring co-workers! Not all are so lucky.

    Reply
    1. ElleKat

      #4 – Totally agree that cards for each person would be appropriate here. It’s so nice that you’re grateful and want to acknowledge their thoughtfulness.
      Nice of you Cleo to not just write one generic thank you card. I’ve seen throughout the years instances where either no thank you was sent or a generic thank you note/email to 100+ co-workers and although it’s a little thing for some it changed their perception of the gift(s) recipient – not for all but definitely for some.

      Reply
    2. OP #4

      Agreed! I think you handled that very well given the number of people. The culture at my previous company such that most people ignored others’ personal life updates (engagements/weddings, babies, birthdays, etc.) unless they impacted our work, so this is a big change for me.

      Reply
    3. TootsNYC

      I like the idea of a single card for the team–and it would be probably best to list all the names. Like, not “Dear Marketing Team,” but “Dear Evangeline, Sam, Waken, Lucinda, and Jane” More work getting all the names, but…

      Reply
  19. patm

    Re: OP#1 – This is precisely why I do not list resume type details in my Linkedin profile. My resume is distributed on a need to know basis. Anything you post on social media can and will be used against. Am I too paranoid? Do I have something to hide? No, I’m just guarded with my information and personal branding. :)

    I do agree w/Allison here. If you chose to list accomplishment details and other employment information, make sure it’s always accurate and truthful.

    Reply
  20. Brett

    #1 Former employer had some strict LinkedIn policies (e.g. LinkedIn accounts had to be linked to organization email, organization access and control of your LinkedIn passwords, not listing your full name, etc). While these were implemented to prevent “rogue” employees making improper posts to LinkedIn, and it became clear after a while that these policies had become intentional efforts to inhibit employee’s abilities to find work elsewhere.

    I wonder if company HR is aware of OP’s active job search and attempting to undermine it.

    Reply
    1. my two cents...

      my previous LARGE (10k+ employees) employer actually mandated that we could NOT link our linkedin back to our company contact info.

      I’d actually think your employer can’t request your linkedin password – that seems definitely not OK.

      IMO the only reason they’d ask you to remove your stated accomplishments is if someone complained (jealous coworker or meddling boss?) or if HR got hip to your job search.

      Reply
    2. Development Professional

      I thought we had established here before that the whole “employer controls your password/profile” was against LinkedIn’s TOS? I mean, I guess there’s nothing to stop them from having the policy, but in turn, if it IS against the TOS I would think it could also allow LinkedIn to delete all of their accounts…

      Reply
      1. Brett

        It is a violation, but there is only so much LinkedIn can do to the employer. Nearly all of the potential punishment for violating the TOS would fall on the employee and only make the situation worse.

        (And likely reach the goals of the employer even quicker if they want to suppress use of LinkedIn.)

        My former employer used emails to control passwords. Your primary email was an email address under their control. If they needed to delete posts or otherwise control your account, you could be locked out of email and then they could use the email to reset your password, effectively locking you out of LinkedIn. (And, in theory, allowing them to access your account.)
        I put a two-step verification code on my account, which no one ever really checked. That would have prevented the theoretical password reset. :)

        Reply
          1. Brett

            Yes, that is very true.
            I think the more important thing is that (somewhat) well meaning restrictions to prevent social media abuse instead turned into a mechanism to hinder employees who were job searching.

            Reply
  21. Erin

    #1 – Do you work in an industry that is heavily regulated, like finance, and they’re worried about FINRA complications? If not, I cannot possibly imagine why your LinkedIn would need to reflect a job description instead of actual duties. (When obviously most all jobs grow to include more than what was in the initial job description.)

    I mean, wow, what a gigantic and bizarre red flag. Fortunately, they can’t control your job search or what you put on your resume or who your references are. Which you’re going to need as you run far, far away.

    Reply
    1. TempestuousTeapot

      Exactly! And to that end, what about listing the role hired for and those duties, but add a separate ‘Other’ statement on additional duties performed in addition to the role? This way OP2 has followed the full letter of the request and still demonstrated the full skill set actually in use.

      I can understand an employer wanting accuracy on what a role entails, but it is beyond odd to demand committing a lie of omission on what a person actually does in support of one’s employer. LinkedIn is about a person’s professional growth and the accuracy in what a professional brings to the table. One cannot do that by omitting one’s work (barring the obvious proprietary and ‘in development’ matters).

      Reply
  22. Nobody

    #2 – Yikes. Sorry to say, but it definitely looks like your boss and director are out to get you, and there’s probably not much you can do. The fact that your boss marched you into the director’s office to reprimand you — presenting you to the director as a problem employee — was a pretty strong message that he’s building a case to get rid of you.

    It’s bizarre that the boss was offended by this in the first place, but even if you were somehow making fun of him, this is a pretty extreme way to handle it. I can’t imagine why he would assume that you were making fun of him by printing out an e-mail (especially one with instructions, since the completely obvious reason someone would print such an e-mail is to reference the instructions). Even if he had reason to believe you were making fun of him, he should have asked you about it and given you a chance to explain, and there would be no reason to do that in front of the director. The whole situation is screwed up, and it’s pretty clear that these are not reasonable people, so it’s not likely to get any better. Your best bet is to get out of there ASAP.

    Reply
    1. Erin

      I agree. I wouldn’t even bother trying to fix this or make amends. These are crazy people you can’t reason with. I’m sorry OP – my advise is the same as #1: get out of there.

      Reply
    2. RVA Cat

      Honestly with the boss’s repeated snooping and the craziness of the accusations, I am wondering if this was instigated by the director, who is bullying the boss to get rid of you to the point where he’s making stuff up?

      Not only do you need to leave ASAP for your own sake, but if this is the kind of leadership the organization has at the Director level, you’re officially in Crazytown.

      Reply
  23. Althea

    Is anyone else wondering if #3 is the “rambler” from a recent other post, who is now getting interrupted due to rambling ;)

    Really I have no way of knowing, but it’s the first thing I thought of when I read it!

    Reply
    1. MaggiePi

      I was wondering the same thing. OP #3, if they are interrupting you with phrases like “I know there’s a lot of background here, but what I really need is just X,” take note. :-)

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

    To the people telling #4 to write individual notes (I agree, but), I have a question:

    I am terrible at writing thank-yous; I could never think of 10 different ways to say basically the same thing. I would guess this is even harder when you’ve been given a group gift, because you literally are saying the same thing over and over. Any suggestions on how to word thank-yous when personalizing for many different people?

    Like I realize they’re not all going to get together and compare the messages, but some part of me just feels like it’s crass to write “Thank you for the __, Bob/Susie/James/Terry/Mike/etc.” Or is that what you’re supposed to do, and I am way overthinking it?

    Reply
    1. BuildMeUp

      I think as long as the thank-you is heartfelt, it’s totally okay to write the same (or almost the same) thing on each card!

      If you’re adding anything after the “thank you sentence” (how much you’ve always wanted a crystal teapot, how you’re planning to use the gift, how excited you are to start this new phase of your life, etc.) you could change that up if you want. I know it can feel like you’re just copying the same thing from one card to another – maybe try thinking of each person as you write their card.

      Reply
    2. Temperance

      I don’t think the notes all have to be incredibly different, honestly. I don’t think people are going to compare thank yous and get offended if they are almost identical. Your sample above is nice, but I always add something about the specific item or the person’s generosity, too.

      What I do is google sample thank yous if I’m really stuck. I know it sounds ridiculous, but that really, really helps. IIRC, the Knot has some good ones.

      Reply
    3. Kyrielle

      I would probably say about the same thing to each of them. “Thank you for the __, I really appreciate it!” (Or “I really love it” for an object that’s just perfect, or the like – but not for money, obviously.)

      It’s the same gift no matter who gave it, so there’s no need to find a different way to say each thank you in this case.

      When you’re writing thank you for separate gifts, it’s not crass if they’re fairly formulaic, but hopefully you’re saying something a little different in some of them. (“Thank you for the teapot sculpture, it’s glorious and I’m really looking forward to seeing it in my entryway.” Or, “Thank you for the gorgeous teapot, I’ve always wanted to try one in white chocolate!” Or, “Thank you for the tea sampler – I didn’t realize they made teas specifically made to go with chocolate teapots, and I’m really looking forward to trying all of them!”)

      But thank you notes *are* generally a formula, so if they end up following a pattern, no big deal. As long as the note comes across as genuinely appreciative, no one is going to expect it to be unique from every other thank you note. Just don’t thank Wakeen for the white chocolate teapot that Fergus gave you, and you’re probably good.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yes, and there are lots of ways to vary them just a little, like with a bunch of differently worded sentences that all mean the same thing —
        “I so appreciate you thinking of me.”
        “This was so generous of you, and I’m delighted with it.”
        “What an amazing gift to receive!”
        … and so forth. You can vary it a little with each note, while still using the same basic substance.

        Reply
        1. AMG

          These are good. There are also entire books dedicated to writing thank-you notes that can help you with the phrasing. Congratulations!

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

            Thanks! With my track record, you will receive a heartfelt Thank-You in 1 to 2 business years.

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

          Maybe that’s where I get hung up – they all mean the same thing, so my over-analyzing brain can’t pick out the best, most sincere one.
          Just so you know, I am writing down your examples : ) – thanks!

          Reply
          1. TootsNYC

            They don’t have to be “the best, most sincere” one. You’re placing too much pressure on yourself.

            People will be impressed enough to get one at all, they’ll be fine.

            (I did have people compare thank-you notes, and they were all for cash wedding gifts. I made sure to do slightly different wording inside each little grouping [i.e., aunt & offspring cousins], which apparently really impressed them–per my MIL, who told me they’d read them to one another, and then to her. I also made up stuff to thank them for, like “thank you for the left arm of the sofa, which we hope to buy with the gifts people have given us.” and then I could thank the cousin for the right arm, or the left seat cushion. Or, “I’m going to combine it with some other gifts to get that espresso maker Bill has his eye on.”)

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

        These are all great! Thank you, I think I am overthinking it.
        And I like your advice about thinking of them as a formula as not being a bad thing to be avoided, but an acceptable thing to be improved.
        People don’t necessarily need a super-wordy thank-you, I think I just get hung up on not being too wordy and also coming across as genuine.
        I also think I overthink it because I had several older family members who seriously kept every birthday card and other card they ever got. So, where most people see a card someone will read once, maybe keep for a while and then eventually trash? I see a responsibility to create a keepsake that meant as much as the initial gift.

        Thanks!

        side note: one year my very sweet grandmother who had a wonderful, endearing habit of enthusiastically overreacting to every gift she ever unwrapped opened a gift addressed to ‘Mom’ (wrong Mom) and started piping about how much she loved the vest inside, and then PUT IT ON and refused to take it off the entire holiday party (she thought she was being kind to the person who gave it to her). Meanwhile there was a small handful of people in the kitchen scheming on how to get her to take it off and “forget it” at the party.. I can guarantee you she sent out a Thank-You for that vest.
        Your last sentence reminded me of that : )

        Reply
    4. OP #4

      I always like to take a break in between writing thank you cards, otherwise they lose some of their meaning (based on my experience). There is generally a formula, though, as Alison and others have mentioned. In my case, everyone at my office knows that we are in the process of buying a house, so I feel that we have some concrete things to tell them on how we are planning to spend their gift. I think it will be nice to let them know that their very nice gift will help to make our new house a home.

      Reply
      1. TootsNYC

        The one thing I would say is, take that break, but don’t send ANY cards out early; distribute them when they’re all done. You don’t want Jane saying, “Hmph, Lucinda got -her- thank-you note already.” Because she will.

        Reply
    5. miss_chevious

      According to some etiquette guidelines, thank you notes shouldn’t start with the words “thank you”, which makes them easier to personalize, at least for me, because the focus is on the feeling and the relationship with the giver, not the gift itself. This is how Miss Manners describes it:

      “Start with a statement of emotion — that you were delighted that they came to your party, or thrilled when you opened their present. Then come the thanks, with a specific mention of the present (except that money is referred to as “your generous gift”), and then a friendly line about the donors (such as that you remember something they told you, or that you hope to see them soon).”

      So for the OP, a model could be “I was so overwhelmed when I realized that you all had taken time out of your busy day to surprise me with breakfast and your generous gift. I will think of your story about [insert story] whenever I use the [item bought with the money, as long as it’s not too personal–NO BREASTPUMPS]. I look forward to seeing you and having a catch up lunch when I’m back from leave.”

      Reply
      1. A Cita

        “I’ll be thinking about the story of your home made cheese project every time I use the breastpump I bought with your generous gift.”

        A bridge too far?

        Reply
      2. Turtle Candle

        I used the Miss Manners pattern when thanking people for my wedding gifts, and it really helped a lot to have a framework. I could write “I was so delighted when we received the beautiful salad tongs you sent! Mr Turtle and I love salad, and we’ll think of you whenever we use them; thank you so much. We were also so pleased to see you at the wedding, and to hear your hilarious story about Joe and the llama. Hope to see you again soon!” Or “We were just thrilled when we were opening up our gifts and saw your beautiful cat shampooer. I’m sure that we’ll have hours of fun hairdressing our cats! Thank you for the generous thought–let us know when you’re in town and we can show you how beautiful and sweet-tempered Fluffy and Whiskers are when freshly bathed.” Or whatever.

        It’s okay that it’s all variations on the same theme. It’s not like any given recipient is going to be laying out all the thank you notes and scrutinizing them for creativity. The point isn’t being the epitome of eloquence, but to express appreciation; it’s not a performance.

        Reply
  25. TT

    #1 – I wouldn’t follow that rule at all. Depending on which was better, I’d either block everyone from my current job or create a new account using my middle name. That job is trying to hold you hostage. Play along just long enough to get to a better place. I would also review that company on glassdoor.

    It’s amazing to me that some companies even THINK to try this. If the job is not top secret the employer has no business on the employees linkedin.

    Reply
    1. Kyrielle

      Agreed re the employer having no business, but to lock them out – can you even do that? Can you make a LinkedIn profile private? Because I’m used to just viewing them whether or not I’m logged into my computer. To see who they’re connected to, *that* seems to require me to sign in, but just to read their job description doesn’t.

      And of course, if OP #1 blocks them, they will probably notice, and I’m guessing they might assume bad faith – complying is the only safe route here, until out of this place. :/

      Reply
      1. Temperance

        Which is sort of a pain, because, unfortunately, they want her to take all the interesting/higher-level work off of her profile, which I’m assuming is the sort of work she’d like to pursue at a new job.

        I worked at a place like that in the past. They only wanted me to list my secretarial duties on Linked In, but because of the nature of the business (shared office space), I had to very quickly learn how to do interviewing, how to use PR search engines, how to draft marketing pieces – whatever our clients needed.

        Reply
      2. themmases

        In addition to blocking specific people, I believe you can hide profile details either from people not connected to you, or from anyone not logged in. This would prevent a blocked person from just logging out and seeing the information. Unless the OP has a very uncommon name, hiding work history and the photo from people who aren’t logged in would make it pretty difficult to confirm it’s their profile.

        I agree that it could look pretty shady to do that right away, but if the OP is job searching I think it’s reasonable to comply, wait a bit, and then change it back/block everyone saying they disabled it if anyone asks. Why should the OP harm their own job search long-term just to appease an overstepping HR person?

        I worked in a place where HR was militant like this about insisting that whatever was in the job description was law (something you must never do as an employee of course :P). Best to do the procedural equivalent of smile and nod and go about your business.

        Reply
      3. TT

        Check the privacy settings, I think there are a few options that may work. Linkedin is a powerful job search and networking tool. Asking someone to comply with those rules is essentially telling that person to just stay put until the company has no more use for them.

        And really, any company that is going over their employee’s linkedin profiles and demanding changes is already assuming bad faith. A company that valued its employees wouldn’t even dream of it.

        Reply
        1. Social Media

          I have blocked most of my connections at this firm. Over the years, I have led several successful projects that have saved this corporation a lot of money. For them to deny my success, especially as it is beyond my job scope, feels like a betrayal. Although I have blocked several people, I still removed this information in case someone finds a way to locate me in future.

          Reply
          1. TT

            Good for you and good luck on your job search. I’ve been there, which is why just reading about it make my teeth itch.

            Reply
          2. VintageCampus

            I would add those accomplishments into your summary – and not put them underneath the position – if you are concerned about them trying to get your LinkedIn profile locked down over it. Just don’t name the company.

            Reply
  26. Anna No Mouse

    OP #4 – When I got married about 9 months after starting at my job at the time, my coworkers threw me a really nice bridal shower. Some people chipped in on groups gifts together. Some people got me individual gifts. It was nothing extravagant, but it certainly meant a lot to me.

    I sent each individual a quick “thank you” email, and the first week I was back from my honeymoon, I brought in a homemade apple pie and a note that I placed next to the pie thanking everyone for the lovely party.

    Reply
  27. AnnonaMomma

    I too am an interrupting colleague – I swear it is not on purpose. I just grew up in a house where we all talked over each other and at the same time and it has informed the way I speak to this day. It may be a cultural thing and something she does not realize she is doing. Over the years I have had a few coworkers call me on it, and I have made a serious effort to catch myself – take a breath before talking, make a note of my thought if someone else is talking, etc. If this is the case with this coworker, she may not realize she is interrupting since it is just the way she has always communicated.

    But, the corrections are a whole other matter. If she is truly undermining you, then I would say something about that. Or you can always just let her be wrong in a room full of people. She should eventually realize that people are not taking her advice or corrections. Or if not, she’ll just be know the person who is never right… and that is on her, not the people she is interrupting.

    Reply
  28. TotesMaGoats

    #3-My direct report isn’t an interrupter per se but she tries to finish my sentences and says words at the same time as I do. But off by a millisecond or so. It’s like a weird echo. I think she thinks it’s a way of showing that we’re on the same page. I’m chalking it up to a personal tic because she doesn’t do it all the time. I can’t event get “Good morning” out of my mouth before she responds.

    Reply
    1. MissLibby

      I have one like this too, and they will also interject into conversations that they are not part of, but are within hearing distance. It isn’t exactly interrupting, more like an eager beaver that needs to be the one to share info or the first to say good morning or whatever.

      Reply
  29. Ann Furthermore

    #4: I say do the individual thank you notes. They really were very generous.

    I look at thank you notes as one of the very few things in life guaranteed not to fail. If someone expects one, and doesn’t get it, then they’ll likely be miffed about it. If someone isn’t expecting one, then they’ll be touched that you took the time to do that.

    Reply
    1. OP #4

      I agree – I’m a big believer in thank you notes. Many think that they’re outdated and not necessary, but a well-written thank you can be very touching to receive.

      Reply
  30. SMGWiseman

    OH GOD interrupters. This is my biggest pet peeve. I must say that this is just my opinion and certainly does not hold true for everyone, but to me, this is what interrupting someone conveys:

    – “My thoughts are more important than yours.”
    – “My thoughts are in fact so much more important than yours that I need to cease your speech immediately to tell everyone mine.”
    – “My thoughts are so VERY MUCH more important than yours that I can’t even stand to politely pretend to listen to you and let you finish before starting to talk over you.”

    Which all leads to: “I do not respect you as a person and your thoughts are stupid and/or invalid.”

    Now, do I think every interrupter means this? No! But is this how it FEELS to me? Absolutely. I have close family members who do this nonstop and then get pissy when I interrupt THEIR interrupting to ask them to let me finish my thought. I don’t understand how they don’t see how extremely rude it is to just cut someone off mid-story, mid-sentence, mid-thought.

    Reply
    1. Marian the Librarian

      I completely agree with you re: how interrupting feels! It’s one of my biggest pet peeves and I find it super disrespectful, especially in a 1 on 1 professional setting.

      Reply
    2. neverjaunty

      It’s not that they don’t see that it’s rude. It’s that they don’t even think about it from the perspective of anything other than their desire to talk.

      Reply
      1. SMGWiseman

        But isn’t that exactly the same as not seeing that it’s rude? Not thinking about anything other than their desire to talk = seeing nothing wrong with being the only one to talk, which is rude.

        Reply
        1. neverjaunty

          Probably, although some people do come from families where everybody interrupts each other all the time – those people just expect to get interrupted right back and so don’t see that outside of the context of Family Argument Time, they’re being rude.

          Reply
          1. SMGWiseman

            Absolutely: you definitely just described my in-laws. I love them dearly and I know they love and respect me and one another, but when they quite literally shout across the room to interrupt my 90-year-old grandmother in the middle of a story, it’s hard to remember that it’s not personal. Because it feels rude! (Also I’m just way too sensitive but let’s not pull at that thread…)

            Reply
  31. VintageCampus

    #1: Tip for the future. Turn auto-inform of updates off! Most likely they are looking closely at your profile because you made a bunch of changes in one go and now they assume you are job searching and are trying to make it difficult! I would comply with their requests, however keep your accomplishments in the summary area of your LinkedIn profile without listing their company. That way LinkedIn is still very similar to your resume. Also leave the accomplishments in your resume and just list the job duties under their role in LinkedIn.

    Reply
  32. Anon for Interrupting

    OP3, I sympathize so much with this. I managed an interrupter so bad that, when I tried to say things like “Please let me finish,” or “Excuse me, I wasn’t done yet,” she would even interrupt me in the middle of those phrases (and I am NOT a mild-mannered or quiet lady). Even when I told her that I needed to explain something to her and asked her to leave her questions until the end of the explanation, she either couldn’t or wouldn’t control herself. It was, frankly, infuriating, especially because I couldn’t help noticing that she didn’t interrupt our boss, ever.

    It was so bad that she even interrupted me multiple times while my boss and I were interviewing her, to the point where a coworker who was working nearby while I was giving her a tour actually noticed and mentioned it later. I brought this up with my boss as an enormous red flag (how disrespectful do you have to be to interrupt a person who’s interviewing you–and multiple times??) and flat out didn’t want to hire her, but I was overruled.

    When even having a conversation along the lines of, “I’ve noticed that when I speak, you often interrupt me before I’m able to relay important instructions. That causes errors later because you don’t hear the full scope of what I need you to do. In the future, I need you to listen until I’m finished speaking, then ask questions if you’re still unclear,” did absolutely nothing to curb the behavior, I just gave up and started talking over her. As in, I would act like I had not heard her try to interrupt–I’d just go on speaking. She was very obviously ticked off whenever I did that, but I was at a loss as to how to address her behavior at that point, and so annoyed myself that I really didn’t care about her perception of me as “rude,” or whatever.

    In the end, she resigned when she accepted a higher paying position at a different institution, so I didn’t have to address the problem further… It was my first time managing someone, and the whole situation was a nightmare! I still regret not having handled the situation better and it’s been almost a year since she quit.

    Reply
    1. Sadsack

      This was a direct report of yours and you were overruled on the hiring decision? Wow, that’s pretty bad.

      Reply
      1. Doriana Gray

        That’s actually not uncommon, especially in situations where there’s a committee/panel involved.

        Reply
      2. Anon for Interrupting

        It was an unfortunate situation–my boss felt strongly that we needed to hire someone immediately, we had only two strong candidates, and we ended up not being able to hire one of them because of BS political reasons (my field is very small, Big Boss of my workplace knew Big Boss of her workplace and didn’t like him, therefore our Big Boss didn’t want to hire that candidate). The other one was the interrupter, and y’all can see how that worked out!

        Reply
  33. VintageCampus

    #2 You need to find another job, either in a different internal department or in another company. There is nothing you can do to please them/change the situation at this point. Nothing! Staying in that role will only give you workplace PTSD and make it hard for you to function normally in the future.

    Something very similar happened to me. I think my supervisor was threatened by my intelligence/performance. Since she could not find a single performance related item to “ding” me on. She instead would make huge, public spectacles of even the most innocuous “communication issues”. I found later found out that she would even go as far as to hold pre-team meetings with everyone but me, where she would drill everyone on all of their communications with me over the past week so they could “be united” to attack me during the team meeting! I only found out about this because a co-worker called me crying one evening to confess that she only told the manager that she found my emails abrasive because she was afraid that if she did not pretend to dislike me and find me hard to work with that the manager would start treating her the same way!

    Meanwhile I never knew this was all going on so I started to doubt my abilities. I honestly started to believe by the end of the year that I must have autism or something because I was clearly missing the emotional nuances of every situation I communicated in! It took me a good year after spending 8 months with that terrible manger to stop doubting everything I said, reading between the lines for hidden criticisms that were not there, and, like you are doing now, re-writing emails 12 – 20 times to insure they were “polite” and “non-abrasive”.

    Get out! Get out! Get out! It’s not you – it’s them!

    Reply
    1. RVA Cat

      What the what?!?

      Your co-worker being driven to tears illustrates how office bullying affects even those who aren’t the direct target.

      Reply
    2. JM in England

      A good book here in the UK (you may be able to get it in the USA) that helped me through a similar situation is “Bully in Sight” by the late Tim Field. It is based almost entirely on his own experiences and one section describes a boss just like the OP’s. Once they have this perception of you as a “Threat”, a systematic process begins to effectively oust the target from their job. Like you say, VintageCampus, co-workers often go along with the boss’ bidding ot of fear of being targeted next…………….

      Reply
      1. videogamePrincess

        I just looked it up, and you can on Amazon. This looks like a really good way to prepare myself in the event of future bullying, so I might just get it now.

        Reply
        1. JM in England

          I can’t recommend it strongly enough! When I recognised the patterns described in my own workplace, it was a definite “Aha!” moment…………

          Reply
    3. VintageCampus

      Luckily my story has a happy ending. Two years after all of that terrible stuff finally ended, I am in a new company with great co-workers making $30K more annually than I did in that role!

      It took me a year after she left to get over my workplace PTSD and to trust my communication skills. That’s why I advocate getting away from this ASAP.

      Also I can’t help but grin when I look at the company’s stock. It might be a coincidence (although I did save that company millions of dollars despite being treated like the office brilliant jerk), but the week I left their stocks plummeted to almost half of their value and are only just now reaching the levels they had been at.

      Reply
  34. Former Retail Manager

    OP#4…congratulations on the wedding. And I have to say that individual thank you notes would definitely be appreciated. Also, you are very fortunate to work with what sounds like a group of very caring, generous individuals….those jobs are few and far between. I hope you are very happy there for many years to come.

    Reply
    1. OP #4

      Thank you, on all counts! I am planning to start writing individual notes tonight. I agree that I’m very fortunate to have such great coworkers. Definitely an improvement, and something I won’t take for granted.

      Reply
  35. Lindsay J

    For #1 I would be concerned about possible references from this company in the future. I mean, what if a hiring manager calls and asks about your work on Z that you put on your resume, and your boss goes “What? She was the assistant and did X and Y. Z wasn’t part of her job!” even if Z was something you did regularly and just wasn’t in your original job description.

    Reply
    1. Social Media

      Nothing I placed on there was an exaggeration. I wear many hats. Everyone at this corporation knows that I do this work. I have worked long hours to save this firm a lot of money because I have led these projects.

      Reply
    2. neverjaunty

      Any half-aware hiring manager will understand the difference between “Z wasn’t part of her job!” and “She never did Z!”

      Reply
  36. OP #2 Here

    Thanks for all the advice. Whew – when things change, they change fast!

    Director was transferred and replaced April 1. His parting gift to me was to recommend to his successor that I needed two weeks of immediate, intensive “retraining” due to significant performance deficiencies. When the new director contacted me to schedule this, I requested specifics regarding my poor performance. Surprise – there weren’t any. When old director was contacted for clarification, the only thing he could provide was that I attempted to take over a project that was assigned to someone else. I was able to immediately forward specific emails assigning me to that project. I requested a brief meeting with new director, where I (politely and professionally, I hope) laid out my concerns. He was positive about going forward. The only odd part was when I confirmed that he had received the project emails. Essentially, they (admin) has been put in the position of knowing he lied about me, but they’re not willing to take any action. I’m hopeful that the change in supervision is enough to turn things around.

    Reply

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