open thread – March 3-4, 2017

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

{ 1,843 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Letter of Recommendation

    I had a former professor ask that I be a reference for her as she is nominated for full professorship. I was really excited for her and for the opportunity to help her out because she was a total game-changer for me in college. I’ve written the letter and I’m ready to submit it; if I get permission from the school, would it be weird to share it with her? She won’t otherwise see it but I’d really like to share it since I don’t know if she realizes what an impact she had on me.

    Reply
    1. Pineapple Incident

      That’s such a nice sentiment! I’d definitely ask the school if it’s okay first, like you mentioned, but I think this is a good idea. I imagine there aren’t that many opportunities where professors get non-anonymous feedback from a particular student, so I bet she’d really appreciate this.

      Reply
    2. Dang

      I don’t think it would be weird- wouldn’t we all love to see what these recommendation letters say?? I think that’s awesome.

      Reply
    3. Morning Glory

      Every time I’ve asked someone for a letter of recommendation, I’ve been dying to know what they wrote about me. A few people have shared them with me in advance to make sure I was ok with what they wrote, which I really appreciated (not saying do it here, it depends on the rules).

      I think it would be really nice of you to share your words with her if you’re allowed to.

      Reply
    4. Letter of Recommendation

      Thanks everyone! I just submitted the letter and indicated I’d be interested in sharing with the subject if there are no objections. :)

      Reply
    5. SophieChotek

      I would think the prof would be pleased. Sometimes when you submit the forms there is a place to check (i.e. can be shared with person for whom recommendation is being written); I think I’ve been asked to write 2 or 3 of these over the course of my college years and I always checked “yes” for the same reason you are thinking. Congrats on being asked!

      Reply
    6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      You can def share it with her! I was asked to provide letters in support of a prof who was up for tenure and another up for a university-wide teaching award. I sent them copies after the close of the submission period, and it prpboddd a much needed morale boost to the one up for tenure. I say go for it!

      Reply
    7. Dr. Doll

      By all means share! She’d love to see it, and she will eventually since she should have access to her promotion file.

      Reply
    8. DL

      Definitely wait for the go ahead from the institution. Faculty usually have to sign a form waiving permission to view recommendation letters that go into their promotion package. Some places they can view the letter after the promotion decision is made with the letter writer’s name removed.

      Reply
    9. C Average

      Show her!

      When I was in high school, a beloved English teacher wrote me a letter of recommendation for a college application and provided me with a copy. It was a particularly low point in my life–I wasn’t one of the cool kids and I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life at all–and his kind words were balm to my soul. I still have that letter.

      Reply
      1. Me2

        Same for my son, the letter gave him such a boost at a time when he really needed it. And it was lovely, as a parent, to hear about how my son was seen by other adults in his life.

        Reply
    10. SanguineAspect

      Yes! Do that! I had professors share copies of the letters of recommendation they wrote for me when I was applying to grad schools and I still keep copies of them. What they said was extremely meaningful for me at the time and I’m still very grateful. I’m sure she would appreciate it.

      Reply
    11. AnotherLibrarian

      Do check with the school. Some tenure processes require closed letters of Rec and it could disqualify the letter if you share it without checking.

      Reply
  2. no-shrubs

    What do you do when you realise that your current job seems to be damaging your career? I joined an government sector office half a year ago, and so far the office, the hours and the work are all the best I experienced. Sadly, I am on a contract basis, so I am also low key on the lookout for future opportunities when my current one stops in 3 years time.
    Problem is, the project I am working on seems to be ruffling more and more feathers of other offices. It’s a large proposal for community improvenment. Meaningful work.
    But as we developed the project, I noticed a lot of letters from other offices demanding to know why we are stepping on their turf. The emails are getting quite angry and defensive. Now, the larger decision of who handles what project is beyond my pay grade. But I am legitimately getting worried than when my contract ends, none of these numerous agencies are going to hire me because I have this feather ruffling project on my resume.
    Do you guys think I am just thinking too much? I should just focus on working hard and not worry that much about the future?

    Reply
    1. Not So NewReader

      I’d look around to see if there was anything I could do to soothe ruffled feathers. Typically I find the problem is erroneous information or incomplete information that has led to speculation and the speculation is causing upset. I will act if I can do so without turning myself into a target.

      Another strategy you might try is having one-on-one conversations with people. I do this when I can figure out who I want to talk with and what my exact message is.

      Above all else. remain professional and remain open to conversations. I have seen people vehemently disagree with each other and yet still walk away from the conversation with admiration for the other person, even though there is strong disagreement. Grace under fire. People remember that.

      Reply
    2. Pup Seal

      I understand your concerns. If your contract doesn’t end until 3 years and if this is the only project ruffling feathers, then I don’t think it will have too much of a negative impact on you and your job search. If this office continues to implement more projects that upset the other offices then I think that’s the time to worry.

      Reply
    3. Creag an Tuire

      I can sort of identify with this issue. I think the trick is, to the extent that you interact with these other offices, is to smile and welcome their input (even if you’re later going to ignore their input as much as feasible). Basically, “I know there’s some jurisdictional stuff going on above my paygrade, but for now this is the job I was asked to do so I’m trying to do it well. It sounds like you have some experience with Teapot Administration, maybe I could ask you a couple of questions if you have time?”

      This won’t help you with the truly defensive turf-hoarders (but nothing will), but will make you look good to the people who actually care about the job being done well, and will smooth the feathers of the people who don’t care much who does the actual work as long as they are recognized as The Teapot Administration Expert (and there are quite a few of those, especially in organizations where you have a lot of long-time employees).

      Reply
      1. Whats In A Name

        This exactly. These things come with the territory sometimes and if you remain professional in your approach but recognize there are some struggles beyond your control it can really help.

        I have seen people successfully apply for and receive positions in departments that were basically at war with their current department. They were considered as an individual and quite honestly no one ever really pitted again one person (well, with the excepetion of the department VP) when we would have these turf wars, it was more department v. department if that makes sense.

        Reply
      2. Onnellinen

        To piggy back on this, being a good person to work with on difficult projects can actually go a long ways to building your career and your reputation – if you are pleasant, professional, and as collaborative as you can be in working with stakeholders, people will remember that. Think of all the interview questions about working in a challenging environment, or executing an unpopular idea, etc.

        Reply
    4. Jbelly

      I think this would only have a negative impact on you if the other agencies/offices believe that the project staff were incompentent or difficult to work with or routinely put out flawed products. You’ll still have to get through HR before this becomes a potential issue.

      Reply
    5. no-shrubs

      Thank you guys SO MUCH! I was so worried I got myself stuck in a rock and a hard place with my job. All these advice really allayed my fears! Thanks Not So NewReader, Pup Seal, Creag an Tuire and Jbelly, I’ll try my best to proceed forward as a calm professional :)

      Reply
      1. Anon42

        Yeah it comes with the territory. I work for elected officials in government and we ruffle write a few feathers with projects outsole don’t like. And they ruffle ours. At the end of the day no one thinks too much about it once 5pm rolls around. It’s a job. People get that.

        Reply
    6. No Name Worker Bee

      I’m in a similar spot. I took a job out of college with a government office that isn’t seen in the best light. many friends and coworkers of my parents who had dealings with that office were surprised to hear I was working there. I didn’t think much of it until I’ve started job searching to leave this government job. No interviewere has said anything specifically against the office but I haven’t had any luck with an offer and I’m starting to wonder if the place is tainting my resume for the worst.

      Reply
    7. Two Cents

      I think you might be ovethinking this one. You say the decision-making is above your pay grade now. If it will continue to be above your pay grade for the next three years, then I don’t think you need to worry about this.

      People understand how government works, even when they don’t agree with what it does. Future hiring managers will understand that you’re a junior person just doing your job as best you can, and will point their anger at senior decision-makers and whoever sets the over-arching policy.

      Lingering ruffled feathers might still make for some awkward moments in interviews, but I think you can handle that with a graceful non-answer. Something like: “People don’t always agree with every policy or decision government makes, but I always did my best to do my work as professionally as I could” (but more tailored to your situation.) And then quickly turn the conversation back to your job performance and skills by following up with a specific example of Great Thing You Did To Solve That Problem

      Reply
  3. guy with no name

    I live in a state where weed is illegal. There are also no specific laws about drug tests at work, so employers are free to run any drug test program however they want. My work doesn’t test at hiring but does random drug tests. I’ve worked here for almost 2 years. This morning I got told I have been selected for one so I get paid leave to leave work an hour early so I can go to the lab for a test before I go home. Here’s the thing…I smoke weed every day. When I get home from work or home for the day and again before bed. Like I said weed is illegal here and it’s on the list of banned substances from my work. Failing the test means I will be fired on the spot. So does missing or skipping the test for any reason short of life or death like getting hit by a car. I know I will fail. Medical weed is not a thing in my state and possession or using weed for any reason means court and likely jail time. They don’t divert the charges or have probation or anything like that. Given all this I’m not sure if I should quit today or let myself fail the test (which I know I will, I have smoked twice a day at least for years now) and get fired. I don’t know what I should do. I can’t ask my work to change the date, they don’t let that be done

    Reply
    1. TL -

      If you have a good relationship with your supervisor, you can come clean and just ask her. Do you know what they’re testing for specifically? Some places don’t test for weed.

      Reply
      1. guy with no name

        Weed is on the list of banned substances and they definitely test for it. Other people before me have been fired when the test showed they used weed.

        Reply
    2. Anon For This

      I recommend you quit. This came in recent conversations with friends in careers that are at risk. If you quit, they can’t say you were fired for cause and they can’t tell future employers that you failed a drug test since you didn’t take it. Thus, its not on your record.

      Reply
          1. namelesscommentater

            I can’t imagine that jail would be on the table.

            My understanding of drug laws is that growing/possession/distribution is illegal. But the act of being under the influence is not unless you’re operating machinery while under the influence.

            Reply
            1. Morning Glory

              Yea, to be honest I’ve never heard of it, but guy with no name said:

              “Medical weed is not a thing in my state and possession or using weed for any reason means court and likely jail time. ”

              And I imagine he knows his state best

              Reply
              1. Natalie

                Failing a drug test isn’t the same thing as possession, legally. Unless he is on probation, I don’t think there’s any way he could be prosecuted on the basis of a urinalysis screen.

                Reply
      1. JennyFair

        I’m not sure this is accurate. We drug test, and if you fail to show up for the test within half an hour, it’s an automatic fail.

        Reply
    3. Blue

      Is it 100% for sure you’ll be fired if you test positive? Could you talk to your boss ahead of time and offer to quit in exchange for a positive reference and no mention of the scheduled drug test to future employers?

      Reply
      1. guy with no name

        For sure 100%. My supervisor is anti-weed in her personal life, I saw a picture on the news when people were fighting against the push to legalize here. No way she wouldn’t flip out if I asked her that.

        Reply
        1. TL -

          Hmm. That would be the best option – if you could let her know and say you’ll be resigning in advance of the test. But if she’s strongly anti-weed, you’re just going to have to let her know you’ll be resigning.

          You might burn the reference anyways, if you have to resign with a notice period and they’re expecting one.

          Reply
        2. The Cosmic Avenger

          Ouch, that sucks. I just want to add that there’s a possibility, probably remote, that she might just be following the propaganda she hears against it, and she might believe that people who smoke the Devil’s Weed all turn into horrible people upon the first toke. If that’s the case AND you’re a valued, respected employee, admitting that you smoke on your own time, never at or just before work, might change her mind.

          It might not be worth the risk, but you’re the only one in a position to determine that.

          Otherwise, I agree with the rest of the advice to quit first, as that is probably the least harmful option you have.

          Reply
        3. Bend & Snap

          Maybe a quick consult with a lawyer to determine your best course? I’m sorry you’re in this position. It’s ridiculous.

          Reply
          1. Whats In A Name

            No matter what your stance on legalized marijuana, he is in direct violation of the employee substance policy.

            I feel bad for his situation but I don’t know that it’s ridiculous – break the rules, accept the consequences.

            Hopefully there is a way for him to talk with his supervisor, let her know he expects to fail and ask if he can do some sort of probationary period or voluntarily quit.

            Reply
          2. Whats In A Name

            My last comment seems to have gotten lost so sorry if it ends up showing up twice.

            Regardless of your stance on legalizing weed, he is in clear violation of his company’s substance policy. Break the rules = handle consequence.

            I do empathize, though. Hopefully OP can talk with supervisor and let them know they expect to fail. Then perhaps see if there is an option to go on a probation period. And if not if he could voluntarily quit.

            Reply
    4. Detective Amy Santiago

      If you quit, they will likely deduce that you did so because you knew you would fail the drug test. However, it won’t be part of your employment record. Either way, you’re going to have to explain why you left to a future employer, so you should think about how you can best do that with your options.

      What kind of work do you do? Are you putting yourself or others at risk by operating equipment when you could potentially be in an altered state?

      Reply
      1. Rat in the Sugar

        If he’s only smoking after work, he can’t be in an altered state during the day; weed doesn’t start in your system that long.

        Also, it sounds like you (guy with no name) might be worried about getting arrested as a result of the test? IANAL, but I’m pretty sure that’s not something that’s going to happen. I have never heard of it, anyway, and I also live in a state that takes a hard line on weed.

        I second the suggestion to come clean to your supervisor (if you have a good relationship with then, you’re the best judge of that) and unfortunately it might make sense to resign on the spot to save your record. You can always get through interviews by focusing on your desire to work at your new company instead of focusing on why you left your old one.

        Good luck.

        Reply
        1. Manders

          Yes, the kinds of drug tests that employees usually have to take don’t measure whether you’re actually high, just whether certain chemicals are present in your urine or hair. I think heavy users can test positive over a month after quitting.

          I’m sorry you have to go through this, Guy. I think quitting might be your best option here.

          Reply
          1. TL -

            Before I had to take a drug test (urine) for my first job, they let me know they tested for weed and it took about 2 weeks to get it out of my system. They let me know about 2 weeks from when the test was scheduled and very clearly stated a few times how long it would take. (They didn’t mention any other drug.)

            Hair tests go back much longer, though.

            Reply
      2. guy with no name

        No I work in an office. We keep records and receipts of all the products and stuff that the people in sales sell. I only smoke weed once I am home from work and home for the day and I never would drive or anything after I smoke it.

        Reply
        1. guy with no name

          And my supervisor is anti-weed in her personal life and the test is in about 4 hours, so I can’t talk to her about why. If I quit it would have to be today without notice.

          Reply
          1. Cambridge Comma

            What if you don’t go to the test, but still offer to work your two weeks? Their choice if they let you, but then you didn’t leave without notice.

            Reply
              1. tigerlily

                I think she’s saying resign now and let them know why (because you know you won’t pass the drug test), and still offer to work the two weeks. That way you didn’t just no-show the test AND you’re not quitting with no notice. Even if they tell you not to come back, you still gave notice.

                Reply
                1. tigerlily

                  But if you’ve already resigned for smoking pot, they can’t turn that into firing you for smoking pot. They can tell you that they don’t won’t you to finish out those two weeks you’re offering, but that’s not the same thing as firing you nor is it the same thing as you quitting without notice. You’ve already resigned.

                  And also, I read further down the thread, and I second the suggestion of resigning due to not agreeing with random drug tests instead of because you may fail.

                  Good luck with everything.

          2. Chameleon

            Dishonesty is rarely a good idea, but it may be one here. Perhaps a family emergency is going to take up all of your working hours for the forseeable future?

            (There’s a pretty good chance your boss will see right through this; whether it would make things better to have a thin veneer of plausible deniability or worse to have an obvious lie is really your call based on your knowledge and relationship with your boss).

            Reply
            1. Lefty

              There’s also the chance that the company reserves X amount of testing for the month and would just require this employee to go on Monday of next week. In a previous job, I arranged such a set up with a local collection facility- we could send up to 4 employees (or prospective employees) for testing during any of their business hours per month for a set fee. If we had someone skip a test, it was often just days before they would be given another appointment… OP here wouldn’t benefit from that short timeframe, but maybe could buy some time to think.

              Reply
              1. mreasy

                OP could benefit from that timeframe! I assume they are sold in head shops (not sure) – but you can buy effective 24-hour cleanses that can allow you to pass a drug test when you’ve smoked marijuana in the last 2 weeks. I assume that’s why job isn’t giving 24 hour notice. (I know these are real because I dated & was friends with a lot of bike messengers in my 20s, and they all used these cleanses.)

                Reply
            2. Lefty

              There’s also the chance that the company reserves X amount of testing for the month and would just require this employee to go on Monday of next week in the case of an emergency today. In a previous job, I arranged such a set up with a local collection facility- we could send up to 4 employees (or prospective employees) for testing during any of their business hours per month for a set fee. If we had someone skip a test, it was often just days before they would be given another appointment… OP here wouldn’t benefit from that short timeframe, but maybe could buy some time to think.

              Reply
          3. GigglyPuff

            How is your relationship with your supervisor otherwise? Do you know how anti-weed she is? To be perfectly honest I have anti-weed leanings but I don’t hold it against other people.

            I think if you know your supervisor pretty well and they would react badly, go with the suggestion of someone below, that you object to the invasion of privacy reason.

            Reply
            1. guy with no name

              She campaigned against weed and medical use of weed when some people pushed to make it legal here. She was on the news protesting so she is definitely against it.

              Reply
          4. Gaia

            Have you considered telling her you’ve decided to quit because you object to their practice of drug testing and offering to work 2 weeks but you understand if they can’t since you won’t be willing to test?

            Reply
            1. Blueismyfavorite

              I agree. I think he should say he’s quitting because he objects to drug testing as an invasion of his privacy.

              Reply
        2. I GOTS TO KNOW!

          “guy with no name” if you quit you could tell her it is because you are opposed to drug screens without merit. Random drug screens for positions that don’t operate machinery and without cause are invasive and in my opinion should not be used to make employment decisions. Offer to work 2 weeks, but tell her you won’t take it due to your beliefs regarding drug testing.

          Reply
          1. Lurker

            +1 I could see this going across better than just quitting. Based on your other comments, you are probably screwed either way, but having a “moral opposition” is probably better as far as your standing goes.

            Reply
          2. Lynxa

            Another +1! I like this option. Make it about a moral opposition to a test that doesn’t make sense (particularly in light of how long weed can stay in your system). It’s an invasion of privacy, and doesn’t tell the employer anything useful beyond what you do in your downtime.

            I’m wondering if she knew you were pro-weed and that’s why this “random” test came up on you.

            Reply
            1. Detective Amy Santiago

              He’s been there almost 2 years. It sounds like he was probably lucky this didn’t happen sooner.

              Reply
          3. Whats In A Name

            But the thing is he’s been there for 2 years and never voiced concern before. He knows they do this testing. And he chose to violate the rules (and technically the law).

            Reply
            1. I GOTS TO KNOW!

              I have worked at places where they “reserve the right to randomly drug test” and didn’t ever, so he could have taken the job thinking that. He might not have had a problem when hired but his views changed. He doesn’t get to not have this opinion just because he accepted a job where it happens.

              Reply
              1. AnonAnalyst

                Plus, I would never think that part of a company’s random drug test policy would be requiring a hair and blood test. I think random drug testing for regular office jobs is silly anyway… but I’ve only ever heard of employers requiring urine tests for that. I think there’s probably a decent percentage of people who are willing to submit to a urine test but would object to the hair and blood test.

                Reply
          4. stk

            This is what I’d be doing if I were you, guy. They’ll probably guess anyway – you’ll have burned a bunch of bridges at this job I think – but “I have realised I can’t in good conscience go along with the drug testing policy, I believe testing people in positions where they aren’t operating machinery is unethical, and I am therefore handing in my notice” is both kind of true and much more palatable in terms of a public story.

            Reply
    5. Newby

      If you know that you are being tested for weed and know that you will fail and be fired, I would quit before anyone has a record of that.

      Reply
    6. AnonAnonAnonA BATMAN!

      Yeah…probably best if you resign. Your employer will definitely speculate, but at least this way there won’t be solid proof. You may also want to either change your habits (not a judgement, just a suggestion) or look for workplaces where testing isn’t likely to be done. I work in an office and I don’t think my employer chooses to drug test at all.

      Reply
      1. Bend & Snap

        I was drug tested as part of my background test for my current job, but they eliminated that shortly afterward and they don’t screen current employees.

        I don’t smoke, but what you do on your own time is and should remain your own business. This is so invasive.

        Reply
    7. Lillian Styx

      Are you morally opposed to cheating the test? I wouldn’t be. Just make sure to do your research before you go in, there are lots of ways to get caught out.

      Reply
            1. Trout 'Waver

              He took a job that’s fundamentally incompatible with his lifestyle and now is trying to cover it up and cheat the test. I think attempting to cheat the test is unlikely to improve the situation and most likely make things worse.

              Reply
          1. Whats In A Name

            I agree with this; Guy I really think you have to come clean with supervisor or just quit. There is no in-between with this one I don’t think.

            Reply
        1. Rat in the Sugar

          You can’t, really. I’m sorry; I can’t think of any suggestions that would end in you keeping your job.

          Reply
        2. TL -

          I honestly wouldn’t go that route – a hasty effort to cheat is going to reflect much worse on you than either a positive drug test or a resignation beforehand.

          You could also try a “I’ve been smoking and am going to start counseling, can I have some unpaid leave and come back to my job after a clean drug test?” conversation before you resign (and still don’t test!) if you think your boss would be open to that route and you think that’s it’s realistic that you stop smoking weed.

          Reply
          1. guy with no name

            I wish but the second I admit it I’ll get fired. They don’t give second chances if they find out people use drugs or fail a drug test.

            Reply
            1. TL -

              I’m sorry. I think a resignation is your best bet, then. You can tell them why you’re resigning or not; you can refuse the drug test and offer to work out your two weeks after refusing.
              I think you’re looking at both a lost job and a potentially burned reference. “He resigned on the spot” is maybe a better reference than “he had a positive drug test.” It might depend on where you are – in Austin, a positive drug test would probably make people think pot, but in Boston, it would make people think heroin.

              Reply
              1. guy with no name

                Thanks. I wouldn’t be allowed to work after I refused, they would just fire me on the spot. I’m thinking I might just have to quit today.

                Reply
                1. Sabine the Very Mean

                  Oh how terrible. I worked in the ski industry for years. It was simply not possible to expect people to pass. Ugh…If it is a saliva swab, it only detects 12 hours so you may be okay there. Niacin can help. If it is a UA, I’m scared for you. “You could do a stinger” found at many head shops. I wish it didn’t have such terrible connotations to it. I suffer from insomnia (sleep maybe 15 hours per week) and I can’t tell you how many docs think I should try serious pharma over MJ.

                2. AnitaJ

                  I think TL’s advice is good. In my opinion, if you are fired for refusing a drug test, that might not be a HUGE obstacle in terms of finding new employment. Many people refuse drug tests on principle, not because they’d fail. Who’s to say you aren’t one of those people? You never know when you’ll come across a supervisor or a company that agrees with or at least respects your decision to refuse to test. Good luck, whatever happens.

                3. k

                  In an attempt to save the reference, you could tell them you were planning to give notice anyways due to whatever reason, and the announcement of the drug test made yo think to do it now. You didn’t want to waste all that time on the test, /waste company money on the test since you’re leaving soon, or you are afraid of needles and don’t want to take a test for a job you’re leaving anyways. They again may see through it, but it’s possible to save a little face that way.

                4. MWKate

                  There have been some suggestions about telling them you refuse to take the test based on your personal belief that it is an unlawful search and without cause. The end result is the same, but you could possibility swing it in a more positive light when applying for other jobs in the future.

                1. TL -

                  Yup. So most people in Boston would assume you’re not being tested for pot (if you’re not working for the feds) and the other drug that is strongly associated with the Boston area is opioids. Why would you be tested for a legal substance in Boston? I’m going to think that’s it’s a much harder drug and I’m probably going to think heroin because that’s what’s getting press in Boston.

                  Whereas in Austin, pot is not legal but really common, so jobs do test for it and a positive drug test would make me think of the most common legal drug – pot.

                2. Windchime

                  Yeah, I work in downtown Seattle and I smell it most days when I am walking outside (we were one of the first states to make it legal). Several times I have seen people openly smoking in public (not really supposed to do that, but hey whatever). The place I used to work has started doing random drug tests, but my current employer is really liberal and they don’t test at all. Several people in my department are very open about their pot smoking habits.

                  It’s really weird to me that alcohol is perfectly legal and pot isn’t (in most states). Very strange.

            2. Mimi

              I mean, if you knew this about your employer, you knew the risk you were taking, correct? You knew there was the possibility of a random drug test in your future.

              So yeah, I think the best option here is to quit.

              Reply
        3. Anonny

          My SIL occasionally smokes, and she just drinks a lot of water (like a ton) and doesn’t eat, before the test.

          If you drink a lot of water, it might dilute the test. Most tests show a certain “level” to be a positive result. If you dilute your sample with all that water, it may not show to the positive threshold.

          Reply
          1. TL -

            I would imagine that there’s a huge difference in the baseline amount for an occasional smoker and a daily user. This is less likely to work.

            Reply
          2. KL

            In most cases, the testing center can tell you did this. If sample is too dilute, they can call for a re-test.

            Reply
          3. guy with no name

            They’ll take a hair and blood sample too. I smoke way more than your SIL and I only have a few hours until I have to go.

            Reply
            1. I GOTS TO KNOW!

              Hair and blood? This is absurdly invasive. I would quit for that reason alone, and I don’t do drugs. No way my employer gets access to my body parts and bodily fluids for no reason than a ridiculous witch hunt for drug users

              Reply
              1. I am a tailors apprentice

                Agreed! This is an office job, right? You’re not directing plane traffic or operating heavy machinery? I don’t see why they need to test…nevermind use blood, hair and urine.

                Reply
                1. RVA Cat

                  This. The unnecessarily invasive test gives you reason to quit on the spot. It’s also something to tell HR during your exit interview. Your anti-drug-crusading supervisor is driving employees away.

              2. The OG Anonsie

                Yeah, I’m a ridiculous straight-edge nerd about drugs and I would not submit to testing like this from an employer. It’s invasive and frankly offensive that they think they have the right to ask me to have blood drawn and a big chunk of my hair cut out at the scalp for an office job like this. Nuh uh.

                Reply
                1. blackcat

                  +1 No one is taking off a chunk of my hair *at the scalp* without a good, medical reason (eg I’m sick and they can test for something odd in hair) or without a court order.

                  I don’t do drugs. I hardly drink alcohol at all. And I would not submit to this test.

                2. AnonAnalyst

                  Yeah, just… what? That is way too much to ask for for a random drug test, especially for an office job. I believe “offensive” is the right word to use here. (And contrary to the push back that this sometimes gets from employers, no, I don’t have anything to hide – this is just completely unreasonable to ask of your employees.)

              3. Detective Amy Santiago

                Yeah, if you’re not operating heavy machinery or dealing with super sensitive information, this is way, way over the top.

                Reply
            2. MWKate

              Hair and blood? That is incredibly invasive. I think saying you are morally opposed is completely within reason given what they are asking for.

              Reply
            3. Lynxa

              Hair, urine AND blood? I don’t even do illegal drugs and there’s no way I’d let someone open my vein just to check. This is highly invasive.

              I’d also rather my employer not have any sort of access to what medications I’ve been prescribed.

              Reply
              1. Susie

                Those tests only show what the lab or employer is looking for. They don’t show every drug that you take.

                Reply
                1. Lynxa

                  At every drug test I’ve taken I have had to provide a list of current medications (I am also taking a prescribed benzo and a stimulant that are both things generally tested for)

            4. Hrovitnir

              Wooooow, I agree this is absurdly invasive (I’m opposed to drug test for moralistic reasons vs safety reasons anyway, but blood and hair? WTactualF?)

              Anyway, pretty sure that THC stays in your system an absurd amount of time regardless, it sucks. I’m sorry. I hope you manage to leave without too much drama and get another job quickly. :/

              Reply
            5. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo

              Blood and hair and urine tests? And they don’t reschedule tests, fire you on the spot if you don’t pass, and will also fire you on the spot if you don’t or can’t make it to the test? Good Lord, what a terrible, invasive policy. I’m sorry, OP, I think quitting is your best option here. (I don’t know your state but I’m guessing you wouldn’t be eligible for unemployment benefits if you get fired for failing a drug test. Is that the case?)

              I wonder what happens to people at this company who take things like Adderall or other controlled substances – perfectly legal when prescribed by a doctor, but almost certainly on the list of drugs they’d screen for. Would they get fired instantly or is there some leeway if they can show a doctor’s note or prescription to prove it’s on the up-and-up? (And that would also be invasive!)

              Reply
              1. Coalea

                I can’t say what goes on at the OP’s company, but I used to work for a company who performed independent third-party reviews of drug screens done for some government agencies. Employees who came back with certain positive tests (amphetamines, opioids) were given the opportunity to submit a prescription to explain their results.

                Reply
              2. SarahTheEntwife

                Yeah, I’m super up-front with my boss about taking Adderall because she’s awesome and has the sensible attitude that this is a sign of me being responsible and taking the steps I find most useful to be productive, but I shouldn’t have to disclose medical information to prove I’m not doing anything illegal. Same if I was, say, recovering from surgery and still on opiates (which yeah, I shouldn’t be taking if I’m a forklift operator but I don’t even drive outside of work anyway).

                Reply
        4. Lillian Styx

          Get some clean pee in a smallish bottle (but make sure it’s big enough for a sample). Make sure it stays body temp–on the dashboard with the heat blasting works. Hide the bottle on your person and hope they don’t pat you down too thoroughly or watch you produce the sample.

          And of course realize you are doing this at the risk of losing your job and your credibility with your employer.

          Reply
          1. AndersonDarling

            I have friends who smoke and this is the method they use. It’s pretty much routine for them. If you chose to cheat, you can get away with it as long as you don’t freak out or make a crazy mistake. But you have to decide if that is the route you want to take.

            Reply
            1. Clever Name

              I’ve also heard stories of places that make you give the sample with the door open (but I also heard they only do this with men). Weird and invasive.

              Reply
            1. Detective Amy Santiago

              Because cheating and dishonesty only make things worse.

              guy with no name was obviously aware that this job did random drug testing and made his choices.

              Reply
              1. Lillian Styx

                While I agree he knew the risks, I don’t see how getting caught cheating is worse than getting caught with MJ in his system when the result is the same.

                Reply
                1. TL -

                  Because, “We caught him trying to cheat on a drug test,” is a much, much worse reference than “He had a positive drug test for marijuana.” or “He resigned on the spot.”

              2. Sas

                If you really work at the job you say you do, you tow an impossibly line. People are people. Learn about that.

                Reply
        5. nameless

          I feel like I’m going to be in the minority here, but stop at a head shop on your way to the testing facility and ask them for help. There are ways of cheating the tests, such as fake urine.

          If it’s going to be a hair test, however, you may be SOL.

          For those wondering — pot stays in your system for 30 days — which isn’t to say that it affects you for 30 days — it’s just still in your system.

          Reply
          1. No, please

            Depending on the state and business insurance, the employees may tell you that those products are only for personal health benefits. They may ask you to leave if you say “drug test.” It’s silly but I know this from working in a tobacco/smoke shop.

            Reply
    8. Trout 'Waver

      It depends. Are they actively trying to fire you? If so, you’re better off quitting than having the mark on your record.

      If you are in good standing otherwise, you could talk to your boss. Someone companies don’t care about marijuana and are looking for other things like opiates or alcohol. Maybe the company is trying to fire someone else and is ‘randomly’ testing people think will pass. The odds aren’t good for you, though.

      Reply
    9. A Nonny Mouse

      Forgive me for asking the jerk question.

      If weed is illegal where you live, and you know that random drug tests are a possibility and that you would be fired if you failed, why do you continue to smoke it twice a day?

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        Is that really any of anyone’s business? Or relevant to answering the actual question of “what’s the least-worst way to handle this situation”?

        Reply
        1. Creag an Tuire

          I think it’s worth pointing out that after OP resigns (and that seems to be about all he can do), he should look into getting help for his addiction.

          And FYI, I’m completely pro-legal marijuana, but the fact remains that OP knew this activity would fuck up his life eventually if he kept doing it and he kept doing it anyway. Even if the activity was completely legal (like drinking or Facebook), that would sound like an addiction to me.

          Reply
          1. Chameleon

            This is kind of judgemental. He likely does this because he likes it, and it doesn’t negatively impact his job except for this unnecessary witch hunt. If my job banned drinking, I’d still have wine after dinner and accept it might mean I’d lose my job someday, but I’d do it because I like wine and I don’t think my employer has the right to tell me not to drink, not because I’m an alcoholic.

            Reply
            1. Mazzy

              As someone with (past) addiction issues, I don’t think this is judgmental, I think it is a valid concern. Having to do something every single day and during the day when you’re not working, as well as as soon as you get home is very concerning.

              Reply
              1. Chameleon

                He doesn’t say he has to. He chooses to.

                I often choose to read AAM on my lunch breaks AND when I get home. Sometimes I even do so in the bathroom. Doesn’t mean I’m addicted.

                Reply
                1. OhBehave

                  He knew about the company’s drug testing rules. He CHOSE to smoke weed every night after work. Addicted or not, he played the odds and is losing.

                  He has two choices; get tested and get fired or quit your job. Either way, he’s unemployed.

                  I’m wondering about the next job. Will they do random testing as well, and will he be in the same boat a year or two down the road? That’s a heck of a risk to take.
                  Maybe he’ll have to move to a legal state?

                2. Mazzy

                  I feel like you’re playing semantics here. Those activities aren’t closely related at all to needing to alter your state of consciousness for hours a day. It is implied that the OP needs to do it since they do it every day. I’ve been around enough addicts in my years of recovery and have heard the cliche “I lied to myself that I could stop anytime, even though I never did because deep down I knew I was hooked” a thousand times.

                  Even if pot doesn’t cause active damage per se, you should evaluate what else you could be accomplishing by maybe going down to every other day.

            2. Sas

              I knew someone who is now a dr. That stole computers and resold them for a living, shorted people out of wages rebuilding his home, and abused his ex wife. Perspective. He got help for none of it.

              Reply
          2. anonderella

            I disagree – as someone else pointed out, people need jobs even though their values may not exactly align with their employer’s.
            guy with no name didn’t say anything about using marijuana “fucking up his life”. Losing a job isn’t necessarily the worst thing to happen to people, either; we’ve seen a lot of examples on this site of how it ended up being a good thing. I agree with you that there should be some introspection on underlying issues and potential outcomes, but writing it off as an addiction is careless, especially when you don’t actually know the amount of though that Guy put into his daily usage.

            I am also a daily user, would potentially lose my job if caught, and yet I chose to continue. I budget for it. It’s as important to me as food – mainly because I can’t eat without it, so the two really do go hand in hand for me. I’m constantly weighing the pros and cons of my behavior, and have come to a conclusion that I want to continue. It’s not an addiction; it’s my choice.

            Reply
            1. Creag an Tuire

              “Addiction” was possibly too strong, but OP hasn’t weighed the pros and cons of his behavior. This policy was no surprise, so either he should’ve stopped using, or started job-searching immediately (and tried to stop using until he was free and clear of his old job). Waiting for the train to hit you is the worst option.

              Reply
              1. Agnodike

                Or he weighed the pros and cons of his behaviour and decided that, on balance, the risk of being randomly drug-tested and fired way low enough that it was outweighed by the benefits of continuing to work at the job while smoking regularly. Just because someone comes to a conclusion that’s different from the one you’ve reached doesn’t mean they’ve failed to give adequate consideration; sometimes it just means they weight the facts differently.

                Reply
                1. Jessesgirl72

                  He said that he saw other people be caught and fired for it. This wasn’t a slim chance – this was a sure-thing that it could come eventually.

                  Humans are really bad at risk assessment- in both directions.

                  I hope they do allow him to resign, and don’t decide he was fired for refusing the test.

                2. Agnodike

                  Just because something *can* happen doesn’t mean it’s statistically likely to happen *to you,* or at least not necessarily past a statistical threshold that would make you change your behaviour. People get pulled over for speeding all the time, but most speeders, most of the time, don’t. Unless we know how large the company is and how many people are fired for failed drug tests in a given year, we don’t actually know how slim the chance is. If I’d seen two people get fired in two years, out of a company with hundreds of employees, my calculus would probably be quite different than if it was half the staff.

                  My point here is that we can’t actually assess guy with no name’s thought process, whether he’s made a reasonable call, or what his relationship is to the substance he uses, because we don’t have enough information to do so. I tend to give people, especially strangers, the benefit of any doubt I have.

              2. Jadelyn

                That’s as may be, regarding waiting for the train to hit you, but this is still not helpful to what he came here to ask, and is unnecessarily judgmental of someone else’s life choices. It’s not your responsibility to make sure that everyone weighs the pros and cons of their behavior, and what he asked wasn’t about “should I be smoking pot?”, it was “I smoke pot, this is a situation that’s come up, would it be better to handle it via method A or method B?”

                Reply
          3. Jadelyn

            You’re assuming “addiction” where we have no evidence for that. And even if addiction is the right term, you’re assuming distress where there’s no evidence of that, either, because if a person is addicted to something but it’s not causing distress there’s no reason to worry about it except from a moralistic perspective, which is up to the individual to worry about, not a bunch of strangers on the internet. (And no, I don’t count having to quit this particular job as distress per se – the problem here is the insanely intrusive, hyper-controlling, no-exceptions zero-tolerance bizarro stance this company is taking on it. Not the smoking itself.)

            Reply
          4. Gaia

            There is absolutely nothing that indicates he is an addict and that is a big leap. Am I an addict if I take Advil twice daily even though I know if caught my employer would fire me? No. My employer would be deemed crazy. Same for guy without a name. He may very well be taking it for medical relief. You don’t know and it isn’t your business.

            And, for what it is worth, I don’t use pot and I’m not a huge fan of legalization but I mind my own business.

            Reply
      2. Bend & Snap

        I mean–if you’re calling it the jerk question up front, you should probably rein it in, right? Because this isn’t remotely helpful and it comes across as very judgmental.

        Reply
        1. Lily in NYC

          Exactly. This is not the place for this. Especially considering Alison’s view on pot and drug tests.

          Reply
        1. tired

          interesting thought… I read banned books.
          Trying to figure out what kind of banned book could get you fired these days…
          (but dont’ want to hijack this thread)

          Reply
          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Not likely in the U.S. these days, but that’s because we’ve grown more enlightened on that issue, as hopefully we will with others at some point as well. But my point is — some people feel strongly about disregarding laws governing what they can do with their own brains.

            Reply
        2. TL -

          To be fair, it does sound like this workplace was a particularly bad match for guy with no name. They sound very transparent about their policies, however draconian, and the consequences for not following policy.

          (If they had started enforcing a little known rule or put in a new rule, I would feel differently.)

          But this absolutely does stink and I can’t see how this would affect his job performance at all.

          Reply
        3. Observer

          Wouldn’t you start looking for a new job, though? And maybe even figure out how to move to a state where you don’t have to worry about an arrest, either?

          I do think that we really don’t have anywhere enough information to say “addiction!” On the other hand, there seems to be some fairly surprising choices here. At minimum, I would have expected that he was looking for a new job, hoping not to get caught before he found something else with a company that doesn’t do this stuff.

          Reply
      3. Agnodike

        Maybe because an employer shouldn’t have the right to take away your bodily autonomy, especially when it has no impact on your work performance?

        As far as the legality issue goes, people routinely do illegal stuff that’s culturally acceptable. Ever exceeded the speed limit? That’s pretty dangerous – to you and to others. Parked illegally “just for a minute?” Reeeeeeeallllllly had to go and peed in an alley on a night out? The answer to “why?” is usually “because it’s convenient or pleasurable and a quick guess at the likely risks and benefits indicates the probability of a negative consequence is pretty low.” Sometimes you get unlucky – you get pulled over, you get caught with marijuana (or with your pants down) – but most people, most of the time they do this illegal stuff, don’t suffer any consequences.

        The reasons people use drugs, legal and illegal, are myriad and complex. Not only is it impossible to fully appreciate the risk/benefit calculus someone else has made, it’s pretty rude to ask a stranger for that personal information, and even ruder to do it in a way that implies they’ve made the wrong choice.

        Reply
        1. TL -

          But an employer could also fire you for drinking (teachers face this) and for ever wearing the color green or fire everyone in their employ who is between 5’6″ and 5’9″ (if it affects both genders the same). This isn’t the best policy, but if it’s important in your life to wear green, you should try to find employers that don’t have draconian policies against the color green.

          There’s also the fact that while, yes, we do tend to view pot culturally as the same thing as speeding, legally, it is viewed and treated entirely differently. Drug use is more like stealing – pot use is just shoplifting instead of grand theft auto.

          Reply
          1. Agnodike

            Of course we should all try to find employers whose values align with our. It’s just not always possible to do so. There’s also a difference between “there are no restrictions on an employer doing this” and “an employee should reasonably internalize that this is normal and behave accordingly.” If my employer had a policy that I would be fired for wearing green outside the office on non-work time, I would almost certainly still wear green if I had a reasonable chance of evading detection, because I would consider that rule deeply unreasonable. Of course, I would also be looking for work at a place that didn’t have insane rules, but that doesn’t mean I might not still be working there for awhile.

            I’m not commenting at all on how the law addresses marijuana use, since a) I’m not in the United States; b) that’s not at all the topic of discussion to which I was responding. My whole point was that to say “One should never do anything illegal, and if one does, one should expect to lose one’s job” isn’t actually reflective of how people feel about all illegal behaviour. Rather, it has a lot to do with cultural judgments about what it means about a person that they use marijuana, and I think that’s unfair and pretty silly.

            Reply
            1. TL -

              I do think it’s different, because illegal drug use can be treated like a felony in the USA, so it’s actually really different from most crimes that people commit – jaywalking, speeding, and such are treated the same culturally and legally. Pot isn’t and thus is it reasonable for companies to treat it differently than your social group does. If you get caught speeding, you get a ticket; you may be late to work but your company is unlikely to be affected. If you get caught with pot, you could, depending, get serious jail time and it could have serious repercussions for the company – for instance, a hospital with an employee arrested for drug possession is going to get lots of bad press.
              The social/legal divide here does make it reasonable for your company to treat pot use differently than your social group. Plenty of companies choose not to care but as much as I do think drug testing is invasive, the fact is it’s legal, pot is illegal, and it is reasonable for companies not to want to employ people committing (at worst) felonies.

              Reply
    10. Lizzle

      It sounds like you know your workplace, so I’m leaning toward resign (although resigning without notice isn’t going to look great either.)

      But some employers will refer employees to addiction counseling before firing them. If you thought that was likely, I would probably go for the test and the counseling. No idea if you are actually addicted, but given that you know that smoking weed could result in you being fired, fined, and/or jailed at any time it doesn’t seem like the best habit to keep (unless you intend to move to a state with different laws).

      Reply
        1. animaniactoo

          It sounds like you really know the answer here – all the variables are known.

          There is no way ever that having a documented failure is a better result than a no-given-reason quit on the spot. There are legal implications to the failure. There are no legal implications to quitting.

          I’m really sorry, it sucks.

          Reply
        2. Aphrodite

          All you have here are bad options. The best you can do is choose “the least bad,” and that, to me, would be resigning, citing as your reason your objections to drug tests and other invasive procedures in general. Be a conscientious objector.

          Reply
    11. Karanda Baywood

      I’m sorry you’re going through this.

      People can drink themselves sick and keep a job. But pot is somehow “different.”

      Reply
      1. TL -

        The difference is that pot is still illegal (and illegal on the federal level, so even in the states where it’s legal, it’s not truly legal).
        I don’t think it’s helpful to debate whether pot is or isn’t worse than alcohol or whether the laws are fair; this was a clearly stated policy and has been enforced in the company.

        Reply
      2. Not So NewReader

        You’re right I have seen CDL drivers party hearty the night before, stay up to 2 then get behind the wheel at 5 am. Can’t tell me they are sober.

        Reply
        1. Whats In A Name

          Yes. And if they got caught (via breathalyzer or other method) they would probably not be working for that carrier anymore. You can break the rules all you want, but you do so knowing there might be consequences. Then they catch up with you you have to figure the best way to deal with them.

          Reply
      3. Mazzy

        That’s not really true though. I go to AA regularly and it’s been chock full of people screwing up their jobs or settling for lower level jobs that they would have been capable of doing. For example, I’m often heard of someone settling for a paper pusher type position instead of pursuing a vocation or career-type role because they didn’t want the added pressure and hours cutting into their drinking. So just because an alcoholic has A job doesn’t mean they somehow beat the system.

        Reply
    12. La Revancha Del Tango

      Use a friend’s urine who is clean. I did that one time. It’s easy (they don’t watch you use the bathroom). Just make sure it stays body temperature and you go to the lab right after the urine is given to you. It has to stay body temperature and they check for certain molecules (basically they would be able to tell the difference between old urine and new urine). Also, if you’re a man use a man’s urine. Don’t use a female’s :)

      Reply
      1. animaniactoo

        Different labs do different things. You can’t guarantee that they won’t pat him/her down, make them strip to just underwear before entering the stall, etc. This is not advisable.

        Reply
        1. Random

          No lab will pat you down or make you take off your clothes. It’s for a job, not a visit to a patrol officer.

          Reply
            1. Lizzle

              Some places require the administering person (nurse, etc.) to actually be in the room with you while you pee. I would imagine that is more common with higher-clearance situations, but I guess you never know.

              Source: chatted with a nurse who had to administer these tests.

              Reply
          1. The OG Anonsie

            IIRC I’ve been searched during some of the drug screenings I’ve had to do for hiring before. I had to turn over my jacket and bag, they did sort of a light pat down, and told me not to touch the sink or turn the water on or do anything other than pee in the room they put me in otherwise they would void the test. I wasn’t even allowed to wash my hands until they had run the test and confirmed it and everything, not sure why.

            Reply
            1. Natalie

              When doing urinalysis, they’re testing for a specific concentration of each substance. A person could potentially add a little water to their sample to dilute it and get the concentration of substance X below the “positive” level.

              Reply
              1. The OG Anonsie

                No I get why they wouldn’t let me use the sink with the door closed and all, I just don’t get why they wouldn’t let me wash my hands after I had turned over the specimen to them already. They were running the sample and I was standing there trying not to touch anything waiting for the ok to wash my hands.

                Reply
                1. Natalie

                  Oh, I see. I wonder if they wanted to be able to swab your hands in case something looked adulterated in the sample?

                2. The OG Anonsie

                  That might be it. This was years ago so I don’t remember if they did swab or told me they might swab, but they definitely didn’t explain why or the procedure– It seemed like they didn’t want me to know too much, presumably because knowing the process makes it easier for people to try to game it.

        2. k

          Considering this test is thorough enough to want blood and hair, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were taking extra steps to prevent cheating.

          Reply
      2. guy with no name

        They take hair and blood too so even if my urine is clean I’ll still fail. Thanks for trying though.

        Reply
      3. TL -

        To be completely honest, if a friend or coworker asked me for clean urine, I would say no. And with a coworker, depending on the job and the reason, I would at least consider letting the manager know. For this case, I probably wouldn’t. But I would also be really shocked and angry that I was asked.

        Reply
      4. Lily in NYC

        He said they are doing blood and hair tests too. I don’t think anyone can beat a hair test. I’m so sorry, op. This sucks hard.

        Reply
    13. New Girl

      You have to produce a certain amount of urine for these types a test. If you don’t produce it, sometimes they let you come back another day. See if that is an option?

      Or could you ask to reschedule? You get an hour of early leave but is the lab in an inconvenient location that may make you late for another appointment?

      (Also, only speaking to my experience getting a drug test for a pre-employement screening at a pharmaceutical company)

      Reply
      1. guy with no name

        Like I said they don’t let any rescheduling be done. They take hair, blood and urine so even if I don’t give enough urine they’ll just use the other stuff.

        They never tell people until the morning when you come in and they pay you even though you leave an hour early so no one will complain about being stuck after work doing it.

        Reply
        1. TL -

          I’m sorry. I think your best bet is to resign and look for an employer who doesn’t have a drug testing policy. I don’t know where you live but most places with a fair amount of businesses will have places that don’t test at all.

          Reply
    14. S.

      Quit, but say it’s because you are opposed to testing as an invasion of privacy. That’s a valid stance, and a good way to deflect questions about whether you hypothetically would have failed.

      Reply
      1. TL -

        Given the transparency of their policies, I doubt the manager will buy it. Why would he take the job if he had such an issue with it?

        Reply
        1. Blue

          Maybe the manager won’t buy it, but it’s a completely valid reason to be quitting, and provides a plausible alternative to “I do drugs”.

          Also, personally, I work for a company where I have an issue with several of their policies. But I work here because I like the work in general, and my family and I need to eat. No job will ever align 100% with my values. We all make compromises and I might be less likely to make a compromise if those policies started effecting me more directly.

          Reply
        2. Mallory Janis Ian

          I don’t think the manager necessarily has to buy it; it just seems to be the best stance for OP to take given the all-around impossibility of the situation.

          Reply
        3. Gandalf the Nude

          Yeah, it doesn’t matter whether the manager buys it, just that it’s the official version on the record. And if the managers asks, it would be fine to say he didn’t want to rock the boat when the policy didn’t personally affect him, but he’s taking a hard line now that it does.

          Reply
        4. The OG Anonsie

          Because work is work.

          Plus a lot of places have policies on the books that they can do this, but they don’t actually ever make anyone do it unless they have some serious suspicion that is causing an issue.

          Reply
          1. TL -

            It sounds like they’ve been pretty clear in their policy and enforcement since the time that guy with no name has started working there. This doesn’t sound like an on-the-books policy that never gets enforced; it sounds like a clearly stated, regularly used policy that it was perfectly reasonable to expect to happen to you.

            That being said, this policy is horribly invasive (blood!?!?!) and this is coming from someone who works in a hospital and happily submits to blood work for vaccine titers and regular flu shots and mandated vaccines if I “fail” the blood titer tests.

            Reply
          2. Mazzy

            But why then quit all of a sudden 2 years into the job? The backlog of moral indignation only caught up when it applied to oneself for the first time?

            Reply
        1. anonderella

          I’m so sorry, Guy. This must be incredibly stressful. I don’t have any great ideas to add (hair AND blood ?? 8 . ), just commiseration.

          I am a Girl, once almost in your situation. I’m still building my job history, and have only been at my current, entry-level position for about a year and a half. One morning, I came in to find a request for drug-screen on my desk (I use about as much as you). And. I. Panicked. I texted my SO and my mom – the two people who would be most immediately affected by me losing my job – within 30 seconds of reading the request. After running through EVERY scenario (part of my immersive thought process) I realized what options made more sense than others – I might have to find a position in an industry I can rely on not to drug test, thereby possibly taking a lower position/pay than I had. I might have to lose my health insurance for a little while. I might have to forgo the last year and start over with my resume.
          *It might be really, really hard*, in contrast to my life when I woke up this morning and didn’t have to face those decisions.
          During this struggle, the things that are most important to me just floated up to the surface, and I knew where my priorities lie; not everything became clear, but my decision got easier since I was coming from a place of considering my priorities. They’re not going to be the same for everybody, nor will I be necessarily able to explain them. I knew I would resign on the basis of drug-testing being invasive and also unnecessary to my position, I knew I would consider healthcare options that were less-attractive than my current one (maybe going back to the headache-inducing bureaucracy of Obamacare.. maybe begging my SO to get me on his insanely cheap plan as a domestic partner even though that means certain conversations/repercussions for our relationship… sigh), and I knew I would be willing to take on two jobs to make up for any lost income, meaning I’d lose some very precious me-time at home. For me, knowing I would be willing to do all these things was part of balancing those priorities against saving money to move to a legal state – which is the decision I ultimately landed on.

          (story ending is that I completely misread the request; there was a note asking me to pass on the request to someone else. Gave myself/SO/mom all heart attacks with my panicking, but I learned a lot about my own resilience from that struggle. They weren’t able to give me answers, after all; it all had to come from me. After pitching an internal fit (my thought process) about what was I going to do, I was Able To Do, and to move forward. I had a solid plan and felt on sure ground even before I re-read the request.)

          I expect that today will be a big day for you, with lots of stress but also reminders of what you hold most dear. I have faith/hope for you, that today goes alright no matter how the outcome. Remember that you’re a capable individual, and you will most certainly figure out what’s best for you, whether that be quitting or making moves to better align your values and lifestyle. Consider all the possible options, and keep self-care in your mind for now.
          You’re in my thoughts today! Wishing you the absolute best of luck.

          Reply
      2. Viktoria

        Yes, this was my suggestion. Tell your supervisor that you understand that it is company policy but that you feel very strongly that it’s an invasion of privacy and you are not willing to undergo the test. Tell her that you understand that means you can’t continue working there, and offer to work out 2 weeks notice. If she says no, today is your last day, then that’s fine- this way you have offered and not burned the bridge.

        She may see through this, but it’s none of her business, and lots of people feel strongly that this kind of drug testing is an invasion of privacy.

        Reply
        1. Viktoria

          And I just want to add, I don’t smoke weed regularly (maybe once per year) and I would decline Especially upon reading your clarification that they test hair and blood in addition to urine. I am frankly horrified that they do a blood test, that is so invasive and inappropriate. So I don’t think saying this would be that unusual or surprising. One way or another, they are going to lose good employees over this policy over the course of time, and that is the decision they are making.

          Reply
          1. Amy The Rev

            yep- I absolutely hate getting blood drawn, I have a Legit Meltdown every time it happens (which fortunately has only been about once every 3-4 years for one thing or another), and would refuse any blood test that wasn’t medically necessary or mandated with a warrant.

            Reply
            1. Another Lawyer

              Same. I don’t do drugs, but even my PCP has to prescribe an ativan to get blood out of my veins.

              Reply
            2. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo

              Same here. I don’t do drugs, but I’m extremely needlephobic and would have an enormous problem having to take a non-medically necessary blood test. (Medically necessary ones are bad enough!)

              Reply
          2. AnonAnalyst

            I don’t use anything that would show up on a drug screen, and I don’t ever see myself submitting to the hair and blood test unless I had no other employment options. That is unreasonably invasive and I would definitely push back hard against it.

            I think urine testing is also inappropriate for most office jobs, but at least that’s not as invasive. I would push back against a urine test too, but it’s less egregious to me that what OP’s company is requiring.

            Reply
      3. KR

        This. They may see through it but if you’re on record (give them a letter, email her a copy after, and keep a copy so your boss can’t lie about what you said behind closed doors) about it being an ethical issue, you will save face.

        Reply
      4. INFJ

        At first, I thought that sounded good. However, knowing everything OP has mentioned, I wouldn’t even bring up the test at all. Just quit on the spot and let them speculate. Once you bring up the test, they can consider it a failed test on the grounds of refusal/no-show.

        Reply
      5. Mazzy

        But if the OP had an issue with testing that was so strong that they are quitting, then they would not have taken the job to begin with. This wasn’t a new policy sprung on OP recently.

        Reply
    15. Electric Hedgehog

      Yeah, dude, you’re screwed. Sorry. That’s a crappy situation to be in. Quit in advance.

      And make sure your next job is in a state where recreational use is legal or that it doesn’t do random testing. You’re taking on too much risk for too little reward, here.

      Reply
      1. Good Luck

        Could you fake an emergency sometime before you have to go in for the drug test? Perhaps get “violently ill” in the bathroom and excuse yourself for the rest of the day? I’m sure the issue will keep coming up, but at least you can postpone it long enough to look for a job where they don’t do (urine, blood and hair!!!) drug testing.

        Good luck!

        Reply
        1. guy with no name

          Nope since I showed up to work and was given notice I have to go. Missing it means getting fired unfortunately. It’s looking like I’ll have to quit.

          Reply
      2. FYI

        I live in a state where both recreational and medical marijuana are fully legal. You can still get fired for failing a test here for marijuana.

        Reply
        1. TL -

          Just a side note here: Pot is still illegal on the federal level so there is no place in the USA where it is fully legal to use pot. (And the new administration has signaled its intent to enforce this. The old administration didn’t care, so it was a much safer assumption to call it fully legal in 2016.)

          And in a right to work state, they can fire you for any reason that doesn’t fire you for being in a protected class.

          Reply
          1. FYI

            ? I appreciate the rest of your point, but what does right to work have to do with anything? No one has brought up OP or anyone else not wanting to join a union.

            Reply
          2. Ask a Manager Post author

            Quick clarification — “right to work” is actually about whether or not you can be forced to join a union. “At-will” is probably what you’re thinking of, and all states besides Montana have at-will employment.

            Reply
            1. Natalie

              And you can never be forced to join a union! In a non-RTW state you may have to pay an smaller agency fee if you don’t join, in an RTW state agency fees are also disallowed.

              Reply
    16. Amy The Rev

      I’d tell them that you decline to take the test, and let them decide to fire you if they want. That way it wont go on your record as having been ‘fired for failing a drug test’, and when you’re talking to a prospective employer and they ask why you left your last job, you can say that you were fired for declining to comply with invasive policies, or because there was an irreconcilable cultural mismatch about some of their more invasive policies, or something like that.

      Reply
      1. guy with no name

        Thanks. I’m thinking I’ll just have to quit. If I refuse I’ll be fired on the spot for refusing a drug test and that’s what will go on my record.

        Reply
        1. Amy The Rev

          Yeah but folks refuse drug tests for a variety of reasons, including on principle, and that’s what you could say you’re doing (as a non-drug user, I’d probably refuse on principle, too). At least if you’re fired you might qualify for unemployment depending on the laws in your state!

          Reply
        2. Detective Amy Santiago

          Honestly, I don’t use drugs and I would refuse a required blood and hair test for the kind of work I do. The only industries I could see that being reasonable would be direct patient care, operating heavy machinery, or dealing with incredibly sensitive/confidential information.

          Reply
    17. E

      As a former HR person who had an employee test positive for this, we had to terminate employment immediately. That was all, no prosecution was involved. If the employee had come forward before the positive test, the company policy offered the possibility of working with him if he went to rehab, but that option was lost when he didn’t “turn himself in” as it were. The options I see for you are to quit, be fired, or see if your company offers assistance (if quitting the weed is an option).

      Reply
    18. rubyrose

      Sorry, guy, I think you need to quit today and not go for the test. Tell future employers that you quit for ethical, invasion of privacy reasons. From the picture you paint of what their reaction will be if you try any other approach, I think it is better for you to quit as opposed to getting fired on the spot.

      I’m in a state where it is legal and even here there are companies that will immediately fire you if you test positive. Their ability to do that has been upheld by the state supreme court. And yes, that stays in your system for quite a while, as you know.

      Reply
      1. rubyrose

        Also, consider quitting NOW, at least temporarily, so you can pass whatever drug screening you might have to do to get new employment.

        Reply
      2. JengaViking

        Walgreens sells an at home pee test for weed so someone could buy one and see what’s doing. However, this is pointless if they test hair and blood. I say working in an office job that required these kind of invasive tests is insane! Good luck.

        Reply
        1. rubyrose

          I do have to say, I’ve had to routinely do drug screening as a part of job offers. They have never taken a hair sample. Blood, maybe once.

          Reply
    19. LKW

      I’d go to your supervisor and let them know that you’re not going to go to the test and that you’re submitting your resignation. You can offer to stay 2 weeks if they choose. They’ll read between the lines and determine the next step as far as requiring you to leave immediately or stay on 2 weeks.

      Reply
    20. K

      You can resign and give two weeks notice, which your office can decline when you refuse the test, but my understanding is that it’s not a firing if you resign first. Make sure you get all your stuff together before you leave.

      Reply
    21. Stephanie (HR Manager)

      The EEOC is opposed to random drug screenings for employees that do not work in something like driving or public safety (think truck driver, police officer, etc.) If you are not in a position where your impairment could cause harm to others, your employer should not be drug screening because it is considered an invasion of your privacy. (The actual language escapes me just now.) I am not a lawyer, but if you are really desperate to keep your job, and you don’t work in that kind of position, you could hire a lawyer and see if you can fight the screen.

      That being said, weed stays in your system for a long time if you are a regular user. If you want to continue using, you should choose your career appropriately.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        I’m seeing that that’s true for prescription drugs but not for illegal drugs. But I could be missing something.

        Reply
    22. Student

      I suggest you admit to your supervisor and offer to resign. It’s both owning the consequences of your decision like an adult and taking a little control of how the narrative goes.

      Then, given any options at all, don’t take up a job where they do drug tests if this is how you’re going to live your life. You should get to live your life as you’ve chosen, but you don’t get to make the decision that other people should eat the consequences for your choice when they have a clearly stated policy that this is something they don’t want going on.

      I know you don’t think the tests have a logical reason. Maybe you are right; but maybe you are wrong. I am in a job where we are regularly drug test, and we have very good reasons for it. Even though I think the public in general ought to be able to make a choice in this, I absolutely back my employer’s decision to not allow it at all and think they’re making the right call for our job. Sometimes the reasons aren’t obvious, but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily non-existent. Conversely, I know of jobs with drug tests where I have strong doubts that there’s a good reason for it, so I’m not saying it’s always appropriate or sensible business.

      Reply
      1. RVA Cat

        Speaking of the sensible business aspect – how much is the employer paying to have the blood and urine test? Given that this is allegedly a random test of an existing employee at an office job…

        Reply
    23. MoinMoin

      Not sure if this has been said yet, but drinking a LOT of water right before -as in, completely clear urine- might dilute enough to make it unable to test and buy you some time. I think I just read that on an Ask Reddit (something about industry secrets) the other day. In the same vein, a false positive like cough syrup or whatever could buy you time.
      My department helped facilitate randoms with HR in my old job, but they were just the cheek swab ones. But they were never actually sent in for testing. I think they said they did a quick test that would flag if, like, you were under the influence at the time, but wouldn’t bother doing anything more unless there was a reason to suspect.
      Anyway, sorry about the draconian laws in your state and I wish you all the luck in the world in this.

      Reply
    24. BTW

      Sorry this is happening to you. You are probably best off finding the most graceful way to quit. I keep picturing the guy who shot himself in the foot to avoid being drafted and sent to Vietnam. A dramatic injury that lands you in the hospital would be a legit excuse to miss the testing appointment but I doubt any job is worth that. Perhaps a sudden, unspecified family emergency would explain both the missing test and the subsequent need to resign. Or win the lottery? Or a sudden inheritance so that you can quit your job and it no longer makes sense to send you to the test?
      More realistically, if you want to continue daily use, plan to move to a non-testing industry or job, or a state or country where it is more legal. It was just a matter of time in your current job. I know some people who got caught in their youth and then became entrepreneurs…small business owners of one sort or another…because it was the only career path open to them after they had a record. So working for yourself might be another option too. Good luck!

      Reply
    25. No name

      If it’s a urine test and you have 48 hours notice, you can pass.
      There’s a myriad of drinks and techniques to use, just research online.

      Reply
      1. Stinky Socks

        Not true for a daily user like the OP. It would take 14+ days to clear on a less-sensitive urine test, and up to 30 on a more-sensitive test. Says the mother of the teen who went to rehab…

        Reply
    26. ST

      Walk into your boss’ office, light one up, say “dude, I’m gonna take a really long lunch”, and then go get some Dunkin’.

      Reply
    27. memyselfandi

      This has been such an interesting thread to read. I am quite opposed to the legalization of recreational use of marijuana. I don’t indulge in any mind altering activities beyond the occasional drink in a social situation and in general I find people who are stoned (on alcohol or drugs) uninteresting to talk to. I have also read enough research on brain development to think that we really don’t know what is safe when it comes to drugs that affect the brain and I include the drugs that are prescribed in that group. The brain continues to develop into our early 20’s. My biggest objection to legalization comes from personal experience. Last year I had to move out of a new apartment I really loved because my downstairs neighbor smoked something called skunk. The smell permeated my apartment, it would wake me up in the middle of the night and my clothing would reek of the smell. Not a good look when you have a government job. I hate the smell of marijuana as well as cigarette smoke, and I see legalization as delegitimizing complaints about marijuana smoke. I see lots of comments here that smoking is your own business, but in some cases it is not. HOWEVER, I think I would quit a job that did random testing for drugs, or would never take the job in the first place. The principle of the thing is so deeply offensive to me. I have never had to face the question of what I would do, and it is not likely that I will, but it has caused me to think that I should form a better informed opinion on the topic.

      Reply
  4. Morning Glory

    Hey all,

    Happy Friday! I could really use some advice on whether this would be an ok request to make, and apologies for the long post.

    My organization has a department-wide fund for professional development that anyone can request funds from for classes and training and any related travel– as long as the funds are not being used to pay for tuition in a degree-seeking program. You don’t need to prove it will benefit the org immediately, the way you would for a conference, but it will need help you either in your current role, or to prepare you for a future role.

    I’m currently in a graduate program that is related to the work we do – A Master’s is required for any kind of upward movement at my current org, and even then it’s going to be tricky to move up for me because admins don’t get promoted as a general rule, or get to do work that would prepare us for a promotion (disclaimer: I’m quite bitter about this, as it not the opportunity promised when I took the job. I am trying to move forward in a positive way but am worried this may be clouding my judgment on what my org ‘owes’ me.)

    My grad program is offering a 2 week trip abroad that is options for students but that is relevant for my career aspirations, and the work my department is interested in – but not so relevant for my current position. In addition to the tuition that I would be paying for it, there are the program travel costs. I would like to ask if it would be possible for my organization to pay for part or all of my travel for this trip (I would still pay tuition).

    I know there is a chance they will say no, which I am fine with – but my question is: is it inappropriate even to ask? So many people say ‘it never hurts to ask’ but that’s not true, and I don’t want to come off as naïve or greedy. At the same time, I’m hoping going on a trip like this could change the sub-conscious mindset people have from ‘admin’ to ‘person in this field interested in moving up,’ and I can’t really afford to go paying for both tuition and travel.

    Reply
    1. Newby

      Have you applied for this fund before? If you have not I don’t see how asking about it will appear greedy. Even if you have it wouldn’t automatically look like that, but try to find out how often/how much other people in a similar position apply and try to stick to that. If this would prepare you for a role within the organization, it sounds in line with the purpose of the fund. If it is unlikely to prepare you for a role at this organization, it would be much tougher to justify.

      Ask around informally to see what your coworkers and supervisor think of this. If you hear a lot of people saying that they don’t think this trip really qualifies, don’t apply. If your supervisor thinks it is a good idea, then go for it.

      Reply
    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      Hmm.

      Generally, I would say that it couldn’t hurt to ask about this.

      However, because they are clear that the funds can’t be spent on a degree-seeking program, I think asking could come across as trying to skirt the system (you’d be asking them to pay for the travel, right, and arguing that it technically isn’t covering tuition?). If you have a strong relationship with your manager or another higher-level mentor, you could float the idea, but otherwise I would let this go.

      Reply
    3. Rachel in NYC

      I’d say ask, especially if you feel that you a good worker that is generally appreciated by management.

      An old job of mine didn’t pay for trainings except for people in specific positions (there was no fund like in your office), which wasn’t mine. But there was a course I was interested in taking and it was related to my work, so I asked. They were happy to pay for it even though no one else at my level had done something like that…

      Reply
    4. Not So NewReader

      Do you have someone there who you trust and who is in your corner?
      If you have such a person, I would check with them to find their thoughts on this.

      If you do not have that trusted advocate, maybe you have a good boss and the good boss would give you a fair and reasonable answer?

      If you do not have a trusted advocate and your boss is not reliable, then I’d say just go for it. My thinking is that you have been at the place for a while, if it was really going to rattle some cages that you applied, you would probably know this by now. The grapevine would have warned you not to apply. If you have never been warned, formally or informally, then go ahead and apply.

      Reply
    5. animaniactoo

      What I would ask your org is whether they would consider the travel costs, etc. for the program to be a tuition fee.

      Reply
    6. Newby

      I’d also like to say that there is a difference between applying for the fund and asking for clarification of whether this type of thing is eligible. Few people are going to thing you are “naive or greedy” for wanting to know more about what is eligible. I used to administer a travel fund and would often get inquiries about whether or not specific trips were eligible for the fund. I never thought badly of anyone who asked, even if it was obviously not within the scope of the fund. The only time I would start to get annoyed was when they would try to argue that the eligibility needed to be expanded or twisted to fit.

      Reply
      1. Morning Glory

        Thanks for your insights!

        To respond to both of your posts, this would be the first time I make a request, having worked here just under 2 years. I do like the suggestion from you and the others that I ask if this trip would be eligible first before making an official request.

        Reply
    7. BeezLouise

      I would 100% ask.

      You could even couch it as “I’m doing this program, and while of course I am paying tuition, is this the kind of thing I can apply for money from the professional development fund?”

      Reply
    8. Jill

      Yes, ask! Even if they say no, asking is going to look like you are a person interested in moving up.

      I asked my boss a few years ago about a conference, and even thought it was not approved (it was like $4,000 so fair enough), he definitely appreciated me bringing it to his attention. And when I had a different but much less expensive opportunity he happily approved it.

      In my case, the conference I was trying to attend had a basic business case letter you could customize and give to your employer to help you “sell it” to them. I found it an amazing template to work with. You could check with the program you would be attending – they may have a write up or business case letter you can borrow wording from about the opportunity.

      It might be helpful to see an example, so here’s the business case letter I used for IABC World Conference: http://wc.iabc.com/business-case-letter-wc/ I customized it to talk about my actual job and how each piece related to it or to my further career development/goals with the company.

      Reply
  5. J.Green

    My grad program requires us to do an internship as part of the degree, and they can be pretty competitive. One company sent out interview invites to around a dozen applicants…in the same email. It wasn’t even for a group interview or anything, we were just all in the recipients list for the same email.

    Maybe I’ being paranoid, but that seems like a good way to make things a bit awkward? It’d be weird to not acknowledge it at all I think, but there’s not much to talk about. It’s probably nothing, but I just feel it was an odd thing for a company to do.

    Reply
    1. Pineapple Incident

      That’s bad form, and super awkward. You aren’t being paranoid- it’s at least a yellow flag.

      You shouldn’t be able to see other interviewing candidates’ email addresses- there are situations where that could lead to crappy consequences if anyone on that list already has a job elsewhere.

      Reply
    2. SophieChotek

      I agree with Pineapple Incident. Whoever sent out the email likely doesn’t understand how BCC works.
      Never fun to see who the other applicants are (often especially if you know them/know of them.)

      Reply
    3. Overeducated

      I had that happen with a form rejection email for a job an Ivy League school with around 100 applications. THEY DIDN’T BCC US.

      I found some schadenfreude in the later apology email :)

      Reply
    4. Squeeble

      My dentist’s office sent a mass email a while ago stating that they were no longer accepting the insurance I was on at the time. Another case of someone not understanding how BCC works–I could see the email addresses of everyone else who went to that dentist and used that insurance. Not the worst privacy breach in the world, obviously, but definitely bad form.

      Reply
  6. WellRed

    Apparently, it’s employee appreciation day (??). Our HR person is throwing us lunch in the conference room. We’ve never done this before. At least, we aren’t’ being strong armed into sending the CEO on a family ski trip.

    Reply
    1. SaraV

      Someone on another forum I frequent mentioned that they’re having pizza brought in at their work.

      Hope they have enough cheese pizza.

      Reply
      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        We’re having pizza today too. “Just because” which, in my opinion, is a perfect reason to have pizza. My co-worker brought in some hot sauce for me to try. I am inordinately excited about all of these things.

        Reply
    2. Gracelyn

      Yeah our management is having a baked potato and salad bar for appreciation day lol. At least they are considering what people can eat (diet, religion etc) this time instead of having roast and cake.

      Reply
    3. Gala apple

      That makes sense! My work gave out treats but about a third of the team is out on Fridays (weekend coverage); so ouch.

      Reply
    4. Hlyssande

      The VP sent an email about cookies this morning, which is awesome.

      Except he sent it to my group…and the main group in Manila, instead of the local main group. So my very small team went to get cookies and nobody else in the local office was going to get cookies, and there was confusion. I hope he’s getting all the teasing today…and also that he sent someone in Manila to acquire cookies, because he promised them cookies too!

      Reply
  7. ArtK

    I’ve got a couple of things that I’ll put in separate comments.

    First up. We all know that professional resume preparation is anathema here, for very good reasons. I’m doing a project for a business class and would like to do an informal survey about what these preparers charge. If you know of one and/or have used one, what were their rates (you don’t have to admit to actually having paid it!)

    Thanks!

    Reply
      1. AndersonDarling

        I used one about 10 years ago and it was $250. More recently, I used one of the Linkedin Professional services to get quotes and they ranged from $200-250 and one was $250 per hour.

        Reply
    1. Mabel

      I’m not sure what professional resume preparers do – and now I’m curious. I paid AAM to look at my resume when that was offered, and I have had a career coach talk me through how to present myself in the best light. She also helped me prepare documentation that resulted in a big raise a while back. If that’s the kind of thing you’re looking for, I paid my coach around $100 in 2010 for the resume help, and it was well worth it. I learned a lot from working with her for a short time. Oh, and that was in NYC.

      Reply
    2. Kowalski! Options!

      A college buddy of mine was doing it to support his acting career around 2010. I think he was charging $15o for an initial consultation, first draft, consultation and second draft, with add-on charges for job-specific edits.

      Reply
    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      These prices strike me as incredibly low! I’ve always seen prices $500 and up, for real conversations and writing and re-writes. Maybe it’s regional.

      Reply
      1. Lily Rowan

        I’m ever more grateful that my mother provided this service for me early in my career. (More recently, she asked to see my resume, and had no suggestions! The student had become the master.)

        Reply
  8. Pup Seal

    How do you remind yourself you have talents and skills even when your boss doesn’t seem to think so?

    A bit of background: My job is mostly producing marketing materials for a non-profit research lab. On the side I sometimes take freelancing editing jobs. I’m also trying to become a published author. When I was younger I’ve always felt confident in my writing and editing skills, but for the past two years my confidence has been slipping away.

    My last boss always praised my work. My supervisor praises my work all the time. Last month I attended a writing workshop where I had the first ten pages of my book critiqued by an editor. She told me my work was her favorite out of all the other works she critiqued for this workshop, and she requested I submit my manuscript to her publisher. The problem comes with The Big Boss.

    When I started my current job, one of my job duties was to help Big Boss with revising papers, grant proposals, presentations, etc. Unfortunately they would be very poorly written. In general, he struggles getting grants proposals accepted because of the poor writing. When I first started helping him out, he would bitterly accept my feedback, but as time went on he started arguing with me. Then he stopped asking me to help revise his work all together.

    Then things got worse. Some of my tasks are creating newsletters, brochures, email campaigns, running social media, etc. Big Boss started doing these tasks himself and without telling me (or my supervisor). He would send email campaigns that were poorly written. He created newsletters that were poorly written as well. I was starting to think that maybe he was doing this because he didn’t believe in my writing skills and there was something wrong with my writing. I talked to my supervisor about it. He too didn’t understand why this was happening, especially because he didn’t see anything wrong with my work. The worst day was when Big Boss asked me to edit something, and I looked it over, wrote up my comments and feedback, and emailed them to him. He didn’t even look at it.

    Lately, Big Boss has been super busy, so my job duties are mine again. I got a confidence boost when I attended that writing workshop, but as time goes on at my job it’s starting to slip again. What can I do to keep my confidence from falling at work?

    Reply
    1. Trout 'Waver

      One thing you can do is to not conflate your own confidence with your Big Boss’s insecurity. He can reassign you to different tasks and take tasks for himself for his own reasons, which clearly aren’t aligned with producing the best content. But that’s his prerogative. Don’t let it get to you. From what you said here, your writing skills appear to be excellent.

      Reply
    2. Paige Turner

      The problem is definitely with Boss’s writing skills, not yours- his logic (for lack of a better term) is that his writing is good, and because your writing is different from his, and because he gets defensive in response to feedback/criticism, then the problem must be with your writing, not his! (Eye roll.)

      It seems like you already realize this, so don’t second-guess your skills :) Keeping up with your writing outside of work would probably help with your confidence. Is there a class or meet up writing group that you could join to be able to keep getting outside feedback and encouragement?

      Reply
      1. Mabel

        I agree! I have edited other people’s writing over the years (not as the main part of my job), and I’ve found that some people take the editing as personal criticism and can’t handle it. Others know they need some help, and they trust that I know what I’m doing. It sounds like the big boss is really insecure, so I would disregard any input from him.

        Reply
        1. JustaTech

          I know I take editing too personally so when I ask a peer (or my boss) to review a document I always ask for them to use the “review” function in Word and email it back to me. Then I try to make sure that I’m alone when I read their comments the first time so that initial “argh!” reaction doesn’t get expressed to anyone. Once I’ve read all the comments once I can be *much* more rational about it.
          It has nothing to do with my reviewers and everything to do with me.

          Reply
    3. Christian Troy

      I think you have to realize in academic research, there are a lot of egos and personalities at play in a way that may not be as bad in other sectors. People are allowed to “get away” with more in terms of having unprofessional habits and abrasive personality traits. i don’t think you can take it very personally, but I wonder if you really want to stay to academic research for very long. I think it takes a certain personality to tolerate or people view it as a stepping stone to other jobs.

      Reply
      1. I Am Become the Internet, Destroyer of Time

        +10

        This is one of the big reasons why I decided to transition from academia to industry. Some institutions look for collegiality when they hire faculty for tenure-track positions, e.g. the place where my dad worked as a full professor. Other places don’t give a rat’s ass about collegiality, and only care about how many papers you publish and in what journals.

        The latter situation definitely attracts jerks. The former, unfortunately, also allows a few people to slip through the cracks here and there. There was a particularly obnoxious rock star in my dad’s department who got all the press and the praise and smiled at the journalists, despite being a complete jerk to his colleagues. He couldn’t be fired b/c tenure. (The dep’t head did tell him to clean up his act though.)

        Reply
    4. Beth

      I don’t think your big boss’s rejection has anything to do with your writing skills, but it may have something to do with your editing style.

      Between helping people with their resumes, and being a part of various classes/groups in which I provide feedback in sort of a workshop setting for standup comedy/storytelling, I have realized that many people have the tendency to edit so much that they take away the voice of the original writer. If this big boss is as bad as you say (quite possible) at writing, then I imagine you are doing some VERY heavy editing. I completely understand this inclination, because that’s what I want to do when I read something poorly written! Heck, I have had people to ask to run Facebook status updates past me and I am inclined to change everything about them. But none of these are MY work or MY voice. You do enough heavy editing, and now suddenly you have your own writing.. not someone else’s.

      When you return the edits to big boss, is it covered in red ink (or the digital equivalent)? This would be discouraging to anyone. I have realized that for some, the compromise is to ask myself, “is this a true grammar issue, or just stylistic?” This keeps me from over-editing when I’m helping others, and it helps the original author retain their natural voice.

      Now as the old saying goes, you can’t polish a turd. If you do lessen your editing, you may not be happy with the end result.. but you aren’t the one putting your name on it.

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        This is a good point, too. Learning to “borrow” someone else’s writing voice is a hugely beneficial skill to anyone who drafts stuff or edits stuff for other people. Study the other stuff they’ve written, note quirks of phrasing and style, and try to preserve the “feel” of those when you edit. People can swallow heavy editing a lot better when they still feel like their personality is coming through.

        Reply
        1. Pup Seal

          Yes. At my internship my boss was all about this: make sure the writer’s voice is still there. It’s the writer’s work after all.

          Usually when I edit I go over to make sure the content makes sense and doesn’t tangent off, then I go over the writing for any long wordy sentences, redundancies, or incorrect word choice. I’ve gone back and forth between using (purple and green) ink and track review on Word. I try to give feedback the sandwich method way (nice feedback, critical feedback, nice feedback) because I know criticism is never a fun thing to receive. With my boss, I try to word my feedback in a way he can understand why x,y,z would benefit his grants and papers and get the results he wants (ex getting money from grants).

          Reply
    5. Jadelyn

      I will give you some of the best advice that was ever given to me in my life: if it’s not about you, don’t make it about you.

      This isn’t about you. This is about his ego and his inability to gracefully accept criticism and use it to grow and improve. So, don’t make it about you! Harder than it sounds, I know, but repeat that phrase like a mantra and eventually it acts as a shield against taking stuff like this personally and suffering the hit to your confidence in your own skills.

      I’ve got a great-grandboss (CEO of the company – it goes me, my manager, our VP, the CEO) who is like this. Not that his own work is terrible as far as I can tell, but he’s an insane micromanager. Literally nothing ever goes to him for approval without coming back with a laundry list of at least half a dozen requested changes – the last org chart update I did, he had a list of 22 changes he wanted made! Mostly small stuff like formatting but my god it was annoying. Seriously, if Moses had come down with the original tablets of the 10 Commandments and given them to our CEO, he would have sent them back up to God with a list of changes to be made. He’s just that bad about this.

      And yeah, it really upset me the first few times it happened. I felt like I had failed somehow. Then I noticed he was doing this with everyone in my department, and realized that the fact that he was personally reviewing the work of an entry-level department assistant was a bit odd too, and realized it really wasn’t me. It was about his need for control.

      So now, stuff comes back with his list of changes, and I roll my eyes and mutter irritated things about micromanaging jerks under my breath, but I do them and let it go because I know it’s not a commentary on my skills, it’s just something he needs to do in order to feel like he’s in control of his world. It’s not about me.

      Reply
    6. ExceptionToTheRule

      I submit my work for awards from a neutral 3rd party. Definitely makes me feel better about myself when I win.

      Reply
    7. Not So NewReader

      Yeah, this stings.

      One of the many things I would tell myself is that “My sense of self-worth/work ethic/whatever does NOT come from my boss. It comes from ME.” Some days all I had was the satisfaction of knowing I have lived up to my own standards. Learn to take more satisfaction in knowing that you have done your absolute best, dwell on that more than dwelling on your boss’ thoughts and actions.

      I hope you are job hunting. I am sorry you are going through this.

      Reply
    8. C Average

      Here are the things I think you have to consider here:

      1) Is Big Boss a good writer?

      If he’s not a good writer, I don’t think you have to take his feedback personally. You do have to heed his feedback (more on that soon), but you don’t have to feel beat up by it. It’s fine to tell yourself, “I work for a know-it-all manchild who can’t write, and I am paid to produce fourth-grade content (or whatever) to make him happy.”

      2) Is Big Boss YOUR boss, and is he in charge of the deliverables you’re describing?

      If he is, then you may need to suck it up and take his misguided edits. I’ve been in this situation and it is painful to the soul of someone who cares about good writing, but part of having a job is doing things that suck in exchange for money. It’s kind of the nature of the arrangement.

      3) Do you have a byline or any other public acknowledgment that these written products were created by you?

      If so, you may be able to leverage that a little bit. “It feels dishonest to me to have my name on something that has so much input from you.” Used effectively, this tactic can either a) get your name removed from these products, which may at least assuage your pride; or b) get him to butt out a little bit.

      4) Do you have other trusted independent assessments of your writing skills?

      Yes. Remind yourself of that. Often.

      Reply
    9. dappertea

      It sounds like this is your Big Boss who is the problem, and definitely not your work. Some people are just very closed off to feedback, despite appearing to seek it out. It sounds like maybe he just wanted someone to look at it and say “looks good!” instead of working to improve it. When he wasn’t getting that, he just bypassed you. Maybe he’s defensive about his writing abilities?

      The next time Big Boss asks you to read through something, you could ask what he’s looking for you to do. Does he want you to focus on content or grammar? You may have to adapt your feedback style. The “compliment sandwich” seems kind of passé, but it really does work for some folks.

      Reply
  9. Audiophile

    I got a job offer!!!!

    As usual, it went quickly. I interviewed on Tuesday, had an email a few hours later asking for references. Got a call yesterday that they were having difficulty reaching one of my references and wanted to know if I could provide an alternate, I did. Had an offer a few hours later.

    It’s 20k over my salary in my last role, which just cements how underpaid I was. I asked for the weekend to think about it, but there’s not much to think about. I plan to accept today and find out when they’d like to me start. Great way to start the month!

    Reply
    1. JobSeeker017

      Audiophile:

      Congrats on the job offer!

      I hope you find lots of fun ways to spend that additional $20,000!

      Reply
    2. Worker B

      Congrats!

      Can I ask what you mean by it went quickly as usual? My experience has been that hiring processes are very slow. Any offers following my interviews and taking references have been at least two weeks later.

      Reply
      1. Audiophile

        I’ve mostly had the opposite experience. Almost all of my jobs have involved only 1 interview, rarely has it gone to a second round, then a reference check and then an offer. Most reference checks were quick, a few days at most and then an offer was made. I think this was one of the shortest periods from interview to offer.

        Now I’m waiting on them to call back so I can officially accept.

        Reply
  10. Sassy AE

    WE GOT NEW WORK COMPUTERS! They’re lighter and easier to haul around (we do a lot of event work), and I can finally install Adobe PS on it so I don’t have to switch to a Mac just to update copy or something.

    Reply
  11. Detective Amy Santiago

    How did you figure out what you wanted to do with your life? I’m 40 years old and I’ve never really had a ‘career path’. I’ve done well in previous positions and am well respected in my current position, but I know this isn’t something I’ll do for the next 20-30 years. The problem is that I don’t know what I want to do and I have a fear of change, so I’m unlikely to make a move. Admittedly, I’ve been in my current position for less than a year and I do have the opportunity here to learn some new skills, but I feel like I should have a long term plan and I don’t.

    Any advice?

    Reply
    1. FriYAY!

      I don’t have any advice but am in the exact same spot. I feel stuck. I’m sorry you are feeling this way.

      Reply
    2. bassclefchick

      Don’t worry – I’ve never had a career path either. It was more of a “how can I pay the rent in the best way possible” path. I’ve never figured it out either. Which is probably why I’m having so much trouble finding a job right now.

      Reply
    3. Amadeo

      I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I had a similar crisis of sorts when I failed out of my pre-vet college. I had never, ever considered anything else all through high school. I spent about a week completely lost, but managed to get into a vet tech program (RNs for animals, more or less) and did OK. Ironically somehow 14 years after graduating from that I’m a web specialist with an office job.

      I’ve begun to develop suspicions of anyone who tries to tell me they’ve got it all figured out.

      Reply
    4. RVA Cat

      I’m in much the same place.

      I think for a lot of our generation and younger, “what you do with your life” is *not* your career.

      Reply
      1. epilo

        People keep telling me that, as though it fixes it – my problem is I can’t get out of the headspace of *wanting* my career to be what I do with my life. And I’m working on it in therapy (in about half an hour!) but I don’t seem to be able to get past this problem. Any tips?

        Reply
        1. Jadelyn

          In that case, the other possibility is to figure out how to take what you enjoy doing and figure out a way to make a career of it. Which is way harder than it sounds, tbh, and isn’t always a good idea (and there’s a whole rant about micro-entrepreneurship culture on the internet and “follow your Passion(tm)” as terrible business advice that I’m not getting into here), but if you can’t find a career that fits the “what you do with your life” need, maybe try working through it in the other direction.

          Reply
        2. MWKate

          Is there something that immediately pops into your mind when you think of, if I could have any job it would be… (and seriously here, not like laying on a beach drinking margaritas petting cats).

          I was in the same boat. There was something I always wanted to do, but it just seemed out of reach, and something that would require a lot of effort for not a ton of financial success. I just decided it was worth it to me.

          If there’s something that you’ve always wanted, and always enjoyed – even start looking into it. Sometimes you’ll find a path towards it that you can make work.

          Reply
      2. I Am Become the Internet, Destroyer of Time

        To follow up on that, as one of the bespoke young’uns:

        I’m young enough to (hopefully) get my Master’s in Teapot Engineering at a time when tech is hiring big domestically. But I’m also old enough to remember ’08 in vivid, graphic detail. I overheard one student in ’09 or ’10 talking about how his family was trying to pool money for him to fly to interviews, even though the interviewers kept stringing him along. I also heard a student talk about being homeless. And I remember when SeekingArrangements and similar sugar daddying stuff became a thing.

        I hope I’m going to get into a field with a lot of growth and money, but at the same time, being the guy who tries to advance to higher and higher positions seems weird. My grad school is unusually professionally-oriented, and so I’ve gotten the impression that this kind of progression is normal and expected. But I just can’t see myself doing it. Having a good job would already put me in a better position than a lot of mid-late 20-somethings; being better than better feels absurd. I think there’s a lot of survivor’s guild there too, because I know there are a lot of smart people out there for whom hard work, brains, and bootstraps didn’t mean anything.

        Meanwhile, I’m starting to get into D&D model building and pastel drawing, because when the next big crash happens, I gotta have something to do to keep from going crazy and have a healthy sense of self, right?

        Reply
    5. Chameleon

      I’m almost 40 and have been this way for most my life too. I think I get it from my dad, who never had a “career” either but is the happiest guy I know. He saved up just enough to buy a small house in Hawaii away from the tourist areas; he now runs a website which he can do from home, and spends the rest of his day playing music and hanging out on tropical beaches.

      He really helps remind me that a “career” isn’t necessarily the end goal of life. If you find something that you don’t hate doing all day, and that gives you enough money to do what you like, who cares if it’s going to lead somewhere?

      Reply
      1. Jaydee

        My dad taught me that the job you spend 20 years at and ultimately retire from is not necessarily anything you imagined yourself doing when you were in high school or college. He studied psychology (after flunking out or dropping out of college a couple times) and became a social worker. Eventually he went into more the business side of things and was business manager for a substance abuse treatment center and got his MBA. But after that place shut down he became an accountant at a manufacturing company. He loved that job, loved his coworkers, would bring home books to read so he could learn how the machines they made worked.

        So looking backward, it was a totally natural progression. But I can’t imagine my dad at 20 thinking “yeah, someday I’m going to wear ties to work and do numbers for a living!”

        Reply
    6. Pebbles

      Well, I’ve always known since I took a computer class when I was 12 that I wanted to work with computers, but I also had the idea of being a travel agent or writing about travel, that kind of thing, because that’s something else I love to do. I guess I would start with making a list of what you love: hobbies, sports, activities, etc. What kind of jobs are associated with those things? Not knowing your financial situation but you said that you fear change, I would see if there is something on that list that you could do part-time to ease into it, gain the skills necessary, see if it’s something you would enjoy doing for the next 20-30 years.

      Do you have friends with jobs that you think would be fun to do? Maybe talk to them to see if your view is realistic of what the job actually is, ask what kind of experience is necessary, and what an entry-level job would be that would start you on the path to eventually get to that fun job.

      The first step is to identify something you want to do, and the second is to figure out how to get there. I guess there’s a third step too: find someone or a group of people to cheer you on. Having others support you and for you to lean on makes any change easier. Actually, don’t think of it as a change so much as another new position. You’ve been in your current place for less than a year, so it hasn’t been that long since your previous position, right? This will just be the next position you move into.

      Good luck!

      Reply
    7. AndersonDarling

      It can help to remember that your career path may not be your life path. Some folks get most of their happiness from their work, others get their happiness from their life. If you have life goals (travel, learn non-work skills, build a roller coaster in the backyard) then you may want to focus on what you need to obtain those. In that case, work is just a means to get the $$ to fulfill your life goals.

      Reply
    8. Seal

      I was in your shoes a dozen or so years ago, having worked as a library paraprofessional for over 15 years. For me, it was a job that supported my extracurricular activities, which was fine while I was in my 20s and early 30s. But as I burned out and eventually dropped out of those activities, I realized that while I was out having fun many of my colleagues were already well into real careers. In every case, there were people who were widely considered to have less potential than I did, but while I appeared uninterested they stepped in and seized the opportunities that in retrospect I should have been chasing. I had also gotten to a place where I was afraid of change, mostly because I was bullied mercilessly for years at my first job by librarians who justified their actions by insisting they were “professionals”. Those were very miserable years.

      What ultimately got me out of my comfort zone was that our library building was about to undergo a multi-year renovation plan, which meant everyone in it had to be moved to temporary locations. That broke many well-established behavioral patterns and forced a number of issues, not the least of which was that the bullying that had gone on behind the scenes was now out in the open for all to see. Even better – the librarians who bullied me were mostly running around like chickens with their heads cut off during the move, while the paraprofessionals were calm, cool and collected. The whole situation was the kick in the pants that I needed. I left that job, temped for a bit, then took another paraprofessional position while I went to library school. I was fortunate enough to get a good job within months of graduation at an academic library that afforded me numerous opportunities for advancement. Ten years later, I’m a well-respected and very successful department head.

      If someone had told me 15 years ago that I’d be a librarian one day, I would have laughed in their face. The reason I didn’t go to library school earlier (I started when I was 41) is because while I liked the work I did, I could not reconcile the behavior of the librarians at that job with the idea that they considered themselves to be professionals. I came to realize that if I wanted to continue working in libraries there were more opportunities for even mediocre librarians than there are for the best paraprofessionals. Now that I’ve been a librarian for a decade, I’ve come to realize that the people who were so terrible to me in my first job are definitely the exception, not the rule. Having an actual career path rather than a job, particularly now that I’m in my 50s, is a relief as well.

      My advice is to see what if there is truly a career path in your current position; you might be surprised by what you find. Or look to see if there’s something related or tangential to what you’re doing now that might lead to a career path. One of the nice things about taking your time to find your true path is the journey you take to get there.

      Reply
    9. The Cosmic Avenger

      First off, love the username! I hope you’re going to print out these comments and put them in a binder, with color-coded divider tabs! :D

      I just kind of fell into the path I’m on now. I started out answering the phones for questions about teapots, but then I started making quick updates to the website for Wakeen’s Teapots, and eventually the person who was a one-man web division showed me how to do the things I couldn’t figure out for myself, so that he could spend more time coding and managing the servers (things I have no interest in doing).

      I don’t really love what I do, but I can get passionate about parts of it, so I suppose I love those. The rest isn’t bad, between ugh-fine and kind of nice. But I work to live, I don’t live to work, and my employer supports that, so I don’t mind. And I’m paid well enough that I find it rewarding to do the parts I’m not crazy about. There’s nothing wrong with that.

      Reply
      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        I identify with Amy on a deep, spiritual level when it comes to organization and color-coding.

        Reply
      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        I’m not sure if I should feel better that there are so many other people who feel the same way or if it’s disheartening since we generally spend at least a third of our lives working.

        Reply
        1. Parenthetically

          I totally think it’s fine, I just think the work-culture context of the US is heavily weighted toward work obsession. I have so many friends in Australia, for example, happily working in non-dream-job situations that pay the bills and give them plenty of vacation time and it would never occur to them to feel angsty about it. It’s pretty refreshing. (Caveat that obviously universal healthcare plays a BIG role in this, but even apart from that the cultural difference is striking.)

          Reply
    10. Not So NewReader

      Same boat.

      I think this career path thing is wildly overrated. (lol)
      Seriously, the only thing that I have been able to find is to follow my natural skills/abilities. The idea being if I am in an arena that I do well with, then I will remain employed and probably remain comfortable even in the face of challenges. For example, I could not be a firefighter. I see a burning building and my heart goes to the bottom of my shoes. I am pretty useless in that situation. I have other examples of entire arenas that would be poor choices for me.

      Put yourself where you can see yourself succeeding. We tend to know ourselves and know what types of things we can do well at.

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        Seriously, the only thing that I have been able to find is to follow my natural skills/abilities.

        This is where I am. The jobs I’ve been most successful in (paralegal and insurance adjuster) have used my strong writing, research, and investigative skills. I fell into these jobs and now have a career that, while it occasionally frustrates me, can go in so many interesting directions. I’m hoping to eventually transition into a risk management position either at a major corporation or a small business soon (I may have more autonomy in the latter), and I never would have known about or even considered this career choice had I not stumbled into my old paralegal job.

        Reply
    11. Jadelyn

      I honestly lucked into it. I’d been drifting from temp job to retail to temp job for several years (while fighting major depression without treatment, which certainly didn’t help things), when I got my current job through a temp position. It was supposed to be filing and data entry to help an HR department get caught up after open enrollment, just part-time for a month or two. But I paid attention to what the people around me were busiest with, asked them if there was anything I could do to help ease their work, and they started teaching and training me on various HR things. I was offered full-time within 3 weeks, hired away from the temp agency 8 months later, and while I’m still titled “Assistant” I’m doing work much closer to an analyst and my grandboss is working on getting a title change approved for me.

      And in the process, I realized that I love HR and it’s what I want to do for my career. Oddly enough, I dated a girl in college who was getting her degree in industrial-organizational psychology, and wanted to go into HR or organizational development. When I asked her why that appealed to her at one point, she said “People spend almost a third of their lives at work. Think of the kind of impact making people’s work-lives better can have!” And once I was in HR myself, even though we’d gone our separate ways years before, I suddenly understood. I can have an impact here, whether by helping make sure a promising candidate’s resume gets seen and encouraging the manager to interview them, helping make a new hire comfortable on their first day when they’re feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff they’re having to take in, counseling and guiding a manager dealing with a problem employee to make sure that the employee gets a fair chance while not unduly causing trouble for their coworkers, helping build the business case for upgrading our benefits package or adding new perks, coordinating employee appreciation and recognition programs…the list goes on. I realized that HR is the perfect (for me) behind-the-scenes way to have a positive impact on as many people’s lives as I reasonably can.

      I would never have considered HR specifically, until I realized it aligned really strongly with my beliefs and values around giving back and helping people, while still allowing me to stay somewhat behind the scenes which is what I prefer. Maybe you can look for something like that – not a specific job or career path, but a way to reach a job or career that allows you to practice your values in some way. Or is there a way you can do what you’re doing, but for a nonprofit that you believe in?

      Reply
    12. Mark in Cali

      1) I get real ill with people who I’ve talked to in the past who say, “Well what do you WANT to do.” You know that when they were 25 they didn’t know either. Now they have a family and a high profile manager job and a nice salary, but they don’t remember that they fell into our business the way so many others have: they needed a job and took a chance.
      2) I studied theatre in college and spent 6 years after working in the theatre in many ways. Took me 6 years to realize I didn’t like it and I had convinced myself to like it. I believe a lot of my coworkers in my business job have done the same, although it’s easier to like a job that you don’t like when there’s a nice paycheck (not so in the theatre). Felt like a hack when after four years of study and 6 years in the biz I turned my back on it cold turkey.
      3) Took me another 4 years in the business world to realize I don’t care for that which is why I’m studying computer science online. To get more to your question: it took me a few years to stop denying what I wanted to do for various reasons and embrace it. I want to program computers. I has taken me years to say that because there are 12 year olds who can program better than me and adult my age and old who might laugh at such a career change. I avoided making the decision to go into CS because I thought I wasn’t good enough. Do you have a deep desire like that too that you are admit to yourself? I did.
      4) A lot of the folks I go to school with online are in their 30s and 40s. Join us!
      5) Not that school is ALWAYS the answer. It was for me because a BA in Theatre didn’t led itself to going to grad school for CS.
      6) “I have a fear of change, so I’m unlikely to make a move.” Sorry, but that’s the key. We can offer our stories as inspiration but you have to find a way to change that.

      Reply
      1. What do I want to do when I grow up?

        I have been reduced to jagged tears by the “Well, what do you WANT to do?” question. I have avoided career conversations with well-connected people who think highly of me because I knew the first question was going to be “Well, what do you WANT to do?”

        Reply
        1. epilo

          Ditto.

          I *wanted* to be in theater for almost 12 years, before having that dream crushed by reality. I haven’t really been able to answer that question since.

          Reply
          1. What do I want to do when I grow up?

            I’m a former theater person as well. Is this a theater phenomenon? Recently had a really interesting chat with my also-former-theater-person spouse. My experience of auditioning was desperate hunger for acceptance and love. Spouse thought it was a fun way to play. That right there should tell you a lot about how we fared in the theater world!

            Reply
        2. TL -

          I like the thought around AAM that “what do you WANT to do?” isn’t always answering by, “Being an astronaut!”

          Sometimes the answer is “I want a 9-5 job where I don’t talk to too many people, I crunch a lot of numbers in Excel, and I have a good opportunity to get promoted.” or sometimes, “I want to talk to a lot of people, I want to work with databases, and I want to travel 40-50%.” Or, “I want a job with a lot of physical activity that gives me the chance to move into office work as I age.”

          It doesn’t always have to be about passion for a particular career. It can be a drive to find a job composed of parts you like. I know someone who was a janitor at a hospital because she wanted a good, steady job with predictable hours, low stress, decent paycheck, and she knew she was helping people who needed help. It wasn’t about the cleaning.

          Reply
      2. Trillian

        I developed an early distrust of people who asked that question, because if I answered it honestly, they’d tell me all the reasons I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. Not very useful when dealing with anyone advising me.

        Reply
    13. animaniactoo

      1st, make a list of the kinds of things you like to do.
      2nd, make a list of the kinds of things you’re *good* at doing. (double marks if you have experience using those skills, etc. in the workplace).
      3rd, make a list of the kinds of things you’re not good at and unlikely to ever be good at and want to avoid at all costs (sometimes, cutting out things is the most useful thing you can do as it narrows the field into things that have more of a shot of hitting the mark).

      Start filtering: What kinds of jobs fit these pieces? Hands-on work? Customer-facing? Nowhere near a customer please? Teamwork? Solitary work or relatively solitary? Creative work? Detail oriented? Big picture?

      Pick some careers that fit those categories, and start investigating them more. Do they sound interesting enough to pursue with more investment in them as a career vs a “for now job that pays the bills”?

      If you want to list some of this stuff here, I’m willing to bet commenters can start helping identify fields/careers that line up with your traits/wishes that you might not have thought of.

      Reply
      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        I think my ideal would be something where I have 50% of my time interacting with people and 50% of my time working on my own. I do like to have a job where I can go home at the end of the day and feel like I made a positive difference in someone’s life.

        Definitely an office person. I love working with Excel and organizing data (and, in fact, have been known to create spreadsheets for some of my hobbies). I’m fairly analytical and notice patterns easily. And I’m a huge believer in making things more efficient/less cumbersome.

        Probably the biggest negative is that I don’t drive so I wouldn’t want a position that required a lot of travel. I have pretty severe anxiety, so I prefer to be in comfortable, familiar spaces the majority of the time.

        Reply
        1. Parenthetically

          This screams Library Science to me, tbh. Also I am really excited for your show to come back, Amy, spreadsheets and all. ;)

          Reply
        2. animaniactoo

          Secondary is something that includes workflow streamlining or some such, possibly as a consultant (think long-term, come in, look around, analyze, make recommendations, help stay on track with new processes, etc. Project management might also be a good place to play.

          Reply
        3. Blossom

          Business analyst! (i.e. analysing business requirements to help improve processes, not the techy kind of BA that does hardcore stats – unless that appeals too! I just notice that some very different jobs get bundled under that same title).

          Reply
      2. Bibliovore

        This. I can’t highly recommend What Color is Your Parachute enough. Changed my life. Ex- theater person here. I’ve worked in theaters, bookstores, museums, in day care, telephone sales, publishing marketing and sales, being sales assistant, editorial assistant, and then got let go and with time on my hands made doing this workbook my job.

        Turns out that I don’t like working nights and weekends/ irregular hours. I like working with women. I like working in a clean environment. I like being around kids. I like working at a non-profit. I don’t like sales. I do like being passionate about the mission. I do like books. I love Children’s and Young Adult books. I am good at organizing events ( don’t love it but good at it) I like to work independently. A year later I entered library school for a graduate degree. I thought my “career” would be as a public children’s librarian. If any one had asked that was what I wanted to do.

        In every job there were some things I had to do that didn’t fit what I loved but I could give up.
        Since then. Public Children’s librarian in a busy inner city library. Worked nights and weekends. Had a short commute, lots of kids, high competency, some good, some bitter co-workers, passionate about the mission,loved the work.
        then as a school librarian, hated the commute (hour and sometimes a half on the subway) loved my coworkers and director and kids and parents and library. Total autonomy. Amazing personal and intellectual growth over 15 years. I grew to love teaching. In a city with high cost of living, economic insecurity.

        Now an academic librarian. Love my colleagues and director. Moved to a city in midwest known for their “quality of life” Passionate about the mission. Personal and intellectual growth, short commute. Total autonomy. Working on work/life balance.

        Reply
        1. Bibliovore

          Work/life balance. Took three vacation days at a spa in the desert. Seriously heaven. Spent anytime not sitting in mineral water working on a keynote. And talking about my work. (not in an obsessive way, it turned out that there were people whoHere’s the thing. I would have been totally anxious had I not worked on the keynote. Mr. Bibliovore likes to say that the powerpoint is locked the minute the speech ends.

          Reply
    14. Isben Takes Tea

      The thing I’m realizing is that we’ve been cultured to think that there is this period of growth (as a child and adolescent) and then as an adult you should be “arrived” at your Personhood, and have your Plan of the Rest of My Life. The thing is, you don’t need a plan. It’s totally okay not to have one, and enjoy becoming more You, exploring and learning and growing at your own pace. It’s okay not to have a vision board, a five-year plan, or a bucket list. (They can be helpful tools if you want more direction, but aren’t necessary for a fulfilled life.)

      So, Detective, you don’t need to worry about what you’re going to do the next 20-30 years of your life. Is this something you can see yourself doing for the next year or so? Then you’re fine! When it becomes something you no longer see yourself doing in another year or two, then you start looking for the next right step. You don’t know yet how your dreams and desires will change down the road, so I think it’s silly to try to predict them.

      I’m not advocating you don’t plan for the future at all, but you don’t need to be scared that you don’t have a complete journey mapped out. (Most people who do that never seem to end up where they thought they’d be, anyway.)

      You’re not alone!

      Reply
      1. Agnodike

        I agree so much with this! The best career advice I ever got came from my dad, who has done pretty much everything, from construction worker to university professor: “Sometimes a career path is only identifiable in retrospect.”

        With that in mind (because my dad is a smart guy and I respect his opinion), I’ve tried to look for work that is fulfilling, interesting, and helps me develop new skills and learn new things about myself and the world, and worried less about career-tracking. It’s worked out pretty great! My “career path” has been pretty non-linear, but even when I’ve changed industries or made an apparently totally unrelated move, I’ve been amazed by how many of my skills have transferred. I’m a clinician working in primary care now, and it’s astonishing how much I draw on the skills I learned when I was, for example, a museum guide. I love the work that I’m doing now, but I acknowledge that I might not love it forever, and if I don’t, I’ll do something else.

        I’m very lucky to have the education and resources to have access to lots of jobs, which has let me hop around some to get where I am now, and will let me hop around again if I want to. I recognize that as a privilege not everyone has, and I recognize that it’s not an approach that’s right for everyone – some people really do need stability and a clear path mapped out in front of them. But there’s nothing wrong with doing work that interests you, and that you’re good at, for awhile, and then moving on to something interesting where you have something to contribute in another field.

        Reply
    15. zora

      wow.. this is so weird, everything you said is so identical, I’m wondering if I wrote this in my sleep…

      Thanks for starting this conversation, I’ll be following the responses you get. And good luck to both of us on moving forward!!

      Reply
    16. LKW

      Well I’m not speaking from experience because I landed a great job that pays well and has a few career path options to follow (totally lucky I know). I’m not taking a straight line approach to my career either so I zig and zag as needed.

      There are plenty of books that target areas of interest like “Careers for people who like History” you could start there. There are plenty of good jobs with interesting career paths that you would never really know about when you’re making the grand career plans in college.

      Start there or ask yourself, what skills do you have, what jobs needs those skills or the reverse, what job do you want, do you have the skills and if not, how do you gain the skills?

      Reply
    17. Parenthetically

      YMMV, but career paths have to fit my broader life path for me to be content with them. If my goal is to leave work at work, keep my stress level low, pay the bills, and have a few weeks off to go to the beach, then a “career path” isn’t as important as just being decently employed. I’m not an ambitious person at all, and if I had my druthers, I’d work part time and spend most of my time in the garden or cooking or with our kids. My husband’s not particularly ambitious either, but his field pays a lot better than mine, and he enjoys his work, so he’s happy just to stay in the area he trained for and make most of our money so I can cut back to part-time work soon. I genuinely don’t think people need a laser-focused, step-by-step career path from now to retirement in order to thrive or reach their financial or personal goals. Sometimes it’s enough just to make the money, pay the bills, and live your life.

      If that kind of thinking makes sense to you, you can look at your personal long-term goals (early retirement? higher salary? better work-life balance? more travel opportunities? more job satisfaction? better opportunities to use your skills at work? more time for your hobbies?) see how your current situation lines up with them, and work out where changes would need to be made to better align with your goals. Maybe that can happen in your current job or workplace — a lateral move, a raise, a transfer, a promotion — or maybe you’ll get the sense that you need to do training X or degree Y to move into career Z, but can happily keep doing your current job in the meantime.

      Reply
    18. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo

      I’m 43 and I am right there with you. It doesn’t help that both my parents and my sister had/have careers that they are passionate about and pretty much meant to do all along. (Parents are retired teachers, sister is a social worker/therapist.) And then here I am, professional dilettante, I suppose.

      Reply
    19. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

      For me, I’m still figuring it out! I finally went back to grad school for a CS degree after I kept gravitating towards Computer Science in whatever job I’ve been at. Now it’s a matter of “what sort of CS?” It took a few years because while I can do a lot of things… there’s not a whole lot I WANT to do. :D

      Someone here posted a good website in an open thread long ago–https://www.mynextmove.org/ . I found it interesting to see the potential based on current likes/dislikes.

      There was one other but I can’t think of it right now. I’ll post it if I remember.

      Reply
      1. What do I want to do when I grow up?

        There’s also Pivot by Jenny Blake, which seemed interesting… until the Library said it was due and I gave it back…

        Reply
    20. Spelliste

      I’m just a step or so beyond where you are right now, having identified very broadly the field/s I’m interested in (not-for-profit & related), so not sure if this will be useful or not. I’m 33, and this is the first time I’ve even tried to have a career plan, and it’s kind of overwhelming.

      After getting some really helpful information from wonderful people here on a recent open thread, I started compiling everything into a simple project management app. To do list items include: identify people in my life doing [interesting] work and talk to them; when I find an avenue I’m curious about, dig on LinkedIn to get a sense of how people get into the field or role; learn what development opportunities I currently have access to. I also have running lists of intriguing sectors and organizations to be researched. Also! List of what’s important to me in a role and organization.

      I’m a spreadsheet person, too, and have one going in which I record interesting job postings (key fields: org, org type, org size, mission, title, skill requirements). It’s beginning to shine some light on where my current skills might best apply, what skills are missing, and what longer term paths might look like.

      There may be a bit of “illusion of control” going on here, but breaking it out into concrete pieces has made it easier to begin tackling the grand question and to explore possible avenues a bit more efficiently. It’s made things less daunting, for sure.

      Tl;dr – turn it into a project with concrete, low risk, easy to digest parts. “Ask Jane about accounting” and “read Teapot Tester career profiles” are way easier than “decide what to do with your life.” :)

      Reply
    21. Wandered and Was Lost

      Late to the party here, but I didn’t get it “figured out” until I was in my early 40s after a very winding path. I became a teacher in my late 20s because I really didn’t know what else to do (terrible reason, by the way), and predictably I hated it. I did some paralegal work for a few years, but working with attorneys got old really fast. I then pretty much became a vocational drifter, and ended up doing some Census work in 2010.

      I became a supervisor, and in my city there was me and one other supervisor who oversaw operations for the other side of the city. We worked well enough together, and when the Census ended, we all went our own separate ways . I ended up taking a crappy job at our county jail the following year, and I had been there a few months when the other Census supervisor called me out of the blue. She had become a recruiter, and one of her clients had an opening for an editor. She had me come in to take an editing test, which I passed, and I ended up being hired. That was the break I needed. I took to that work like a duck took to water. I did really well, got promoted a few times, and when the company fell on really hard times, I was able to find another such job that liked me so much it took 9 days from my resume submission to be offered the job. I’m still there and very happy.

      So, take heart. It doesn’t work out like this for everyone, but sometimes it can “click” in a very strange way, even at our “advanced age.”

      Reply
  12. Amadeo

    Not a work problem, but a work yay! A department for whom I did a total website overhaul (I work on the web team at a little university) brought me a beautiful handmade bowl from someone in their ceramics classes (teacher or student, not sure) and a big gift bag full of bags of candy to put in it and a lovely card earlier this week. I was just doing my job, but I really appreciated their gesture (especially the bowl – I love handmade stuff).

    What stories do you have about a gesture of appreciation for what you thought was just your routine duties?

    Reply
    1. Fiona the Lurker

      Well, it’s a long time ago now, but I did some extra work for a member of my department in the hospital and she totally unexpectedly came up with a gift voucher from a local store by way of thanks. Nothing since, though, which is kind of telling…

      Reply
    2. AndersonDarling

      Someone got me a 6 pack of soda I like. I know the cost was just a few bucks, but it was a HUGE gesture. I was just doing my regular supporting job, but it was a new manager and they really appreciated my help.

      Reply
    3. Lemon Zinger

      I got a $25 gift card from a woman who runs a program I helped with. It was accompanied by a lovely handwritten card. Total surprise– this is my job! But I really appreciated it. More helpfully, the coordinators there have spoken to my superiors multiple times about how much they love me. That goes a long way!

      Reply
    4. Spice for this

      This is from 10 years ago. The VP of our department gave all of us a $250 gift certificate to the local mall. I was so happy I could not speak!

      Reply
    5. Annie Mouse

      I’ve got a hug off a patient’s daughter one day, and a packet of biscuits off a different patient’s husband another. For me, it’s the smiles, hand shakes and thank yous that go a long way to making me feel appreciated.

      Reply
    6. Isben Takes Tea

      When I was working at Noah’s Bagels, one of a team of construction guys who came in to order went next door to the drug store and got a little 3″ potted flower as my tip. (It sounds a little weird as I type it out, but it was very friendly and not at all awkward or creepy.) It was really the best tip I ever got.

      Reply
    7. B

      My coworkers decorated my desk and got me a 8 pack of the fizzy water I like to celebrate me coming back to work after having been off for 10 days due to a medical procedure. It was really touching.

      Reply
    8. Delta Delta

      I once got a little flowering plant from a client who was very happy with the outcome of her case. I was happy too, but I really felt like it was just me doing my job. That was a long time ago and I still have the plant. It’s grown and when it flowers it reminds me of her.

      Related: I was once traveling with my husband and in-laws, and there was some serious drama about an airline losing my FIL’s checked bag and it getting delivered to the right place. We had to call a hotel we checked out of multiple times until we finally tracked down the bag. I felt bad for having bothered them so much I brought some flowers for them to put on the reception desk.

      Reply
    9. Taylor Swift

      I got cookies for helping out another division once. Really it was a very simple task for me to do, but apparently was incredibly helpful for them. The cookies were very much appreciated.

      Reply
    10. NoMoreMrFixit

      Years ago I worked as a techie in a computer lab at a local community college. Student comes in looking for help with an assignment that involved some database programming. Summer semester so the place is dead quiet. I’m also teaching a course that includes DB coding at night school so I was able to help her figure out the problems with the project. Spent an entire afternoon working with her since there was so little going on that day.

      She heard me mention that I was going to a party Friday night. Mid day Friday she shows up and sets a bottle of Southern Comfort on my desk to thank me for the help and tells me now I have something to take to the party with me. Where I proceeded to introduce several friends to the divine gift that we call Southern Comfort!

      Reply
    11. MsMaryMary

      My first job out of college, I was the senior (by about nine months) member of a team of entry level folks. Our team lead was new to her role and still working on her soft management skills, so I did a lot of informal coaching and training for my teammates. At the end of our huge project, they had We Love Mary Day. They got me flowers and a very sweet card, and took me out to happy hour after work.

      Reply
    12. Jules the First

      When I worked for the phone company, a guy sent me home-baked cookies after I managed to get his broadband up and running immediately when all the systems were saying it needed an engineer visit. I never got to eat them, though, since he sent them to our local office and my office was about 600 miles away. I’m told they were tasty, though!

      Reply
    13. Alice Ulf

      One of our clients was moving out of her apartment and gave me and my boss her old microwave as a thank you last week. :D It was much appreciated, because our old one was made in probably the early ’90s. We were a little afraid to be in the same room with it when it was on.

      You can see through the door now! The tray is made of glass and actually turns!

      It’s the little things.

      Reply
      1. LibLady

        The Auto shop teacher just repaired my book cart that had its wheels fall off, and he even bought parts for it and did it without asking me to pay for the part. (I offered when I found out he had bought a part). I made some brownies for him.

        Reply
    14. Z

      The partner I work for has a habit of bringing every assistant in the firm a little gift when he goes out of town — cute post it notes, shortbread, pin, maple syrup — and then denies that he is the one who left them. It happens a couple of times a year. It’s really rather nice of him.

      Reply
  13. BRR

    How do you feel appreciated at work? Right now I don’t feel appreciated at all. My manager has noticed that I’m at BEC and has stepped up saying how much she values everything I have accomplished but for some reason it feels meaningless (even though I would say she is being genuine). I felt more appreciated by my last manager/job even when she decided that I needed to be let go.

    Reply
    1. Jill of All Trades

      I feel most appreciated when people don’t just acknowledge that I’ve done a good job, but actively use the work I’ve done in ways that allow them to perform better. (I do a lot of project management and administrative support, so this is not too far fetched.) Verbal acknowledgement is appreciated, but the biggest thing is seeing better results happen because of the support work I do, and being actively kept in the loop, thought of, and told about those results as they happen.

      Reply
    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      What did your last manager do to make you feel appreciated? If it’s a matter of more feedback, you can ask for that, like a check-in meeting or lunch. If it’s praise or acknowledgment on a regular basis, that can be so much harder– sometimes, all I need is, “Good work on this”, but I can’t always ask for that.

      Do you think this is a symptom of you not liking the job and the commute? I know that’s been an issue. If your manager knows you’re kind of losing your luster, this might be the time to ask for an extra work-from-home day. And if you’re really losing it, maybe you can take a couple of days off soon?

      Reply
    3. ExceptionToTheRule

      I take a week off and let people remember what it’s like when I’m not around to do the stuff I do without them noticing.

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        So glad I wasn’t drinking my coffee when I read this comment. Maybe I need to do the same thing here – let them flounder for a few days and maybe they’ll finally take a serious look at my request for a raise when I get back, lol.

        Reply
      2. Worker B

        I did that and came back to a giant mess that I had to sort through myself, with all my coworkers telling me to hurry up. They’re not going to get the message until I’m finally able to hand in my resignation notice and then they’ll be on their own til they fill the position (which will be at least a year given how slow they’ve been in the past).

        Reply
      3. Fortitude Jones

        Same. Every time I come back from vacation, my backup and my supervisor both say, “OMG, I’m so glad your back!” And my supervisor told me during our January one-on-one that she always says she can’t wait until I get back whenever I’m out because I deal with some seriously unhinged people, lol.

        Reply
    4. Delta Delta

      Uh oh. It’s hard to be at that spot – when you went a long time without feeling appreciated and then when it finally starts it’s too late. I have been there and done that, and I just ended up having to leave for greener pastures. Needed to make a complete change because it didn’t feel repairable.

      Reply
    5. Lisa

      For me, the best possible way a manager can show appreciation is by listening to what I’m not happy with and then *actually doing something about it*. Words are nice and all, but the real line for me is whether my manager thinks I’m valuable enough to be worth going to bat for. When I feel well supported, I feel appreciated; when I don’t, no amount of praise or positive feedback or thanks will make me feel like the work I do is considered valuable.

      Reply
      1. NaoNao

        My favorite thank you of all time:

        I used to be a student tutor for my fellow college students. I specialized in students for whom English was a second language, learning challenges, and students with emotional struggles. (I didn’t choose it, I was just “the ESL whisperer” as they called it!) I had a student who had been shot in the head (!!) and lived, in a gang fight in LA. He suffered brain damage as a result. He came to me very scared and uncertain and also a little defensive about not being comfortable using Standard English to write. I told him “First, AAVE is a recognized language and I recognize it’s importance. But, the thing is, we use different voices and languages for different needs. You have to know the system and work IN the system to finally break free of the system and do your own thing.” (This magically worked!)
        We had a mantra: We were doing it for “Little [Student’s Name]”, his young son, who he loved but couldn’t care for due to his injuries and brain damage.
        When he raised his grade from a fail to a high C after tons of hard work, he asked me what my favorite movie was. I responded that it was “L.A. Story.” Next time he came in he had a well loved VHS tape bought second hand of…L.A. Story. It was his thank you for me. I have saved it ever since, even though I don’t have a VCR anymore!

        Reply
      2. Fortitude Jones

        For me, the best possible way a manager can show appreciation is by listening to what I’m not happy with and then *actually doing something about it*.

        Agree with this too. My supervisor is getting better at realizing when I’m reaching a breaking point (especially now that she knows I’m looking for a new job) and reassigning some of my files to people with lighter workloads than mine so I can get a reprieve from dealing with high volume nonsense and can better focus on more complex claims. It’s not always feasible in our division though, so that’s a big reason I’m looking to move on.

        Reply
    6. LabTech

      I’m not feeling appreciated in my current position. I’m in the middle of a big project getting my workplace up to compliance standards (or as close as we can reasonably get, for a small lab that’s never done anything close to it).

      It’s lots of work, yet neither my boss nor the client we’re doing it for seem to … understand that it’s a Big Deal, or even appreciate the work I’m doing. It’s not like I’m making templates and writing lengthy, technical documents for the sheer joy of doing tons of extra paperwork.

      Combined with how most of my co-workers ignore the crap out of me, and that I’m desperately underpaid for the high COL area and for the level of work I’m doing for these projects (which is a step or two up from what I signed up for), and I need a new job yesterday.

      Reply
    7. copy run start

      Acknowledgment, preferably spontaneous. A quick “good job” or “hello” is all I ask for.

      Today I was feeling a bit bummed until I ran into the CEO and he said hello, and then another VP kindly bought me hot cocoa. I feel very special today, and a bit awed to be working for a company where the higher ups are so sincere and accessible. Such a drastic change from my last job where I was ignored/beat up on for years.

      Reply
    8. Theletter

      Time to ask for a raise, or ask about the timeline/achievements needed for a promotion. There is no appreciation in this world like cold hard cash.

      Reply
  14. overcaffeinatedandqueer

    I start a higher-paying temporary position on Monday! I gave notice on Wednesday, since it’s not work with benefits and I couldn’t afford to miss more than two days of pay if I was terminated on the spot from my current contract. But my current boss wasn’t mad, and I think I am going to be leaving on good terms.

    Reply
    1. PollyQ

      Congrats on the pay bump, and well-done on keeping the current employer happy.

      I’m curious though–how are you getting your temp jobs? My only experience has been with temp agencies, and they wouldn’t have been happy with me leaving one assignment for another.

      Reply
      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer

        It’s a super niche thing- I got my law degree and am just starting out as a lawyer. The easiest way to make money while trying to get on with a firm permanently is to temp.

        Reply
  15. Chronic Oversharer

    What strategies do you have to keep from oversharing personal information in the office? I’m kind of desperate for some social interaction at my work (the culture isn’t really what it was advertised to be and I’m working on getting out but in the meantime…) so I often initiate conversations and probably overshare. I’ve even pointed out my oversharing and asked my primary victim-coworker to let me know if I go too far but she’s brushed it off and said it’s fine. I can’t tell if it really is fine and I just misunderstand the boundaries of the office/the professional world in general or what. I’m fairly new (2 1/2 years working professionally), so I don’t have a lot to compare this environment to.

    Reply
    1. Buffy

      Maybe think of conversations like Facebook statuses? Only say the info you’d be comfortable sharing across the internet.

      Reply
    2. Newby

      You could try to limit converstation to non-personal topics like a tv show you have been watching, a new movie coming out, sports, books, cultural events happening in your city, ect. It’s hard to overshare with those topics. Steer away from health, family, religion and politics if you don’t know where the line is.

      Reply
      1. Daisy May

        I tried to avoid those subjects, but someone always asks if I’m married; what my husband does; where he works, etc. I’m at a loss for how to respond without providing that info. I mean, it’s not really any of their business, but I don’t want to be rude to new coworkers.

        Reply
        1. Thlayli

          My husband is in the army and when people ask for more specifics I just say “sorry I’m not allowed to tell you any more than that he’s in the army”. That gets really funny reactions. Most people assume he does something more interesting than he probably does lol.

          You could try something similar. Just say “sorry we’re not supposed to tell people what his job is”. If they push you could add “well I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you”. People won’t know if you’re joking or not but they’d look bad if they pushed for more.

          Or you could say something that’s an obvious joke like he does gay porn (or something less offensive lol.)

          Or you could ask ur husband to invent something he is ok with you telling people. Honestly asking someone what their partner does is such a common topic of conversation that his insistence you tell them nothing is probably going to cause problems for you even if they are minor ones. Tell him he can invent whatever he wants to be you just want something you can tell people so you don’t look antisocial. He can be an astrophysicist or something.

          Reply
    3. Not a Real Giraffe

      I try to mirror the amount of information being shared with me. For example, if you ask your coworker how her weekend was and she says, “it was great; how was yours?” then the appropriate response would be something along similar lines, rather than delving into a detailed account of how you spent your entire Saturday.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        Great advice, because it renews itself daily. Each day you watch to see what other people are sharing and you limit yourself to your version of what they have. If we are thinking of matching others, that requires us to have that constant awareness of what is flying out of our mouths now.

        Reply
    4. Jill of All Trades

      As someone who is pretty socially awkward, I try to keep the conversation to a few basic topics:
      – sports (which I know nothing about and generally don’t participate in anyway);
      – who got sick around the office and when;
      – work venting with certain coworkers;
      – and the general, “What did you do this weekend?” “Oh, you know, I hung out around the house. Looking forward to sleeping in on Saturday.”

      Anything beyond those topics I usually smile and change the subject.

      Reply
    5. Isben Takes Tea

      I would take her at her word that it’s fine with her, unless she’s giving you direct signals otherwise.

      I’ve been in a similar situation–I want to chat and connect with coworkers, but I don’t want to “be friends” and go to the gym together/meet up on the weekends/etc. So I don’t share a lot of personal details, but I’ve bonded with people over “The Great British Baking Show” and love of puns and things like that. (I’ve also been appreciative of other people reaching out and starting chatty conversations with me, since I never want to “bother” someone who’s working but still want to connect with them.)

      If you’re worried about oversharing, say, what you did over the weekend, I’d try to keep things focused on what you did and not who you did it with.

      Reply
    6. Leslie Knope

      I find that my oversharing in the office drastically decreases when I have other social outlets outside of work. For example, instead of chit chatting and invariably sharing way too much with people in the break room during lunch, I’ll go on a walk alone and call my sister. I try to be an “enigma” and share only things that wouldn’t have any ramifications for myself. For example, I can share about a funny video from YouTube, but maybe won’t rehash a conversation with a close friend who has some crazy drama.

      Reply
      1. Chronic Oversharer

        I’m pretty sure this is exactly my problem. I’ve lived here for almost three years and still haven’t made any solid social connections (in part because I’m honest-to-God too busy). Maybe I need to make a mental note of whatever I want to spit out in the moment and give myself permission to text it to a close friend later or something…

        Thanks both to you, Leslie Knope (your username is great), and all others above.

        Reply
    7. Lissa

      I think this might also depend on what you mean by oversharing. If you mean just talking a lot about relatively neutral activities, that’s less dangerous than say, going into detail about a sensitive problem you/someone else might be having. I really like the advice about mirroring. I’d look at it like..ok, I’m a nerd but maybe think of it like if oversharing was on a scale from 1 to 10 and 1 was “pleasantries with no personal information” and 10 was “share everything”, a 3 might be “this weekend I went to a book fair and picked up a new mystery novel by an author I’ve been wanting to try” or something. I’m bad at examples! But then just don’t go more than 1 or 2 levels above what the other person shares — so then you can share more if they “match” you, but then don’t if you notice they never go above a “my weekend was fine” level of detail.

      Reply
    8. Feathers McGraw

      I’ve been in two minds about replying as I think my feedback is more critical than some of the other replies. I think it’s not really okay to ask her to tell you if it’s too much, sorry. That implies that you have mo filter and lots of people will be too polite, or feel too awkward, to say anything even if it is too much. Is it about being fairly new to the workplace or not being able to read people’s signals? Are you distracting your colleagues with too much chat?

      Reply
  16. Not Karen

    (Last week’s open thread was pretty dead so I’m posting this again.)

    Could anyone here speak to the differences in consulting vs. industry? I’d be especially interested if you’re industry experience is nonprofit. My therapist suggested I might like consulting more because the projects are short term and varied. To be clear, I mean working for a consulting firm – I’m not interested in being an independent consultant/running my own business.

    A couple specific points of interest:
    1) salary – according to some reports consulting pays a lot more
    2) work hours – I’m not interested in a position where >40 hours per week is the norm

    Reply
    1. Not a Real Giraffe

      Speaking only about management consulting firms (BCG, McKinsey, OW, etc.), with the caveat that this is all second-hand information, my understanding is that consultants can easily work 60 hours or more a week, and travel is paramount. Consultants I know (most of whom are junior or mid-level consultants) travel Monday through Friday and basically work non-stop. I have one friend who barely gets to go home to her own apartment on the weekends because of her work travel schedule. She makes a lot of money, but she’s constantly working.

      Reply
      1. AndersonDarling

        Yep, the big $$$ consultants need to travel. If you are in a big city, there are probably specialty firms that handle local clients. I understand the money is a bit better than being an employee, but it’s not as good as the consultants who travel. But, the traveling consultants I know are on the project manager level so they would be making good money regardless.

        Reply
      2. Chicago

        This can vary quite a bit by firm – McKinsey does seem to work their consultants into the ground, but other firms are striving for more work-life balance. I am at a Big Four firm and travel Monday-Thursday and am typically able to unplug for much of the weekend! It will all depend on the project, the work, whether you’re on deadline, and so on. But yes, 45-50 hours a week is to be expected; more if it’s a critical time in the project, etc.

        Reply
    2. Jill of All Trades

      I work at a consulting company on a junior level, and here’s what I’ve found: If you want to be a higher level consultant, it will almost certainly require working more than 40 hours a week (I usually work 40-45, but the senior consultants sometimes work upwards of 60) and traveling extensively in some cases.

      I don’t have a ton of work experience prior to joining this company, but can say that I was mid-level at my last company and was making approximately the same salary that I do here in an entry level position. That value and salary goes up pretty substantially with more specific subject expertise, which I have virtually none of.

      Reply
      1. Jill of All Trades

        For reference, I work for a mid-size consulting company that specializes in international compliance.

        Reply
    3. Sprechen Sie Talk?

      Also, sometimes I think folks overplay the “benefits” of the varied work. I’ve seen plenty of McKinsey people absolutely stuck with a horrible client and then the contract extended and they still worked the hours and produced even though it was a miserable, miserable situation for all involved. Also, a lot of issues start to look similar across industries and companies and projects are run the same way with a lot of running interference on client issues. You will never forget who is in charge – the client, your line manager, project manager, etc. It can be a lot to deal with.

      However – are you talking management consulting or are you looking at more specialized work, e.g consultancies that do stuff for non-profits (not sure who that is or what they would do but I guess someone must)? Because the big guys are a) difficult to get into and b) will run you ragged whereas a small, specialized consultancy may not.

      vs Industry – I work internal on strategy projects and get a lot of variety and I don’t ever need to leave. Its a nice set up I have going on now but man Im bored, probably just burn out from years of breaking everything down the same way, looking at the same pieces, running every project the same way, running into the same problems.

      Reply
      1. Gestelle

        I work for a consultancy agency that does work for non-profits. I will say that the work really isn’t that varied because we’re pretty focused on one aspect of what we do for non-profits. And we have long-term clients, so you pretty much work with the same folks unless you get promoted or a client leaves or a new client is acquired, in which cases teams sometimes switch up.

        I’m mid- to low-level and I tend to work on average about 42 hours a week. It can easily go to 50 during the busy period, which is about 4-6 weeks of the year.

        Reply
    4. Rex

      I agree with all the comments about consulting firms and hours. Within nonprofits themselves it is definitely doable to work 40 hour weeks, but I would be really upfront with them about that, because there are certainly some where that is *not* the norm. I think it really depends on what *kind* of work you are doing, too. If, for example, you are doing organizing, crazy nontraditional hours are probably to be expected. If you’re doing prospect research in development, 9-5 work is not that unusual, with maybe some occasional evening hours. Not Karen, can you tell us more about what kind of work you’re trying to do within the nonprofit world?

      Reply
      1. Not Karen

        Sorry, I should’ve mentioned that above! I’m a data analyst with experience in medical research. For instance, according to my research, Truven Health Analytics is a consulting firm in my field.

        Reply
    5. LKW

      Consultant here with one of the big firms. I love it particularly because no two projects are identical. Sometimes I am on an 8 week project sometimes 4 months, it varies based on the nature of the project, the phase of work etc. My current one is 2+ years and in that time I’ve gone through several phases and SOWs and in parallel I’ve also done small projects with two other clients. You end up finding your specialization and working either within an industry (automotive, finance, health care) or focused on a particular technology and moving across industries (like SAP or Salesforce). Regardless, even if you specialize, you are still working on different projects with different needs and different clients so things are always changing.

      I won’t lie – I travel 80% of the time. I am almost never home. I live in hotels and sometimes have “vending machine dinner” because my schedule is so crappy. I work ridiculous hours. Some days I start at 6 am and stop at 9pm. Some days are longer. Some days are normal hours. Some projects are awful and the clients are awful. Sometimes the client is wonderful and it’s a true partnership. I have been lucky, I like my company and I like the people from my company, within my industry, within my division a lot. But it’s a big company and I could live next door to someone who works for my company who specializes in another industry and I would never ever know unless I saw they carried the same company-issued laptop bag with the same company issued branded luggage tag. It’s definitely not for everyone.

      Reply
    6. LC

      I’m a consultant at a small PR firm. I like it much better than working in-house for the reason your therapist mentioned: the variety keeps things interesting. When one client is having a bad (or boring) week, there are others to occupy your time. I never feel like I’m stuck the way I did when my former employers were in a rut.

      That being said, client work can be much more demanding of your time than in-house. On paper I work 9-6, but I’m always on call in case a client needs something at the last second. That’s not to say I can’t unwind after work or on weekends–I do! But the nature of consulting is that you help multiple clients through tough spots, meaning you’ll be in crisis mode more than in an in-house position.

      Reply
    7. MsMaryMary

      I don’t work for a big consulting firm like BCG or McKinsey, but I do work in professional services and my title is consultant. My job is not all short term projects. Most of my clients have an annual, recurring large project and the occasional one off project. I’m not an accountant, but think of it as tax season + a merger or divestiture. I also spend time on account management responsibilities (admin, billing, etc), relationship building (social activities, hosting seminars), and new business support (RFP responses, finalist meetings). I’d say I spend 20% of my time or less on truly short term projects.

      I make a good salary and while I don’t work 80 hour weeks anymore, I do have a fair amount of early morning or evening client meetings.

      It also sounds like you’d be switching careers. There’s a good chance your entry level role would not be client facing, and you’d end up doing very similar work over and over for different clients. Not nearly as varied as you’d think.

      Reply
  17. Ghostwriter

    Any tips for starting a new job on a strong note? I’m about to start my second full-time job and a little nervous.

    Reply
    1. LQ

      First impressions really matter, so on the first week be who you want people to think of you as, it will cement their view of you and then you can be human and if you flub and are different they’ll write it off because their brains are already set to think of you as a certain way. (This doesn’t work if they are radically different, but if it is an amplification it will work.)…and also it will help cement it into your own head.

      Don’t say “at my old job…”

      Really watch for what other people do and try to figure out what the “norms” are.

      For me I don’t plan anything afterwork or on the weekend for a couple weeks if possible, I’m really introverted and trying to do all the new high energy human stuff is exhausting. If it is for you, be honest and give yourself a break. If it isn’t…you’re magic :)

      Make notes at the end of the day of what you learned, what you think went well, what went poorly, what you want to try to do the next day. Even if you never look at this it is a good sort of personal debrief to do.

      Reply
      1. Ghostwriter

        I am more like you, but I’m going to have a temporary two hour each way commute. Plenty of time to decompress. :) Thanks for the tips!

        Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      Each day try to learn a couple people’s names and something about them. I find that knowing the people I work with carries me farther than almost anything else.

      Beyond that make sure you actually read anything they give you to read.

      Of course be pleasant, but also be willing to help others. This starts with simple stuff like having the presence of mind to hold a near by door open for someone carrying an arm load of stuff. Little things like that are noticed and appreciated.

      Reply
    3. Squeeble

      Try to remember the names of people you meet, and make a point of greeting them by name during your first few weeks. I know, many people are super bad with names, but this little move goes a long way for me.

      Reply
    4. Rex

      Get plenty of sleep. Expect to come home exhausted for at least the first week or so from absorbing all the new information. Ask lots of questions (but not stuff covered on the written material they give you). Ask people what they think is going well and what isn’t. Do a lot of listening in the first few meetings. Pay attention to office norms.

      Reply
      1. Emi.

        +1 for exhaustion. When I started my current job, I was coming home and flopping on the couch right away, and at one point burst into tears because I just couldn’t deal with my husband being so demanding as to ask me what I wanted for dinner.

        Reply
    5. OhBehave

      I started a new job 3 weeks ago after having been employed with the same company for 20 years.

      Take notes. Lots of notes. You will be learning new systems and the more you write down, the further along you will be in the process. When you have some moments to yourself, refine your notes because we often miss details in the midst of learning.

      Do not make disparaging remarks against yourself. i.e. “I should have known that. I’m so dumb.”

      Give yourself grace. You’re in the honeymoon period. Everything is awesome. Days are flying past because you are learning so much and are so excited.

      Even if you don’t know someone, say Good Morning. It’s just a nice thing to do.

      I am a visual learning and a ‘do while I learn’ kind of gal. Embrace any video training, and make notes as well. Research your company and know the ins and outs. Learn the language.

      Have fun and pat yourself on the back for being able to learn something new.

      Reply
    6. AJennifer

      I see several comments about taking notes, and I agree with that. I’d expand on it though. Ask your manager to review your notes and give you feedback to make sure you’re understanding tasks and concepts in your job. It should only take your manager a few minutes at a time to confirm your notes are accurate and if they’re not, she’d rather spend some extra time with you to refine and clarify them now versus dealing with correcting mistakes down the road.

      On a co-worker level, be positive about being there and resist discussing personal or work drama, regardless of what they might want to share with you. You’re happy to be there and want to do well at your job and that’s what you want to convey for now. Avoid topics that are divisive and stick to things that won’t make you or anyone uncomfortable or make people ‘wonder’ about you.

      Reply
  18. bassclefchick

    I’ve been chatting with a career counselor as part of my requirements for unemployment benefits. She said that I should have a “professional summary” on my resume. I understand it’s a bit different than an objective statement, but what do you think? Is this a thing now or does it seem too close to an objective statement?

    She also said (and I believe others on this site have said the same thing) that it’s not necessary to put your full address on the resume, just phone number and email. Is that right? None at all or is just city and state acceptable? I mean, you still put the full address on the cover letter (don’t you?!) so it seems odd to leave it off the resume.

    Any advice would be appreciated. I have now been unemployed for 2 months with no offers yet and have been a temp for the past 5 years. CLEARLY, I am doing something very wrong.

    Reply
    1. katamia

      I have something professional summary-esque on my resume (bullet points, not sentences). I use it more as a catch-all for things that I think might make me look better that don’t really fit elsewhere on my resume (language skills, computer skills, other things my job history doesn’t communicate well). And I change it up, too–if I’m applying for a tutoring job, it’ll look different than if I’m applying for an admin job.

      I put my full address on my resume and don’t think I’ve encountered any problems from doing so. But it’s not on my cover letters since I just put those in the body of the email, and it’s weird to follow Official Business Letter Format in an email.

      I do get a fair amount of interviews when I’m applying to jobs. I can’t say that these things are the reason for getting interviews, but they also don’t seem to be getting too in my way, either.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        I think you have to know your area where you are applying, when it comes to addresses. Rural areas, like mine, it might look really odd, like why would you NOT say where you live, what are you hiding and so on.

        Reply
    2. Allison

      A short, matter of fact summary can be useful to someone screening resumes. Your field, industry, level, years of experience, and some of your hard skills. The difference is that this just summarizes the kind of professional you are, an objective states what you’re looking for.

      As for your address, you can leave that off. You won’t get dinged for having it, but it does look old fashioned. Since the employer probably isn’t mailing you anything in response to your application, they just need to know what city or town you live in, so they know if you’re local.

      Reply
      1. AndersonDarling

        That actually sounds like a great idea. I’d have to really think about the qualifications that would actually set me apart from other applicants. It’s not a place for the ho-hum statement.

        Reply
        1. Allison

          It’s not about setting yourself apart, it’s about convincing the resume reader that you’re qualified for the job you applied for. No one will care how special, stellar, awesome, or unique you are if you don’t have the background or skills they’re looking for.

          Reply
    3. Audiophile

      My employment counselor in my state said something similar. That I should have a professional summary, as well as moving my skills to the top and separating technical and key skills. I’m fine with the summary suggestion, but moving skills to the top seems strange to me.

      I’ve never had anyone suggest remove your address and I think it would be pretty glaring and might not reflect well on the applicant.

      What is your background in? What kind of jobs are you focusing on?

      Reply
        1. Audiophile

          Yeah that was the other suggestion, that I add my Linkedin url. I guess I would save more space by just having city, state, phone, and email information listed.

          Reply
    4. Random

      I never put my full address on anything. Only city and state. I have never used a professional summary, it’s doubtful they will read that.

      Reply
    5. Mimmy

      I started using a professional summary (I think I call mine a “qualifications” summary) this past fall, which I tailored to specific positions. A career counselor suggested it to me because a recruiter or hiring manager is not going to want to take the time to read through the entire resume (mine is 2 pages) to see if you’re qualified. This summary is a snapshot of your experience and career. I think it helped me with my recent job offers – I only wish I’d thought to use one sooner :(

      Reply
    6. Rachel in NYC

      I would guess this is field specific. I have no clue in what fields it would be appropriate in but I would suggest finding a friend who has had some career success that you think has a really good resume/cover letter and will be honest with you (and for you to be willing to take hear what the friend says) and ask them what they think is holding you back.

      For example, cover letters are my weakness. I write horrible awful cover letters, which is problematic because you need to get past the gatekeeper to get an interview which I tend to do pretty well at.

      Reply
    7. Ask a Manager Post author

      Yes, I suggest these for people now too. They’re not objectives. The idea is to provide an overall framing for your candidacy, setting the hiring manager up to see the rest of your resume through that lens.

      Reply
    8. The OG Anonsie

      Probably field-specific, but since I changed industries recently I have a blurb at the top of mine that sort of… I guess highlights what I want everyone to focus on that’s a common thread through my work history.

      So a lot of my work history is Sugar Bowl Management with elements of Sugar Bowl Design and Sugar Bowl Production. But now I work in Teapot Design, so I have a little two-line thing at the top talking about how I am a boss designer with a long and illustrious history of designing awesome stuff of all kinds.

      Reply
    9. Master Bean Counter

      As someone who has looked at a few resumes this week let me give you my perspective.

      Professional summary-If you use this, do so wisely. It shouldn’t be longer than three sentences, or filled with jargon. do either of those and my eyes are glazing over at the top of your resume. If you aren’t sure about how to execute this feature, leave it off. I don’t miss the summaries when they aren’t there. What does work is 2-3 sentences that are targeted to the employer and that can pique curiosity.

      Address-City and State are good. Street address is unnecessary. If you are out of state, give me a hint why you are looking for work in my area. Even if it is weak. I’d rather know that you are tired of the snow, rather than guessing why you are applying from 2000 miles away.

      Also if you are high-level in the accounting field and want to live somewhere warm, I’d love to talk to you. :)

      Reply
    10. bassclefchick

      Thanks for the feedback, everyone! Much appreciated. The good news is, I applied for a good job with this resume and managed to score a phone interview, so the resume did its job!

      Rachel in NYC – cover letters are my weakness, too. I really suck at them. Even though I’ve poured over the cover letter archives several times.

      Master Bean Counter – LOL. Though I WOULD love to live in a warm climate (I really hate snow, ice, and cold), my husband does not. And I am not high-level in the accounting field. Darn it.

      Reply
    11. Blossom

      I don’t put my address on my cover letter… My cover letter goes in the body of the email that I attach my CV (resume) to, or (for online application forms) the box they have provided for “supporting comments”.

      I du put it on my CV (resume), though. No reason, just never thought not to, and it’s still the norm where I live.

      Reply
    12. copy run start

      Yes to both.

      Professional statement: how awesome you are. Objective: what you want from a company. Better to do nothing than an objective, but do the professional statement if possible.

      I haven’t put my full address on in ages. Not even on my cover letter. Never had a problem. That real estate can be used for more valuable things.

      Reply
  19. katamia

    How do you know how much work you can take on in the future? I’m a freelancer and I tell my bosses how much work I want weekly, but since I don’t know how easy or hard what I get is going to be and how I’m going to feel throughout, I feel like I’m always guessing wrong. There are some weeks when I could have done WAY more work than I told them to send me (and they set up a weekly schedule in advance, so I can’t ask for more) and others where I’m drowning, to the point where I don’t eat, miss deadlines by a few hours, etc.

    I can’t figure out if there’s a way to predict this or not. I have a horrible sense of time (ADHD), a couple minor but chronic health problems, and family members with not-so-minor chronic health problems who sometimes need my help. Is there some trick to this that everyone knows but me?

    Reply
    1. Judy

      Estimating is a skill just like the skills you use for your work. One of the best ways I’ve seen to develop your estimates is to keep track. Start keeping a list of what you estimated vs. what it actually took. It’s even better if you have a way to quantify the estimates, in software that’s lines of code or function/feature points. Having written records means you can look at a project and say, that’s close to what the widget project last month was, it took me 9 hours for that.

      It sounds like you don’t know that much about the projects when you tell them how much work you are requesting. Is there a way for them to quantify the projects into some sort of range?

      Reply
      1. katamia

        They do quantify the projects, it’s just that it’s not a particularly useful (to me, anyway) way to quantify them. To go back to my metaphor from an earlier open thread, I tell them I can make X teapots per week and which days I can make them on. They don’t differentiate between sending me assignments for basic teapots, winged teapots, teapots with pretty patterns, etc. I could get all winged teapots one week, all basic teapots the next, a mix the third week, etc. I get paid different amounts for different kinds of teapots, which is standard for the field and is also their way of acknowledging that certain types of teapots are more work than others.

        It’s really hard to figure out how long things take me–some days I’m sick but still need to work (my health issues mean I’m often not at 100%, but some days I’m at 75%, other days I’m at 30%, etc.), other times I have doctor appointments or need to help with errands, other days I just can’t get it together (presumably a combination of ADHD and my general dislike of/lack of motivation for what I do).

        Reply
        1. Newby

          Can you ask them to count one winged teapot as two regular ones when specifying how many you can do? Or use some other ratio?

          Reply
          1. katamia

            There’s no way to do that currently on the website where I submit my schedule every week. I’ve been considering suggesting a feature like that, but I don’t know anyone else who does what I do, so I don’t know if my issues are normal (IOW, that other people might like to specify what kind of teapots they’d like to do each week) or whether not knowing what kinds of teapots you’ll be making is less of an issue for other people.

            Reply
            1. Newby

              Can you try e-mailing your boss (or whoever makes the schedules) and mention that it is hard to schedule your time when different types of teapots take significantly different amounts of time to make? They might not be willing to change their system, but they definitely won’t if they don’t know that there is even a problem.

              Reply
        2. Judy

          I’d at least start tracking your kinds of teapots and how long it takes. Maybe make a comment column for “had the flu”, etc. Once you have an handle on basics take 3 hrs and winged take 5, you’d at least have more understanding.

          Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      Before you beat yourself up too much, please understand that developing a sense of how long things actually take is not in our genes at birth, it’s something we train ourselves to develop.

      You can do this. I have a friend who has ADD and she is working on this herself. She has started with smaller tasks, such as around her house. “Let’s see how long it takes me to clean up the dinner dishes.” She has timed her quickie clean of the bathroom and starting a load of laundry. She’s actually finding the exercise informative and helpful.

      Also know that there are some tasks that do not lend themselves well to timing. One good example would be cleaning out a closet. The reason here is that it is not possible to estimate what unforeseen projects this will entail. You could decide to sort your clothing and do a few simple repairs. Conversely, you could find a whole stack of miscellaneous waaay in the back that you forgot about, boy, this project will take a while.

      Once you raise your awareness of timing it will get easier and easier to be more accurate. And you will also be able to predict when NOT to estimate. “I can’t estimate how long will take me to clean that cupboard because I don’t know how much the mice have damaged in the cupboard.”

      I will say this: Pad your estimates. This is something you can start right now and will give you benefit. My rule of thumb is to add 15 minutes for every hour I estimate. This will vary given what your work is, of course. So roughly speaking if I think I can do something in 45 minutes, I will allot an hour.
      Remember people very seldom get ticked off if you get done EARLY. They usually only get mad if you get done LATE. If you think you can have something done by Thursday afternoon, tell the person it will be done Friday morning. If you get done early you look heroic. If you get done on time you look professional.

      Reply
      1. katamia

        I have a pretty short turnaround time (2-3 days) for most of my work, so there’s not always a lot of room for padding, unfortunately. I hate missing deadlines and almost never do, but recently there have been times when bad health days have fallen on days when I’ve gotten particularly time-intensive work, and then I’m so wiped out that it pushes back the more “normal” work I get afterwards.

        Reply
    3. The OG Anonsie

      You have to get good at estimating how much time tasks will take, and then budget that time (+ extra in case of unexpected elements) out of the total number of hours you want to work in a week. I’m not really sure how to do this other than observe how you’ve done it in the past very carefully. Get Bullish has a time tracking project you can try, I personally just did it observationally at first and later by making a spreadsheet where I tracked what I was doing in 15 minute increments for a month. Now I can eyeball it without having to write anything down.

      I also have the variable of “unknown degree of health impact” and the time padding helps account for that. Then sometimes I have to miserably push through to a deadline even though it feels like every fiber in my body is fighting it and it’s a terrible time, but I hit the target. When you know the minimum (good health day, very productive) time that it takes to complete some work and the maximum (everything is on fire) time it takes to complete some work, you can also look at how often each of those situations happen and use that to figure out a sort of average time needed. Then pad that out even more, though how much depends on how long a setback might be for you.

      Reply
  20. BoppingAlong

    Does anybody also suffer from social anxiety when it comes to work phone calls? I always loathe to use calling, much prefer to receive and send e-mails instead. It gives me and the other person some time to react. But it seems that my current office wants to use the phone more.
    Any tips on how I can conquer my fear?

    Reply
    1. Dang

      I hate the phone. I hate it when it rings just as much as I do picking it up to call someone.

      The only thing that works is practice. You get used to it. I find that practicing a little script right beforehand helps me, as lame as that sounds. I always say why I’m calling right after identifying myself. “Hi, this is Dang, how are you doing? I’m calling to clarify xyz, can you help?”

      Reply
      1. Amadeo

        Same. I don’t really care who I am calling, I don’t like to use the phone. Texting and emailing were wonderful things for me when they became mainstream. The first time I was told to make a phone call for work I internally freaked out. It’s gotten easier with practice and time, but I still don’t like it, and if I have an email address, I’ll always use that first before anything else.

        Reply
      2. Parenthetically

        Total phone anxiety here, and seconding script script script! I used to call prospective students for my university’s admissions office, and we were given a set of scripts that we could customize at will, as long as we hit the high points. It wasn’t long before I didn’t have to use it for most calls and didn’t feel anxious about dialing the number at all.

        I would actually write out, bullet-point style or verbatim, the kinds of things you frequently have to call people about, including potential responses.

        – Hi Dang, it’s Parenthetically over here in Teapot Design.
        – (I’m great, thanks.) I’m calling to check the status on those stress reports from January, can you look those up for me?
        – Yes, I can jot it down right now/Absolutely, email is fine/Sure, I’ll hold/Yep, I’ll be away from my desk from 1-2, but my voicemail will be on.

        Etc., as needed. Good luck!

        Reply
    2. SophieChotek

      I agree. I hate work phone calls too. I hate answering the phone and I hate hate hate having do cold-call contacts from lists given to me by other co-workers. Like you I would vastly prefer emails — you can write out the email and it gives the other person time to write a thought-out response.

      I agree the only thing to do is just practice it/do it more and it will become less awkward.
      And know if you get snarkiness/rudeness from others, it’s just that the other person is having a bad day, or maybe always is abrupt, whatever.

      Reply
    3. Amber Rose

      I also loathe the phone.

      My trick is to get super busy with something, and then use that momentum to just grab the phone and make the call. When I’m in full-on Work Mode, it overwrites some of the anxiety. Also I spend less time stewing in my own thoughts about how awful the phone is.

      Reply
    4. Squeeble

      For me, a big part of why I hate talking on the phone is knowing that my coworkers nearby can hear me. Not that I have anything to hide, I’m just self-conscious about the way I must sound, I guess.

      So if I know I have a call to make, I try to do it first thing in the morning, before most people have arrived. Plus that way it’s out of the way and I don’t have to worry about it the rest of the day. I’ve literally needed to make a call at like 3pm one day and saved it til the following morning.

      Reply
    5. aebhel

      Scripts. Scripts are the only thing that work for me. I also keep my employer’s phone number on a post-it note at my desk (even though I’ve worked here nearly 4 years) because sometimes I get so anxious that my brain flubs and forgets it right when I’m trying to leave a message.

      Also, remembering that a LOT of people hate talking on the phone, so there’s a good chance that the person on the other end is just as uncomfortable as I am.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        Am chuckling. I was working a couple jobs at one point and I could never get the phone numbers straight. I taped the numbers to the phones. I was really surprised to see other people reading off of my labels. I guess it’s not just me. Currently I have my fax number taped to my phone also, just so I can be sure to get it right.

        Reply
    6. Mimmy

      Oh yes!!! Which is interesting given that my past jobs required varying levels of phone work. I’m not sure if I was denying my anxiety or if I was trying to get rid of it! I’m similar to SophieChotek above in disliking answering the phone and making cold contacts because you have zero idea of who’s on the other end and how the conversation will go. I’m a little better if I know something about who I would be speaking with or if I know that there’s an existing, good relationship between the caller and my employer.

      Reply
    7. SM

      Oh, I am there with you. Unfortunately, don’t really have a strategy other than take a deep breath and scoop up the phone when it rings (like jumping into cold water). For placing calls, it seems to help a little if I put them on my schedule. Even if I’m not scheduling a specific time with the person on the other end, it helps me gather my courage to do x-scheduled work task. And the telemarketers get their numbers googled then ignored. And mentally reward yourself after a call.

      Reply
    8. Jill of All Trades

      I started phone calls with people I knew well and got used to the mechanics of it, so when I ended up going into a situation that made my anxiety go haywire (e.g. angry client call), I could focus on the topic at hand rather than how I was doing on the phone.

      There are some things I just never adjusted to. Don’t ask me to call strangers (*shudder*) especially if I’m being asked to sell something. But talking to my remote coworkers has become fine and normal thanks to the umpteen million times I’ve spoken with them on the phone.

      Reply
    9. Felicia

      I don’t mind answering the phone at all, but I’m the same with phone calls. I also make scripts, and give myself limited amounts of time to make the call. Fake deadlines work for me.

      Reply
    10. Margaret

      I also hate the phone, and avoid it when at all possible for personal communication.

      I agree that some degree of a script is helpful – depending on the topic/length, I might even write it all out as if I were sending an email, or I might make bullet points. It reassures me that I’ll remember my main points and either communicate everything or ask everything I needed to know.

      Reply
    11. Birdbrain

      I hear you! I agree with the others, practice is key. I was TERRIFIED of the phone when I first started my current job (so much that I wondered if I should accept it, given that calling people would be part of the duties). I still use email whenever I can, but practice has made phone calls MUCH easier. Also, with practice you realize that the world doesn’t end if you have an awkward phone call.

      In the meantime, I second (third?) the idea of a script. I sometimes write out what I’m planning to say (an intro sentence or two for when the person picks up, and another option for voicemail). Then I can read it while making the call and I know I’m not going to forget to say my name or why I’m calling. Once the conversation has started, I am usually a bit less nervous. One of my fears is that I’m interrupting them by calling. So my script usually involves something like “Is this a good time?”

      I occasionally send an email with background info that they can read at their leisure and invite them to call me when it’s convenient (giving them a few options so I’m not constantly expecting the phone to ring). Not sure if that would work with your office culture or the type of phone calls you have to make, though.

      Good luck, fellow phone-hater!

      Reply
    12. Daisy

      I hate phone calls. Aside from the other suggestions, I pretend I’m acting in a role. I don’t think of myself as Daisy, who happens to be a Teapot Admin, but I think of myself as a Teapot Admin working at MegaCorp, whose name happens to be Daisy. For some reason, distancing myself from what I’m saying helps me stay calm and keeps me from being nervous.

      Reply
    13. tigerlily

      Ugh, I also hate the phone. But I’m an Admin Coordinator so I’m on the phone all the time. I hate the “on the spot” feeling that phone calls put you in. You need to have the information now, whereas email or even an in person question can let you have time to find the information needed and present it in an intelligent and thoughtful way. And calling people on the phone for some reason is even worse.

      I don’t have advice for how to make using the phone easier, but maybe I have advice how to gently push back against phone use. My ED is someone who is very tech-unsavy, so that’s why her go-to is always using the phone to call people for information or to schedule appoints or to get help with a computer program. She is literally unable to google information. Whenever she wants me to call someone, I’ll often tell her I’m going to email instead so there’s a record of the conversation or because I’d prefer to have the info I’m getting written down so I can refer back to it later or something like that. Those are real reasons why email can be preferable to a phone call which saves you a little face if you’re embarrassed about your phone anxiety.

      Reply
    14. BoppingAlong

      I am so glad to hear that so many of you feel the same! I think I definitely need to try my hand at drafting a script of sorts before starting my calls. Hopefully it will help a lot!

      I always prefer using e-mails in work, but my boss constantly asks why I don’t just call them.

      Reply
    15. Not So NewReader

      When I first started working I was not afraid of the phone per se, I was afraid of not knowing how to answer questions.

      As others have said, plan what you will say before dialing. Also build a standard way of answering the phone. “Research Department, this is Bopping.” Some people just answer the ring with their name, “BoppingAlong”. Copy what you see others doing around you.

      I keep scraps of paper by the phone. I write down the name, if they tell me where they are from I write that down. If the question is straightforward then no problem. But if the question has layers, which for me most of the questions do, I start taking notes.

      People give out a lot of useless info because they don’t know what we need to find their answer. If you are not sure of an answer note down whatever they tell you and tell them you will call them back. You can figure out what info is relevant and what is useless after you hang up. Don’t forget to get their number.

      Don’t be embarrassed if you miss their name or other info. Just ask them to repeat it. When you ask them to repeat it, you are acknowledging that you know they already told you, you are paying attention. Annnd, many times asking to repeat info comes across as “I want to help you, so I must make sure I have your info correct.”

      My boss thinks I am great on the phone. I think that is because she thinks she is NOT great on the phone. I don’t like or dislike phones. But I do think phones are more work in some ways.

      Reply
    16. Hrovitnir

      Haha yes. Not a lot of advice but commiseration – for a long time having to do it regularly helped, but my anxiety got worse regardless and it was starting to be a real problem at work. I can do it, but it makes me nauseous and hot-cold to call out – it’s incredibly frustrating, because I’m good at it, but my brain disagrees.

      The only advice I have is that the thing that helped me for a long time was the fact it was about work, not me. If you don’t have some sort of loose script in your head that could help. Maybe write out the kinds of things you need to talk about and write a guide for major points, even just openers/fillers/endings you can choose between if you’re feeling stuck.

      Another thing is for me a sense of momentum. Write down the things I need to get done if it’s not an immediate phone call, make a time, then… do it. I’m pretty sure classical conditioning works even when you know you’re doing it to yourself, so if you can figure out a small treat you only get after phone calls (chocolate, a 5 minute walk outside, something like that) you could counter-condition yourself to one degree or another.

      Good luck!

      Reply
    17. Isben Takes Tea

      Definitely scripts. Also, weirdly, it depends on the kind of phone I’m using. I get super intimidated talking to strangers on my cell phone–I think because I don’t have the physical power of putting the receiver into the cradle to hang up.

      Suggestions:
      –Could you practice making calls from your work phone to friends or family members and roll-play work conversations?
      –Or calling a toll-free automated number from your work phone and just practice speaking into it? “Hi, this is BoppingAlong from Teapots Inc., and I’m following up on an invoice.”
      –Or you can have friends and family call you so that you can practice answering it in a calm, cool, collected manner? “Thanks for calling Teapots Inc, this is BoppingAlong.”

      Reply
        1. MoodyMoody

          I used to play Pathfinder with one player over Google Hangouts, using someone else’s phone. Does that count as “roll-play over-the-phone”?

          Reply
    18. Gene

      No advice beyond what’s here.

      But I can tell you that for every one of you who hates the phone, someone else is thinking, “We’ve traded 4 stinking emails/texts on this and it could have been done in a 2 minute phone call and be done with it.” I use email when I need a record of what was said. If I just need a bit of info, your phone is going to ring.

      Reply
      1. LCL

        Definitely! I look at this as one of those ‘time and technology marches on’ issues. I am fascinated that there are so many people out there with phone anxiety, I had no idea. I’m glad I learned this today, I’m not judging the phone avoiders, I am a Luddite-by-laziness-not belief who didn’t even learn how to put new apps on my phone until my 3rd smartphone. The company maintained my blackberry, I used my personal phones for phone calls and photos, what else was a phone for?

        Reply
        1. Lissa

          It seems to be a really interesting generational switch! When I grew up, the stereotype was “teenage girls are always on the phone.” Now every second person who’s my age or younger has phone anxiety! I am fine with answering the phone, or calling somebody who is expecting my call, but phoning someone who’s not expecting me? I’m always convinced they’re going to yell at me.

          Reply
      2. Hrovitnir

        I do hope you appreciate that there’s a difference between preferring one mode of communication and getting anxiety from it.

        I get anxious using the phone. Enough that I have had SSRI withdrawals regularly because having to call the doctor basically required physical symptoms to make me do it. I also prefer the text medium a vast majority of the time – I am very fast with emails, a quick query is likely to be answered just as quickly and with no chance of misunderstanding by email.

        There are definitely certain things that are easier by phone, of course. Things that take 30 seconds to explain but somehow take far too many words to write out, for example.

        Anyway, not saying you don’t understand that, but wanted to put it out there anyway. Irritation at what feels unwieldy to you =/ anxiety. I get frustrated at people who aren’t comfortable with email so I have to go and talk to them but the issue never seems to get communicated as clearly as if they would just read a clearly laid out email. (Which is not to say I don’t think personal interaction is important.)

        Reply
    19. Emilia Bedelia

      As mentioned, scripts are great.

      Do make sure to slow down and listen; if I plan out my conversation too much, I get flustered when the other person doesn’t play along. Take a deep breath before you answer the other person; don’t just recite your script.
      Instead of writing out a verbatim script, I like to make a bulleted list of things that I need to remember to ask and then check those off.
      I also make sure to have any documents open that I might need to reference during the call; there is nothing that flusters me more than the awkward “Um, wait a minute, let me find it….. um…………” or trying to carry on a conversation while looking for a file.

      I am also very guilty of ignoring the phone and then emailing the person to say “Sorry I missed your call, I was on another call! What’s up?”. If they’re determined to talk on the phone, you can prepare/schedule it as you like, but most of the time when I try this, they end up emailing me their question anyway. I wouldn’t recommend this EVERY time, but in a pinch….

      Reply
    20. Graylady

      Agreed- the phone is the worse. I am the main person responsible for answering the phone at my office and we have a similar name to another organization so I get their phone calls all the time. I try not to be mean to those wanting the other organization but they are a needs based organization so sometimes those people want to tell me their whole life story and I can do exactly zero for them. I think that some things that help with the phone is scripts or even just writing down what you want to say- organize your thoughts. And try to smile or do something that you think will help you not sound nervous. I have a high pitched voice so I sound more like a child than an adult so I always try to speak with confidence when I can. It’s hard but if you practice it enough than it will become second nature to you.

      Reply
  21. JMegan

    This week has been really weird at work. I have found myself getting unreasonably annoyed at people for asking me to do really routine things – ie, things that are clearly part of my job, and are easy to do, and I do them all the time. And yet, I’ve been feeling a lot of “I can’t BELIEVE you would ask me to do this!” for some reason.

    But the thing is, I’m not the only one. I was cc’d on a really snarky email exchange between our intranet team and an admin assistant, about putting a department contact list on the intranet. Totally routine and easy for both of them, and still they were griping about it. And in another form of weirdness, I had someone that I know only casually pop by my office to say goodbye, as today is her last day. That in itself was fine, but then she sat down in my chair and listed all the detailed personal reasons why she was leaving – and again, this is someone I barely know, so it felt like bit of an overshare for her. And my colleague who I work the most closely with has just been crabby all week, for reasons unknown.

    I wonder if it’s just winter getting to everybody, or what’s going on. In any case, I’m going to be happy to get away from the office for the weekend!

    Reply
    1. LQ

      We’ve been a little like that and it is partly overwhelmed, partly sick, partly snowballing. If you can try to stop it that helps a lot. If you can take a day off. And if your office is as full of sick people as mine is, yeah, try to get people to go home, instead of staying to work.

      Which I should really do myself.

      Reply
    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      Our office has been kind of weird this week too, though I’m still new so I don’t have a sense of the norms yet. People have been sick, and that’s resulted in others being SUPER busy. Then there’s me, with not much going on and the days have been dragging. I think it’s seasonal transitions. That’s what I’m going with, anyway.

      Reply
    3. Graylady

      I think its been one of those weeks. My office was in a sort of pile on mode this week. Today has been quiet somewhat but it seemed one thing after another happened this week.

      Reply
    4. Trix

      I’m feeling the same thing in my office today. Everyone (including me) is snarkier than usual, people are willfully misunderstanding questions/issues, our daily leadership huddle devolved into everyone talking over each other. I’m over it.

      I’m going to see if I can get a handle on dynamic drop downs in Excel (which will hopefully be the breakthrough in the new report I’m building), then I’m going home.

      Reply
  22. Allison

    Two things:

    1) Is it normal to get really anxious when I hear an older male colleague yelling and swearing on the phone? I couldn’t figure out exactly what was making him so angry, and I know it wouldn’t be fair to assume he has an anger management problem, but his behavior kinda scared me.

    2) Would it be disrespectful to my Catholic colleagues if I ate meat for lunch today?

    Reply
    1. Dang

      1) Yes. You’re allowed to listen to your instincts. And they’re probably telling you something.
      2) No. As long as you’re not cutting it up into little pieces and hiding it in their food.

      Reply
    2. Emi.

      2) Definitely not! I mean, it would be disrespectful if you waved it in their faces, chanting “Nyah, nyah, I get to eat meat and you don’t!” but just eating it like a normal human is fine.

      Reply
    3. Teapot librarian

      I think for number 2 it depends on 1. if you’re in a Catholic workplace or 2. have primarily Catholic coworkers. If the first, I’d say maybe. If the second, I’d say probably not. If you work in a secular workplace and only a few of your coworkers at Catholic, go ahead. (As a Jew, I don’t care if someone eats a sandwich near me during passover, for example.)

      Reply
    4. That Would Be a Good Band Name

      1. I’m not sure about normal, but it would make me anxious too.

      2. As someone who grew up protestant in an area that was 90% catholic, I’ve never seen anyone mind.

      Reply
      1. Allison

        I grew up in a really Catholic town, and in high school one of my classmates freaked out when she saw me eating meat on a Friday. “Allison, it’s Lent! You can’t have meat on Fridays!”

        Reply
        1. That Would Be a Good Band Name

          Well, to be fair, I have gotten a dirty look or two from my mother-in-law. I think she takes it personally when I order chicken instead of fish on Fridays. But I can’t remember anyone else ever saying anything.

          Reply
          1. Jaydee

            My husband was raised Catholic and takes great pride in ordering meat if we go out to eat on a Friday. Even with his parents and sister, who are all observant Catholics.

            Reply
    5. Morning Glory

      #2 I’m Catholic and I ate meat today. Not everyone is the same level of observant.

      Even if I abstained, I would be horrified to learn anyone was altering their behavior around me due to my religion, or was feeling pressured to adopt tenets of my religion they don’t share.

      Reply
    6. Lizzle

      2) My understanding as a life-long protestant is that I get to eat what I want and they get to judge me. I’m fine with that trade…and my Catholic friends have seemed happy with it as well. ;-)

      Reply
    7. Rat in the Sugar

      1) That specific situation always reminds me of being yelled at by my stepdad, who is a large guy and was intimidating to me as a kid. I think it’s natural to feel that way, but you shouldn’t let it color your interactions with this coworker unless you have other reasons to believe he’s violent or a jerk.

      2) I’m Catholic and I ate chicken this morning; lots of us don’t follow that rule at all outside of Lent, especially in the states (don’t know where you are). I have health problems that don’t allow me to turn down calories in any season. Are some of your coworkers trying to tell you it would be?? If so, they are incorrect and jerks. If you are abstaining from meat, that’s supposed to be a personal sacrifice and it’s not others people’s job to make it less unpleasant for you, that’s kind of against the whole point.

      Reply
      1. Allison

        Like I said, I know I understand it wouldn’t be fair to make assumptions about him based on his behavior this morning. Although I’m starting to wonder if there is a difference between having a concern and making an assumption. I thought you could have a concern without having made an assumption but maybe that’s wrong.

        It’s Lent right now! Ash Wednesday was this week! I’m worried someone will see me heat or eat my lunch and go “oop, is that meat?”

        Reply
        1. Rat in the Sugar

          Sorry, I just meant that people who don’t bother to follow it the rest of the time shouldn’t be hard-line during Lent.

          Nobody should give you any trouble, that would be rude of them. I’ll gladly eat meat today right in front of other Catholics and not expect them to say anything to me, it’s supposed to be a really personal thing.

          Reply
          1. Coalea

            Not sure what you mean by “don’t bother to follow it the rest of the time.” It’s my understanding (and I’m Catholic) that abstaining from meat on Fridays has been a Lent-only requirement for quite some time. I know it was a year-round obligation when my parents were growing up, but that was in the 1950s and 60s.

            And to the OP, as others have said, enjoy your meat! It’s not disrespectful at all.

            Reply
            1. Rat in the Sugar

              I thought it was still common in other countries, and had just fallen out of custom in the United States.

              Also, I think it was still a thing past the 50s and 60s in certain regions. I remember reading a sort of “Jokes for Catholics” book that was written in the 80s and aimed at high school/ college kids and there were a couple of jokes about whether the hot dogs at the Friday game counted as actual “meat” and that sort of thing.

              Reply
              1. Hibiscus

                No, it was Vatican II reform.

                But, it’s also A BIG DEAL in certain very Catholic areas to ask for diocese dispensations for St. Patrick’s Day corned beef or opening day hot dogs.

                Reply
              2. Drago cucina

                When I lived in Italy I had nuns poke fun at us “strict” Americans for not eating meat on Lenten Fridays. Lenten observances do vary based on the country. Places that do not eat much meat at all may practice other disciplines.

                Reply
        2. Rat in the Sugar

          Also, I wasn’t trying to say that I thought you were going to judge your coworker, I just didn’t want to say “Yeah, it’s totally normal to be weirded out!” and just leave it at that.

          Reply
        3. Observer

          Why would anyone do that, though? Are you working for a Catholic institution? That would be one thing. But outside of that, I simply don’t see it.

          Reply
      2. Allison

        my initial response was in moderation (sorry, AAM!), but I do want to clarify, as I said in my initial post, I know it would be unfair of me to judge his character off his behavior this morning, so I’m trying not to. I don’t work directly with him anyway, I just sit near him.

        Reply
        1. NACSACJACK

          People have judged me and are still judging me off my loud and boisterous behavior 10 years ago. It happens and he will have with deal with the fallout of mismanaging his EQ in the workplace. If you’re scared, be scared, own your own feelings and dont be afraid to adjust your behavior yourself. It happens.

          Reply
        2. PollyQ

          Eh, you can judge him a little if you want. In most workplaces, yelling and cursing is well outside normal behavior, so at a minimum he’s behaving unprofessionally.

          Reply
    8. MWKate

      2 – not at all. Lots of Catholics don’t follow all the rules of Lent, and some have “permission” to eat meat on Fridays for certain kinds of health conditions, etc. My family is Catholic and I cannot imagine anyone caring whether another person is eating meat on Friday.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth West

        Same here, growing up–though it was my fault we had fish sticks in the school cafeteria on Fridays. :P Since I bailed on everything, I eat whatever whenever. Today I had bologna twice because I’m sick and I don’t care.

        Reply
        1. MWKate

          Same for me, I had a delicious guilt-free burrito. Unless my mom is asking.

          Where I live there are enough Catholics that Fridays are default fish and seafood for every special even outside of Lent.

          Reply
    9. Not So NewReader

      Angry voices make most beings anxious. It’s an intuitive reaction. I say “beings” because I had a situation yesterday that really upset my dog. My friend let the dog out, when the dog was ready to come in, a huge wind came up and the door slammed into my friend’s hand. My friend’s hand was covered in blood and he was cussing a blue streak. The dog was still tied to his dog run line and could not get away from my suddenly very angry friend. I thought the two of them were going to get tangled up in each other and have more injuries.

      It’s something so ingrained that even animals know to run from angry voices.

      Friend is fine now, and dog is fine also. We got through it.

      Reply
    10. Newby

      I’m catholic and fairly observant. I choose not to eat meat but I am not bothered if others do. Just don’t try to feed them meet and you will be fine.

      Reply
      1. Birdbrain

        Now I’m picturing signs saying “Please don’t feed the Catholics!” like at a zoo.

        (I’m Catholic too. I don’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent, but I don’t feel offended or disrespected when other people do.)

        Reply
    11. Delta Delta

      1. I think it depends on the situation. I’m a lawyer, and have worked in environments where yelling and swearing on the phone were just all part of a regular day. (I’m not saying I liked it, I’m just saying it happened)

      2. Eat whatever makes you happy! I was raised Catholic and, frankly, I loved Lent because I like fish and it felt like more of a treat than a sacrifice to get to eat fish on Friday. I still observe Lent – mostly for the fish. Wouldn’t matter to me if you ate a cheeseburger, as those are also delicious.

      Reply
    12. Jadelyn

      I’ve heard it said that most men don’t realize how scary their raised voices can be to most women, and in my experience that’s absolutely true. I mean, I can know 100% that it’s not something related to me, the person is a friend I trust, and I still tense up and try to make myself invisible if a man in my vicinity is yelling angrily at someone. I don’t think it’s at all strange for you to have been anxious.

      Reply
    13. LKW

      2) No more disrespectful than eating a BLT with your Jewish or Muslim colleagues in view. As in not disrespectful at all. Eat the meat.

      Reply
    14. Lemon Zinger

      Everyone else gave great advice… no need to avoid meat if you aren’t Catholic! But I’m glad you posted this– I was planning on having leftover chicken for lunch! (I’m Catholic and totally forgot today is the first Friday of Lent!)

      Reply
    15. Nervous Accountant

      2) NO and I would be really weirded out by a coworker who was offended at that. My coworkers eat pork (I’m Muslim) and I can’t imagine ever telling them not to. Or telling someone to not eat near me when I’m fasting (not that I do but I did at one point). I dont’ force my dietary choices on anyone and I hate those that do. I know it’s a your office may vary type thing but I can’t imagine any office with sane, rational adults functioning like this but..*shrugs*

      Reply
    16. Theletter

      1) This guy sounds terrible and you should report him for creating a hostile work environment.
      2) Lent for me means fish taco Fridays! Yum Yum Yum Yum.

      Reply
  23. That Would Be a Good Band Name

    I’m not sure if this really counts as a work issue, but it does affect potential future employment. I’m in my late 30s, and attending school full-time to get my first BS degree while working full-time. I have been majoring in accounting and I’m currently employed as an accounting clerk, but need a degree to move up. However, I do not like my major specific classes. I just don’t. I enjoy the work I do quite a bit but it really bothers me that I don’t like the classes about accounting. I’ve mentioned it to my school adviser and they have mentioned I might be happier with a business management degree instead. My goal has been to be able to move into a staff or cost accountant role (no intention of getting my CPA) or possibly a financial analyst. I can complete the BS in Accounting in two semesters, the BS in Business Management would only need 1 more semester.

    My question is: is a degree a degree in this case? I’m not really sure what a career path for someone with a business management degree is, but being done after one more semester instead of two more is really appealing. Or if I could still move into a accountant role if even I went with the business management degree combined with the work experience I do have?

    Reply
    1. AnotherAlison

      I’m not in the accounting field (although my mother is, and has been for 30 yrs), but I would suck it up and get the accounting degree. It’s quicker to finish, and it’s more applicable to your career path. If something happens and you change your mind about being a CPA, you are closer than if you get the business management degree. I think it’s a lot easier to do generic business work with a specific accounting degree than the other way around.

      Reply
    2. Temperance

      I would probably finish the Accounting degree rather than incur more student debt. My advice hinges on whether you’re at a nonprofit or a for-profit school.

      Reply
    3. Tmarie

      I’ve worked in accounting for over 30 years. I finally took the “core” 300/400 level accounting courses in 2006. I hated them. In industry accounting, versus how I assume public accounting to be, very little of the coursework seemed applicable.

      However, if you want an accounting job that pays a living wage, you actually need the accounting degree. Stick it out, it will be worth it.

      Reply
      1. Tmarie

        Oh, and I should have included that after finishing those boring 300/400 level accounting courses, my pay, over the past 10 years has increased by 45% from where I was with “just” a Business Management degree.

        Reply
      2. That Would Be a Good Band Name

        This is especially good to hear. I was really stressing that I had chosen the wrong thing when I didn’t like my core classes!

        Reply
        1. Jadelyn

          In my experience, classes in a career-field-specific degree (versus a degree in like…literature or something) tend to be far less relevant than you’d expect. I’m 2 classes away from my degree in HR Management – like you, I’m doing it because it’s necessary in order for me to move up – and I have learned about a thousand times more in 3 years on the job than I have in two years of full-time classes that are supposedly related to my field. As long as you like the work you’re actually doing, just consider the classes to be boxes on a check-off list, do them and get them done with and keep doing the actual work you’re enjoying.

          I think if you want to stay in accounting as a field, you’ll want the accounting degree. You probably *could* move up okay with the addition of actual accounting experience alongside a general business degree, but it would be simpler with the accounting degree. My mother has done accounting since before I was born and she ended up having to go into a different field when her company closed, since she did accounting in the days before accounting degrees were common and doesn’t have one. Her education was in business and then later, early childhood education (she did a stint as a teacher for awhile). A lot of places would rather hire someone with an accounting degree and a couple years experience, than someone with a non-accounting education and 20+ years of experience.

          Reply
    4. Rat in the Sugar

      I just moved from Accounts Payable into an Accountant 1 position a few months ago, and my boss explicitly congratulated me because this position requires my bachelor’s, while Accounts Payable can be performed by anyone with experience. (Sort of a “Congrats, the schooling is paying off now!”, if that sounds weird).

      It might vary at other companies, but I would say if you want to be a staff accountant at a decent level you need the degree.

      Reply
    5. Accountant

      I know it’s neither of the two options you listed, but is it possible for you to fill up some courses with financial management instead of public accounting courses (generally the last few semesters of accounting are advanced accounting, audit and tax…two of which are irrelevant to cost/staff accountants). Financial management/managerial accounting are generally much more relevant to non-CPAs.
      In terms of the value of the degree – most accounting jobs I know specifically look for an accounting degree (or a specialization in accounting if that’s an option?) just for surety that you have the background knowledge for some of the more complicated stuff.

      Reply
    6. Margaret

      Do you know what part of the accounting classes it is that you don’t like?

      I work in the tax dept of a CPA firm. And I know it will vary some by school curriculum (e.g., I only had one tax class in undergrad whereas it sounds like people at other colleges had more), but I use very little of the specific content from my degree classes, beyond having a strong base of debits and credits. It seems like the bulk of intermediate and advanced accounting classes were stuff only relevant to public companies/SEC requirements, and not only do I not do that, my firm doesn’t really audit public companies either, so I’m not even seeing it on their work if we do both financials and tax work for a company. I have to understand enough of GAAP to know when it differs from tax, but that’s it.

      Reply
      1. That Would Be a Good Band Name

        Right now I’m working on a corporate tax class and so much of it seems to be memorizing form names, the differences between LLC/C Corp/S Corp/etc, and tax guidelines. I can do all the calculations and actually enjoy working with the numbers but all the memorizing things that may or may not change (such as how much charitable contribution deduction is allowed) just seems pointless. I remember having much the same feeling with aspects of intermediate accounting. But, yes, so much seems geared towards public companies.

        Reply
        1. Margaret

          In “real life” on the job, that stuff really doesn’t matter much. You either absorb it over time or you have resources to look it up. The types of things you listed there I know off the top of my head now, not really from memorizing just working them day in and day out. You’re not expecting to have every dollar limitation or percentage memorized (I think even the CPA exam section that include tax lets you access some IRS pubs and forms during it), you have to know the concepts (e.g., that there are limitations of charitable contributions), and maybe a rough idea of the numbers, but that’s it. Even talking to clients – if discussing generally, I can say “the estate tax exemption is adjusted for inflation and currently a bit over $5 million”, and just look it up if I’m actually doing a specific calculation.

          Reply
        2. Countess Boochie Flagrante

          Oh mannnn, I just finished doing those for my investment licensing exams. I’d swear that I had little S Corps and C Corps dancing around my head at night. My sympathies!

          Reply
    7. That Would Be a Good Band Name

      Thanks, everyone. I think I just needed someone to agree that sticking with accounting was the way to go. I was leaning in that direction, and it’s good to see that’s the consensus.

      Reply
    8. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      My husband has a degree in Finance. He only took 6 units of Accounting classes and HATED them. He’d need 20 total to qualify for CPA but he has no interest in doing so. That being said, he worked for a CPA firm for 8 years and is now managing the accounting department for a government agency. He really doesn’t need those extra units. His Finance degree works just fine.

      Reply
    9. Hrovitnir

      I should read the other replies but I’m feeling too lazy so hopefully it’s not a complete replicate. I am not in accounting but I really, really feel like there will be classes you don’t enjoy in any degree. I have at least some interest in most subjects, and I really think it’s being so interested that I am willing to slog through the stuff that doesn’t do it for me kind of defines whether it’s something you want to do. In the case of something like accounting I think that can go double, because enjoying mechanistic workflows doesn’t mean you enjoy learning the background knowledge (some people do – I don’t think you have to to enjoy the job).

      Like I hated undergraduate labs with the fire of a thousand suns, and I hate people who say that means you won’t like working in a lab. Umm, in a lab I won’t be doing an exercise once and never again, feeling like I have no idea what I’m doing, sharing equipment with 60 people, and working in a group in a work situation is a million miles from doing so in school. Guess what? Post-grad lab work is great. Hurrumph.

      Also, I bet your age has something to do with it. By and large I really enjoyed undergrad, but I was in my late 20s and had a career before I went back and it definitely can make you impatient with some of the stuff aimed at growing people just out of high school.

      Reply
    10. Graylady

      I work in government and in order to actually be a staff accountant you have to have an accounting degree. But something such as business admin with focus in accounting works. I actually have a Masters degree in accounting so I don’t have to worry about it but right now our accounting department wants to add another accountant but doesn’t have anyone qualified for the position because no one has an accounting degree. I think it depends on the industry what they want in regards to degree but it seems that the path you have chosen might require one. Also don’t worry about how much you hate the classes just try to get through them. I work with someone who had to take a business accouting class four (4!) times because its so different from government accounting. She finally passed but she probably tried every trick she could to get through it.

      Reply
  24. NCIS Crazy Town

    Should phone interviews get the same follow up ‘thank you’ email that in-person interviews get?

    Reply
    1. Jadelyn

      Yes and no – I’d be more casual about it than I would be for a full interview, just a quick email note saying “It was great talking with you today, I’m really excited about this role, hope to discuss next steps with you soon” or something like that, but I would definitely follow up.

      Reply
    2. That Would Be a Good Band Name

      I’d say yes if nothing additional is scheduled during the call. Most of the phone interviews I’ve had were more like a screening call that ended with scheduling me to come in for an in-person interview. I’ve never sent a thank you in that instance since I was definitely having another interview to follow up on items discussed.

      Reply
  25. overcaffeinatedandqueer

    I start something about 10-15% better paying and with casual dress and more flexible hours on Monday! I’m so pleased.

    OTOH, my wife and I are trying to eat more healthy and fresh food, but my God, I am so tired of salads, no matter what is on them. I am having massive salt cravings since unprocessed food has approximately none, and just want a salty, cheesy taco or pizza!

    Reply
    1. Dang

      I also burn out on salads very quickly. I just got an instant pot and the thing is amazing. It makes everything and is so low maintenance, just the way I like it. There are some great recipes on pinterest. So worth the hype.

      Cravings are the worst. But stick with it, in a few weeks this will feel normal.

      Good luck at the new job!

      Reply
          1. Dang

            Ya know, I didn’t believe it.

            And then I bought it. And I LOVE it. To be fair it does take a bit to familiarize yourself, and some things really don’t lend themselves to cooking in it (despite what the internet tells you), but it’s been 100% worth it in my opinion. The first thing I made was lentil soup and it was done in 25 minutes or so and tasted like it had been simmering all day!

            Reply
            1. Jadelyn

              Wow…okay, I’ll probably pick one up next payday. I live with my mom and we both have chronic pain issues, plus I have depression, so a lot of the time we end up just eating mac and cheese or ordering something for delivery bc neither of us has the energy to cook real food. We’ve got a crock pot but our apartment is old and neither of us trusts the wiring enough to leave it plugged in and heating all day unless one of us is working from home, so something that could do a similar job but in the time-frame of between getting home from work and dinnertime…that would be amazing! Thanks for the rec. :)

              Reply
              1. MoodyMoody

                The Instant Pot also has a slow-cooker function, for those that have old slow cookers. Unfortunately, one of the things it can’t do is rewire your apartment.

                Reply
              2. Tedious Cat

                I really think you’re going to love the Instant Pot. I like the idea of cooking but am really lazy, but the fact that I can to a large extent throw the ingredients in and come back in an hour for a finished meal keeps me cooking when before I would have given up and gone with something processed. You can also sear right in the pot so you don’t have to dirty another pan.

                Reply
      1. Paquita

        There is an Instant Pot facebook group. I don’t (yet) have one but the fb group is very active and helpful.

        Reply
    2. Amber Rose

      You can make your own pizza. It’s healthier than ordering pizza, you can throw fresh veggies on it, and if you use a little bit of salty meats or cheese, that should help the cravings. Also: pickles.

      The least sustainable diet is the one where you deprive yourself of things you desperately want.

      Reply
      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

        This. I give myself a “rest day” every weekend where I don’t track and treat myself to some pizza or a burger or whatever. The tradeoff is that I have to take a pretty strenuous 4-5 mile hike in the mountains, but even that doesn’t require a lot of arm-twisting for me.

        Reply
    3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

      One does not eat healthy on salads alone. What kind of stuff do you like to eat? I’d be happy to help with ideas, because I’ve been on the project of dumping that stray 15 pounds since January, and I’ve had to get creative. Helps that I spent a foolish amount of money on a dreamy new grill, so I’ve been grilling most nights.

      Reply
      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

        One of my go-tos is tacos. A soft corn tortilla is hardly problematic diet-wise, and tacos are the perfect food. Last night I made smoked chicken tacos with some (mmmm salty) cotija cheese and pumpkin seeds, but I have about 15 types I make often. Fish tacos are particularly good for keeping the calories down.

        Tostadas are awesome too. Brush the soft corn tortillas with some oil, bake ’em till crisp, top ’em with stuff. My personal favorite is fish (or octopus) with guacamole and slaw, but you can also do a saucy shredded chicken, or a smear of mashed black beans with wilted greens and squash or mushrooms….

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth West

          FISH TACOS
          I make them all the time. I get mad that I can’t buy cabbage slaw to put on them in small quantities, so instead I use Taco Bell chipotle sauce (the stuff they put on the quesadillas; you can get it at Walmart), spinach, those Rotel tomatoes, and sometimes avocado. I spread the sauce on a big old burrito wrap (or two smaller taco-size tortillas) and stick spinach leaves all over. Then I saute tilapia seasoned with taco seasoning, plunk the fish and the other ingredients on top, and nom.

          You can eat leftovers the next day, IF you are brave about microwaving fish at work. Tilapia isn’t as smelly as salmon and this just smells like taco spice. Sometimes I use the little battered fish fillets if I can’t afford tilapia fillets.

          Reply
      2. overcaffeinatedandqueer

        Well, I have a massive sweet tooth, usually. But I also like tacos, wraps, potatoes, and yogurt as well as the stereotypical lunch sandwich. Soups are awesome too. But, I already had that last night, and so I didn’t take some today.

        Reply
        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

          Oooh, avoid the stereotypical lunch sandwich. Sandwich bread is so unbelievably loaded with bad carbs and sodium.

          Do you like sweet potatoes? That’s one of my go-tos, either orange or white. Much better glycemic index than a standard potato.

          Reply
          1. overcaffeinatedandqueer

            Yes, definitely, but I already eat them for breakfast. Food boredom is a big problem for me.

            Reply
            1. Pebbles

              How about Asian foods? There are so many fresh, healthy recipes you can make that will have a different flavor than the usual soups and salads. Just moderate the fish sauce and soy sauce (I use low-sodium) and you’ll be fine!

              Reply
            2. Delta Delta

              Re: food boredom – Have you tried any recipes by Ottolenghi? The cookbooks are drop-dead gorgeous (and expensive, I’d check one out of the library and see if you like it before you buy one) and have really creative, really fresh stuff. They have a lot of ingredients but aren’t very complicated. Highly recommend to combat food boredom!

              And YAY! for your new job!

              Reply
              1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

                If anybody wants a copy of Ottolenghi (the first cookbook) let me know. I’d be happy to let my duplicate go for a fair price.

                Reply
          2. Rainy, PI

            I make all the bread we eat, and I have always found homemade bread to be considerably more satiating than the storebought stuff. Not to mention that making your leftovers sandwich on homemade ciabatta turns desk lunch into an enjoyable experience.

            But if you’re anti-bread, it’s still bread. :)

            Reply
        2. K.

          You need more variety in your diet! Don’t deprive yourself! A lot of people think eating healthy means you only eat salads, but that’s not true. Part of eating well is eating a balanced diet, and no one is going to stick to any kind of eating plan in which you deprive yourself of everything you love.

          You like tacos – you can use chicken, or lean ground beef or turkey, which is naturally lean. If you like wraps, there are a frillion ways to get veggies in wraps. Greek yogurt with berries (I buy the the frozen unsweetened kind at this time of year) and a little agave or honey is good for killing sweet tooth cravings. You can stack sandwiches with veggies too – just use whole-grain bread.

          Reply
        3. EP

          One of my favorite soups is a roasted butternut squash soup with some fresh ricotta or goat cheese on top… yummmm

          Reply
        4. Not So NewReader

          The two go hand-in-hand, if you enjoy sweets then probably you will have salt cravings. Stay the course, the cravings will cut back. I used watermelon as my go to when the sweet cravings got tough.

          I switched to sea salt and I use it on a few things. I like salt on my eggs. Sometimes with certain cuts of beef I will use salt. We do need to take in some salt, we can’t totally go without. A friend had a moose steak. Yeah, I threw a little salt on that.

          Reply
        5. Girasol

          Homemade soups so thick they’re more like stews. That’s my favorite. Thick bean or pea soups. Cream of turkey with sherry. Chicken or beef with a ton of veggies. Scotch broth of lamb and barley. I make huge kettles full, three at a time once a month or so on a rainy weekend. Then I freeze it in two serving containers so that a little work goes a long way and there’s a variety on hand. While there’s health value in a raw salad, it just doesn’t seem like a meal to me as much as does a thick hot soup made out of the same veggies, especially in winter. Pack it in a microwave container or a hot food thermos (or two, for both of us) with cheese and a bit of fruit and maybe some good bread and it doesn’t take much effort on a sleepy morning.

          Reply
    4. Purest Green

      Congrats on your first sentence!

      And for your other hand, soups have been my friend recently. I can throw in all kinds of veggies and seasonings and it’s still healthy, yet I feel like I actually ate something.

      Reply
      1. AndersonDarling

        I’ve worked with co-workers who make beautiful Thai soups at work. Rice noodles, sprouts, carrots, egg, and pre-flavored broth. They warm up the broth, then add the cold ingredients. It’s so simple to do in the breakroom and the end product looks like it came right from the restaurant!

        Reply
    5. Manders

      Woohoo! Congratulations!

      I’m having the same problem with healthy foods. I’m a 5’0″ woman, my husband is 6’3″ and lifts weights regularly. Our nutrition needs are very different.

      I really love the recipes on Budget Bytes–they’re cheap and healthy, and usually not too time consuming to make. The mole enchilada recipe might satisfy your taco cravings. Plus, they have a great section for beginner cooks about how to stock a pantry with staples and spices.

      Reply
    6. namelesscommentater

      Congrats on the new job!

      I go to roasted veggies when I burn out on salads. Onions, carrots, potatoes and beets make a great meal with some salt and paper. I make them in a romertopf and it’s super easy. Add some rice to make a meal (or chicken if you eat it). Other staples for me include: dals/soups, smoothies, and pizza on flatbread w/ veggies.

      Reply
    7. ExceptionToTheRule

      Oh I hear you on the second part. I’ve started using a healthy meal service for my lunches & some dinners just to avoid the salad burn-out. The company I use is local to me (not a chain like blue apron) and everything is fresh & under 600 calories.

      I use protein bars for snacks too – helps get the chocolate fix & additional protein.

      Reply
    8. Lady Julian

      Oh, I love salads! The key with salads is that they are *not* just lettuce, tomatoes, carrots. Try some grain salads (I like barley and farro), for instance. Put stuff in the salads that you wouldn’t expect to be in salad, like pear with blue cheese and barley and a little green/red onion. Top with walnuts. :)

      That said, there are other options. Lentils are cheap and satisfying and healthy. They’re also really easy. Stir fries, then fried rice with the leftovers, are also good; and Asian plays well with salty stuff. Veggie soups/stews are good (there’s a sausage-and-chickpea soup recipe at Bon Appetit that’s been yummy!) What about carrot sticks/chips with hummus? The chips will give you something salty while still being healthy? You can have an egg or a little Greek yogurt for protein.

      Reply
      1. WellRed

        So funny this thread us today. We all ate lunch in conference room and several people called salads boring. I said they arent boring if you make them well.

        Reply
    9. E

      Congrats on the new job with awesome perks!
      You might try making taco salad instead. I put my cooked taco meat (or you could use chicken or shrimp) on top of lettuce and tomatoes, and add a little sour cream and shredded cheese on top. Close enough tastes to fill that taco craving, and the sodium is easily controlled by how much toppings you add.

      Reply
    10. Namast'ay In Bed

      Check out skinnytaste(dot)com! It’s full of delicious healthy recipes. You can eat healthy and fresh without resorting to salads!

      Reply
    11. Parenthetically

      Uuuuugh salad. I STRONGLY prefer non-lettuce-based salads like salmon or tuna nicoise. Lettuce, ugh. If it has to be greens-based, I make a mean taco salad, and an awesome warm roasted butternut squash/french lentil/bacon-onion dressing/goat cheese/toasted pecan salad that goes on top of arugula. My husband loves Greek salad but I’m even getting burned out on that.

      Just give me a bowl of roasted vegetables and keep all the boring-ass lettuce and cucumber situations away from me.

      Reply
    12. Corky's wife Bonnie

      Congrats on your new job! As for the food, I actually love to throw some boneless skinless chicken breasts in the crock pot with salsa, cumin, and throw a handful of frozen corn in as well, and forget about it until it’s done and shreds apart. Then I either put that on top of brown rice or I make a soft taco with whole wheat tortilla and a sprinkle of cheese and black beans and a slice or two of avocado. It’s healthy, won’t break the diet, and satisfies the taco craving!

      Reply
    13. Beancounter Eric

      I am not a doctor, nor a nutritionist, but…..have a salty taco or a pizza. Then get back on the healthier diet.

      Part of post-heart attack cardiac rehab involves meeting with a nutritionist – one of the things they said is don’t get too upset if you slide off healthy and have a hamburger…just don’t do it every day…or week.

      And congratulations on the new job!!

      Reply
    14. Blue_eyes

      Can you try salting your homemade foods a bit more? Salt is a necessary nutrient and while it’s easy to have way too much when you’re eating processed foods, it’s usually not a problem in home-cooked food. The amount of salt you would add during cooking or at the table is way, way less than what would come in a processed or restaurant meal. A little finishing salt on some of your foods might help you kick the salt craving without going all out on foods you’re trying to avoid. But also, often the best way to end a craving is just to eat a little bit of the food in question so you can stop thinking about it.

      Congrats on the new position!

      Reply
    15. SeekingBetter

      Glad to hear about your new job!

      Speaking of food, I’m having a mad craving for mac-and-cheese. It’s about 8am in the morning :)

      Reply
  26. Soy una pizza

    Does anyone have suggestions on how to manage interruptions when those interruptions are part of your job? I work for a small company where everyone wears 1,000 hats. Part of my job is dealing with constant things that pop up that I can’t predict; telephone calls (of which we get dozens daily), visitors to the office (we get ~75 each day), mail delivery, issues with the copy machine, etc. However, I am also responsible for items that require dedicated time and focus such as inputting billing/payment information for all clients (which I cannot make ANY mistakes on or it screws up the entire process and I have to start over) and the analysis, planning, and management of one of our most popular programs. With the way my job (and the office itself) is structured, there’s no way for me to step away from the distractions, which has dragged down my level of work on the focus-specific tasks. I try to plan my day so I do the focused tasks at less busy times, but even then it’s difficult to predict if and when a client or something in the office will need my immediate attention. It also means that I’m not on my customer service A-game when clients appear because my brain is still trying to disentangle itself from the work I was doing. Any tips on how to mitigate the effect of the interruptions on my other work? I can’t minimize them, unfortunately, as my boss has made it clear that my job tasks are mine alone and other coworkers can’t step in.

    Reply
    1. calonkat

      The only thing I’ve ever come up with is to design your work process on the focus task in steps and note when you get interrupted. Such as: Pull invoice>double check address>double check dates>double check products/services>enter/approve. Then mark each off in some when when you do it, so if you get interrupted it is easier to find where you were. And always follow the process in the same order! it works out poorly to change it up for variety, then get sidetracked into something time consuming, and end up NOT getting everything correct…

      Reply
    2. Spice for this

      I have experience doing this type of job (answer phones, greet and direct visitors, enter data into a spreadsheet will trying to avoid any mistakes, etc.) in the past and it is challenging.
      Some mornings between 8-10 am and Fridays were quieter in the office, so I worked on the spreadsheets or tasks that required my complete attention. Being very organized and having a daily to do list helped me complete most of my tasks by the given deadline.
      Sometimes I asked my boss for some additional time to complete a task (spreadsheets and such) if I had a very busy week with phone calls , visitors, etc.
      I understand and I was not able to find the perfect balance since I had interruptions all day long. :(

      Reply
      1. joeiron

        When I worked a job like this I made checklists with each step for recurring/non-interruption tasks so I could quickly mark what step I was at when an interruption came in so I could get back to it.

        That and thorough daily to do lists

        Reply
    3. Elizabeth H.

      My job is exactly like this too. EXACTLY. I feel like my brain functions worse each day than the day before. I’m the person in charge of fixing the printer-copier, too.

      Reply
    4. Chaordic One

      My predecessor at my last job managed by having her work hours adjusted with the approval of our boss. She would come in at 6:00 am and leave at 3:00 pm. During the first two hours before the office was officially open she’d be able to get a lot done without interruptions.

      Of course, she wasn’t there for problems that came up after 3:00 pm, but tough.

      Reply
  27. Sabine the Very Mean

    Hoping for advice…

    First day at new job in new city–public transit industry = mostly men. Boss gives me tour of facility and shows me the two bathrooms. They are single room toilets with no stalls. Just one for men and one for women. He tells me since it’s mostly men, they just use whatever room is available. Immediate bells go off in my head. I’m a freak about the toilets at home. My poor male partner is often subjected to my calling him in to clean up the rim, seat, or front of the bowl (he’s getting better and I do understand basic pee physics).

    My first trip to the women’s bathroom was met by, wouldn’t you know it, pee on the rim (seat up), trailing down the front of the bowl, and a PUDDLE of pee on the floor below. My choice is to clean it up myself before sitting down or straddling my legs and watching to ensure a trail of pee doesn’t touch the inside of the back of my pants or underwear. Anytime, in my personal life, I have asked men to please clean up their pee, they totally lose it. Like they don’t understand why I don’t want my bare skin touching their urine!?

    What would you all do knowing I’m days in to the new position?

    My first trip to the women’s bathroom

    Reply
    1. Emi.

      Oh my word, that’s so terrible. Do you have maintenance staff you can talk to? Obviously it’s gross for them as well, but they might know who’s best to complain to.

      Reply
    2. Fiona the Lurker

      I absolutely *hate* this. I sometimes stay at campsites where contractors are also staying, and they’re not used to having women onsite and just use the women’s facilities whenever they want to. I’ve walked in on a man sitting on the toilet with the door open on one occasion, and the condition they leave the showers in is indescribable, but then I’m usually only there for a night or two before moving on and a complaint to the management does the trick.

      Any chance you could just put up a notice in the women’s bathroom reminding your male colleagues to be more considerate? I’m not generally a fan of those ‘If you sprinkle when you tinkle, please be neat and lift the seat’ type of signs, but it might serve to get the point across with a trace of humour.

      Reply
    3. Angelinha

      oh yuck! Can you discreetly ask someone else what the deal is with the gross bathrooms and whether anyone’s ever said anything? That could give you a sense of whether other people are bothered by it and then maybe together you could take action.

      Reply
    4. Murphy

      I would definitely speak to them about the condition of the bathroom. A little messy is one thing. Pee everywhere is unacceptable, and would be unacceptable to many men as well.

      Reply
    5. irritable vowel

      It sounds like what’s needed is not an enforced gendering of bathrooms that have been getting used in a de facto gender-neutral way, but some instruction from management about bathroom etiquette, and maybe an increased janitorial schedule if possible, for everyone’s benefit. Lots of women are honestly just as bad as men in making messes in public bathrooms, whether it’s peeing all over the seat, leaving used sanitary products in plain view or clogging the toilet with them, leaving messes at the sink area, etc. Management needs to “remind” all staff to remember that they are sharing these bathrooms with x number of other people and to maybe imagine that their mother is going to use the bathroom after them. (And this should come from management, not from you – don’t become the bathroom nagger, especially so soon after starting!)

      Reply
      1. Miss Ann Thrope

        +1 Women are not inherently less messy. I often walk into the women’s bathroom and see similar things! It’s about, as you put it, bathroom etiquette

        Reply
      2. Elizabeth West

        YES.
        It’s definitely not a gender thing. I always had to clean up the sink area at Exjob–someone on my floor must have taken a bath every time they washed up. Water just everywhere. And seats had hoverpee on them too.

        Reply
    6. MWKate

      How is losing it ever an appropriate reaction to asking someone to clean their pee off the floor?!

      As for work – I would just say you’ve noticed some sanitary issues with the bathroom, specifically around the toilet and are wondering how it should be addressed. A rational person will understand why someone does not want to stand (or sit!) in urine.

      Reply
      1. AJ

        I agree, but I think the OP needs to be more direct when she speaks about it. Since she is working with mostly men and she just started she doesn’t want to put herself in the “delicate little lady category” – because being “pissed” (sorry, couldn’t resist) that there is a puddle on the floor is NOT a ridiculous request. I say be respectful, but firm and use soften any language. Don’t say sanitary issues say “puddle on the floor” and don’t out yourself as being a clean freak at home.

        Reply
    7. Badmin

      Is there an admin you can talk to who can then request a cleaning? Even though it seems part of a larger problem. I work at a Large University and the female bathrooms (which men don’t go in) are often disgusting from students using them. This includes: pee on the floor, sprayed all over the seats (certain students squat or even stand on the seats), blood on the seats, etc. I just do a facilities request for cleaning, but understand the difference in environments here. Also since the traffic is so heavy with so many students I can’t really address it with someone in particular. I usually do one of thse out of the ordinary requests aside from regular cleaning 1-2x a month.

      However, since you know the group using the bathroom, it may be worth it to speak up as a larger issue.

      Reply
      1. GigglyPuff

        When I worked in a large university library, this happened all the time. Luckily I worked on a staff only floor, but apparently in the past students would still come up there to wreck the bathroom so bad, that they added key access only. Few times a week I would still catch students coming up the stairs (right next to the bathrooms), and trying the handles to get in.

        Reply
        1. Badmin

          lol I work in the library, I wish there were key access! I don’t understand how they can just leave their mess/make it in the first place!

          Reply
    8. The OG Anonsie

      When I started reading this I was gonna say you don’t have any reason to believe men are going to just pee all over everything just because, but, well. Well.

      I have never lived with a guy who left this kind of mess in a bathroom, the only time I’ve seen it was in this one bathroom at this one job I used to have where there was someone who used to piss absolutely all over this one specific bathroom on our floor. No matter how much it got cleaned it just reeked of old urine because of how often the floor got doused. There was a collective effort by all the sane people in the area to say hey, whoever is doing this, are you freaking insane? Why? But it never stopped.

      Like, regular dudes don’t just haul off and wizz all over the bathroom in the first place, but if there is a mishap they also won’t just leave it behind like whatevs. That is Not Normal behavior, so I always sort of assume that saying something is unlikely to shame the guilty party into not doing it anymore because clearly their concept of shame is a little off. So definitely try talking to whoever you think might be in charge of stuff like cleaning or maintenance requests (is there an admin? someone who takes on office-management type responsibilities?) and bring it up when you see it next time like “oh my gosh there is a real mess in the bathroom” as if you assume this is a one-time anomaly, then see if they tell you they have a serial floor pisser I guess.

      Reply
      1. GigglyPuff

        On a slightly unrelated, but when I saw “never lived with a guy”, it made me think of this and just wanted to share. So I currently do not live with a guy, and my apartment complex was having electrical work done in every unit. When I got home from work, the toilet seat was totally up in my bathroom (now if I was in a house or was the person who initiated workmen being my home, I’d have no problem with them using my bathroom. But this just seems different, because they could have used the one in the apartment office, not far). Well I reported that to the apartment manager, along with a question I had, this required her calling the electrical project manager. At the end of the call she also added one of the workmen had used my bathroom, and based on her end of the conversation, I believe, he was saying things along the lines of “the workmen are not allowed to do that and they know better” with a kind of condescending attitude. Apt mgr, was like “A man does not live there and the toilet seat was up”, total dead silence on the phone then a much softer tone from the project manager.
        I mean, common sense here, if you use a bathroom you’re not supposed to, leave it the way you found it, not with the toilet seat up.

        Reply
    9. Hrovitnir

      *sigh* I’m sorry. I can’t imagine a solution honestly, but I want to throw out there that this isn’t inevitable. Both my university at home and my university overseas have single stall unisex bathrooms and beyond the fact that men’s pee can smell stronger it’s actually never been very gross.

      My home university does have some gendered toilets though, and my male friends say some of them are incredibly gross, so who knows what that’s about.

      Reply
    10. Sparkly Librarian

      No advice, I’m afraid, but I am sympathetic. At my work we share a unisex bathroom among maybe 10 staff (not all are full-time, so it meets capacity). And now that we’ve started having more male staff assigned on a temporary basis, I do occasionally come in to find the seat up. That doesn’t bother me too much, although I grew up in a house where my dad left the seat down and when I lived with a boyfriend and/or male roommates, they always left the seat down.

      But one of the men dribbles. Like every time. And because of the limited staff, I know who it is. It’s very awkward to know that, and it would be more awkward for me to confront him with any version of my mental scream, “WHY IS THIS ACCEPTABLE TO YOU? What on earth do you do at home, and why does your perfectly nice wife let you get away with it??”

      Reply
    11. Kyoki

      I feel your pain! I used to work as an office manager at a distribution center at 21 – it was my first job out of college so I didn’t really know office norms. I was the only woman in the entire company (comprised of about 20 people total) and going to the bathroom was just a nightmare. Usually I don’t really voice my opinions but this was something I could not stay quiet about. I told them straight up to please use the men’s bathroom only because I felt uncomfortable sharing a bathroom with male coworkers. I knew if I said it was a pee/sanitary issue, I wouldn’t be taken seriously. Worked like a charm and they stayed out of the women’s bathroom. Good luck!

      Reply
    12. Chaordic One

      I don’t think that the people sharing differently gendered restrooms is a big deal. Sometimes it really is a matter of convenience. A little consideration and courtesy. (Yoo-hoo! Anybody in here? Sorry, I’ll go to the other one.)

      OTOH, the messiness is NOT ACCEPTABLE and needs to be addressed by your supervisor.

      Reply
    13. Observer

      Bring it up – but not as a gender issue. Because it really isn’t. I have lived all my life with males (father, brother, husband and sons) and used the same bathroom facilities as many other males (a variety of relatives and a few workplace situations with single room toilets.) I’ve NEVER encountered this kind of thing in anyone over 7 years old or so. Really. Which is to say that there is no reason why men can’t leave the toilet reasonably clean.

      So, what you say is “Leaving urine all over the place is not sanitary. How do we get that taken care of?”

      Reply
  28. VermiciousKnit

    How do you guys deal with a passive-aggressive superior coworker? This person is in a parallel position to mine but in a superior division of our agency, and also considered the “head” teapot exec assistant.

    Whenever she has a question or concern about something related to an item in my division, for the most part, she calls my boss first instead of me, even if it’s a question I could readily answer, even if it’s well known it’s something I would handle. My boss is the type that sees me “succeeding” when she doesn’t have to intervene in my tasks at all, and so any person calling her or copying her on an email regarding one of my tasks, even if there’s just a question and not an issue, is seen by my boss as indication of a problem.

    This particular co-worker also generally does not like me, just as a personality thing. I’m very much a questioner, do-by-good-reason-and-efficiency person, and she’s an authoritarian, do-by-tradition person and my shake-ups and unusualness bother her a lot. Even though I’m not much younger than her, I have a very youthful face and tend toward millienial-style habits even though I’m not one (I hate phones, so much. She refuses to email me questions, ever, even during the week when I had laryngitis).

    TL:DR her habit of calling my boss first is causing me problems. How do I a) try to get her to direct questions to me, first and b) communicate to my boss that there’s not a problem with the tasks at hand?

    Reply
    1. VermiciousKnit

      (Examples from five minutes ago: She called my boss for “questions” about a form I had submitted for her boss’ approval, which implies that I had not proofread or submitted the form correctly. The actual question was that one form had a line with an acronym she didn’t understand, but if she had read two lines lower, the acronym was spelled out and indicated. The fix was me taking a pen and writing out the acronym on every line where it appears, something she could have done herself much faster than calling my boss, having my boss ask me to check on it, walking over there and doing it for her.)

      Reply
      1. LawCat

        Ugggggghhhhh.

        Maybe something like, “Jane, I understand you called Boss with questions about a form I submitted. I could have readily answered any questions. In the future, it would make more sense for you to direct questions about my work to me. Of course, we can go to Boss if it’s something I cannot answer. For now, please direct all such questions to me. Is that something you can do?”

        If you get some kind of pushback, just rinse and repeat: “Please direct questions about my work to me first. Is that something you can do?”

        Or if Jane trying to drag you into some sort of distraction (for me, I see a lot of passive aggressive types just changing the subject). “Before we talk about X, I want to be sure we’re on the same page about directing questions about my work to me before going to Jane. Is that something you can do?”

        Reply
      2. Janey

        Firstly, I should note that my perspective is coming from someone who deals with a high volume of interdepartmental/interorg technical communication, and so I may be slightly more sympathetic to your coworker (who I will call Jane) than she deserves, based solely on the limited anecdotes provided.

        You may want to consider rephrasing “efficiency” in your head a little bit in order to make the situation more tolerable. Since Jane is contacting your Boss, and your Boss is pushing back on you, not on Jane, that suggests that efficiency is not “I do things the way that seems to me objectively best/quickest” but “I do SOME things ridiculously in order to minimize Jane aggravating my boss and because it is more expedient in the long term.” This is because, as things currently stand, you are probably not going to persuade your boss that Jane is being ridiculous, since Jane being ridiculous has not already persuaded your boss of that fact. This may also mean that there’s a culture misfit happening. Do most people jump straight to contacting higher ups with cross-division problems? Has Jane always done this with you, or did she start doing at some point? Does Jane do this with anyone else?

        Depending on what the company culture is, you could approach your Boss, and say “Some of Jane’s questions are usually quite minor, and are things I could answer quickly without her bothering you. Would you mind if I asked her to get in touch with you only if she’s unable to get a satisfactory resolution from me?” You might also try going to Jane and saying “Hey, I noticed you called my boss first about these questions, is there a reason you didn’t bring it straight to me?” Then listen to what she has to say, and then say. “In the future, I think it might make it easier on both of us if you just called me first. Can you do that next time?” It kind of sounds like you may both be at BEC with each other. Which means that if you want Jane to get in touch with you first, you may need to be willing to bend on the phone thing. (Though I’m with you that phones are absolutely the worst compared to email).

        And, if you ask Jane why she does this, really listen to what she says. You may also want to consider if there is any common theme in Jane’s complaints/what she has questions about. [Begin rant from personal experience] I say this because, frankly, it is inefficient for me to have to pore through a document to figure out where, if anywhere, an acronym is explained, then go back to my place, reread what is going on with this in mind. Now sure, if this document is for me, I’ll just mutter grumpily and deal. But if I’m screening the document before it goes on to someone else, especially a customer, or a supervisor who’ll just have time to skim it, I may kick it back to the original person who submitted it with “please fix”. I could correct it myself and overall that would make the process take less time, but it’s not an efficient use of MY time to do so. [/end rant from personal experience]

        It’s quite possible Jane is simply being ridiculous and passive aggressive for no remotely sympathetic reason. In which case you may need to use the scripts, and get used to doing some things that make you cringe/roll your eyes. Or find some other position.

        Reply
        1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

          I definitely agree that you should go to your boss and ask if boss would mind you reaching out to redirect Jane. You can then talk to Jane.

          It would also be wise to then follow up with your Boss and ask her to reinforce with Jane if Jane contacts her again. Boss should really be doing the pushback here. Boss shouldn’t want Jane’s interruptions when you can handle them.

          Reply
          1. Not So NewReader

            In the past I have just asked the boss if she could ask Jane to contact me directly.

            This has been enough to solve the problem in most cases.

            Reply
        2. VermiciousKnit

          I have no idea if Jane does this to this extent to other people, but I also know some of her gripes with me are things she needs to suck up and deal with. I work a different, later schedule than everyone else in our position, both for personal reasons and to match that of my boss, who works into the evenings most nights, and I’m more helpful to her then than coming in earlier when she’s in meetings. Jane has directly expressed that she doesn’t like that I’m not available in the mornings and that I bring things over to her office in the evenings after everyone is gone because that’s when my boss signed off on them.

          This also meant that when they instituted a morning-break coverage schedule for the front desk, I was unavailable to participate in coverage because it happens before my hours start. When I was removed from the rotation, she threw an actual yelling fit. I do know that she has thrown fits over the front-desk break schedule on other people who were excused before (they worked out of different locations and their bosses didn’t want them to travel 30+ minutes plus transition time to cover a 15 minute break.)

          There are some things I could probably try to do more her way, but a lot of the time she dings me for things that are either excessively minor or not in my control (also this morning, for example, she called my boss to ask me for an agenda to be included on a form, when I’d already attached the save-the-date information for the conference with a note that the agenda hadn’t been released yet.)

          Reply
          1. Janey

            My sympathies, Jane sounds utterly miserable to deal with. Has your boss said anything in particular to you about Jane’s questions to make you think Jane really is influencing boss’s opinion of you?

            One possibility might be to track all Jane’s calls for a week or two, and then take it to your boss and say “I know Jane’s called you x times in the past time period. Here’s how I’m planning to handle y and z moving forward to prevent this in the future, but as far as I can tell there isn’t anything I can do differently for the other (x-2) times. I’m planning to ask Jane to bring her concerns to me first, but how would you like me to handle Jane’s concerns about my hours/whatever else Jane is being ridiculous about.” This would hopefully make your boss aware that you are working to minimise the Jane-induced interruptions, that you’re willing to work with Jane when the requests are semi-reasonable, but that you really can’t do anything differently when Jane calls your Boss asking for information you already indicated you don’t have.

            And then use LawCat’s scripts with Jane/try to trust that your Boss won’t ding you for Jane’s lack of reading comprehension/inability to handle people having different hours than she does.

            Reply
            1. VermiciousKnit

              Yeah the trouble is while my boss never indicates that I’m in trouble in the moment, she ends up with an overall impression that she has to micromanage more than she should when people copy her in emails about something I’m working on and/or call her when they should be calling me. Some of them have been brought up in reviews, and it’s clear that it doesn’t matter what the *content* of these are (example: the woman who coordinates purchasing ccs a person’s supervisor whenever she sends an email to anyone. Lots of times she’s just asking me for a clarification or status on something, and often not on my own items but asking me to liaise with staff in my area. This is not an issue at all, but my boss has both commented and written in my review that I need to “be more independent and accurate with purchasing” because of the number of emails that get copied to her.)

              I’ve successfully argued a few of these things off my reviews with documentation that she was just copied in on normal exchanges and not problems, but it definitely made me realize that my boss judges my performance based mostly on the expectation that she’s hands-off with my tasks, and therefore any communication she has to deal with is A Problem.

              This is really an unfortunate quality of my boss, but I also know that Jane in the higher-up office is aware of this, and given her animosity toward me, exploiting it. I’m just unsure how to defuse the situation when I’m not actually making mistakes.

              Reply
          2. a little temping teapot

            Oh goodness, I think you’re working with my most hated ex-coworker. Or there’s more than one person out there who behaves at work just like she did.

            Reply
    2. Feathers McGraw

      No advice but major sympathies. New head of parallel dept cc’s my boss AND grandboss in emails they just don’t need to be on and I always feel like it makes me look bad.

      Reply
    3. the.kat

      Can you ask your boss to redirect her questions to you? Maybe take a case like the one you’ve mentioned to your boss and point out that it could be handled much faster if she’d just bring it to you directly. Let your boss know that you’ve approached her about it and the habit hasn’t changed. You appreciate that your boss is busy and can handle most of these issues on your own.

      If your boss is on your side redirecting things, I’m assuming that the issue could correct itself.

      Reply
    4. kbeers0su

      Has your boss brought it up with you as an issue? Depending on how long each of you have been there, boss may already know that this person is just like that, and that may be why boss hasn’t approached you about it.

      Alternately, if you think it may cause/be causing an issue, I’d bring it up proactively with boss. Explain that you know that boss prefers you to handle these things, that you’ve directed this person to come to you directly, etc.

      Reply
      1. VermiciousKnit

        Not exactly. It just has become clear during my last yearly review and comments that even though these kinds of things aren’t my doing, she basically judges the success of my performance on how hands-off she can be with me, and someone calling her for a problem makes her annoyed, and that annoyance passes on to me instead of Jane.

        Jane is a suck-up and regarded as like the gold-standard of our position, even though she’s super nasty and prone to completely unprofessional fits of temper. I don’t get it at all.

        Reply
    5. LCL

      You two are different personalities. I don’t see anything passive aggressive in what you describe, but I understand you believe her to be passive aggressive. You also sound like you believe your way is always the best and her way sucks. As based on your descriptions of you vs her. Frankly, I know you are frustrated with her, but your description of her reads as a bit contemptuous and if she is picking up on this she won’t deal with you anymore and instead will go over your head.

      And in this part you answer your own question:
      ‘she calls my boss first instead of me, even if it’s a question I could handle…’
      then ‘I hate phones, so much. She refuses to email me questions, ever…’
      If your position with her is email me or don’t talk to me, you have given her a choice and she has made it.

      One thing that really helps in working with people who you believe are ruled by tradition is to ask them the reason behind the tradition. There is always a reason for tradition, but sometimes the reason is outdated or circumstances change. Everyone benefits from these discussions, if they can be kept respectful. Companies need the questioners and the upholders of tradition to be successful.

      Reply
      1. VermiciousKnit

        She can always call me. I answer the phone whenever she does with a chipper “Hi Jane, how can I help you?” Just because I hate phones doesn’t mean I’m inept at them or refuse to answer.

        Reply
        1. OhBehave

          I do see her behavior as passive-aggressive. She’s attempting to present herself as a someone on top of things while at the same time, portraying you as incompetent.

          When you find out that she’s asked your boss a question that’s yours to answer, just send a quick email to ask her to contact you first. “Hi Jane. I noticed that you contacted boss about xyz. In order to get a quicker response, please contact me directly instead of going through him.” This is played on a loop until something changes.

          Have you asked boss why he thinks she contacts him with these questions and not you directly? He’s unreasonable in his assumption that emails concerning your work are an indictment of your abilities.

          Reply
    6. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

      My opinion may be off but, it sounds like she is trying to angle herself into a higher position than really she is — rather than be in a parallel position to you, she is trying to assert that she is higher — maybe on a parallel position to your boss. I know a person like this at work. It’s somewhat hard to describe but he sits next to the big bosses at meetings where his level would normally sit maybe a row back or something (not assigned there, just an unspoken etiquette), gets himself on committees or in meetings that aren’t really his territory, and makes a habit of calling and emailing big bosses directly instead of their exec assistants — because obviously he doesn’t need to go through gate-keepers (Equals talk to each other as it were). He wants direct contact so that he gets to be known.

      On the refusal to email — I have found people like this are very often unwilling to “put it in writing” so that they have plausible deniability later. If your coworker has a lot of questions, or asks the same questions over and over, or gets snarky, that makes her look like she is unable/unwilling to do her job. Keep following up your phone conversations with an email recap — that way you have proof you are giving her the necessary information in a timely fashion, if necessary.

      Try to keep in mind that she is likely to end up annoying your boss and making herself look bad. Point out to your boss that she is the only one who does this (I’m assuming), and ask boss to redirect her to the “appropriate person” (meaning you) because obviously coworker is just confused about who she should be contacting. Since you two have a history of personality clashes, I just don’t think anything you say is going to change her behavior. Your boss should be the one to shut it down by directing her to you each time.

      Reply
      1. VermiciousKnit

        She’s one of two people. The other one bombards her with cc’ed emails over standard questions, but she definitely does that to absolutely everyone and not just me.

        Reply
  29. Sigh

    I’m dealing with staff drama – my staff is currently located in three different spots in our building, and our director would like to bring us all together so we can use the space for other stuff. There are a couple of them who have a semi-private office that are heavily pushing back against this change. My department has more office space than any other department, so I get no sympathy from any of the other managers. How do I handle this so as to not upset my entire department?

    Reply
      1. Sigh

        Not necessarily. We haven’t decided yet – this wouldn’t happen until next year but people are already stressed about it. I would push back against a totally open plan.

        Reply
        1. BRR

          I want to make sure that I understand that they’re losing an office (shared office?)

          What about asking what their needs are to make the new space work for them. I don’t know what their responses will be but would it help getting them some work from home time?

          Reply
    1. Victoria, Please

      I had something quite similar a few years ago. Your staff are going to be upset, no way around that. You can mitigate it by pressuring your director to provide niceties in the new space that they don’t have in their current spaces; if there can’t be semi-private offices, can there be sit-stand desks, new chairs, other things? High partitions so the semi-privacy is somewhat maintained? Are there other issues — are the people who share the semi-private office both smokers, for example. If they see you going to bat for them, they will at least not blame you.

      Your director also needs to explain her reasoning and how using space differently helps the business and then ultimately helps everyone.

      Reply
    2. OhBehave

      Ah, CHANGE! The bane to managers everywhere :)

      I can say from experience that this needs to be handled with care. Decisions that need to be made about placement, remodeling, etc., need to be made sooner rather than later. Take into consideration what those moving currently have in their offices. If you have enough space to make every office semi-private, do so. Open plan offices are horrible. Once you have a primary office plan in place, bring people over for a ‘tour’ so they can know what to expect.

      Communication is key. Keep everyone in the loop on the planning. It seems like overkill, but they already “know” how horrible this is going to be.

      Most of them will be upset. It’s the nature of the beast. They WILL get over it. If it’s the managers of those offices that are having the biggest fit, you need to meet with them. They set the tone for their office. If they are ticked, everyone else will be too. Ensure them that every consideration will be made in redesigning the space. This move cannot affect productivity.

      Keep in mind that this is an adjustment for your office as well. It sounds like I recommend handling these people like toddlers, maybe that’s true, but this reaction is really typical human behavior whether you’re three or fifty!

      Reply
  30. Cruciatus

    I work at a university that is small but is a branch campus of a Big 10 school (though they had the word “branch campus”). I interviewed internally for another department which went pretty well, but I was pretty deflated after my phone conversation with HR which was the final thing. The other job is 2 salary bands higher than mine currently, and each band has a low, middle, and high end. The HR person said “Oh, this will be quite a nice bump for you if you get it!” then proceeded to give a number just over $1000 more than I make now. I’m at the middle of my current salary band and so the new salary would be at the low end, which was very disappointing. She said it might not be the final number as she has to look into things like my equity in the system (?) and years of experience but that it wouldn’t be near the middle level (that, anecdotally, I have heard was typical to receive, especially for internal transfers). The HR person told me that the university looks at all others in the same category and their level of experience and how much they are paid. I’d like to move to this new department (if I’m chosen), but I’m not sure $1000 is enough of a push. I really thought this was going to be a large jump (from 30K to 40Kish) based on those chats with coworkers who have been here forever and transferred a lot. Now, I get I might not get 10K more, but I think I’d really like to get 5K more and I do have lots of experience with many of the duties I would be doing in the new position.

    So if I get a really low number, working at a university with weird salary systems, is it at all reasonable to go to the person who’d be my supervisor and say, “I’d really love to work here but this is 2 categories higher and they are only offering X amount?” HR seemed weird about it all suggesting that it’s all based on the equity, experience, and levels of other people across the university system. I don’t know if negotiating is appropriate for this situation at my university employer.

    Reply
    1. Buffy

      We might be at the same Big10 university. (Although we aren’t officially allowed to call them “branch campuses.”) I moved from a part time job to a full time one within the university and was able to negotiate, no problem. (I think you should – I vaguely remember Alison saying to aim for a 10-15% bump in pay with each new job.)

      The only issue you might run into is I’ve heard rumors that at my workplace, two units can’t “bid against each other.” I take that to mean you can’t interview for a job, get an offer and then go back to original job and ask them to bump up your salary to match the new offer.

      Reply
    2. Pineapple Incident

      At the very, very least, your HR person should not have said “Oh, this will be quite a nice bump for you if you get it!” before dropping that sad figure. I’d be pissed about this.

      If I were in your shoes, I would just be honest with HR in your communications, and tell them you’d be hard-pressed to take a job with more responsibility that is disadvantageous to you, salary-wise. I don’t know how your structure works over there or what kind of relationship you have with your would-be supervisor, but depending on how close you are it might be a good idea to talk to her about it.

      If it helps you maintain your fire about this, an increase of $1000 amounts to about $19 extra per week, before tax.. which is low.

      Reply
    3. Tabby Baltimore

      A previous poster (from a couple months ago?) on salary negotiations (sorry, don’t have the URL for it handy) mentioned a response s/he used when answering the “what are your salary expectations?” question. I think this discussion took place over the telephone, so s/he said, in a concerned voice, “I really want to come work for you, but I really can’t leave my current job for less than $X thousand” … and then just let it hang there.

      As far as talking with the Hiring Manager goes, only you know your campus culture, and HR’s reach, well enough to know whether news of such a visit (1) is likely to get back to HR and (2) will have an adverse effect (or not) on your candidacy. As I see it, what it comes down to is, who determines your salary offer? If HR is typically the bridge between the Hiring Manager and the candidate, then you may be out of luck, since the university is obviously using HR as a buffer between the Hiring Manager and potential candidates. However, if it’s HR that does the salary setting, it might be worth a shot–*after* you get the offer but *before* you accept–to make an appointment to talk with the Hiring Manager to ask for any insights s/he might have on HR’s recent practices regarding salary negotiations. Do let us know how things worked out, whatever you decide.

      Reply
    4. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      I had this exact situation. My experience and such should have put me in the middle, but HR was insisting on using entry level – even though the Dean and Provost all agreed with my middle range offer and my salary was coming from their budget. I ended up having to get the bargaining unit rep to intercede: according to the bargaining agreement, I was required to be in the middle. I transferred with a compromise of lower middle, and about 18 months after, the University president did an Equity Evaluation on all staff members and ranked staff on how far off from their bargained salary the staff members were. I was more than 10% off and received an Equity Adjustment.

      It sounds like your University is very similar. Salary is about equity. If you get hired on at $40k but someone else has been in that position for 10 years and is at $37k, that isn’t equitable. It’s a mixed bag sometimes, but it can be helpful when the University is unwilling to do any salary adjustments but the bargaining unit is able to force COL.

      Reply
    5. Pat Benetardis

      I don’t know about at a university, but in private industry I had this happen with a candidate. I was really glad that I was alerted so I could go to HR and make the case for more money. I don’t see why a hiring manager, regardless of the setting, wouldn’t want to know what had gone wrong and try to intervene.

      Reply
    6. BRR

      With the information you’ve given, I would negotiate. Besides hearing the middle of the band is typical for internal transfers, how do you compare to the things they’re asking for in the posting? That’s what I woudl focus on. I’m not sure if you can go around HR to the hiring manager.

      Reply
  31. Lolo

    Any good tips or tricks on how to ‘manage up’? I have a manager who is in meetings and traveling a great deal, not a great communicator even when available or on email… while others say you need to “manage up” I’m not sure I have many openings to do so.

    Anyone have any experience to share? Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    1. regina phalange

      I am not sure this counts, but if you need his approval on something can you just make the decision instead based on what you think is best and then email to tell him the decision (not ask) and explain why you made it? I am not really sure how to manage up either, but that has worked well for me because my boss is often traveling and it meetings and I can’t wait for him to approve a decision that needs to be made.

      Reply
    2. Jill of All Trades

      I don’t technically have a supervisor, and all of the people who do supervise my work have different styles…but all of them need me to manage up. All of them. In different ways. Here’s what I’ve found to be successful:

      – Ask them to make time for you when you need them to. Depending on your work dynamic and style of work, this could be on an ad hoc basis like, “Can I put a call on your calendar for [topic]? If your schedule is up to date I’ll just find a good time for both of us,” or it could be a weekly/monthly meeting to catch up on your work.

      – Set your own structure for your interactions with your boss. This means coming to any meetings or discussions with a set agenda and list of things you would like to accomplish. Whenever possible, don’t let your boss get away with giving you a wishy-washy answer to your questions if you genuinely need an answer or decision to move forward with your work.

      – Solicit feedback. This can take different forms, such as a general sit down to talk about performance overall, or it can be in the form of, “Can you review this before I send it out to make sure it’s in line with your expectations?” I do both on a regular basis with each of the people I support.

      – When you do need their support, request it in specific ways. “I’m not sure how to approach [x],” is usually not specific enough in my experience. “I’m not sure if there’s a way I should be approaching [x] to maximize our teapot support production. I would appreciate hearing your thoughts.” The difference is that you’re indicating what your priorities are in that statement so your boss can then address it in the moment.

      – Keep track of what you do. This doesn’t have to be literally every detail, but keeping a weekly list or To Do list that can be referenced later to demonstrate your work (e.g. developed and distributed 13 TPS reports to teapot production staff). When you think you’ve done something well or get positive feedback on your work, jot that down or label it with something specific in your email so you can point to your strengths if your boss ever comes back to you with general criticisms that you don’t agree with.

      In my work, I’ve pretty much taken AAM’s ideas for managing direct reports and begun handling or initiating the responsibilities that I think I need most to excel as an employee. If my manager drops the ball on the rest, that’s really up to them and the company.

      Reply
      1. Jill of All Trades

        OH! I almost forgot one of the most important ones!

        Set deadlines and expectations for your boss, too. “I need a response on [x] by [date] if I’m going to be able to get this out on time.” That goes for priorities, too. If your boss asks you to take anything on and you don’t have the capacity, propose to them a way to re-prioritize your work so you can get done what they ask while setting the expectation that other work may be postponed.

        Reply
    3. Terra Firma

      One thing that works well for me as a manager is asking each of my direct reports “Is there anything you need from me?” We have weekly one on ones, and I expect them to come to met with anything that comes up urgently between the formal connects. Their requests range from an extra review of a client presentation they’re not sure of, to sending an e-mail to escalate the urgency of a request they made but can’t get traction on (the higher the title, the faster you tend to get a response in my industry).

      When I’m “managing up” to my boss, I like to assume he’s asked this question of me, even if he hasn’t. I frame all of my requests in a simple “Here’s what would help me achieve goal X, can you help me with that?” You can frame those requests via e-mail and follow up if you don’t get a response.

      Reply
  32. Teapot librarian

    I need to brag on myself a bit. This week I’ve really demonstrated improvement as a manager. I had a strong conversation with one of my employees yesterday where I told him about a new procedure that he disagrees with, and I held my ground, then I pointed out to him that he hasn’t been working a full eight hours a day, and that one of his coworkers cannot drive him to a medical appointment (!) in a business-owned vehicle (!!) during the workday. Then today I placed another one of my employees on leave restriction, and as soon as employee #3 comes back from whatever he’s doing at the moment, I’m having a conversation with him. AND on top of all that, I’m redoing my employees’ weekly reports to get a lot more information from them (currently they only report monthly) that will actually align with their performance plans and will give me a better sense of how productive they each are. (Or will jolt them into wasting less time.)

    Reply
    1. Tabby Baltimore

      Wow, you’re on a tear this week. Well done! With any luck, this will result in measurably improved performance for the team.

      Reply
  33. Wayland

    So our new CIO, Montgomery C, just laid off four key staff members (we’re a small organization at a university), theoretically as traditional Reductions in Force, but these are all people he clashed with and he’s made it clear this was out of spite.

    Morale here is shot. I’m trying to support the team I manage as they go through this. Does anyone have any good tips for being a manager in this sort of environment? I want to avoid casually parroting the CIO, as lying to them does no good (and is obvious), as I know they’re hurting. But I don’t just want to tell them “this place sucks and we should just leave,” since I still have some hope that maybe Monty will find a job elsewhere, or that his shenanigans will be noticed by those above him (and also because it’s not right to do so as a manager).

    Reply
    1. Dr. Doll

      Nice. Typique.

      How about: “We don’t have the full story so I don’t want to talk about why what happened, happened. I know we’ll all really miss Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Let’s think of strategies to re-allocate work to continue to serve our faculty and students. I’m proud of our work.”

      And document the hell out of your work so if Monty wants to make further reductions he’ll have to show serious cause.

      Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      Ugh.

      I have said things like, “Until things change this is what we have. Understand that we all feel a similar level of discomfort. So we have that in common and we can support each other through it.”

      IF you know Monty will be leaving, in that case, I have said things like, “I have been here a while. I know that most things that happen here we can just ride it out and it will look differently in a bit. Since I have seen this too many times already, I feel comfortable saying that about our current concern.”

      Reply
  34. Amber Rose

    I’m trying to reduce the amount of time I spend running around getting signatures on paperwork. For example, one thing I do needs six signatures! Each supervisor, then a manager. It’s annoying, takes forever, I can’t find people half the time or they’re out of the office, and interrupting people to ask them to sign stuff sets off my anxiety, meaning I get behind on my paperwork pretty fast or sometimes stuff doesn’t get done because I just can’t face it. The nature of my role means nobody notices or cares when my work doesn’t get done, but my program is being externally audited this summer and the missing stuff is going to impact our score.

    How do I convince my boss that digital signatures are a good idea? He seems to think that they mean people aren’t looking at stuff, but from my perspective, people never read the papers I hand them, just sign them and never see them again. At least the way I want to do it, they end up with a digital copy they can keep and review before signing.

    Reply
    1. AnotherAlison

      We’ve used digital signatures for about 3 years at my company, and we’re a pretty big F500 company. Digital signatures are more secure Would that carry weight with him?

      I like that you don’t have to print anything and you can route the docs through email so you can get signatures from people who are OOO.

      Reply
      1. Amber Rose

        Security isn’t really a thing here. This is just routine paperwork. The problem is, upper management seems to really not get technology (despite having Engineering in the name of the company). I once tried and failed to convince my boss that a 1 MB file was not too big for someone to download on their phone.

        Reply
        1. Paige Turner

          Ha- I do admin assistant-type work for programmers/software engineers and it’s always amazing to me when I have to explain simple stuff like how to use an app to digitally sign a form to people with CS degrees who make 3x what I do :(

          Reply
    2. Paige Turner

      Yes, I get signatures on forms from a lot of remote people so digital signatures are a big help. Adobe digital signatures are best but there are also the programs like DocHub that let people upload a hand-written signature and insert it on the form. For your boss, it might help to say that digital signatures allow you to get signatures faster and also provide you with back-ups to help with the audit. The main problem I have with them is that no matter how clearly I state in an email that a signature on a form MUST be hand signed or done with one of the programs mentioned and not “your name typed on the signature line in a cursive font” there is always at least one person who does just that. >:( I’ve had to get pushy with some people and tell them to resubmit the form correctly.

      Reply
    3. AndersonDarling

      We reviewed our sign-off procedures and came to the conclusion that 1/2 of the signatures were not necessary. Some people said they didn’t need to review the paperwork since they had been reviewing it through out it’s creation. Others didn’t know why they were even in the rotation, just were just signing because they were told to.
      I don’t know if it would work where you are, but if you can pressure someone above to question the process, you may get them engaged in changing things.

      Reply
      1. Amber Rose

        I did that also, and just straight up eliminated all those superfluous signatures. It’s my department, so it’s my call. But some things are required by the government to be reviewed and signed by managers in every department, so one way or another I do need a signature on some stuff. I’m just really tired of hunting down 6 people for physical signatures when I could just email them.

        Reply