music lyrics at work, avoiding Facebook-friending a colleague, and more

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

1. Music lyrics and work

Today I was at work listening to music and I had a song came up in my playlist that made me wonder. The song was “That Girl” by All Time Low, which has lyrics that aren’t crazy outrageous but have some language that I wasn’t sure was okay in an office. I’m guessing it depends quite a bit on office culture.

Personally, I’m at a new job in a temporary capacity (probably just for the summer) in a very laid back office where music is encouraged. I have my own office space with a door that stays open. I’ve checked and it can’t be heard from down the hall (and only three other people work on my floor anyway) but since I’m new I have people dropping in often and I was hoping for your take. I’m 98% sure that my bosses would be fine with it so I’m just wondering what the rules are in general out of curiosity. Where should the lines be drawn on this? And if it depends on culture as much as I’m thinking it does, how can you figure that out for your own specific office?

Yeah, it depends on office culture. In lots of offices, those lyrics would be fine, and in others they’d raise eyebrows. And some people really have issues with the word “bitch” specifically because it’s gendered, so there’s that to account for too.

In general, I’d err on the conservative side for music that you play at work, until and unless you’re absolutely sure what flies in your office. And definitely as a temp and as a new person, I’d be extra conservative.

But you can solve the whole thing by using headphones, if that’s an option.

2. I don’t want to Facebook-friend a colleague

I am about to start a new job where I’ll be one of the only paid staff members within a small nonprofit of mostly volunteers. The person who I’m replacing will be training me for a few months, and staying on part-time. I’ve gathered from my boss and everyone else that she is well-loved and awesome at what she does, and I need to work well with her because of how closely we’ll be working together (I would want to play nice anyway). :)

The first time we talked on the phone, she mentioned that she wasn’t able to Facebook friend me because of how my settings are. I played dumb like I didn’t know they were set that way (I actually did forget), and she said, “so I guess you’ll have to friend me!” I really like to keep work and personal life separate. My Facebook wall lists political articles, religious thoughts, and posts about whatever I want.

I have two issues. One is that I’m not sure I should friend her. On principle, I normally wouldn’t, but because I want things to run smoothly and don’t want to hurt her feelings, I probably will add her. But the second issue is that Facebook has changed their settings so that it’s not so easy to customize lists for certain groups. It used to be that an “acquaintance group” could, say, read my “about me” page, and see a couple family pics, but not see my Wall, etc.

You really don’t need to add her on Facebook if you don’t want to. Most of the time in situations like this, you can just ignore the request, and most people won’t follow up with you about it. Plenty of people aren’t super on top of their Facebook requests, so you have some plausible deniability there if you want it.

But if she does ask you about it again, it’s perfectly fine to say, “I try to be really disciplined about keeping work and Facebook separate.” Or you have a bunch of other options too, if you prefer them: “Oh, I just use Facebook to stay in touch with family,” “I’m taking a break from Facebook right now,” and so forth.

Seriously, you have no obligation to connect with her if you don’t want to. There are lots of perfectly polite ways to get out of it, and a reasonable person won’t have an issue with hearing any of these examples. (And really, reasonable people don’t want you to friend them if it’s going to make you anxious and if you’re immediately going to put them on a “hardly any contact” list. I might argue it’s more respectful to just decline with one of the reasons above than to do that.)

3. Being called Miss FirstName

I need a sanity check. Lately at work, my boss has taken to calling me Miss, followed by my name. The first time, I thought I heard it wrong. My boss says it every so often that now a coworker has started calling me by this format as well. Everyone else just calls me by my first name. It makes me very uncomfortable; this isn’t an office that calls everyone Mr./Ms./Mrs.

Is this professional? Why are they even doing that (besides the fact that I didn’t say anything the first couple of times)? How do I get them to stop without starting a big fight?

Is your boss from the south? It’s a thing in the south. Alternately, are you the youngest person on your team? If so, that’s a more annoying explanation for it. Or it could have just been a random thing that stuck, who knows. People get silly with names and nicknames sometimes.

Regardless of where it’s coming from, it’s okay for you to ask your boss and your coworker to stop. Say this: “I’m actually not fond of being called Miss Jane. Can we stick with just Jane? Thanks!”

This should not start a fight unless you work with seriously maladjusted people. It’s a perfectly fine thing to say.

4. Responding to a crappy recruiter

I had a (apparently very new) headhunter reach out to me, claiming he’d seen my resume. My current position is effectively senior vice president of manufacturing, about to become chief operating officer. I’m 20 years into my career and have done well for myself. This headhunter reached out about a position that would be the equivalent of a QA supervisor — not quite entry-level, but not far off and in a much less interesting and remunerative area of expertise. I of course responded back asking who he was and where he had gotten my resume — I don’t have one circulating and have never heard of him — and he responded back saying his name (duh) and that he came across my information while researching some job openings.

I’m trying to decide it if would be a kindness to explain to him that he needs to better target his outreach if he wants to build a business. I’m putting him on spam and imagine that most of my network would do the same. After about two to three rounds of this, his ability to speak with most of my peers would be nil, effectively ending his career as a headhunter. On the one hand, I’m always inclined to want to help. On the other, yikes.

Eh, I wouldn’t bother. It’s a common tactic used by bad recruiters who go for volume in their approach rather than quality. Your instinct here is to help, but it would be almost like responding to a spammer to explain why their techniques aren’t effective.

5. Mentioning my husband uses a prospective employer’s product

I am an unemployed software developer who just graduated from graduate school. I have been writing cover letters and updating my resume for each job, using all of your suggestions!

One of the job postings looks pretty interesting, but when I started writing the cover letter, I realized that I wasn’t sure what the best way to handle how I know about their software. The company creates education software, and my husband is a principal at a school, and he regularly uses the software. Should I just not mention this in the cover letter because we’re not supposed to talk about our spouses, and because I haven’t personally used it? All of the advice only seems to talk about relocating spouses. What about if they actually scheduled an interview? Should I not mention it then either?

I wouldn’t mention it at all, since “my husband uses your software” doesn’t really strengthen your candidacy in any way. It’s more like a minor conversational point of interest, but it’s not something that you can use to demonstrate knowledge of the product. At most, you could say something like “As someone who hangs out with a lot of teachers, I’ve heard fantastic things about X” if that’s true — but I don’t really think you need to address it at all.

{ 310 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#1, assuming your office is pro-music-playing-out-loud, is there any chance you could swap the radio edits (i.e., “clean,” PG lyrics) into your playlist? This probably wouldn’t work if you’re playing your own files, but it should be easy to do with most streaming services…

    Reply
    1. paul

      For music I generally advise keeping it highly inoffensive and/or using earbuds.

      I don’t need to hear about milkshakes and yards, and my coworkers probably don’t want to hear about cowboys from hell, so Jimmy Buffet it is

      Reply
      1. Vicki

        For music, I generally advise earbuds. Full stop.

        I don’t want to hear your music. I don’t want to hear any music with lyrics. My ability to work productively while listening to ANY music is severely limited.

        I don’t understand workplaces that allow people to play music without headphones.

        Reply
    2. Antilles

      This is a great idea. FYI, it’s actually pretty easy to create a “work songs” playlist if you’re playing your own files from a music library – most (all?) music library programs have the option to either create a playlist or “queue up” a few dozen songs.

      Reply
      1. NotTheSecretary

        Yes! This! I did this for the first time way back when cell phones first had this option after an incident where a coworker walked in and Greed Day’s “Dominated Love Slave” popped up on shuffle. Never again!

        Reply
    3. Jaded and Cynical

      I Like playing Rammstein, the lyrics are all in German, and the translations are far more “G” rated than they sound.

      Reply
      1. ThatGirl

        Hah, yes, but it *sounds* angry (like most German, in my opinion … and I say that as someone of partial German descent)

        Reply
      2. azvlr

        How funny that this meme came up in conversation just yesterday:
        “Tell people you love them, because life is short. But also shout it at them in German because life is also terrifying and confusing.”

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      3. Geoffrey B

        Hmm. I’m not sure I’d want to play “Spring”, “Mein Teil”, “Tier”, “Bestrafe Mich”, or “Hilf Mir” around German-speaking co-workers! Or indeed “Te Quiero Puta” around Spanish speakers.

        I will grant that Rammstein is more work-friendly than some of the other stuff on my German playlist, but then some of the other stuff is Die Ärzte and Umbra et Imago. Thank goodness for headphones.

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        1. Geoffrey B

          (And now I’m wondering whether it would’ve been more appropriate for me to *** that last song title; apologies to folk who weren’t expecting to see that word here.)

          Reply
    4. Justme

      I listen to Pandora because you can play the no-swearing versions of songs. Otherwise it’s a very carefully selected playlist from Spotify (they don’t offer radio edits).

      Reply
      1. Turkletina

        You can definitely find clean versions of explicit songs on Spotify. If you’re looking at an album page, scroll down to the bottom; it’ll say something like “1 more release”, and clicking on it will take you to the clean version of the album.

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    5. AEM

      OP here. Up to this point I have still been listening to most of my music but yeah it looks like I’ll have to save that one for my commute. I think I’ll also be taking the advice to create a work playlist. Most of my music is definitely appropriate but those few songs could potentially be a problem that I just don’t need.
      I don’t like wearing earbuds or most headphones so much that I actually don’t own any, but I’ve been wanting a nice comfy pair of over the ear headphones so I might look into that again.

      PS, once Funky Cold Medina came up and boy I don’t think I’ve ever jumped to skip a song so fast…

      Reply
      1. Chameleon

        I worked as a bank teller once in a pretty relaxed branch, and my co-worker had put on Cake’s Fashion Nugget CD.

        It was fine until I heard the intro lyrics to “Nugget” at which point I remembered the chorus and literally dived for the next song button.

        Reply
      2. Mine Own Telemachus

        If I may offer a small plug: I used earbuds for a long time, but my ears are a slightly wonky shape that makes them hurt if I have them in for an extended time. So I tracked down a great pair of soft, over-ear headphones that are comfortable even with my glasses, and it made a huge difference. It preserves the fidelity of the music (it’s not coming out tinny over laptop speakers) and I can easily adjust them to fit more comfortably or to only sit on one ear in case I need to listen for the phone. The pair I found were Urban Ears headphones that run a bit expensive, but are solid quality, incredibly comfortable, and pack up fairly small! Highly recommend looking into them!

        Reply
        1. Zombii

          I thought I hated earbuds because my only experience with them was the Apple ones that you get for free with an iPod (and I’m pretty sure those were specially made to perfectly fit the ears of Steve Jobs and no one else), then I tried a pair by Skull Candy for some reason and I’ve been using that brand ever sense. Each pair comes with either 2 or 3 different sizes of earbud covers so you get the right fit, and most models aren’t very expensive but still have decent sound quality as long as you’re not fetishistic about sound quality.

          Reply
        2. Audiophile

          I’ll offer a recommendation for earbuds and over-the-ear headphones. A few years ago I randomly bought a pair of Marshall headphones at a retail location. Their headphones are not very popular here in the US, but I managed to get a pair of their Monitor and EQ Mode headphones.

          The Monitor headphones are incredibly comfortable, and I wear the EQ Mode earbuds regularly during my commute and at work since my desktop doesn’t have speakers.

          A few months ago, a Marshall released their MID Bluetooth pair, that are on-ear, which I purchased as they were offering free earbuds with any purchase. Right after I purchased my Bluetooth pair, they released a Bluetooth version of the Monitor headphones. I think I’ll buy the Monitor pair soon, since I definitely prefer over-the-ear to on-ear.

          Reply
      3. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend

        The explicit version of Busta Rhymes’ Touch It (Remix) came on. Full volume. In the lobby where I was covering for the receptionist. I forgot I had that on there…

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    6. N

      I feel you, OP1. I was playing “Violent Femmes Pandora” at work a few months ago and quickly realized that it was…uh…not the right look for the office when “Add it Up” came on.

      Reply
    7. Sfigato

      I have my own office, but I still deal with this. I don’t like to wear headphones (although maybe I should), and I like to listen to rap music, and most good rap music is not the most safe for work stuff. So i generally listen to my Kendrick Lamar softly, or I listen to instrumental music with no lyrics.

      Reply
  2. RachelR

    My boss will occasionally call me “Miss Rachel,” but it’s more because he struggles to correctly pronounce my last name, so I don’t mind; I just give him guff about not knowing how to say my name. I definitely see how it could come off as kind of… condescending though, in other contexts.

    If you work with reasonable people, OP #3, Alison’s script should work just fine!

    Reply
    1. AnotherLibrarian

      Absolutely true. Sane people will not find this request odd. I work in the South and so people call me Miss (FirstName) and I just smile and said, “Oh, please just call me (FirstName).”

      This works about half the time. The other half, I just shrug it off and move on. But if it bothers you, OP, do just let them know. This is a super okay request.

      Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        A generation ago I know someone who looked into this for a linguistics paper: professors were routinely called “Dr Joe” or “Dr Jane” if they tried to go more casual than “Dr Teapot” because “Joe/Jane” was just not happening.

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        1. Emi.

          Catholics (and maybe other Christians?) do something similar with priests–“Fr. Joe” is more casual than “Fr. Jones.”

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          1. NotTheSecretary

            For Southern Baptists, the casual version is “Brother Joe” or “Pastor Joe” (depending on Joe’s title). I’ve never heard “Reverend Joe” but I suppose that could be the casual version of that.

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            1. Amadeo

              (Not Southern Baptist) We just call our pastor “Andrew”. But ‘Christian’ church is so generic that I’d almost call us non-denominational.

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            2. Sarah

              I’m not even southern, but in California we called our minister “Pastor Pat” (I think more for the alliteration than anything else!)

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            3. KellyK

              Yep, “Pastor Bob” for the Evangelical church I went to. And the chaplain at my college was usually just “Rev.”

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          2. ThatGirl

            My dad was not-infrequently called “Pastor Paul” but I’ve heard both ways. Depends somewhat on familiarity.

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            1. Artemesia

              I grew up in the PNW and it was Pastor Chuck at our Lutheran church.

              The Miss Emmy thing is fine if we are talking pre-schoolers and their teacher; it is not fine when it is a boss and one of his female employees. It is the sort of thing you call a servant, a nursery school teacher, or an elderly neighbor who likes to be called that because first names are formal. It is demeaning for a work colleague especially if ALL people in the office are not called that way.

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          3. Jessesgirl72

            Episcopalians too. In fact, my childhood priest was a Fr Joe. :)

            And the Lutherans I’ve heard do Pastor Firstname too.

            My dad is a Nazarene, and they might do Pastor Firstname, but more often they leave off that, and just call him “Pastor” which is odd to me.

            I’m not at all in the South, and the trend for kids in our church is Miss/Mr Firstname for the adults (regardless of marital status.) I’d be fine with just Firstname, but I’m not going to interfere with how someone is raising their kids- my mom used to get so annoyed by the “Oh, she can call me Joe” people.

            The OP says that no one else in the office does it, but does the Boss do it for everyone, occasionally, as he does for her?

            Reply
            1. amy l

              I’m from the deep south. Addressing someone you don’t know very well (or even someone you do) as Ms. Jane, or Mr. Joe is completely normal and respectful. I teach my children this as well. It’s just about the dying art of manners. Thus, it’s difficult for me to understand why people occasionally react with insult. If someone protest, I shrug it off and try to remember to address them “correctly” in the future.

              Reply
              1. Artemesia

                I spent nearly 40 years in the south and the only people I heard addressed that way by adults were elderly spinsters or widows and nursery school teachers.

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                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  This was roughly my experience, too. I didn’t grow up in the South, but I grew up in a majority Black city where most of the population had moved during the Great Migration, so there were a lot of holdover Southern cultural norms.

                  But we used “Miss [First Name]” in only four relatively narrow contexts:
                  1. For older matriarchs (like 50/60+);
                  2. For children;
                  3. As children (until about 16) for any adult/elder; or
                  4. Sometimes elders would refer to anyone they thought of as their child/grandchild that way.

                  I did once have a coworker who occasionally called me “Miss PCBH,” but it was out of affection and because we shared some cultural norms that others in the office did not. But we treated it as more of an inside quirk, not a normal business custom.

                2. The OG Anonsie

                  PCBH is spot on here. There are the usual ways it’s used as an honorific, and then there are people who just do it as sort of a… I guess a nickname situation, sort of affectionate and sort of joking.

                  That said, I’m from the south, but I have seen people use it in that last way all over the country.

                3. The Southern Gothic

                  Can confirm PCBH’s and OG Anonsie’s explanation.
                  In addition their examples it was also used for teachers or anyone we felt was higher than us in “rank” (for lack of a better word) or for whom we wanted to show respect.
                  It’s just something you pick up by seeing others use it in context.

                4. Alice's_tree

                  I think PCBH summed it up pretty nicely for my experience in what’s considered the Deep South, but there are regional differences and complexities too. For example, where I live (a state that seceded from the Union but not considered Deep South), Miss is also used as an honorific between adults that want to show respect to someone who helps them (a benefactor or mentor), as a form of compassionate address between adults that want someone in reduced circumstances to feel elevated, and conversely, as a way to keep a person you aren’t comfortable with at arm’s length. Miss is a very complicated word here.

              2. NewHerePleaseBeNice

                I think it’s more insulting to call people something they’ve explicitly asked NOT to be called though. I probably wouldn’t be offended if you called me Miss MyName the first time, but if you did it again having asked you to call me MyName I’d be very annoyed, whether or not you think it’s ‘manners’.

                Reply
                1. amy l

                  Agreed. I call lots of people Ms. Jane/Mr Joe, but if not if they protest. For me it really is about respect and manners. Has absolutely nothing to do about age. I address younger and older peers in this manner.

                2. Kris

                  It’s definitely a challenge to teach “manners” when the community does not agree on what is mannerly. I live in a large southern city, where there is great variety of norms and expectations about how children address adults, and my child, now 16, has attended schools with institutional cultures where students call teachers by their first names. I taught my child that when he interacted with a new adult he should default to Mr./Ms. Last Name and then if the person expressed the desire to be called something different (First Name, or Mr./Ms. First Name) to use the name the person preferred. (Or, in the case of school, simply to use First Name because the institution had already expressed that expectation.) It was a common sense solution that my child was easily able to grasp.

              3. Ask a Manager Post author

                Outside of the south, it can be seen as infantilizing, so that is the reason that you occasionally see people react that way. Just a cultural difference.

                Reply
              4. Jaydee

                I always wondered why one of my bosses used the Ms. Jane/Mr. Joe so often. He is a midwesterner and we live in the Midwest. But he did live in the South for a number of years, so I bet he picked it up there.

                I for one don’t mind it both because this boss is one of my favorite people at work and because he generally uses it when talking to/about someone in a friendly manner.

                Reply
                1. Risha

                  It does stick in the mind. I’m from the Northeast but lived in South Carolina for five years, and there are a handful of elderly former coworkers that I still think of as “Miss Jane” and “Mr. Lastname,” even though I called them Jane and Joe verbally, because all the native Southerners referred to them that way.

              5. AEM

                I don’t live far south (Maryland, so technically we are sort of South but not really) and when I worked as a cashier, there was this mother who came in all the time with her 2 kids. The kids were absolutely adorable and very sweet (and I’m not big on kids) but after a while the mom asked my name, and had her kids start calling me Miss Alison, and she often did too. Honestly I liked it and I thought it was kinda cool and very sweet to refer to me that way, so I have a hard time understanding people taking offense also.
                But as I commented further down, I think people get the final say on what they don’t want to be called.

                Reply
              6. Kateshellybo19

                I am also form the south (born and raised several generations back) In my experience Mr/Ms First Name is only used by children to adults. If an older adult wanted to put someone they consider a child in “their place” they would insist that they address them this way.
                (examples include me meeting someone as a 25+ year old and this lady who was maybe 10 years my senior insisting I call her Ms. Jane* while she would simply call me Kate. I will note she did not ask my preference, I was expected to comply as a “young thing.” This was not an isolated incident.)

                If one adult calls another Mr/Ms First name then they are usually being cutesy and possibly condescending. The exception being if they are doing in front of children who are expected to address the other adult this way.

                Obviously this is not universal but in the area I grew up in it is a thing that is known.

                *name changed to protect the not so innocent.

                Reply
                1. Yorick

                  Yeah, I’m from the South and I don’t know adults who call each other this, unless they’re doing it for their kids’ sake.

                2. Doe-Eyed

                  I’m also from the south (born and raised, several generations) and while yes, children do generally call adults Ms. Firstname as part of their mannerisms, it was also quite common for other adults to call each other Ms. Firstname, especially in a ‘informal polite’ way, such as at church, when you went to the bank to do business but knew the teller, etc.

                3. krysb

                  I agree with Doe-Eyed. This is prevalent in my area (Tennessee), especially in rural areas.

          4. BananaPants

            Mainline Protestant here (Lutheran) and a lot of pastors, especially young-ish ones, will go by “Pastor Joe” rather than “Pastor Smith”. Our current one does.

            Reply
        2. Red 5

          When I was in undergrad, I had an incredibly hard time just calling my professors by their first name, so there was a fair amount of Dr. Jane happening, or Prof. Jane or something.

          In grad school I started out that way but eventually was okay with calling most of them by their first name. It probably helps that I was in a field where doctorates are really uncommon (almost unheard of, it’s in fine arts) and “professor” is an unwieldy thing to attach to a name.

          Reply
      2. Genevieve Shockley

        I recently returned to work after being retired for about 7 years, so you can imagine that I am 60+ years old.

        My new job begins with 8 weeks of training in a classroom situation. My classmates are 20-40 years younger than me. I have tried to tell them, that I am their peer not a supervisor or a parent or a teacher and they should call me by my name without any title. They continue to use the “Miss G**** and I guess I am just going to have to live with it.

        Reply
      3. Not Rebee

        Aside from being southern, this can sometimes be a class thing. One of my mom’s coworkers used to make her kids call my mom Ms. Laurie – when my mom is a middle aged white woman and the kids are young hispanic kids it’s just a little weird, even though it was meant as respect. Ms. LastName would have been polite without touching on this particular issue, but Coworker chose to try and informalize it by picking Ms. FirstName instead.
        However, since this is OP’s boss, I doubt that kind of dynamic is at play here. Just something to also be aware of.

        Reply
        1. Anonymoose

          I would have to know the tone of voice that’s used when referencing Miss Jane. If it’s mild/sweet/jokie, etc, then it might be an odd term of endearment, and OP would need to course correct as she prefers. If it’s being said formally/stern, then frankly there’s no way around it, I don’t think, and I would probably really scrutinize my interactions with said Boss in further detail to see I should be looking for a new role.

          Obvi, the coworker is just mimicking boss, and probably doesn’t even realize that it’s odd. Even though OP is the only ‘Ms’.

          Reply
        1. Anonymoose

          Why: they live/grew up in the south, they grew up in church, they were taught to treat all women with respect regardless of age, they’re not from this country, etc etc etc. There are way too many reasons of why someone would insist on Miss OP’.

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          1. Anna

            And all of those reasons are rude. It isn’t to do with respect or manners- respect and manners are to make the person you’re speaking to feel good. If they explicitly tell you not to call them something, you can no longer claim you’re “showing manners” or “being respectful” by calling them that.

            Reply
    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      The part that sounds weird is that it doesn’t sound like OP’s boss is doing it with anyone else. I’ve been called “Miss PCBH” before (often by extremely lovely people), but it was clearly cultural and they did it to everyone. I would probably feel off-kilter if I were the only “miss” being “miss’ed” in the office.

      Reply
      1. Noobtastic

        Yeah, if it’s in the South, and you’re the only one getting it, either they don’t respect anyone but you, or they are just really weird. Either way, it is OK to say, “Please call me PCBH,” and “I have asked you to please call me PCBH,” and if necessary, “Really. Call me PCBH.”

        Reply
        1. Falling Diphthong

          I wondered if rather than the youngest she is the oldest person in the office, and her boss felt that “Wakette” just didn’t land as respectful enough.

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          1. NotTheSecretary

            Yep, I wondered that, too. If OP is in the South (or OP’s manager is Southern) it’s very, very common for the oldest in the office to be called Miss/Mr FirstName even if no one else is. It could also be that she is the only woman (which is irritating but a cultural attempt at being polite).

            I am the only woman in my office onsite at a construction site in the South. Most of the older guys call me Miss NotTheSecretary. I let it roll because they also treat me as a capable professional. If I felt that I was being patronized in other ways I would push back but I don’t really feel like fighting the tide trying to get a whole high rise worth of workers to change what they call me.

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            1. Red 5

              Yeah, I’m not sure if my old boss is southern or not (we’re only nominally in the south now) but he called me Miss Red. But because he’d treated me really well from day one and I knew he liked me and appreciated my work and thought I was capable, I didn’t mind it. I especially didn’t care because I noticed that was how he talked to all the ladies in the office that he liked and socialized with outside of just talking about work. Miss Receptionist, Miss Coworker, etc. And it actually wasn’t even constant, if he needed an important and serious work task, he just used my name. I think it was partially his way of signaling that it was a casual and comfortable conversation.

              He was a fantastic boss in every respect, so I hadn’t even connected that he did it until reading this letter and trying to remember if anybody called me Miss. So I think there’s a lot of it that comes from how it’s used and the actual person, not necessarily the word itself.

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              1. Anonymoose

                ” I think it was partially his way of signaling that it was a casual and comfortable conversation.” I like that. I wish we had that kind of shorthand in my office. ha. He seems like a gem. :)

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          2. NLMC

            That was my thought as well. I’ve always known Ms/Mr first name to be more for older people, not younger.

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          3. Rebecca in Dallas

            Yes, I used to work in an area where “Miss/Mr. FirstName” was common but it was always directed at someone older or in a more senior position. Even though I was one of the youngest on the management staff, I was always called Miss Rebecca. If I was speaking to someone older than me, they were Miss/Mr. FirstName regardless of whether they were management.

            Reply
            1. X MARKS the spot

              One of the hardest cultural changes I found in moving from New England to the deep South was feeling like I was now living on the “Driving Miss Daisy” set. At work I am Miss X marks the spot and people tell me they consider it disrespectful not to use that term. Unless I can magically turn back the clock I will be “miss-ed” until I retire at least.

              Reply
          4. Robbenmel

            I was raised in the Deep South, and when I was a child, I would’ve been in So. Much. Trouble if I EVER called a grown-up by his or her first name without some kind of title in front, accompanied by Ma’am or Sir. I was never allowed to address my own parents without a sir or ma’am. If my daddy called from another room, you didn’t just say “Yes?”….it was “Sir?” And lest you think I was raised by crazy people, this was the norm…everybody I knew had the same rules at home. So, yes, it is completely normal to still hear that form of address in my part of the world, even now.

            Reply
            1. Jessesgirl72

              My husband was raised in Georgia, and when we were in California, he took so much harassment and people were insulted (?!) by his use of Ma’am/Sir

              But “Yes Boss” to people who weren’t your boss was totally accepted and prevalent.

              Reply
              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                Ah, “yes boss” is cultural in parts of CA :) Although it’s weird because it can be deployed sarcastically or respectfully, and it can take some time to figure out which version’s being used.

                In more conservative parts of the State, you’ll also see younger Latinx/Chicanx folks call their (older) line managers “jefe/jefa” because it’s seen as weird to call someone “Don/Doña [FirstName]” in the workplace.

                Reply
              2. Optimistic Prime

                My husband was also raised in Georgia, AND is a veteran. He calls almost everyone, regardless of age, Ms./Mr. and ma’am/sir. But he has a Southern accent, so it’s apparent when he does it that it’s because he’s Southern.

                Reply
            2. JustaCPA

              yep. I grew up internationally but my dad was OLD SOUTH. I still cant call their friends by their first names even though Im almost 50!

              Reply
            3. Red 5

              I have such an odd mix of this, because my parents actually thought this sort of thing was outdated and didn’t really ingrain it in me, but instead taught me that I should address people how they prefer and give them the amount of respect they expect/deserve. Plus we all had thirty nicknames for each other that were sometimes specific and only used between two people. I tended to just call elders what my parents called them. Which meant I got in _so much trouble_ with one aunt who just could not handle that I called her Jane and her husband Joe instead of Aunt Jane and Aunt Joe, because my parents didn’t know it was important to her and hadn’t modeled that to us yet. After she got upset we always did it that way, because it’s what she wanted and it didn’t matter. What’s amusing is, she was the yankee that had married into the family.

              Teachers though, man I have the hardest time with teachers. Almost anybody else in any authority I can switch or call by their first name, but teachers it always feels weird at first. That and my in-laws are the ones that always trip my brain.

              tl;dr I also learned that adding titles in front of names was a sign of respect for elders, just not forced to follow it.

              Reply
            4. Lala

              Definitely the norm. It’s honestly meant as a deference to the person’s seniority, not a patronizing term at all (and it’s kind of surprising how many people not from the South insist on seeing it as an insult when it’s absolutely the opposite). It’s seen as presumptuous to just use someone’s first name if they’re older/more experienced/higher ranking, and so if there’s not an otherwise obvious honorific (Dr., Aunt, Pastor, etc.), you put Mr. or Miss/Mrs. in front of the first name.

              I’d say that 90% of the time, it’s kids addressing adults that way, or adults talking about other people in front of kids that way. For example, when I babysat as a teenager, the parents of the kids would, when talking to me, just say Firstname, but if they were talking to their kids about me, or if their kids were talking to me, I was Miss Firstname. Meanwhile, I’d call the kids just by their first names, but call their parents Mr./Mrs. Firstname.

              And while it is a little strange to have adults using it with adults, when it happens it’s usually because there’s a significant age or expertise gap, so it’s not going to be directed at you because you’re thought of as younger, but because you’re thought of as older and wiser.

              It’s even still a little weird for me to call my aunts/uncles by just their first names now that we’re all adults instead of Aunt Jane/Uncle John like I did when I was a kid, and that’s family.

              Reply
              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                I think it’s really important to be aware of context, though. It’s not “absolutely” not insulting—whether it’s insulting depends entirely on the cultural and geographic context. So treating people as if they’re irrational for being annoyed at its use, or as if they’re trying to find reasons to feel insulted, is problematic.

                It’s not insulting in the South (usually) because that’s the cultural practice. It’s often insulting outside of the South because there’s a different cultural practice, and that practice does not use the same titles/naming conventions to signal respect—they’re used almost exclusively for children, or to belittle/patronize a person.

                Of course we should all strive to learn about one another’s norms so that we can assume good intent before taking offense, and if you’ve never been exposed to other norms, it might take some bumps in the road to get there. But we should also be aware that what might feel respectful to us might be offensive to others.

                Reply
                1. The OG Anonsie

                  I don’t know. I think there is (or should be?) a divide between “this is offensive and insulting” and “I don’t like this because it feels diminutive to me, but that is preference and I understand that the intent is respectful.”

                  So if someone asked me not to call them miss I obviously would not, but I would also expect that if I did before that request that they wouldn’t get upset about it. I feel like that’s how mutual respect for culture goes– you respect people’s requests for how they should be treated, and you also respect that the different ways people do things aren’t wrong just because they’re different from how you prefer them.

                  Compounding that, this isn’t just “a southern thing.” This is common in a lot of communities all around the country. The line of cultural practice is not as sharp as these states/those states. For a lot of folks who don’t use this, there is probably a neighborhood real close to where you are where this is normal. You just don’t have a reason to interact with those people very much due to other demographic divides, and by that I mean class and race. What you get a lot of the time when things like this come up is the folks from the more privileged side of that divide putting judgements of value/morality on things that are totally normal for people on the other side, which is massively problematic.

                2. Lala

                  I think it’s really a “when in Rome” kinda thing. When I’m not in the South/areas that use it, I don’t expect people to use the “Miss/Mr/Mrs. Firstname” thing b/c that’s not the culture, so I’m not going to get my hackles up thinking people are being rude because they don’t use it (fwiw, there are definitely less tolerant people who *do* think people who don’t use the honorific are extremely rude, but those are people looking to be offended–so this does happen the opposite way, too, and I don’t defend those people for finding insult where none is intended, either). But if someone’s in the South and ends up on the receiving end of Miss/Mr./Mrs. Firstname, they need to recognize that it’s not people being rude or infantilizing, it’s showing respect within their culture. At the same time, people like me have to understand that some people might react really negatively to something I grew up knowing as only positive, and not be offended/hurt that someone would take offense to my doing something that was drilled into me as basic manners.

                  If you want a similar thing in another culture, just look at Tu vs. Vous in the French language*. It’s standard to use Vous with people in the exact same situations I described above, until/unless the person says to use Tu instead. If someone uses Vous to address someone who prefers Tu, it’s not an offensive thing, nor is it a big deal to switch after the person being addressed says they’re fine with just Tu. *caveat: this is my experience within the parts of France I lived, and I recognize it may be different in other Francophone cultures.

                  I think maybe this is getting strong pushback because it seems like those who don’t like it are assuming that the people who use this honorific are somehow *purposely* trying to offend them. We’re not trying to argue that you have to like it! We’re not saying you’re rude if you don’t use it for us! We’re just saying, oh crap, please realize we aren’t trying to offend you, that is literally the very last thing intended by our culture.

                  I think OG Anonsie’s got it right. Context is everything with this sort of thing, and people absolutely have the right to be addressed the way they prefer. I would never, ever want to offend someone by not calling them the correct thing (that’s exactly the point of using the honorific, after all!). But when others refuse to acknowledge the intent, Southerners and other who use it are damned if they do (by those outside the culture) and damned if they don’t (by those within the culture).

                  Like, just tell me you don’t want me to use it, and I’ll stop–I might mess up occasionally b/c it’s an ingrained habit, but I won’t do it again on purpose. Same as if I was mispronouncing your name. Same as if someone told me to use different pronouns–I’m happy using whatever pronoun you want me to use, but I can’t magically intuit your preference. Same as if someone told me to just call them by their first name instead of Ms/Mr. Lastname. If I’m not calling you the right thing, tell me! Just don’t assume I was doing it to insult you.

                3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  @OGAnonsie, I think the trouble is that there are clear communities, cultures, and geographies where it’s considered offensive to call someone “Miss” in this manner. And that’s not because of a failure to understand someone’s good intent.

                  This is purely anecdotal, but I think my experience might be helpful. I grew up in a majority Black, very low-income, industrial/post-industrial city in the Bay Area. There are neighborhoods and contexts where it is absolutely necessary and expected that you will use “Miss” in order to demonstrate respect.

                  But when I went to college (again in the Bay Area), the prevailing/dominant cultural norms for the University community was that “Miss” was not used to connote respect and using it was seen as disrespectful. And from what I can tell, industries outside of the South with large numbers of college-educated white folks tend to have the same norms as my undergrad campus.

                  Nonetheless, for students like me, we still interacted with subcommunities where it was important to use “Miss,” including on campus. And outside of campus, we were surrounded by neighborhoods where “Miss” was the norm, but those neighborhoods and communities were not well-represented at the university. So we would have to code switch depending on the context. I now work in a field where it’s offensive to use “Miss” at work with coworkers, but essential that I use “Miss” with my (older) clients.

                  I think navigating how to deal with “Miss” is, at bottom, about code-switching. It’s not that one etiquette norm or the other is more/less good or more/less offensive. It’s about figuring out the norm for your workplace / region / industry.

              2. BananaPants

                Frankly, I would find it patronizing to be called “Ms. Jane” by another adult – it would not be viewed as respectful or deferential.

                Reply
            5. Kris

              This was my experience within my family, too. But because I grew up in a big southern city with many people from other parts of the country and world, I later studied outside the region, and then I moved back to the big southern city working in a professional capacity with many colleagues and clients who were much older than me, I had to learn very quickly how to assess what a person wanted to be called (Mr./Ms. Last Name, Mr./Ms. First Name, First Name, Ma’am, Sir) without having to be told and without causing offense. It’s a useful skill to have.

              Reply
            6. NotAnotherManager!

              I was raised in the South (though not the deep part of it), and this all the way. I still say yes/no ma’am to my mother out of habit. I don’t socially or at work, nor do we expect it of our kids, but it took a while of living in DC to break out of it.

              I think that it was here that I learned that sir/ma’am are apparently deeply offensive in some parts of the country, which I think is hilarious. Of all the things about the South to find offensive, it’s the words that are used to show respect/deference?

              Reply
      2. Misquoted

        I’ve been called Miss FirstName before, plenty of times — by a friend from the South, by all of my Sunday School students (because I felt it was a good compromise between them just using my first name and calling me Ms. LastName — I have a different last name from my kids and I felt it would be simpler), and currently by my live-in boyfriend’s son (9). When I first met his kids, he had them call me Miss FirstName because that was their family culture. It was fine back then I guess, though I didn’t love it. Now that we live together, his teenage daughter just calls me FirstName, but the 9 y/o still uses Miss. It bugs me. :P

        Reply
        1. Dankar

          My partner of 10 years still calls my mother Ms. FirstName. He and I have been together since high school, and it just stuck.

          Depending on what the situation is, I either let my students call me by my first name or had them place Ms. in front of it since I wasn’t much older than they were. Now that I’ve got my degree, though, they can default to professor, which makes things a lot easier.

          Reply
    3. Marie

      Even though I learned long ago to let most clueless “stuff people do at work” slide, as a woman in my sixties, being called Miss Marie is one of the few things that aggravated me as a teenager and still aggravates me. And people STILL do it to me at my age!

      As when dealing with all clueless behavior, remember that they often find it’s “cute” if you let it show how annoying it is or try to joke it off. Best practice for me is to say, directly, immediately, and emotionlessly, “Don’t call me that.” (No “please”; tell, don’t ask.) Also, I avoid discussions of what’s acceptable in the South vs North; regrettably, that does not ever seem to lead to greater cultural understanding in my experience.

      Reply
      1. Red 5

        That is very true, you have to gauge the person you’re talking to about whether they’ll keep needling you with something you don’t like. I’ve had a lot of cases like that with immature coworkers in bad jobs, and with friends I later realized weren’t friends. When I say something makes me feel uncomfortable or I don’t like it, I always, always am afraid that’s going to turn out to be the thing they latch onto to shove in my face and laugh about. It’s like when somebody says they don’t like being hugged or touched and somebody else decides to make it their mission to hug/touch them whenever possible. Or tickling (which I know became a hot topic here a few weeks back).

        If you think they might be that type, it is best to be direct and up front and consistent in your disapproval, but it might be an uphill battle. Most people will be fine with you just stating a preference, but you do have to look out for jerks.

        Reply
    4. the.kat

      I’ve had a boss who used to call his direct reports by “Miss the.kat.” He was an awkward man and it was his way of either flirting with us or trying to soften bad news/correction.

      Reply
    5. shep

      Aside from a few older people (VERY few and far between), the only time I’ve ever been called “Miss” was by a guy I went on a few dates with.

      I didn’t really mind the older people calling me “Miss” (although I would probably mind if I worked with someone who did this), but this guy? OH SO PATRONIZING. I think he thought it showed he was being a good southern gentleman, but I felt like it was an infantilizing, power-play move. I saw that he did this to every attractive female on Facebook when he’d pop up on my feed. *eyeroll*

      Reply
    6. Amber T

      I had been working at my company for maybe two or three months… still relatively new but certainly long enough for me to learn everyone’s name, and for everyone to learn my name. One of the associates has a difficult time remembering things that just aren’t important. You know, like the new receptionist’s name. Except, at that point, I was the keeper of the office’s supply of advil. So one day, he has a headache, and he come’s up to me and says “Excuse me, miss, where’s the advil?” I was thrown for a second, because the only time my 23 year old self had been called “miss” was in a high class store I certainly did not have the funds for.

      I told one of my colleagues, who was both his admin and the admin to the partner that was training him (the associate is super smart, but needed some help in social aspects, which, as he rose through the ranks, would become a very important aspect of the job). Said partner found that hysterical. Over four years later, that partner still jokingly calls me “Miss Firstname.”

      Reply
  3. Sami

    OP#2: If you do end up becoming Facebook friends with her, you can add her to your Restricted list. Those people only see what you post as “Public” in any privacy settings.
    But I’d stick to what Alison said. Good luck!

    Reply
    1. JustaCPA

      This. Its super easy and I would err on the side of friending especially since you have to have a continuing relationship with her.

      Reply
      1. Sunshine on a cloudy day

        Have to agree that I would probably err on the side friending her. The fact that this person brought this up in their intro call with the OP (and looked to friend a soon-to-be new co-worker *before they even started*) says to me that this is something this person values. The OP would have to feel out how reasonable this person seems and how their boundaries are overall, but I might just friend her and put her on a restricted list as a path of least resistance. I’d probably also try to make a comment about rarely using facebook (to explain the lack of visible activity).

        Reply
      2. Anon Anon

        I do this as well. I have a bunch of people I work with on various projects on my restricted list. So then I feel like I can post whatever I want without offending anyone by not friending them.

        Reply
      3. Artemesia

        Life is much easier if you have policies about such things then it is done and dry. ‘Thanks, but I never go to sales parties’, ‘Oh I just never lend my car to anyone.’ ‘My policy is to never mix my work and family life on facebook.’ ‘We never lend tools.’

        There is no security that doesn’t change or get undermined on facebook; if you don’t want colleagues eavesdropping on your personal life, draw this line.

        Reply
        1. Red 5

          I agree with this. My rule is that I friend (nearly) anybody because even though my Facebook is locked up, I assume anything I post there could end up publicly available through any number of ways. There’s nothing I put on there that I wouldn’t declare openly, and while I do get political in a way I might not in every work situation, I also would stand by anything I put there if called out on it. But that’s a very carefully constructed way that I use the platform.

          But I’ve made a lot of pretty strict rules about sales and parties and stuff to counteract all the MLM stuff that’s clogging up my feed, and that applies to real life too. And in general I have noticed reasonable people respond well when you just say “that’s not a thing I do but thanks.”

          Reply
    2. Lia

      They’ll still see what you like, though, I think. My advice is to either not accept the friend request OR block them. If you do the latter, they will not see anything you post at all.

      I do have a very hard line about friending co-workers — I don’t do it. Once we don’t work together any more, then maybe, but I keep work and personal life very separate.

      Reply
      1. K.

        I’m with you. I’m friends with former colleagues on FB but not current ones. If asked (“hey, I sent you a friend request, did you respond?”), I say I have a policy against friending co-workers. No one has given me a hard time about it. I think I’m even more militant about it now that our politics have gotten so polarized.

        Reply
      2. Alton

        The fact that it’s so hard to limit your “likes” showing up on your friends’ feeds is my main complaint about Facebook. I don’t do anything I’m ashamed of, but my friend list includes everyone from old college friends, my mom, a rabbi, and a co-worker whom I friended back despite my usual “no co-workers” rule. Not all of these people are going to be interested in seeing it broadcasted on their feeds that I like a page for a reusable menstrual product company or something. Sometimes I want to do stuff on Facebook for my own convenience, not because I want to actively share.

        Reply
        1. Personal Best in Consecutive Days Lived

          Me too! I’m a serial liker on FB so I probably generate a lot of random notifications and extra posts in the news feed.

          Reply
    3. Elizabeth West

      This wouldn’t work for me–the only stuff I post publicly is political or social justice stuff I think everybody needs to read. (Maybe that’s why I’m not getting any interviews, but if you are spying on my Facebook, especially if you’re not a resister, I don’t want to work for you anyway.)

      Reply
    4. ChemMoose

      Since no one else has mentioned this – I’d just say, “I don’t friend co-workers on Facebook, but I do add them on LinkedIn. That way we can still keep in touch, and I can separate my personal and work lives.” Solves everything, hopefully.

      Reply
  4. Dan

    #5

    Yeah, you have to have direct knowledge of a product to use it as interview fodder, and even then, working it into a conversation can be really tricky. You may not even be able to get it in your cover letter and just have to save it for an opportune time at the interview.

    I work in an area where my background is a bit unorthodox yet potentially highly relevant to the company. Yet, many places are not prepared for that, and if their interviews are too formulaic, it can be damned near impossible to show off how my unique experience can be an asset to the company. One place drove me particularly nuts, because every bit of knowledge I had about the company from direct experience was subsequently spoon fed during the interview. Hell, they never even asked what I knew about the company, which is a rather pro forma question.

    As an aside, the best interviews I have had, and the ones that generate offers, are those that focus on my background and how it may be most useful to the company. Ones that follow a script never go anywhere.

    Reply
    1. OP #5

      Dan, I agree – this was my first assumption when thinking about whether to mention it or not, but couldn’t actually find any explicit guidance on this. I meet all of the technical requirements for the job, so I feel fine just completely not mentioning it at all if I get an interview, and instead just use my husband to understand the use cases behind their modules and maybe pick up on any domain-specific terms.

      Reply
      1. Is it Friday Yet?

        If anything, I could see casually mentioning it during an interview. A lot of times companies (particularly B2B companies) with a more obscure product will say what to you know about us? That would be an opportunity for you to say, “I read through your website and understand that you create software that does _____. Interestingly, my husband is a school principal and uses this software. He had great things to say, so I’m excited to hear more.”

        Reply
      2. CAA

        If, during the interview, they ask something like “why do you want to work here” or “what interested you about this job”, that’s a good place to mention that your husband uses their software and likes it. You can point out that you have some knowledge of their customer base and your conversations with him have gotten you interested in working on software that addresses the challenges in this market.

        You can’t just bring this up yourself, so you have to look for a question where you can get this information out because having a personal connection to their users is a plus. It gives you a different perspective than a developer who has no background at all in this area, and that’s something I would want to know if I were hiring you.

        Reply
  5. overcaffeinatedandqueer

    I had that awkward Facebook problem at my first job in my small, conservative hometown! It was normal for same-level coworkers to friend each other and so people were wanting to friend me.

    Yeah, that wasn’t happening because I wasn’t out at work and didn’t feel I could safely be, professionally- also, it would displease my parents. Who I then lived with and was out to, but they were overly concerned with their reputation and didn’t like me telling many people.

    On Facebook, I could at least be myself. I didn’t want to have to censor my page to the same degree as I was censoring myself in my real life:

    Reply
    1. NotTheSecretary

      I used to live in an extremely conservative town and had this same issue. It’s better to not friend super conservative coworkers if you don’t want to open that door, you know?

      I hate how Facebook blurs the lines between friends and coworkers. I can be friendly with coworkers who I could never be friends with. I don’t need to see their confederate flag profile pic and pro-Trump vitriol just as much as they don’t need to see my rainbow flags and feminist memes.

      Reply
    2. Red 5

      I know Facebook’s policies make this hard to do now, and I’m not suggesting it as an option, but this is actually the exact reason why I have so many LGBT friends who have two Facebook accounts. One is the closeted real name, and one with some kind of different name for the people they’re out to.

      I can’t even imagine how frustrating that must be, and how hard it would be to deal with. You shouldn’t have to be in a situation where the solutions are pretend to be two people (which you’re already doing in real life out of necessity) or not be out in a group of friends that could be your support group when you need it.

      It seems perfectly reasonable to me to just say you don’t friend coworkers, but I know people who would have gotten upset by that (I had a boss once that would have been incredibly cranky about it, she lived and died by social media). That’s actually part of why I don’t friend coworkers or request to, but I’ll accept if they friend me. I don’t want to put somebody in the awkward situation. The few I’ve friended where I’m at now it’s been because of something like “Oh, did you take any pictures of the cool place you just visited?” “Yeah, they’re on Facebook, are we friends there yet?” It doesn’t impact my work life to not be online friends with most of the people there, and I wish more people were casual about it, especially for reasons like yours.

      Reply
  6. Mike C.

    Yeah my bosses get really irritated when I play certain songs out loud, like “Sixteen Tons” or “Solidarity Forever”.

    Reply
      1. Drew

        Someone definitely needs to start a thread of Bad Work Songs on the open thread later today!

        I used to play “I’m Free,” from Tommy, after my last final each semester, but it would work equally well for a departing employee – or for someone whose boss is moving on, I guess.

        Reply
          1. Beancounter Eric

            The late 96Rock in Atlanta every Friday played “The 5 o’clock whistle!” – If I recall, “Bang on the Drum”, “Take this job and shove it”, etc.

            Reply
            1. ThatGirl

              A Chicago alternative station used to play a loud headbanger of a song at 5 pm on Fridays that went “Beer is good…beer is good…beer is good… and stuff”

              Reply
          2. Alex the Alchemist

            My mom said that she liked to play “Look Down” from Les Miserables at her old job (I think it was with the DMV).

            Reply
        1. Anja

          I usually don’t have the issue physically at work – I’m a headphone kind of lady – but some years ago I was going to a meeting and my boss decided to carpool with me (I was fine with it). I had an mp3 cd, I think, on shuffle. A song called F*ck Authority comes on. Rather loudly. I see his eyebrows go up, he sees the name on the stereo faceplate, eyebrows go up further. I slowly reach out and hit the skip button on the stereo. He laughed.

          Reply
    1. overeducated

      My husband and his former coworker used to play “The Final Countdown” every Friday at 4:55. Their boss found it funny.

      Reply
      1. hermit crab

        Haha, excellent choice! A radio station in my hometown played that one every Friday morning and it always came on as I was riding the bus to school as a kid…

        Reply
    2. Hanna

      It’s surprising the number of people I’ve met who completely misunderstand “Sixteen Tons.”

      It’s not a positive song, people.

      Reply
      1. Amadeo

        I’m confused as to how people could get anything positive out of: “You load sixteen tons, what do you get/Another day older and deeper in debt/Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go/I owe my soul to the company store”?

        Did I miss something?

        Reply
        1. Hanna

          I think they just sort of ignored the chorus (except for one person who thought “I owe my soul to the company store” mean that the singer was just really devoted to his company and everything the company had done for him, not that he was literally in debt to the company) and focused on lines in the verses like, “I’ve got one fist of iron, the other of steel” and “Fightin’ and trouble are my middle name.” Basically, they think it’s a celebration of how awesome and badass coal miners are, not how they are ruthlessly exploited by corporate interests.

          Reply
          1. Artemesia

            Such people must not know what the ‘company store’ is or have any clue at all about labor history.

            Reply
          2. Squeeble

            Plus it’s kind of fun to sing, so I think people are distracted by that and don’t pay a lot of attention to the meaning of the words.

            Reply
        2. Solidus Pilcrow

          Lots of people only hear a bit of the song or title and never really listen to it or think about the meaning. Take the many exampled of people thinking Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” is inspirational and patriotic or the Police’s “Every Breath You Take” as romantic.

          Reply
    3. JustaTech

      No “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”?
      I once led my lab in a rousing round of “What do you do with a drunken sailor” (the sea shanty where you make up terrible things to do with the drunken sailor) with lab-themed punishments.

      Reply
  7. Ramona Flowers

    #2 Anyone who does get pushy or strange about you not adding them is giving you information about why that’s the right decision.

    Reply
    1. Braber

      Right on. I used to work as a social media staff so it’s hard to give excuses like “I’m taking a break from Facebook” to people whom I don’t wish to be friend with. But yeah, the only person who was pushy about my non-friending was terrible professionally and personality-wise (i.e. didn’t make real friends and connections at all during time there).

      Reply
      1. DecorativeCacti

        Maybe try something like “I work all day with that stuff, I have to get away from it once I’m off the clock.”

        Reply
  8. Ramona Flowers

    #4 “and he responded back saying his name (duh) and that he came across my information while researching some job openings”

    Two things. Firstly, how unbelievably irritating! Secondly, you just cannot save people like this from themselves. It’s okay not to try.

    Reply
    1. JamieS

      Agreed he sounds like a lost cause. It sounds like the recruiter answered the OP’s question without actually answering his question. When it comes to talking to someone, there are few things I find more annoying than that.

      Reply
    2. Zinnia

      Did you ever give them your resume in the past? I’ve had recruiters contacting me for low level positions, and it often sounds like they are looking at a copy of my resume I provided to their agency 10-20 years ago.

      Reply
      1. Vaca

        OP #4 here – I would be pretty surprised if I had given this person my resume, he looks like a one man show. It’s possible he worked at a place I had given my resume to.

        Reply
        1. CAA

          He could have found you on LinkedIn or had your info passed along from some other recruiter.

          I had one recruiter reaching out to me for positions like SQL Report Writer, even though my current job title was Director of Engineering. As far as I could tell, this was mainly because my resume said that years ago I was responsible for managing the development of a product which incorporated Crystal Reports and SQL Server.

          The funny part of this was that while this recruiter was spamming my personal email with ads for entry level jobs, she was also trying to convince my Admin that we should use her to recruit for us because she had the most sophisticated screening process and access to resumes that other recruiters didn’t have. I finally forwarded one of her emails to my Admin and cc’ed the recruiter explaining that we were not going to use her services.

          Reply
      2. seejay

        They troll LinkedIn too, even if you’re not looking for a job. I get contacted constantly by recruiters who just grab my info from there and bug me. Sometimes they’re actually getting my information correct, other times they’re way off the mark.

        Then there was the one recruiter that read *just enough* to almost get it… “I’m soooo impressed! You’re working full time *and* doing a masters degree! In business!”

        Oh bless your soul, you got all of it right except the subject. *delete*

        Reply
        1. Artemesia

          I am retired and get recruiters asking me if I want to apply for low level jobs in my field. I get queries about top management searches too which is less insulting; it is not unusual for someone at retirement to do a stint in management at some other place — but entry level positions that I would have been interested in 40 years ago? Just weird.

          Reply
          1. seejay

            I think my favourite was still the recruiter that contacted me about taking on a three week contract job moving boxes. In Utah. Except I’m in California, as an immigrant on a work visa that requires me to be employed in very specific fields related to my university degree (which isn’t box moving).

            It’s not like my resume is an utter mystery as to where I’m located, that I’m from another country (I have 15 years experience in software engineering in my home country), and my cover letter always states that I require a work visa since I don’t have a green card or citizenship yet.

            Talk about throwing poop at a wall and hoping it sticks. O_o

            Reply
  9. Ramona Flowers

    #5 Could your husband give you any intel, like particular features the product has? I don’t think it’s something you can mention in a covering letter but could he give you interview tips?

    Reply
  10. Boötes

    OP1: Are the words of a song ones you’d be willing to use in the office, in an off-site presentation, or how you’d like to be referred to or described as? I’d use that as my guideline as to whether I’d be okay playing the song out loud at work.

    Not that you’d necessarily have the *opportunity* to use said words — cue The Elements Song (tantalum!) or I’s the B’y — but would you be comfortable using them?

    …. And now cue having your design, sales, and QC coworkers at Teapots & Co introduce themselves as
    “I’s the b’y that builds the pot”
    “I’s the b’y that sells ‘er”
    “I’s the b’y that catches the flaws and takes em o’er to Liza”

    Reply
    1. Gen

      My mother as an office manager was profoundly anti swearing (the word ‘gobstopper’ was banned) but you never have guessed from her musical taste. People would be shocked and baffled at the explicit stuff she listened to, until they heard her singing along. She had zero clue about the lyrics and just made them up. So some people will be oblivious no matter what you do, and even if you edit your music don’t be surprised if others don’t

      Reply
      1. JamieS

        Very true. Sometimes people can be clueless about a song even when they know the lyrics. Best example I have is my grandma loved Lollipop by Lil Wayne, knew the lyrics by heart, and taught my cousins (around 8 at the time) the lyrics. Imagine my shock when my grandma and young cousins started singing about performing sexual acts on rappers and my mortification at having to explain to my normally conservative grandma what the song was about.

        Reply
        1. Emi.

          When my brother was in grade school, he was into Kidz Bop, but didn’t realize that the lyrics were censored. So he looked up a song he couldn’t quite make out all the lyrics of, and then came to me and said “Emi, what does ‘I’m going through these hos like Drano’ mean?”

          Reply
        2. Alex the Alchemist

          I recently had to explain to my pastor that “Cake by the Ocean” by DNCE wasn’t really about cake. That was an awkward conversation.

          Reply
      2. msmorlowe

        Out of curiousity, what did/does she find offensive about ‘gobstopper’? I can’t figure out how that could possibly be a rude word.

        Reply
    2. Anon today...and tomorrow

      I was leaning this way too. My barometer is my mom (who hates when I curse and make “lewd” comments). If I wouldn’t listen to the song with my mom it’s probably not going to make my headphone free playlist. I have Bruno Mars on my playlist and last weekend I was sitting on the beach with my family listening to music, reading a book, enjoying the day when his song “Gorilla” came on through shuffle. The volume was low on the speaker so it was only heard by me but I started scrambling for the controls due to language. That song is definitely on my headphones only playlist while at work.

      Reply
    3. Jayn

      ““I’s the b’y that catches the flaws and takes em o’er to Liza”

      There’s a hole in the teapot, dear Liza, dear Liza.
      There’s a hole in the teapot, dear Liza, a hole.

      Reply
        1. Rebecca in Dallas

          With what shall I fix it, Dear Liza, Dear Liza?
          With what shall I fix it, Dear Liza, with what?

          Reply
    4. Training Manager

      OMG…as a native Newfoundlander, I can’t believe I’ve just seen an I’s the B’y reference on AAM. lol

      Reply
  11. LNZ

    When i worked at a small rural library all the local school kids would call me Miss First Name and it always made me feel so old for some reason. Thankfully no other adults called me that.

    Reply
    1. Iris Eyes

      Compared to them you were old, and in a position of authority. There’s nothing wrong with getting older after all, its just something that happens if you are lucky enough not to die.

      I do get the sentiment though, because even thought objectively I’m a “young adult” when one of the kids I babysat got engaged a few months ago it made me stop and pause.

      Reply
  12. OP #3

    OP #3 here. Had sent an email to Alison just now about it but wanted everyone’s advice.

    While I was able to let my boss know that I preferred being called by my first name only, this incident was actually symptomatic of other issues in my workplace, which turned out to be quite toxic. Unfortunately, I was also on a performance improvement plan shortly after this. I worked through it as best as I could, and made sure to make notes on what to improve on, and update everyone, but something was off. For example, I was warned not to ask more experienced coworkers I would be working with on this plan for tips on how to improve my performance, much less update me on how I was doing. Senior reviews portrayed me in an increasingly negative light, to the point where they were describing another person. It was a stark contrast to the positive reviews I received from clients I worked with.

    Long story short, I quit without another job lined up. It was too much for me.

    There won’t be any good references from people who still work at my last job, but I have others. However, almost every online job application I’ve seen will ask for the name and contact information of the supervisor at my last job, and will ask if they can contact them. Should I list the name of the supervisor? Should I say no to the employer contacting them?

    Where do I go from here? Is there even a chance of my finding another job in the same field after this?

    Reply
    1. Noobtastic

      Wait, what?

      OK, that is definitely in the just plain weird category. So weird, and I’m glad you got out. Who ever heard of a PIP where you’re not allowed to ask for advice to improve yourself, or get any feedback on your improvement? This stinks of a set-up. As in, they wanted you to quit, so they didn’t have to fire you and pay for unemployment. You might want to check that out, actually, with someone who actually knows about the legality of this, in your area.

      It’s OK to say, “I left due to personal differences, and I would prefer you not contact them.” People will fill in the blanks, no matter what you say. Sympathetic people will fill in the blanks in a sympathetic way, and unsympathetic people are people you want to avoid working with, anyway.

      Unless this is your very first job, you should be able to provide alternate references. If necessary, provide personal references – people who know you socially, from school, from church or hobbies, or what-have-you.

      Reply
    2. Mookie

      So sorry to hear about this, OP #3. Was your tenure at this place short enough that you could safely leave it off your resumé and applications entirely?

      Reply
    3. Czhorat

      eeeeeeek.

      I’m SO SO very sorry. With the gendered “Miss Yourname”, this sounds like something that could be sexual discrimination.

      If not, it’s still pretty clear you got a raw deal. If you have other experience in the field, then you have it and you can possibly wave away concerns with noises about the old position being a poor cultural fit for the old place. I’ve had jobs not end well and still land on my feet in the same industry.

      In any event, good luck.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I don’t see evidence of discrimination here from what the OP said, unless there’s more to it. It’s possible that there really were performance concerns and that they didn’t handle them well (which is really common).

        Reply
        1. Czhorat

          I understand your point, but it is possible to see “Miss Allison” as an inappropriate diminutive with no equivalent for a male employee. It very potentially speaks to – consciously or not – a different set of expectations and different treatment based on gender.

          It’s not a complete argument, but it IS a bit of a red flag, at least in my reading.

          Reply
            1. Czhorat

              That’s why I said “could be” rather than “is”.

              The possibility could also give OP another way to frame it in her mind; we don’t know how much is her performance, how much is poor management, how much is a malice. It could be any of those, or a mixture of all three.

              Reply
              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                I don’t think it rises to the level that it’s really worth a “could be,” based on what’s here. (I mean, anything we hear about here *could* be, but there generally needs to be more going on for it to make sense raising the possibility.) Sorry to belabor this; I just see a lot of misinformation out there about this stuff.

                Reply
    4. Case of the Mondays

      You certainly still have a chance to find a job in the same field. Some jobs don’t bother checking references. Your older references will likely be fine too. I know you can’t go back and do things differently but I want to give a piece of advice to others who may end up in your situation. Often people quit and this is exactly what your employer wants. If other people are in your situation, I suggest they get a free consult with an employment lawyer. If there is any chance that you have a case, your case is usually a lot stronger if they actually terminate you. Plus, you are able to get unemployment easier. Further, your lawyer might be able to help you negotiate an agreed upon departure with your threatened claim in lieu of termination. You might get a reference out of it and a small severance or an agreement they won’t fight unemployment. Also, if the stress becomes so much that you need medical leave, you might qualify for workers comp. But, many states require you to elect between workers comp and a discrimination suit so you want to consult a lawyer before you do that too. For most people though, it is better to mentally check out and wait for them to fire you than it is to quit.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        From what the OP wrote, there aren’t legal issues here (although of course it’s possible there’s more to the story). It’s legal to manage people badly.

        Reply
    5. Sarjo

      I echo the discrimination concern. Reading both your original post and your update, my first thought was this is how racist employers treat people, particularly women, of color. If that doesn’t apply to you or if there’s no avenue to pursue then you are where you are, but maybe framing it in that kind of context will help you address how to deal with it in online applications. If it were me, I’d say “no” to contacting and if there’s a space to explain why maybe a phrase like “I experienced discrimination/harassment at this workplace and have severed ties completely” might work. Or you could check yes, and then in an interview bring it up yourself?

      Reply
      1. Czhorat

        Yeah, it appears to go beyond managing badly and to actively wanting to get rid of them. “You can’t ask for advice or assistance” is a stance which says to me that they aren’t looking to help the OP improve her performance; they were looking to create a paper trail so they could fire her.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Very possible. But there are other interpretations here. For example, you could legitimately tell someone that if they were spending a lot of time bugging people for help inappropriate when the job required them to be able to work independently. (Not saying that’s the case with the OP; obviously we have no idea.)

          Reply
    6. CAA

      Sorry to hear your update.

      For applications, check if the blanks are optional or required. If they’re optional, leave them empty. If they’re required, then put your actual supervisor’s name but use the main phone number and check the do not contact box. It’s extremely unlikely that anyone is going to contact this employer before they ever talk to you, and it’s entirely normal to see the do not contact box checked for your most recent employer. If you’ve only just left there, then it will actually look like you still work there.

      Honestly, if I have a resume and an application, then I have no reason to even look at the previous employer info on the application. All I care about on the app are the questions that ask if you have the right to work in the U.S. and what name you prefer to be called.

      Reply
  13. Noobtastic

    #3 – Yeah, it’s definitely a thing in the Southern US states. In fact, in the South, it’s a show of respect. Nobody calls someone they do not respect “Miss Firstname.”

    Also, it’s Miss Firstname regardless of marital status.

    Now, “Missy,” if your name is not actually Missy, is fightin’ words.

    Reply
    1. Mallory Janis Ian

      Lol, right on. I’ve only ever heard, ” Now just a minute, missy” if someone is really irritated.

      Reply
      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        “Irritated” is understating it. “Missy” is for when you’re about to ‘have words’ with someone.

        Reply
    2. StarHopper

      I’ve lived in the South my whole life, and I’ve only heard “Miss so-and-so” used by children to refer to caregivers from daycare or camp (or certain very close family friends). Occasionally adults will use it to confer respect to an elderly neighbor or church member, but it sounds really off in a professional setting.

      Reply
      1. hermit crab

        I live in the DC area, which is not really the South, but there are a lot of Southerners (and, well, everybody-ers) who live here. There is a strong culture of using “Miss Firstname” as a sign of respect for older women at one place where I volunteer, but I haven’t seen it anywhere else in the area. So, like many things, I guess it depends!

        Reply
        1. bentley

          It’s also a thing in Chicago. It’s one of the first things I noticed when I moved to the city from the suburbs.

          Reply
      2. sunny-dee

        It’s a really common thing at church (for example) to refer to older members. It’s less formal and a little friendlier than “Mrs So-and-so” but it’s still respectful. Outside church or school, though, the only time I’ve ever heard that construction is with black people.

        If anyone else were doing it, I’d assume they were being passive aggressive *or* that it was a funny nickname to them. It wouldn’t seem normal.

        Reply
      3. DivineMissL

        I’ve always taught my sons to refer to any adult they are friendly enough with to know their names but are not family members (caregivers, school bus drivers, mailman, neighbors, etc.) by “Miss Firstname”/”Mr. Firstname” as a combined show of respect and familiarity, where using last names seems too formal and using just first names seems too familiar. I’ve been referred to as “MissDivine” in professional situations, and I interpret it as a similar show of respect + familiarity – I don’t think that anyone who DIDN’T like and respect me would refer to me this way. I agree that, if it bothers you, you can ask the person to stop, but if they continue, to just let it go.

        Reply
    3. hbc

      Given the number of kid forced to use “Miss” on everyone, it’s a pretty big stretch to say that it’s only used towards people the speaker respects.

      Plus, just like “bless your heart” can be used in several different ways (from genuinely loving to condescending to passive aggressive), I’ve heard “Miss” or “Sir” deployed with a variety of intent. Sometimes it’s a deliberate step up in formality to indicate you don’t want to get friendly. Sometimes it’s a reminder that their behavior is poor and more is expected of them. And sometimes it’s completely sarcastic, to show you think the other person is getting acting above their station, a milder and more deniable version of “Yes, your majesty.”

      Reply
      1. the gold digger

        Given the number of kid forced to use “Miss” on everyone

        I was taught to call adults by Mr or Miss/Mrs, but it’s not forced on people when they are adults, I don’t think.

        Reply
            1. Czhorat

              I accept it, mainly because I’m told it’s “narcissistic” and “inappropriate” for them to all call me “Sir”, “Your Lordship”, “Captain”, or even “Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude”.

              Reply
          1. Chameleon

            I grew up calling all adults by their first name, and my 2 year old
            daughter calls all my friends by their first names. I feel that’s pretty normal on the west coast.

            Forcing kids to call me something that adults don’t doesn’t feel respectful to me, it feels like I’m trying to pull a power trip. The kids show me respect by their actions, not by some artificial divide of words.

            Reply
    4. Miss Manuever

      I live in Kentucky, I have heard “Miss Daisy” used more than once as a sign of disrespect. Much like “Bless her heart,” this phrasing can mean something very good or very bad, depending upon context and intonation.

      This hold true for how my ‘Bama relative use both phrases.

      Also, if someone is close enough to you they should just call you “Daisy” but they choose to call “Miss Daisy” then they do not respect you and are trying to create distance.

      Reply
    5. Darkitect

      I’m a Southerner and can definitely attest the Miss/Ms So-and-So. It’s never bothered me; in fact, I find it charming. I’ve noticed two distinct groups of people using this construct: the stereotypical Southerner that everybody pictures but also a large number of my coworkers, who are native Spanish speakers from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Go figure.

      Reply
      1. amy l

        I’m thinking it’s a lot about how you perceive it? I was always taught Ms. Jane or Mr. Joe was about manners and being respectful. Not being snide.
        Could it possibly be that the person is truly trying to be rezpectful? I say “Yes, sir?” to my son. Perhaps I’m just wildly naive?

        Reply
    6. Betty (the other Betty)

      My Aussie friend used to call a lot of people Missy. Then she had her first child who she named… Missy. :)

      Reply
  14. Mu$icAn0N

    My previous office was a haven of music freedom. My manager was a 70s rock n’roll fan that appreciated the variety of classic rock, blues, and post grunge I played; tolerated and even liked some of the new wave/pop/synth/electronic; recommended new music to me which kept my Spotify fresh to death; and told me about great concerts he had been to and music trivia he knew. I kept the rap and hip hop for the ample time that he was out of the office or wore headphones. OP I think once you get to know everyone better, you’ll feel better about playing music. Can you reach the volume on your speakers/the mute button on your laptop pretty easily? If it truly cannot be heard out of your office, I wouldn’t stress about playing it because you can turn it down the moment someone walks in the office. That’s what I would often do when I was listening to J. Cole in the office. Also, depending on where your desk is, you could angle the speakers away from the door so the sound is not aiming straight out the door and at potential guests/hallway travelers.

    Reply
    1. Mookie

      I kept the rap and hip hop for the ample time that he was out of the office or wore headphones.

      Hmm. That doesn’t sound like a haven of music freedom to me at all — it’s nice that he tolerated postgrunge and new wave, though — but mileage does vary, of course.

      Reply
      1. Music

        Like that scene in Blues Brothers. “What kind of music do you play here?” “Oh we’ve got both kinds, country and western.”

        Reply
  15. cncx

    Re OP4: the same thing happened to me the other day. the recruiter hustled me hard for a job two hours away, contract, and temporary. I have a fulltime, permanent job with a bonus twenty minutes from my house. No way ever i would leave this job for that job. i am not even looking. I told him so and even told him that i am not registered as a contractor with the tax authorities here and would not be doing so. The worst part is he submitted my cv to the other company so now i am paranoid that my boss is going to find out and think i am looking when i most definitely am not, and that the other company is going to scratch their head as to why i would be so miserable/bad at my job i would even deign to consider a temp option a million miles away. i am so tired of crappy recruiters!

    Reply
    1. Vaca

      Op here – yikes! I’m not too worried in this case (job obviously not a fit and current job couldn’t fire me if they wanted to) but sounds really shady. I’m just going to block this guy.

      Reply
  16. AlwhoisthatAl

    #4: A lot of recruiters just do very bad data mining, it’s irritating but not a lot you can do about it. I have had one guy contact me several times about work as an electrician. I’m a Software Implementation Consultant specialising in ERP/MRP Manufacturing software. On one of of my resumes, a major project 8 years ago was for a company called “The Green Electrician” (they did solar panels etc). This chump finds the word electrician on my CV and starts sending me emails. I replied the first time and he apologised, but then it happened again and again. So these types are obviously just doing key searches on words like Electrician then doing a mass e-mail send without checking anything – the drift net approach.

    Reply
    1. Czhorat

      If the recruiter is bad at their job then they’re bad at it, and it’s not yours to fix. Just shrug it off and move on. They’ll either get better at it or they won;t. In any event, you have better things to spend your time on.

      Reply
    2. Danger: Gumption Ahead

      That would be a good open thread post: Most Ridiculous Jobs Pitched by Recruiters

      I work in public health, but am non-clinical, and the number of recruiters that get weirdly aggressive about how I am a perfect fit for MD this and RN that is astounding. I am a Dr., but it is DrPH, you don’t want me touching patients!

      Reply
    3. evan

      I still get regular emails for a resume I submitted in 2002 and they don’t even get the job I had then right. They have picked up a keyword from when I was in my teens / early 20s and doing part time work while at Uni / College and STILL email me openings for jobs I haven’t done for 30 years.

      Reply
    4. Solidus Pilcrow

      I’m a technical writer and I get recruitment emails for all sorts of positions (e.g., mechanical engineer, medical transcription, software developer) because the job description had some form of the word “writing” in it.

      Reply
    5. SusanIvanova

      I finally gave up and deleted a “skill” off my LinkedIn profile – I hadn’t worked in that area in over a decade, and when I did it was a highly specialized part of it that was as far from what today’s recruiters want as possible. I was griping about it on IRC with co-workers when suddenly I got a LinkedIn notification – a co-worker had tagged me with that skill! Pure coincidence – he wasn’t on IRC at the time, just thought he was being helpful.

      Reply
  17. Andy

    #2. I’m a conservative Christian who works in a very liberal workplace. I have a lot of friends from work on my Facebook, but am also concerned with causing a lot of backlash at work when I post right-leaning articles I really believe in.
    Solution? I created a friends group called “[company name] peeps past and present.” It has anyone I’ve ever worked with, and also some friends outside of work if we have a mutual work friend. Whenever you post on Facebook, you can set the post to public, friends, only me, etc. There’s an option of “all friends except” then you go in and pick specific friends, or a group. So whenever I post something particularly “triggering,” I just set that.
    Obviously, this method requires you to be super-careful in posting, and also adding newly-added work friends to the group in a timely manner, so keep that in mind if you go down this route.

    Reply
    1. Murphy

      I have to ask, do you know what the word “trigger” means? Because it doesn’t mean of an opposing viewpoint, or likely to anger someone​ and start an argument on social media, which is the way a lot of people throw it around lately. It refers to a situation in which someone is reminded of past trauma and usually has a distress response.

      Reply
          1. Anon

            To the readers: this comment and my message was meant to be cut and paste into a private email message. I was trying to hold a phone conversation and do two other tasks at the same time and got confused. I apologize to the blogger and and the readers of this blog who may have been offended by my words. I will try to handle things in a more orderly fashion next time. I can not delete the message but ask the moderators to delete it. Again, I apologize for my poor choice of words.

            Reply
          2. Ask a Manager Post author

            Huh. I don’t do much censoring here. I remove wildly off-topic threads and openly hateful comments (there are very few of the latter) and that’s about it. I do speak up when I disagree with someone, but that’s not censorship; that’s discussion. I’m curious what you’re thinking of, although you have no obligation to respond (and I’ll delete the messages like you requested once I’m at a computer rather than my phone).

            Reply
            1. Anon

              Firstly let me say again that I sincerely apologize for my poor choice of words in the post above and that I am grateful and honored that the blogger (I believe your name is Allison?) responded. Also because I don’t want him to get blamed for my mistake, Mr. Dixon is not the author of this post (he was the intended recipient) and does not work at our company. We are a small company in DC and read your blog because of the real-life organizational behavior and PR case studies you present. On a few recent occasions I have tried to post here and not had my post accepted, that is why I made the hasty comment about censorship. Also at one point my PA told me she tried to post something that was probably going against the prevailing group opinion and that was not accepted. (As you can see we read your blog at all levels in our office!) Also there was a thread the other day about Comcast which you deleted because it was “off topic” and (maybe we disagree) I thought it was completely on-topic and perhaps you were getting advertising revenue from Comcast. Again I wholeheartedly apologize and want to say that we find your blog very thought provoking and would not be reading it if we felt otherwise.

              Reply
              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                Hmmm, I wonder if there’s something going on with the IP address from your office, because comments should post immediately and automatically unless the IP address is blocked for some reason. Not having posts accepted isn’t really a thing here — unless the person’s IP address has been blocked (either for some technical reason that’s above my know-how or because of past problems with that commenter, which is rare). But I absolutely, 100% do not block or remove comments simply because I disagree with them. (You can actually read the site rules here, and those are how I run the site.)

                I don’t think I get advertising revenue from Comcast — it’s possible that they advertise through my ad network but I’ve never seen an ad from them show up here (companies buy ads through my ad network and I don’t know who’s buying space except when I see their ads load on the page I’m reading). I removed the long thread about cable company waiting times because it was off-topic for a thread about candidate response times. Now that so many posts here get 500+ comments, I care more about keeping things on topic since it can already get so unwieldy, volume-wise, and a lot of people won’t bother reading if they see an overwhelming number of comments.

                Anyway, I try to be really transparent about all of this stuff, so please feel free to ask if you ever have concerns about anything like this.

                Reply
                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Oh, and bigotry. I remove bigoted comments. Didn’t want my answer to be incomplete and then later have someone claim “wait, you said you didn’t remove things like this.”

      1. Artemesia

        I would never trust Facebook privacy and selection settings as the site changes all the time and also people who are friends of friends seem to have easy access to material posted by these kinds of connections they don’t know.

        Reply
    2. kavm

      You can change who sees what you post (share) but you can’t really affect whether someone sees your likes. At least that’s how I understand it. So if you tend to only share articles or posts, this solution will work, but if you tend to like a lot of things that show up on your news feed, those likes are going to show up in the feeds of your friends (unless they’ve unfollowed you)

      Reply
  18. Sara

    #2
    I have 2 Facebook accounts and 2 Twitter accounts. Private me (totally locked down) and public me (totally open). I started it when I worked in higher ed and had undergrad students who I interacted with through Facebook for the program. Now I friend people I work with using the public me. The public me also shares work-related social media posts and articles relevant to my industry. The private me cusses up a storm and has loud political opinions!

    Reply
  19. Delta Delta

    #1 It totally depends on the culture. A friend of mine interned at an ultra conservative law firm one summer. His co-intern put on some classical music one day while they worked on a research project. According to my friend, it was very nice, and it was low enough that only they could hear it in their workspace. A higher-up came in and heard it and made some sort of comment like, “oh, classical music, huh?” It was clear that meant to turn it off, so they did. At the end of the summer my friend was offered a job after graduation and the other intern was not. Reason: playing music in the office. Apparently this was a crime against all of humanity in this particular office. (Friend later told me that co-intern landed a job at a fairly hip law firm where they don’t care about stuff like this and co-intern is very happy there, so it worked out in the end.)

    Reply
      1. Artemesia

        Yeah. Old Fogey here, but I think playing music when you don’t have a private office IS a workplace crime against humanity. Heck I ask my husband if he minds if I play X or Y now in our shared space when he is obviously working on something and we both use headphones for what we think may annoy the other like podcasts etc. Polluting other people’s earspace with your music when they are trying to work seems deeply inconsiderate to me.

        Reply
        1. Czhorat

          As a new hire or an intern, one should observe the culture and act accordingly. If nobody else is playing music then it is something that’s not done in that particular office. It’s easy enough to not do it.

          Reply
      1. Delta Delta

        I’m running a very hip law firm out of my kitchen right now. It’s pretty straight-laced in that we make sure our files are very organized and our accounting is done properly, but it’s laid back in that our only employee other than me is a cat. We listen to lots of different kinds of music here at DeltaDeltaLaw and often we write motions in our sweatpants.

        Reply
    1. Cath in Canada

      My first time ever working in a lab, as an undergrad, the group leader was VERY old school. He was a surgeon and was hardly ever in the lab, so my friend and I would put the radio on since it didn’t seem like it was bothering anyone. He came in once and yelled “it’s like a bloody discotheque in here!” The song that was playing (fairly quietly) was Wonderwall by Oasis…

      Reply
    2. BananaPants

      If no one else is ever playing music openly in the office, it’s a pretty clear sign that an intern/new hire shouldn’t, either.

      Reply
  20. JobSeeker

    Question about crappy recruiters – If you schedule an interview with a recruiter, and they don’t bother to show or cancel, do you write off the whole organization? Or do you just assume it’s the person who is unprofessional? I’m job searching again and I’m wondering if a past experience with this company (recruiter scheduled interview with me and never called on the day we arranged, called the next day, no explanation) – is this a red flag?

    Reply
    1. Whistle

      It could be either, so if you’re interested in the company, I would give them one more shot.

      At my company, our recruiters vary a lot, and one nonresponsive one is just that – one person who does not represent the entire company. We actually just fired a recruiter, and I’m going through her email to try to contact any candidates left hanging, but I will likely miss some.

      Reply
    2. De Minimis

      I’ve found the people really come and go at staffing companies, so I’d probably give them a second chance, depending. But it sometimes seems like it’s a common problem with the whole industry. I’m looking at it from the employer side and honestly it’s almost as frustrating a lot of the time as it was when I was a candidate.

      Reply
    3. seejay

      I dealt with one recruiter that was *super flakey* and annoyed the hell out of me, and then went I went in to interview with a company, she had set up “speed interviews” with about 5 companies and 10 candidates and I basically had about 10 minutes with each company and then after that I was brought into a back open concept room with her that had about 10 other recruiters, all on phones and talking all at once, to go over my thoughts. Except I have a hearing impairment and can’t focus when there’s that much noise going on and I was *so damn flustered* by all the noise and distractions, and I was miffed about the speed interviews that I wasn’t told about ahead of time, I just stammered and stumbled and got upset.

      Nope, I will not work with her or that company ever again.

      Reply
      1. JobSeeker

        Thanks for the suggestions. I applied. I’m working in what most folks WOULD call “a crappy job”! But I’m grateful to be working. So many people aren’t. I think it has skewed my thinking because I don’t like to be a quitter, and I keep thinking, I should stick it out so as to not be a quitter, but I’m just human, I can only take so much…. we’ll see what happens… =)

        Reply
  21. Miss Melanie

    OP#2 You may also want to google “Miss Yourname.” I used to be hugely annoyed by being called Miss Melanie and then I found out it was a character from Gone with the Wind.

    Reply
  22. evan

    OP1, I accidentally pushed a setting on my computer one day when I was in a really cranky mood and listening to Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name (of)’ on my headphones. Unfortunately, whatever it was I ticked / pushed meant that while I thought I was listening on my headphones it was also being broadcast through my computer speakers :) So the whole office got to hear ‘f**k you, I won’t do what you tell me’ etc while I was blissfully ignorant as it was playing full blast on my headphones. Grandboss showed up (my boss was in a different office) and invited me for a chat. In his office. He closed the door. I silently appealed to any deity that would listen. Then he said ‘what have we done to offend you? You weren’t writing your resignation were you? I’m sure we can sort this out.’ Everyone knew I listened to (often very explicit lyrics) music when it was a tough day (I worked in a crisis management role) but also that I only listened on headphones so they thought it was a musical resignation when it belted out through the office. Swearing was acceptable in that role but none of us would play music loudly at all irrespective of lyrics as it would upset people that needed some quiet for concentration. Maybe get yourself some headphones, listen to whatever you want etc. I have to admit, I’d be thinking potential violence if someone was playing boy bands out loud that I could hear even with no explicit lyrics as boy bands do my head in (along with elevator music)

    OP Facebook – Agree with what Alison said above – would just add if you find that too confrontational, then just tell them you are locked out of your account and trying to fix it with their support people. My daughter is a high school teacher who loves karaoke and her and her friends post photos etc, so she just got a new FB account under an alias (yeah I know you aren’t supposed to but she could lose her job if the kiddies found it – they dress up comic con style)

    Reply
    1. Danger: Gumption Ahead

      Oh man, don’t leave us hanging! How did you respond to your boss? Did it end up with you both laughing?

      Reply
      1. evan

        Yes me and grandboss ended up laughing that day. But after I had confessed, he told me that before he had come to tap me on the shoulder, he had checked in first with HR and management to see how much extra they were prepared to pay me to keep me. It was 20% on my base salary (and we had a bonus scheme as well). I had a salary review due in the next month or so and when I got the letter (it was always a letter in that place) they gave me a 15% increase at a time when the average rise was 3.9%.

        If I hadn’t confessed to stuffing up, I might have got the full 20%. I was immensely happy with the 15 and it remains a joke (and learning experience on all sides ever since). If I had said on that day ‘see you later’ I might have got 20%. But I would not know now what grandboss was thinking or what he did on the day to keep me there. I thought I had totally f**d everything up and he thought he had f**d everything up too. I take that 5% as a learning tool he gave me. I’m 100% sure, my salary now is higher than it ever would have been had this day not happened.

        Reply
        1. Rebecca in Dallas

          OMG, that is not how I thought the story was going to end! That’s awesome, congrats on the raise! (PS I *love* RATM)

          Reply
  23. AdAgencyChick

    #4: he knows exactly what he’s doing. He probably expects a response rate of like 1% to his mass mailings, but since he decides who to send them to based on 30 seconds of choosing keywords and seeing whose LinkedIn profiles come up, he doesn’t care. Doing what you suggest would get him a higher response rate, but at the cost of actually spending time combing through resumes and evaluating them for appropriateness.

    Annoying, I agree, but you’re not going to convince him it doesn’t work. Unfortunately as long as the response rate is above zero, no matter how small, it’s entirely possible it does work — for him, of course, not for people like you who get spammed.

    Reply
    1. Vaca

      OP here – kind of makes me want to submit a bunch of garbage made up resumes with fake email addresses!

      Reply
      1. Amber Rose

        Only if you use the prank call names from Simpsons. Seymour Butz, Al Coholic, Oliver Klozoff, Hugh Jass, etc.

        Reply
  24. Yankee

    I hate the “Miss Firstname” thing! I’ve lived in the Deep South for more than a decade and still I refuse to be referred to that way in professional settings because it is actually considered rude where I grew up. If I work somewhere that formality is required I insist on Ms. Surname. This does not cause trouble for me in professional settings so you should also be able to push back. I should note that I have absolutely no qualms about addressing others in their preferred fashion as Ms/Mr Firstname or using sir/ma’am (although the latter are also rude in my culture).

    Reply
  25. TotesMaGoats

    #3-at a former job there was a colleague at my level in my unit who was crazy. She wouldn’t let her staff talk to anyone above their level. (Along with having them make her lunch, ask permission for using her bathroom, and discrimination.) when bosses finally fired her, and people came to my office to…heal, they were so shocked when I told them that we were adults and they should go potty when needed and call whoever to resolve student problems. Talk about PTSD.

    Reply
  26. WhirlwindMonk

    For #5, I understand why it doesn’t strengthen candidacy, but couldn’t it be used to explain interest in the job? Assuming it’s true, would it be alright to either put in a cover letter or mention in the interview something like “My husband is a school principal and has frequently spoke of the ways your software has helped him work, and I would be very excited to contribute to a piece of software that is such a benefit to educators”?

    Reply
    1. fposte

      It just sounds naïve–“My hubsters says you’re the best!”–for little gain. All you’re really saying is that you’ve heard of the product and it’s good, and anybody doing the research on it before applying would know the same thing.

      Reply
      1. OP #5

        This is my worry too. I think I’m more likely to follow some posters’ recommendation and just ask my husband a lot of questions so if interviewed and asked about the industry and product, I can use domain-specific terminology. I do like Alison’s idea of just saying I have educator friends if asked how much I know about their product. It’s a pretty well known software package in education.

        I think just relying on technical qualifications is the way to go.

        Reply
        1. Rebecca in Dallas

          I think it’s fine to mention in your interview (“My husband actually uses your product and says such great things about it!”) but it’s probably not cover-letter worthy.

          Good luck!

          Reply
        2. SusanIvanova

          FWIW, I got a software job once without knowing anything about the product – I had gone through the website to see what the company did, but the team I was hiring for was from a recently acquired company that was only tangentially related to the rest of the company, and that product wasn’t even mentioned on the website yet. But they weren’t expecting me to know what it was – it’s an incredibly niche product – so that didn’t count against me. I’d bet an education software company would have similar expectations.

          Reply
          1. OP #5

            For my last job, I didn’t know anything about their business sector or their software and had no problems adjusting. I feel really comfortable in my tech skills and am not entry level.

            I think this position I wanted to make myself stand out because the company really does have create work life balance and work culture and good benefits. I’d much rather work on education software than some business to business reporting application in one of the less interesting business sectors.

            Now that I think about it, if my husband were in the medical line of work, I don’t think I would even think of mentioning whatever tooling he used. I think it really is more just wanting to stand out for a company that actually sounds like a great place to work.

            Reply
    2. Rusty Shackelford

      I think it *could* be useful in a cover letter. If you could legitimately say more than just “my husband says it’s awesome!” but more like “my husband is a long-time user of your software and has touted your customer service/excellent help files/surprising lack of bugs/whatever, and I’m excited at the prospect of being part of such a customer-focused organization,” or something similar. It would have to be more of a connection than “oh, I’ve heard of you guys!”

      Reply
      1. fposte

        Honestly, I’d still save it for the interview unless the software pushed him out of the way of a speeding car. Spouses have very little place in cover letters, generally speaking, and it’s still not providing any insight that research wouldn’t get you–and you don’t want it to look like a spouse’s word to take the place of research.

        Reply
        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

          Also, is excitement/passion about the product or business a thing in the corporate world? I’m a nonprofit lifer so I always spend time in a cover letter or interview providing evidence for why I care about the work of the organization. But I’m pretty sure my husband has never had to express his profound love for insurance products or legal information databases.

          Reply
          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

            This sounded snarky, and I didn’t mean that. I genuinely don’t know whether this (making a connection between yourself and the product/etc.) is an issue that is relevant for folks outside my sector.

            Reply
          2. CAA

            Yes, it is a thing! It’s not so much that you have to love insurance products or legal information databases, but if you’re a software developer, then having insider knowledge about how they’re used helps you make better decisions about how to build them. Plus, you may be able to provide access to new beta testers.

            Reply
            1. OP #5

              This is a good point. One of the first things I thought about was how I could ask my husband about the software’s UI and usability. Every year he helps out with new teacher training and probably knows if it’s really user friendly or maybe has some difficulties with a particular module. Or maybe as a principal, his use of the software is much different than the teachers who access, so he could have a different perspective than most users (he also used it when he was just a teacher.)

              At this point, I just cleaned up my cover letter and submitted it this morning. I’m just happy to get a wide variety of opinions on this and really appreciate all of the feedback from everyone.

              Reply
  27. Shan

    Re: Adding colleagues on Facebook. I just wanted to say something reassuring. Most of the people in my office (9) and many in the division (80) are friends on FB. But one of the most fun people here simply told us all, “I don’t add work friends on FB,” and that was the end of that. Say it kindly and without sounding like a jerk and people will pretty much accept that it’s just one of your quirks. And, I would argue, it’s perfectly reasonable. Some people have active lives outside of work and don’t want to merge the two friend groups.

    Reply
    1. amy l

      This is my response, as well. FB is strictly friends and family. I’ve only gotten push back once from a coworker who felt everyone should be her best friend. My boss actually had to tell her to stop the FB requests. She was uncomfortably insistent.

      Reply
  28. Cube Ninja

    OP4: When a recruiter is that hilariously off base, I do exactly one thing – ask them not to contact me again. Someone trying to recruit me for an entry level contract position paying less than half what I currently make is extremely unlikely to be of use to me even if I *am* looking at some point in the future.

    My personal favorite bad recruiter was the one who tried to pull me for a senior accountant position, yet somehow failed to notice (or ignored) that I don’t actually have a degree in accounting when his client requires it. That phone call was rather entertaining. :)

    Reply
  29. Emilia Bedelia

    A suggestion for OP #1 and any others who don’t want to listen to music with questionable lyrics at work: There are many groups that do instrumental piano or string quartet covers of popular music. It’s not exactly the same, of course, but I like these covers better than most instrumental music. My mother, a preschool teacher, likes to listen to these at work during naptime- if you know the songs, you’ll recognize the tunes, but otherwise they’re calming and quiet.

    Reply
    1. JustaTech

      This is what I listen to (on my headphones) when I’m reading or writing at work. No distracting lyrics and the tunes are already familiar. One group you might consider is The Vitamin String Quartet.

      Reply
    2. kitryan

      The flip side of the instrumental cover-I listen to Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies at work to get my energy up (on headphones). They do punkified covers of pop songs, mostly innocuous top 40 stuff from the Beatles through Celine Dion. It’s fun to listen to, I know all the words through sheer cultural osmosis and if I sing along a little, no one’s clutching their pearls.

      Reply
  30. strawberries and raspberries

    I used to work with someone who called me “Miss Strawberries and Raspberries” all the time (and didn’t stop when I asked her to), and it drove me absolutely insane. We’re not in the South nor did she grow up in the South, and she’s older than I am. On top of that, whenever she spoke to me (and seemingly only to me) she would also pitch her voice up into this cloying baby voice that was about an octave above her normal speaking voice. If there was any cultural precedent for it, I might have been a little more forgiving, but that combined with the voice came across as extremely disingenuous, like she was affecting “manners” but couldn’t actually be her normal self in front of me.

    Reply
    1. AEM

      That sounds extremely awkward.
      I’m a firm believer that people, especially adults, should get most of the say over what they’re called. Within reason of course; I wouldn’t want to call someone anything ridiculous just because they like the idea of being called Princess or something silly. But when it comes to not wanting to be called something, they should be the authority on that.

      Reply
  31. Sweet Caroline BAH BAH BAH

    OP1: If I feel the need for aggressive music during the business day, I quietly hum Kid Rock’s F.O.A.D. to myself. It sounds pretty if anyone overhears, and the lyrics stay in my head.

    Reply
  32. Amber Rose

    I sometimes refer to one of the owners as “Mister Fergus,” which I think is a habit I picked up off another coworker who does the same thing. I usually only do it when I need to ask for a favor. He’s like everybody’s cool grandpa, so while I have a lot of respect for him, it’s hard to be formal with him. And to me, the Miss/Mister FirstName thing is a kind of informality, like a nickname almost. Between two people who aren’t close, it would be kind of insulting. Like if some random called me Ambie. *shudder*

    Anyways, I did see the update where LW had left that job because it was severely dysfunctional, so all I can say is, at least you’re free of it now. Also I hope if it ever comes up again, it won’t be a red flag for another crappy workplace. :(

    Reply
  33. AEM

    OP 3: I had a coworker for a while who was working his first job ever (we were in retail) after taking some time off from college and he called everyone who wasn’t very close to him in age miss or mister. I’m 24 and he didn’t do it to me, but now that I think about it I think he never really addressed me by name anyway. He was extremely conservative and was trying to be respectful, but I always found it weird and vaguely uncomfortable since that wasn’t something we really did there. I know that’s unlikely to be the case for you since I assume your boss is older, but I know from experience that seeing it happen sonewhere it would be unusual can be awkward for others too, if that helps you speak up at all. If he doesn’t do it to others you can easily point it out that it feels weird and singled out that he only does it to you. At this point he may not even realize he’s doing it.

    Reply
  34. azvlr

    OP#1, I have sort of a similar question. We all use headphones in our cube-farm, but most of us don’t listen to music all the time. So, I sort of worry that my co-worker can hear the lyrics even through the headphones. And part of me doesn’t care, because I’m using headphones, after all. There are days when I can get a lot more done blasting some Black Flag (yes I know it’s not great for my hearing).

    So far, my co-worker has not said anything to me, but I don’t know if it’s because she’s incredibly gracious like that or if she can’t hear. I can’t bring myself to ask her.
    Should I have to rein it in if I’m using headphones?

    Reply
    1. Alton

      If you take your headphones off while music is playing and hold them up, can you still hear anything coming out? If so, then it might be good to turn the volume down until you can’t. If you can’t hear anything, then it’s likely your coworkers can’t, either.

      I do think it can be distracting when someone is listening to music so loud that you can hear it from their headphones, not just because of the noise but because it can be hard to make out and sound very scratchy.

      Reply
    2. KellyK

      I think if your music is loud enough for her to hear through your headphones, even when she’s wearing headphones, it’s too loud. But if she happens to hear a snippet because she’s standing right next to you, I don’t think that’s a big deal.

      Reply
    3. azvlr

      I see two issues then – the volume, even with headphones being potentially distracting. Most of the time, we don’t hear each other’s music. I don’t even know what kind of music my cube mates listen to. Based on their personalities, it’s probably mellow stuff.

      The second issue is whether or not I’m subjecting someone to explicit language even though I’m wearing headphones. For the stuff I listen to, loud and explicit go together.

      Applying “What would Alison say?” logic, if it is distracting to the point of preventing my co-worker from effectively doing their job, then yes I should lower the volume. Bummer, though.

      Reply
  35. Rebecca

    #1 – kudos to you for being considerate of your coworkers with regard to music choices, volume, etc. All work places seem to be different…like the law firm where music seems to be forbidden, while other places, like yours, encourage music.

    We have a self appointed Music Police person here, and she has decided that the only acceptable music is from the Christian radio station. I was alone in my office, with the door shut, listening to Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Pink Floyd, and AC/DC at a low volume, just slogging through my work, and apparently she put her ear to the door, decided my music was not within her value set, and complained to a coworker. Who told another coworker. Who knocked on my door and told me. My first instinct was to set the volume higher, so she could actually hear what she was complaining about, but I put in earbuds and just shook my head.

    Reply
    1. KellyK

      Wow. Just wow. Obviously, it depends on whether your boss is reasonable and where Ms. Music Police is in the hierarchy compared to you, but if it’s reasonable, I’d tell her that you’re listening to your music quietly with your door closed so that it *doesn’t* bother anyone else, but that listening at your door is really weird and inappropriate, please don’t do that anymore.

      I actually listen to Christian radio (among other things), but unless you work at a specifically Christian workplace, I think that’s *more* inappropriate than the local pop station, because it seems like you’re trying to convert your coworkers or turn work into church.

      Reply
      1. Rebecca

        I don’t have an opposition to the Christian radio station (United Methodist here), but I do have an opposition to a coworker on my level dictating what music she thinks I should or should not listen to. She also tried to institute a “swear jar” and heard me say “damn” once, and stuck the jar in my face and demanded a quarter. No, I didn’t pay. And I sent her packing with the jar and told her to not come back with it. She tried to tell me when she had enough money, we could have pizza. I wish I was making this up.

        Reply
  36. Faith

    I had a former manager pressure me into accepting his friend request on Facebook (i.e. actually showing up in my cube pouting that his request has gone ignored). That was years ago when I was too young and inexperienced to know how to push back, so I friended the guy. And then he promptly proceeded to leave sexually suggestive comments on all things posted by my female friends. He actually went through my friend list and told me that with that many attractive friends I could start my own mail-order bride agency (a lot of my friends happen to be Eastern European). That’s when I finally said something to my mentor, whose response was to escalate this to HR and the guy finally got fired.

    Reply
  37. Susiedoesbooks

    I’m a little taken aback that calling somebody “Miss {first name}” isn’t considered respectful. I live in the PNW but I guess my southern roots are showing (my momma was born in TN). I guess I have a number of Southern friends (I’m also very active in an online cooking community) and just always thought it showed respect. I never intend it disrespectfully and would be horrified if people where taking it as such. Learn something new everyday!!

    Reply
    1. Rebecca

      My neighbor’s early grade school aged kids call me “Miss Rebecca” and I think it’s cute. They call the older adult neighbors Miss or Mister “first name” and I thought it was respectful. I never realized people thought it wasn’t.

      Reply
  38. RT

    OP#1 reminded me of the time in my first professional job when “Because I Got High” came on my Pandora station. Being young and foolish, my officemate and I decided to let it play, not remembering that the song contains an extremely graphic lyric about, shall we say, adult activities. My officemate and I both SCREAMED when it came on, and I’m pretty sure I unplugged my speakers in a panic. Terrifying at the time, hilarious in retrospect, especially since no one else heard. Now I only listen to music with headphones on.

    Reply
    1. Amber Rose

      Ha! Amazing. I actually worked in a place where my coworkers played that and also a similar joke song about surprising someone with a certain kind of adult act. I think I was the only one blushing. xD

      Reply
    2. seejay

      I had to go look that song up because I know the name of it but I didn’t know the lyrics and I swear my eyes just bugged out. And this is coming from someone that grew up on heavy metal of the 80s and 90s and some pretty trashy lyrics back then. O_O

      Metal ain’t got nothin’ on rap, I swear.

      Reply
      1. Amber Rose

        Because I Got High isn’t rap. It’s quite melodic, closer to a very dirty pop song. I’ve had it on my playlist since junior high because it makes me giggle.

        That was back in the Denis Leary days. I can still sing most of I’m An Asshole and Life’s Gonna Suck.

        Reply
        1. seejay

          Wikipedia said it was rap? Or at least it’s sung by a rapper. XD I didn’t dig it up on Youtube, but I’m tempted.

          Reply
          1. Amber Rose

            Oh, the dude is a rapper probably, but I wouldn’t call it a rap song.
            Do look it up, it’s actually pretty fun. If you’re worried about the nasty bits, there’s a radio edit that’s missing that whole last verse. xD

            Reply
            1. seejay

              I work in a pretty liberal office so I’m totally not worried about the nasty bits. XD Since I don’t listen to the style of music at all, the song just never hit my radar at all, but I had heard the name of the song… I just had *no idea* the lyrics were that raunchy!

              And maybe it’s not rap per se, but it’s hovering around that genre. Maybe hip hop? I don’t know the classifications in that area since it’s so not my area. I fired it up on Youtube and yeah… definitely would have never hit my playlist beyond 10 seconds in, hence why I would have *totally missed* what made my eyes bug out! XD

              Reply
  39. DevAssist

    In regards to the “Miss” question, the 2 year olds I watch on Thursdays at church call me Miss DevAssist since I’m the teacher, but that’s about it. every once and a while I’ll get a work client that will say “Miss DevAssist” because they may not know my last name or may feel the need to be professional/formal, but other than that I never get it.

    Reply
  40. LawBee

    Re #3: I’m interested if the OP is in the south. It’s definitely a culture thing down here, at least in my area. I have been called Miss [FirstName] ALL MY LIFE in all different situations, and it was never meant disrespectfully. Little kids, older men and women, the barista at the Starbucks. It’s just what we do.

    Now, if I was Miss [FirstName]ed at work, it would be a whole different story, and I would shut that down asap.

    Reply
  41. JustaTech

    OP1: Ask! Of course it would be easier to just play radio versions or instrumental versions of your music, but it’s also possible that your 3 floor-mates would not care at all.
    Example: I was working in the lab with 1 other coworker. I went to start my music and asked “Hey, I want to play some different music but some of the lines are dirty in Spanish. Is that OK?”
    “As long as it’s not any more Adele I don’t care.”
    (Our coworker who most often played music had been on a 2 month Adele kick.)

    Reply
    1. ITMaven

      I worked in an office (tiny IT support office in a wing that nobody but us had access to) where my coworkers insisted on playing Rebecca Black’s “Friday” every single Friday!

      Reply
  42. Becky

    #OP 1
    I’ve never been in an office where you could play music without headphones. In every office I have been in it would be considered rude to play your music loud enough so that others could hear it. (And considering most every place I have worked has been cubicles–pretty much your only option is headphones.)

    #OP2
    I used to have a hard and fast rule–if I don’t interact with you socially outside of work, I don’t friend you on Facebook. Most people totally understood when I explained it. I deleted my Facebook account 4 years ago so now I get some weird looks sometimes when I say I don’t have a facebook account, but whatever.

    Reply
    1. AEM

      OP. I currently work for a small accounting office and I’m not sure how to describe it exactly but it’s almost like a house in some ways. We all have offices but the doors pretty much always stay open. It’s not an open area at all, thankfully.
      And it is a really laid back place, I saw one woman (Just below the owners in seniority) walking around barefoot talking to one of the partners this week. And the receptionist wears leggings. It’s too relaxed in some ways, really.

      Reply
  43. BananaPants

    OP1, we have a set of speakers in our lab and it’s first come, first served on plugging in one’s phone. It’s like Murphy’s Law that inevitably a song with questionable lyrics is going to play as soon as a colleague swipes their badge to enter!

    One time our boss didn’t realize that several of us had entered and we rounded the corner to see him singing along to the “Pina Colada Song” at the fume hood. He was using a (clean) beaker as a microphone.

    Our technical fellow is a disco fan – enough said. You feel sort of Mark Watney-esque when he’s in there.

    And then there was the time that one of my coworkers was letting his playlist go through, none of us were really paying much attention, and “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails came on right as a group of summer interns on a tour were stopping at our door. The poor guy LUNGED for the volume knob.

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  44. gmg

    The crappy recruiter story put me in mind of when I was freelancing and got on a project with one of my clients, a government consulting firm, to help write a proposal. The contract was for comms/social media support at a federal agency, and we needed to do a bunch of recruiting to demonstrate that we could staff the project. How they did that was to search for this agency’s name and “social media” on LinkedIn and then pull whatever resumes they found. Predictably, most of them were resumes of people WHO ALREADY WORKED FOR THE AGENCY. I found myself gently but repeatedly having to point out that such-and-such a candidate was probably not a good one for this reason, but in hindsight would have just straight-up said, “Um, guys, I don’t think they are going to pick our bid if our staffing plan is ‘try to poach their employees.’ ” Again, predictably, my client did not win the contract. (Somewhat less predictably, they then went out of business a year later because the founder had spent all the company’s money on booze and strippers. O_o)

    Reply
  45. Wintermute

    #1– the problem with subjective things like that is you really, truly have no idea what everyone’s offensiveness threshold is.

    Side story here, once in my youth I worked in a Taco Bell, and we found out we could plug a CD player into the auxilliary system of the normal muzak player, once the lobby was shut.

    Three things to know about this shift:

    First fact, Normally we kept the music top-40, but there was Jack, the perpetual n’er do well, who liked his rap. Specifically fairly hard rap. None of us cared enough to raise a stink about it, and the one girl that was offended, well we wouldn’t play it when she was around, so no problem.

    Two, we were the ONLY place open in our little town after midnight. This lead to many drunks and us being quite popular with Podunk, WI’s Finest, as a place to get some food on break or if you didn’t have time to go to the diner.

    Three, before we can leave for the night the floors must be scrubbed, mopped, sanitized and dried. (seriously Taco Bell has insane food safety and cleaning requirements, I’d eat off their floors before eating at many other restaurants).

    These three facts collided in a rather unfortunate way.

    So here we were about to shut down for the night, soaping up the floor with bucket after bucket of hot soap solution, spraying it right out of the hose by the wash sink, to get the grout lines in the tile clean to the boss’ specifications, blaring Jack’s rap, namely the C.D. “Straight Outta Compton” when a cruiser comes in for some last-minute burritos and mountain dew.

    And then we hear the track begin “Yo Dre! I got somethin’ to say!”

    And in unison me, Katie, Jackie and Jack realize that first amendment or not, blaring “F– the police” while serving burritos to the police is a potential problem.

    We bolt for the manager’s office, through the soap and the suds, even our grease-proof skid-proof restaurant loafers get no traction in the face of the onslaught of that much soap, we’re skidding around corners of the hot line steam table like it’s Mario Kart, Jack runs into Jackie and they go teapot over spout to the ground, Katie wipes out in the doorway and I have to leap over her but I lose my balance and go down in the office, and she has to virtually crawl over me, and pulls the cord out of the CD player, just in time.

    Reply
  46. Ren

    I know I am late for the party, but here is my two cents on Facebook.
    I work in a small office with less than 15 people. I have been friends with two of my co workers for 10+ years and we met long before we worked together. I have them both on Facebook, but would not want any other co workers having that kind of access to my personal life. On multiple occasions I have found my other co workers on Facebook and blocked them. this way, I avoid the awkwardness of denying or ignoring all together.

    Reply

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