should I hang my degree in my office, employee invited a toxic guest to our holiday party, and more

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

1. Should I hang my degree up in my office?

I’m starting a new job next week that I’m VERY excited about. A great opportunity for a great company. I’m also about to finish a Master’s degree program I’ve worked very hard for over the past two years, while working a full-time career job. It took a lot of time and energy and I’m very happy with my accomplishment, and my new employer expressed in the interview that they were impressed with my academic pursuits.

I really want to hang my master’s degree in my new office, but is that out of place in a communications job? I don’t want to come off as pretentious (or anything else bad!) especially after just starting. I’ve only seen degrees hanging in doctor’s or professor’s offices. If it makes any difference, I likely won’t ever be holding group or client meetings in my office.

Wait and see what other people in your office do. This isn’t a super common thing to see outside of fields where you genuinely can’t perform the job with the degree (like doctors and lawyers) and if no one else does it, then yeah, it may come across like you’re putting outsized importance on it (which could in turn come across either as a little pretentious or a little naive). But you can always display it at home!

2. Employee wants to bring a toxic, fired coworker to our holiday party

We recently fired an employee, Doug, after a series of serious errors. We gave him extensive training and retraining, verbal and written feedback, and multiple warnings. We even simplified his work and left him with only the most basic work assignments possible but, in the end, his mistakes angered multiple clients and he simply did not possess the skills to perform his job.

We have another employee, Andy, who is friends with Doug. Andy invited Doug to be his guest at our company office party. We only know this because Doug emailed us to ask if it would be okay, and how he was looking forward to seeing everyone’s stunned reactions when he shows up at the party.

My gut response to this is NO WAY. Doug has been lying to his former coworkers about the circumstances of his departure, and saying that we fired him without any notice or giving him any opportunity to correct his errors. This has caused panic among some staff members, who I’ve had to reassure that we have a process for addressing job performance issues and that people generally aren’t fired without warning. Moreover, when we posted Doug’s job, we got “applications” from fake people whose resumes contained only profanity, such as, “F—- you!” I suspect these emails are from Doug or Doug’s friends lashing out at us. I don’t want to expose 100+ people at our holiday shindig to this toxicity. Am I being reasonable to say no?

Yes indeed. You’re under no obligation to entertain Doug at your holiday party. It would be perfectly reasonable to tell Andy, “Sorry, but there have been some issues with Doug that mean that we can’t allow him to attend the party.”

3. My coworkers all trash-talk our difficult colleague, and I want to defend him

I work for a small, relaxed company and I have a coworker, who I’ll call Wayne, who annoys literally everyone else at the company. Wayne and I have had our differences, but overall we have an okay working relationship. Wayne works from home a lot, so it’s very common for everyone to take cracks at him when he’s not here. This includes not only his peers (I am one), but also my boss and his boss, up to the C-level guys. I don’t think he needs saving because his position is very strong here and he contributes a lot to the organization, but I’ve taken to vehemently defending him when people go on about their issues with him because I’m getting really irritated that people continue to talk behind his back.

There is no universe in which I would want to tell him this is happening because I feel like that would just hurt his feelings and cause drama. I’ve brought it up to people individually but nobody is willing to stop. My boss is the worst offender and she’s also the most mean-spirited about it, so I haven’t talked to her about it. My next step up is the C-suite, but, again, they also perpetuate the practice. What can I do? He’s a good person, despite his annoying behavior, and I don’t feel right just letting this continue.

I don’t know that you can stop it since it sounds like you’ve already brought it up and people don’t care, and since the people you’d need to escalate it to are offenders themselves. You can try though! I’d start with your boss, even though she’s the worst offender, since it’s possible that she’ll change her perspective when she hears how it’s coming across to you.

You can also try speaking up when it’s happening. For example: “
* “Wow, that’s really mean.”
* “I think Wayne would feel terrible to know people talk about him this way.”
* “Please don’t talk about one of our colleagues that way.”
* “Hey, this really bothers me. Wayne doesn’t deserve to have coworkers who trash him behind his back, and if you’re not willing to talk to him about your concerns to his face, please stop doing it around me.”

That may get through to some people and make them reconsider. But ultimately it sounds like you work with people who are kind of mean. (To be clear, it’s especially the not stopping when it’s pointed out part that makes me say that. Sometimes people will blow off steam about a frustrating coworker — but when someone points out that it’s awful, kind people will realize that’s true and stop it.)

4. Working for a friend and not getting paid on time

I am looking for advice about how to have a conversation with my boss who is also a friend in regards to being paid on time. We’ve known each other for a number of years and she is a dear friend. Over the summer, she needed a new employee and we thought it would be great to work together. There are perks for both of us. She has someone she trusts and who has a similar aesthetic working for and collaborating with her. I am able to bring my dog to work and work on my postgrad work during downtime (this actually rarely happens but is on the table), and as I also work as a doula, there is some flexibility with me being on call, but usually still with me finding cover so this hasn’t happened much either. Still, great things to have! We have also started working together on our own little side project. It’s a great set-up.

The only thing is I have had to remind her to be paid every single pay period (around six times so far). This means that by the time I gather my courage and she is back in at work, I’m fairly regularly getting paid up to a week late. I know it is totally okay to ask to be paid on time and I’m sure she realizes this also. Unfortunately, I’m also aware as a friend that she is having a tough time financially with her business, so this adds to the weirdness re: asking to be paid. How do you think I should broach this with her? It must feel bad for her also (I think) and it is not sustainable to continue to do this twice a month.

Just be straightforward and matter-of-fact. Don’t try to tiptoe around it to avoid making her feel weird, because that’s likely to make it more weird. Just say something like this: “I’m really enjoying our arrangement working together. But to keep making it work, I need to be paid on time consistently. Is there a way to change whatever system you’re using to ensure that I’m getting paid on the schedule we agreed to?”

Also, do you have any sense of whether this is a cash flow issue (where she literally doesn’t have the money to pay you until later) or just disorganization? If it’s the latter, it’s easier to handle (and given the friendship, you could even offer to be part of whatever system is put in place to better track it if that would help). But if it’s cash flow, it’s important for you to know that’s happening because it means the problem is likely to continue and you’ll have to decide if you’re okay with that or not — and if you are, you might ask to be kept informed more proactively so you don’t have to chase down your check every time.

And I’m guessing that because she’s a dear friend, you don’t want to go the legal route — but for what it’s worth, most states do require you to be paid by specific timeframes, which could be useful background to inform your thinking.

5. Employer wants me to start work a month early

I received an offer for a graduate program that is starting in January 2018. I have just been called today by HR asking if it’s possible for me to start on Monday because they have a backload of work. I will only be paid at the end of January though.

My problem is that at the moment I have no cash to get to work, not even lunch to carry to work. I had planned to get money at the end of December so I can go shopping for work clothes and save some for transport and lunch until I get my salary. The HR manager is expecting a call tomorrow with an answer, I would love to start on Monday but feel I’m not prepared, even financially. I feel overwhelmed mentally because I was really not expecting nor prepared for this. What should I do?

Well, you’re allowed to say no! You could say that unfortunately you have commitments that you can’t get out of between now and your original start date and that you’re saying you’re not able to start earlier.

Or you could be completely honest and say something like: “The truth is that I’d love to start early, but I won’t be in a position to buy work clothes or lunches or even pay for my transportation to work until late December. Given that, I probably need to stick with January, although I could do an earlier date in January if you prefer.” That opens the door for them to offer different financial arrangements if they want to.

(Also, see above re: most states requiring you to be paid by specific timelines. In most states it wouldn’t be legal for them to have you start work Monday and not pay you until late January, unless this is structured as a internship or something like that — which it may be since it’s a graduate program.)

{ 499 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. neverjaunty

    For #2, I read that to say that DOUG is the one who e-mailed the OP to say he’s Andy’s guest and is looking forward to ‘stunned reactions’.

    And I wonder if Andy knows Doug is saying this?

    Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      That’s how I read it, also. I mean, it’s still worth speaking to Andy privately, but not because of the “stunned reactions” statement.

      Reply
    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Ah, you’re right. Given that, I just removed the second paragraph of my answer (the part questioning what’s up with Andy, which I’d written when I thought he was the one looking forward to the stunned reactions).

      Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        I read it as Doug sending the email, but it made for an odd whiplashing:
        1) This could be awkward, so I want to reach out beforehand to someone higher ranking than my buddy
        2) HA, your stunned looks will be so great!

        I thought we were heading from humble email to manager still worried about ensuing drama, but this seems to promise the drama upfront. In which case, why give the to-be-drama’d advance warning?

        Reply
        1. Alli525

          I don’t think this is necessarily poor judgment – maybe Andy hasn’t been in the working world for a terribly long time and doesn’t realize how unusual it is for someone who was terminated (for any reason, or even if they resigned voluntarily and in good standing with a company) to attend the holiday party. Afterparty, sure, show up if you’re invited, but not the actual event.

          Reply
          1. TootsNYC

            but that IS poor judgment.

            It might be poor judgment due to inexperience, but it’s still poor judgment.
            The inexperience (IF it exists) might mean your response to Andy’s poor judgment is some education. But it doesn’t change it from being poor judgment.

            (and frankly, it’s poor judgment even if Andy is not that experienced int he working world. It’s a middle-school lesson, that you don’t invite someone to a party where there are people that “broke up with them” or don’t like them, especially not the hosts.)

            Reply
            1. Denise Biscuit

              Do i work with you? This literally happened to my team last night; this person made a point to tell everyone she would be attending, but nobody had the courage to tell her it was inappropriate, everyone agreed seperately it was “not done”. I told her. It fell of deaf ears. This was one of the big issues that we had with her when she was employed, so i shouldnt be surrised.

              Reply
          1. Plague of frogs

            At ToxicJob, my VP was fired for sexual harassment, yet showed up at the next celebration. I didn’t attend that celebration myself, happily. But my friend told me that the senior people there made no move to get rid of him. Nor did they at least try to “keep him to themselves”–he was allowed to sit at the table with much more junior people, including my friend. He got drunk and was overbearing to the waitress.

            For this and many other reasons, I now have a bright, shiny new job with people who treat each other with respect. It’s amazing.

            Reply
        2. EvilQueenRegina

          And if Doug is feeding people misleading information about the reasons for his departure Andy may not know the whole story anyway.

          Reply
          1. DArcy

            Which is why it’s reasonable for management to quietly pull Andy aside and explain why he is not allowed to have Doug as a guest, now or ever again.

            Reply
        3. Roscoe

          I don’t know that its poor judgment. He heard one side of the story. That of his friend. To be honest, I think most people would take the word of the person that have a personal relationship with over their boss. I mean, realistically both sides have reasons to try and save face. But just because someone doesn’t work somewhere anymore, doesn’t automatically make them persona non grata. We had a guy leave a few weeks ago and he is coming to our holiday party.

          Reply
          1. TootsNYC

            It’s still poor judgment. You can believe Doug all you want, but the company “broke up with” him, and you don’t invite the “dumped boyfriend” to a party hosted by his ex.

            Our OP tells us what Doug has been telling people, and it’s exactly the kind of thing that people with GOOD judgment would know should mean Doug isn’t welcome at a party hosted by the company.

            Doug has been lying to his former coworkers about the circumstances of his departure, and saying that we fired him without any notice or giving him any opportunity to correct his errors. This has caused panic among some staff members,

            Reply
            1. Artemesia

              So it is clear to everyone that he was fired. Andy really dropped the ball here and needs to be clearly advised on this. It is one thing to bring an ex employee who left on good turns, although even then, he should have asked permission, but someone who is fired?

              I don’t understand the OP’s reluctance to immediately contact Doug and tell him ‘no’ and to engage security on this. Doug is taunting him and is an obvious security threat. Who hesitates in saying ‘you are not invited and will not be allowed to attend.’

              Reply
        4. accidental manager

          I thought Doug might have invited himself and Andy didn’t really know how to say no. Andy might be grateful if the managers put a stop to it before the party.

          Reply
      2. TootsNYC

        But I do think there’s a bit of “what’s up with Andy?” because he knows Doug was fired, and so WHY WHY WHY did he ask him to be his “date” for the company party?

        Andy needs a lesson or two.

        Reply
    3. Artemesia

      This. Respond to Doug that he is not invited and will not be permitted to attend and let security know. And let Andy know that it is entirely inappropriate to try to bring a fired employee to a company event.

      If you get any push back from Andy give some thought to Andy’s future with the company.

      And I hope when people have complained about how poorly Doug was treated I hope you have been very clear that while you will not discuss employee details with others that they can assume such decisions are not taken lightly or without substantial opportunities for improvement. They need to know clearly that they don’t have the full story.

      Reply
      1. copy run start

        +1 to giving thought to Andy and his judgment. I can’t imagine any universe where it would be okay for a fired employee to come to the holiday party. I don’t think it’s a problem for Andy to remain friends with Doug, but to invite Doug to the holiday party? Never!

        Also, is Andy the source of the misinformation on Doug’s departure? Or is it Doug contacting other employees directly? Hopefully it is Doug, but I feel like that needs to be investigated further to ensure Andy isn’t also a problem here.

        Reply
        1. anonanon

          We’ve had situations where the spouse of an employee was fired and the employee still brought them to company events. If I was the fired spouse, I would sit out altogether, but that’s just me. It’s a little awkward, but our office has over 200 people, so it’s easy to ignore.

          Reply
    4. Random Thoughts

      Strangely enough this situation came up in my workplace recently. A woman demanded a pay-rise and threatened to quit if she didn’t get one. The company took her up on her offer and she finished up a couple of weeks ago. During her notice period the Christmas party invite went out and she rsvp’d to go. The company EA told her she couldn’t come so she responded that she’d just go as someone’s plus one. The EA again told her she couldn’t come. The party is tonight and I’m waiting for the gossip on Monday to find out if she turns up anyway. She’s so ridiculous my bet is she’ll try it. The weird thing is – she didn’t like anyone and no-one liked her ! I can’t even imagine what she’s thinking.

      OP – just tell him No and make sure it’s a really blunt No.

      Reply
      1. Lisa B

        ABSOLUTELY not. Get your company’s highest legal or HR person to emphatically tell Doug he can’t come, and get Andy’s supervisor to emphatically tell Andy he can’t bring Doug. Doug’s response of looking forward to the stunned faces?? He’s not coming from a place of good faith. I could even argue that just by telling you in advance that he was coming, that was an antagonistic approach, given the way he put it out there. Tell Doug he may not come. Tell Andy he may not bring him. Then plan for a “what if he does” scenario and be prepared to act on it.

        Reply
      2. Say what, now?

        Just one last way for her to push her agenda with your company before she goes? At least they were upfront with her about the party and she doesn’t have an excuse to show up under the guise of “I received the email so I thought it was ok.”

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      3. Mazzy

        Wow I am a bit nervous in social situations even with somewhat liking or liking the people and being wholeheartedly invited, I could never go if I was like THIS!

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      4. Marthooh

        I guess her first bluff worked so well she’s decided to follow through with another one: “Fire me, willya? Well then I’ll come to the Christmas party and not enjoy it! Muhahahahaha!”

        Reply
      5. Roscoe

        This seems like an excessively adversarial thing from your company. People leaving because they want more money is extremely common. It doesn’t have to be an all out war. What is the harm of letting her be someone’s +1.

        Reply
        1. tigerlily

          It sounds like the war started with the employee: demanding a pay raise, threatening to quit, etc. It’s not like she calmly made a decision that her financial situation wasn’t working for her, found a new position, and gave notice.

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          1. Lance

            Exactly. Giving an ultimatum like that isn’t exactly good judgement, so between that and her and her co-workers not particularly liking each other… what’s her actual plan here?

            Reply
        2. Someone else

          It sounds like she doesn’t actually have friends within the company, so who would choose to invite her as a plus one? Or is she planning to bully someone “you WILL take me” when she’s been explicitly told not to. I think the adversarial bit is coming from the former-employee not the company.

          Reply
      6. AKchic

        At my last job, we had a woman who was like that. She was over-the-top dramatic. We inherited her when our company ended up absorbing another non-profit years earlier. She didn’t like the merger, but she stayed on and kept subtly fighting changes. Kept trying to keep “her” programs separate instead of integrating them. She became the Quality/Safety person, which also meant records custodian, but they were transferring records to me, which somehow got her hackles up. One day she dumped 500 records in my office, on the floor, while I was at lunch, then walked straight to the CEO to file a complaint about me having unsecured medical records. I didn’t even have enough space for the filing cabinets needed for the records, and I wasn’t there, I had no idea where the records came from and there was no way I’d be able to go through all of them in half a day. On top of that – per her own manipulations, my door wasn’t a locking door (I wasn’t management).

        One day, she decided she needed a raise. A huge one. We were a non-profit and she wanted something like a 20% raise. Everyone in the office heard the fight (we were in a small building at the time, and the walls were thin and she was yelling). If her talents weren’t going to be recognized with the pay befitting her stature, then she would just leave. What do you say to that? CEO says fine, I expect your resignation before you leave, we’ll help you take your belongings to your car at the end of the day, you can turn your keys in before you leave. I’ll call the board to let them know of your resignation.
        She tried to reapply for different positions for 3 years after she left, but never did get rehired and I think she finally took the hint that the company wasn’t going to hire her back after that stunt.

        Reply
    5. Koko

      Which is such a bizarre combination. He acknowledges up-front that he’s hoping to make a salacious, disruptive appearance and then asks permission to do so??

      Reply
      1. Say what, now?

        I’m guessing he knows he’ll be kicked out if he shows so he’s looking for assurance that he can avoid that embarrassment.

        Reply
    6. Erin

      I had to read that twice too.

      I can’t believe this is even an issue. Bringing a fired employee to a holiday party seems like a no brainer to me, regardless of the industry. I don’t know what the heck Andy was thinking.

      For one second I was ready to give Doug a little credit, since he did email to check if it was okay, but saying he’s “looking forward to seeing everyone’s stunned reactions” brought me right back. Wow. What a drama starter.

      OP, I assume you know this is not appropriate and just wanted some reassurance you’re doing the right thing in saying no. You can say no. Please say no. This is not appropriate and would likely be a disaster. :)

      Reply
      1. Amber T

        Yeah I’m with you. Did he try really hard and the work just wasn’t cut out for him? Did both the employee and the company bend over backwards to try to make the situation work and it just couldn’t? Did they split amicably and agree parting was the best? Sure, let the former employee come to the party. But yeah, the “stunned reactions,” random troll applications, and the sudden panic that the company fires people without any notice? Nope. I’d keep an eye on Andy too.

        Reply
    7. Aphrodite

      You know, given his bitterness and apparent viciousness, I’d be very, very careful about letting Doug attend the party. It might be overboard but it sounds like Doug has plans of his own that go beyond just being there and getting in people’s faces. Violence? Maybe, maybe not. But if I was an employee there and I saw Doug I would probably run out immediately.

      Can you have a couple of hired police officers at the entrance? Can you cancel the party altogether. It just sounds like a potentially VERY bad idea to mix Doug and a company party.

      Reply
    8. Connie-Lynne

      Thirteen years ago, this happened with my husband’s boss. He was (TBH, justifiably) unhappy about a number of policy decisions that had been made, and he sent what was essentially a “fuck you” letter to all of the company’s senior leadership, CCed to his team. The letter was impressively unprofessional, and he was fired.

      Many of his reports were friends from college or from other workplaces, and months later, he was not only soliciting friends to take him as their +1 to the company christmas party, he was also soliciting folks to take his wife. It was clear he was still bitter and angry over the entire situation, and expected that somehow showing up would make a scene and, I dunno, teach the higher ups a lesson? Something like that. There was definitely an element of “this is how I will take my revenge!”

      This was a huge company and the holiday party was correspondingly huge. He showed up, and after about 45 min was quietly escorted out by security. There was a small amount of murmuring around him being present, and some social media commentary after, but by and large even his college friends were like “dude, that was stupid.”

      I think it’s possible that Doug is like this dude, he wants the drama and he found the one person foolish enough to bring him. Depending on size of the company, it’s likely to be a non-ish-issue, like the one I describe above, or, if it’s a small company, presumably he’ll be denied entry or kicked out quickly.

      Either way, LW should clearly tell Doug no in email AND reach out to the party organizers to let them know to advise security.

      Reply
  2. So Very Anonymous

    Re #1: I thought it was Doug who emailed about attending the party and looking forward to seeing stunned faces. It’s weird that Andy wants to bring Doug, but it doesn’t sound like Andy is the one saying he’s looking forward to shocking people.

    Reply
  3. KarenT

    #1 Seriously don’t do it unless others do. It won’t come off very well. It’s totally fine to be proud of your masters (I am of mine!) but it will come off a bit like you’re overly proud and want people to know about it.

    Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Agreed. To be fair, my diplomas are filed away (not on any walls), but I’m generally pro-keep-the-diplomas-at-home. I find it kind of tacky when doctors/lawyers display their degrees in their offices.

      Reply
          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            Oh, you’re not wrong. It’s common for lawyers and doctors to display their degrees. As a member of one of those professions, I find it kind of tacky. But I realize this is also somewhat of a class bias on my part, overlaid with frustration with the belief that graduating from a “name brand” university makes you a better or more intelligent practitioner.

            What I find more reassuring are certificates of admission to specific bars, which are more informative than a diploma.

            Reply
            1. Jaydee

              I’m a legal aid lawyer. Yes, I am a “real” lawyer. With an actual law degree. And admission to one state, two federal districts, and tax court. Probably 90% of my clients don’t even seem to notice the diplomas and bar admission certificates on my walls. But the 10% who comment on them have only responded favorably (or, usually, commented on the fact that I went to Llamaville State University for undergrad and University of Llamaville for law school, and so who am I rooting for in the big Llama rivalry game next weekend).

              Low-income people often get stuck with the leftovers and hand-me-downs in life. Then add in the perception that you get what you pay for so free lawyers aren’t any good. Yet when they find themselves in a situation where they need a lawyer, they usually *really* need a good lawyer. Having my degrees and bar admissions on the wall helps signal to my clients that they are getting good legal advice and representation from a competent professional.

              Of course, a few of my colleagues have degrees that are gigantic, in which case they usually get some teasing – “Man, it looks like Teapot University is compensating for something!” But never targeted at them, just at their alma mater.

              Reply
              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                I don’t know if this helps provide context, Jaydee, but I’m also a legal aid/services attorney.

                Reply
            2. Soon to be former fed

              I don’t judge the school. I have already thoroughly vetted any licensed professional I am using.

              Reply
        1. Where's the Le-Toose?

          When I was in private practice, I always had my law degree, State Bar certificate, undergrad diploma, and other framed awards on the wall of my office. It mattered to some clients to see the degrees, etc..

          But as soon as I transitioned to being a public sector attorney, I left all my degrees at home. The only people in our office who have degrees on their walls are those who started with our office fresh out of law school. Those who have had a legal career before coming to our office have art and leave the diplomas at home.

          Reply
      1. Emily Spinach

        I think it makes total sense to display them at work, since that’s where they’re relevant. I can imagine hanging them in a home office, but then no one sees them at all.

        Reply
        1. AndersonDarling

          In my office, some people have diplomas in their offices/cubes if the degree directly relates to their positions. The analyst has a degree in Computer Science or Data Analytics, or the Quality Specialist has an MS in Quality Management. I actually see it more with mid level staff as a way to convey “Hey Executive, I know what I’m talking about. Start listening.”

          Reply
          1. Grapey

            At my job people tend to display the professional development courses they’ve taken (that work has paid for), not the actual degree that got them the job.

            So for example, programmers wouldn’t display their 4 yr CS degree, but they’ll show a 4 month Coursera certificate in some new framework that’s specific to their work.

            Typically if it’s a cheap print out ‘diploma’ from a course that’s paid by our employer people don’t feel bad about displaying those. They often act as social commentary too when developers talk to different teams. “Oh, was that course good? Where are you using it?” etc.

            Reply
      2. Kuododi

        New commenter here. As a point of clarification I’m a licenced mental health counselor, post Master’s degree. I’m not certain of all jurisdictions, and I certainly can’t comment about areas out of the US but where I’ve practiced-southeast US- we were required to display our degrees as part of the process of maintaining an accredited mental healthcare practice. Hope this helps!!!

        Reply
        1. Ramona Flowers

          Now that’s intriguing. In the UK this isn’t a regulated profession – it’s self-regulated – but the accrediting bodies (BACP, UKCP etc) require people to provide information on their qualifications when asked for them.

          However, depending on your modality, hanging them in your consulting room is not neutral. Some people might feel reassured. For others it may emphasise the power differential in a way that’s not helpful. If I ever go back and finish my training, I’m too humanistic to see any value in hanging certificates on my wall.

          Reply
          1. Scott

            A dental hygienist explained to me that she had to have a copy of her permit (not diploma, but same idea) at both practices. She said it was somewhat of a contradiction, since she’s only given one copy and not really allowed to make copies (I may be remembering a few facts off, but that was the gist). I’m an engineer, and even though in my current job, I technically don’t need an engineer’s permit, I don’t need to have my permit with me, but if I had my own office and not a crappy cubicle, I would definitely display it.

            Reply
          2. TeacherNerd

            I’m not sure what too humanistic means. (I’m not being sarcastic! I genuinely don’t understand what that means.) Some people see the value, others don’t; it’s often impossible to get a read on what people will like, be interested in, find offensive, or see the value in. Granted, since I’m a teacher, I was encouraged to hang my degrees (I have four of them, including two graduate degrees) – there’s more an acceptability there – but I’m sure there may have been some parents who didn’t like seeing them, or some fellow teachers who felt put off or put down (two teachers made the exact same comment: “Wow, I only have one [degree]”) but in some fields, at least, it lends credibility within the field. Others won’t find that credible. Can’t win. :)

            Reply
            1. Ramona Flowers

              I mean I’m more into the idea of being a human with another human than being any kind of authority or expert. They’re all just different perspectives.

              Reply
              1. TootsNYC

                then again, sometimes a person wants the authority or expert relationship.

                I was so weirded out when I went to see a highly regarded orthopedic surgeon, and he walked in, stuck out his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Ainsworth.”

                I was like, No you’re not, you’re Dr. Allen!

                Reply
              2. Specialk9

                Personally, I don’t see it as authority, but rather acquisition of knowledge and skillsets I don’t have.

                But I can totally see it being intimidating or introducing a power differential for some people, especially if they feel self conscious about their own level of education.

                Reply
                1. TeacherNerd

                  Yeah, this. One can’t help others’ self-consciousness about their own education level. I’m knowledgable about my own skill set, but I don’t interpret that to mean that I’m smarter than other people, just that I have an authority to teach certain subjects. (Then again, I also don’t see authority as a negative thing; others’ authority doesn’t intimidate me. There are some who are just more easily intimidated.) I still have the ability to treat my students as people and relate to them as people; my displaying my degrees doesn’t negate that ability.

              3. Lindsay J

                But if I’m seeking a therapist, the reason I’m paying you $125 an hour for the session is because you’re an expert. If I didn’t want to talk to someone with experience and training in the field – just another caring human being – I would talk to friends or family members or people on online forums or on 7 Cups of Tea or similar for free.

                (Though in the US you have to have specific credentials to be able to practice legally, and I can look up that information online so I don’t necessarily need to see it on the walls of the office.

                Reply
                1. Ramona Flowers

                  Different kind of caring human. You are the expert on your own life. But that’s fine – you just might do better with a different type of therapist.

        1. Kuododi

          Yes…where I practiced we were required to display all relevant degrees because it was considered a part of maintaining an accredited mental healthcare practice. Now if a staff person by chance had an additional degree say in underwater teapot design…well that was optional as far as whether or not the diploma needed to be displayed.

          Reply
        2. blackcat

          Yep, in some states, doctors have to put everything on the wall.

          It’s sort of like how restaurants in many areas have to display their health code rating.

          Reply
          1. neverjaunty

            Really? That seems odd given that a lot of patients are never going to see the doctor’s working office, as opposed to the examination room.

            It’s pretty common for lawyers to hang their degrees, certificates of admissions to various bars, etc, but not everyone does so.

            Reply
            1. Judy (since 2010)

              Around here, there must be this requirement, most doctor’s offices have the degrees and medical licenses in the waiting room or in the hallway you walk through from the waiting room to the exam rooms.

              Reply
            2. miss_chevious

              Yeah, when I was at a law firm, virtually all the lawyers hung their law school degrees and state bar certificates in their offices — it was standard. Now that I’m in-house at a company, none of us do it.

              Reply
            3. Windchime

              It’s common here to see doctors’ diplomas on the wall of the actual exam room. I never thought anything about it because it’s so common. (Washington state, for anyone who is wondering).

              Reply
        3. Falling Diphthong

          All my physical therapists have done this, and that’s in open plan offices since you need to move around lifting and pulling and jumping on things. It being a requirement makes sense.

          Reply
        4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          I thought they had to display their license/permit, not their diploma? I can’t speak to medicine, but it’s certainly not required for law (in the U.S.).

          Reply
      3. Reba

        Both my parents are in fields where it is either required or very normal to display one’s degrees in one’s practice.

        They got my BFA diploma framed for me. It’s inexplicably large. It’s still in their house.

        Reply
      4. Millennial Lawyer

        It may be a culture thing? In my office tons of people have their law degree hanging up. I’ve never ever thought of it as anything other than normal.

        Reply
        1. JB (not in Houston)

          Yes, I’m the only lawyer at my office who doesn’t have it up. And in my case, it’s just sheer laziness. I still, all the years later, have never had it framed. Plus, eventually I will retire, and it will be one more heavy thing I have to lug back home.

          Reply
          1. Specialk9

            I think it’s pretty rude to judge people for complying with a clear cultural norm. It’s blaming individuals for something that is none of their doing.

            Reply
            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              I’m not judging anyone. I personally disfavor the practice. I recognize that I am in the minority. I don’t think people who display their degrees are tacky people, and I don’t think OP or others’ desire to display their degrees means they have tacky values or are tacky people. I think the cultural norm of displaying degrees is a tacky practice. That’s a critique of cultural norms, not individuals.

              I think it’s worth people thinking through why they’re displaying their diplomas because it can help them identify whether the purpose conforms to prevailing practice (and whether they agree with the practice).

              Reply
              1. Specialk9

                Oh, thanks for clarifying. I was assuming you were saying people were tacky, but you were criticizing the practice itself. Sorry for jumping the wrong way on you!

                Reply
                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  It’s ok! I should have been more precise—my comment could definitely been read as suggesting people are tacky… which is super rude! Thanks for giving me the chance to clarify!

      5. Soon to be former fed

        I appreciate medical credentials especially board certifications being on display. That is very different than a random masters degree up on the wall. I do think adding MA and such in a signature block is pretentious unless it is also a licensing credential such as required to be a LCSW.

        Reply
    2. Dan

      I’m proud of my MS, but I also work with a lot of people with PhDs… including a couple from MIT. Every once in awhile, when they start getting super theoretical, I just like to give them a blank stare and say, “Please remember that I just have an MS from a state school.” That usually takes the edge off.

      Reply
      1. Julia

        That makes me kind of sad. Sure, someone who was in school longer should have accumulated more knowledge in their field (although in my grad school, PhD students don’t really go to class anymore), but where you went to school shouldn’t matter if you’re smart and dedicated. I’m not sure about MIT, maybe it’s different for science majors. Or maybe my (top 3 of the country) school is just… not very competitive outside the country. I’m a second year master’s student and some of the PhD students in my field (under the same professor) don’t seem to know more, they’ve just done things more often? Although my impression is probably severely colored by the two PhD students who simply don’t know enough English to express themselves, when our research field is English language education…

        Reply
        1. Overeducated

          I think it sounds like Dan is being a little sarcastic, not that there is actually a stigma against MS degrees from state schools…I have an Ivy League PhD and work outside academia, and my education definitely does not make me more respected or accomplished in my office than my coworkers at the same level who have practical experience instead. If someone said something like that to me, I would take it as a tongue in cheek warning to not be a show off or get off track.

          Reply
      2. Project Manager

        Why contribute to the stigma against state schools? I couldn’t have afforded college anywhere else, and I got an outstanding education with terrific opportunities like experiential education. I’ll never understand why people sneer at me for that – though this comment is shedding some light.

        Reply
        1. Turkletina

          I’m speculating, because I’m not Dan (though I do have a a PhD from a state school I chose over MIT!), but I don’t think they’re actually contributing to the stigma. Using that statement as a light-hearted way to bring the MIT folks back to the point works only if the MIT PhDs respect Dan as a colleague, and I think that’s what they’re going for.

          Reply
      3. Xarcady

        I know, and also am related to, a fair amount of people who graduated from MIT. Some MIT grads graduated at the bottom of their class. Just sayin’.

        My go-to line with them is “Hey, in English, please!” And they laugh and explain things a bit better.

        I admit it bothers me to hear someone downplay their degree because it is from a state school. There are some great state universities! And a lot of education is based on effort a student puts into it. Perhaps changing your thinking from “MS from state school,” to “I’m someone who does’t have a PhD yet,” might help.

        Reply
        1. MK

          I really don’t get this top/ bottom of the class thing. It’s not particularly meaningful, since one cannot know what the rest of the class was like; the same student might end up anywhere on the range, depending how good their classmates were.

          Reply
      4. Temperance

        Eh, I’m very, very proud of my BA from Penn State, and I don’t think that I had a subpar education whatsoever. Sure, MIT is awesome, and I’m not comparing my degree to MIT, but like, stop selling yourself short. MS programs at state schools are competitive AF.

        Reply
        1. Specialk9

          I mean, Penn rides on an awful lot of glory from the Wharton MBA school, which is everything in business. (It’s like Hopkins and its medical program – though they’re private.) Some state schools are in a different class.

          Even so, state schools often give a great education. And realistically, after a few years in, alma mater is not the important career definer.

          Reply
      5. Cassie

        So you work with a bunch of people who paid a crapload more for their educations and ended up working at the same place as you…and you frequently point out that they’re smarter than you are?

        Huh.

        Reply
        1. Caroline

          If they got a PhD from MIT (Or a lot of other universities) it probably would’ve been fully funded. They’d have been living off of a grad student stipend, but they wouldn’t have been paying for the degree

          Reply
            1. BioBot

              Well, the punchline doesn’t actually make any sense, since they likely didn’t pay a crapload for anything if they got PhDs from MIT.

              Reply
        2. swingbattabatta

          I have a degree from a top five school, and worked with someone years ago who went to a local school and really had a chip on her shoulder about it. She’d say things like “Well, if [my school’s name] thinks so, We should OBVIOUSLY do that”. Finally, I said “dude, we have the same position and we work at the same place. Clearly our schools make no functional difference.”

          Drives me nuts. I don’t claim to be smarter than anyone else, and I don’t bring up my school unless asked where I attended.

          Reply
      6. Escapee from Corporate Management

        I actually have a degree from MIT and it hangs in my home office–where it belongs. If you are in a company, that degree gets your foot in the door. After that, it’s about the work you do. I have worked with Ivy League PhD’s and Oxbridge MD’s and none had a degree hanging in their corporate offices. Neither did our CEO–who attended a state school and outranked us all because it wasn’t about the degree, but rather what an accomplished business leader that CEO was.

        Reply
      7. Specialk9

        There is so much power in having the confidence to say something self deprecating like that. My job means that I know a ton in my specialized obscure area, but have to learn about new areas all the time. I often tell people to explain it like I’m a reasonably intelligent 8 year old. There is no lack of confidence at all in that, I just lack knowledge.

        Reply
    3. On Fire

      I wonder if this is regional- or field-specific, because in literally every job I’ve had (I’m journalism and PR) every boss has had his/her degrees on the wall. Same for the non-PR divisions of large orgs.

      Reply
      1. On Fire

        I should add, I’ve typically worked in a bullpen plan, with only the boss having an office. Any non-supervisory staff who had a private office also hung their diplomas.

        Reply
      2. Coffeelover

        Interesting to hear it’s common in some places. Everywhere I’ve lived it’s seen as super pretentious. Another pretentious thing people do IMO (although much more common in my area): having a million abbreviations after your name most of which are unrecognizable.
        – CoffeeLover, P.Eng PhD MPM CMA IMA

        Reply
        1. Not In US

          I never put my degrees or designations after my name until I started working at a university. I also hung my master degree and my designations on my office wall but that’s academia and we’re weird. I do think it’s pretentious but it’s amazing how much showing those degrees and letters helps when your non-faculty in a university setting. Like, yes, I do actually know what I’m talking about thanks!

          Reply
          1. College Career Counselor

            Yeah, similar to doctors and lawyers, academics often have their degrees in view. And, if they don’t, at the very least it would not be outrageous for them to display diplomas publicly.

            Reply
          2. Emily Spinach

            I teach at a college, and I can’t convince my students that I’m Dr. Spinach, not Mrs. Spinach (and I’m not Mrs. in my personal life, either!). So sometime when I’m not commuting by public transit I think I’ll bring my PhD to hang in my office.

            Reply
          3. Birch

            Yes, this. My colleagues (well, the ones under 60) don’t typically hang their degrees anymore but you can bet we’re putting letters after our names. 1. We earned them. I think people sometimes forget that those letters mean we’ve done something extra for our education and deserve to be proud of that work. And 2. It’s helpful for everyone to know whether they’re communicating with a professor, a postdoc, a docent, a masters student, etc. And if the administrative staff has them, I love it! I’m much more likely to feel good about someone with a masters degree in a related area handling my complicated paperwork or helping with my grant writing.

            Reply
        2. NW Mossy

          I have an alphabet soup of professional designations after my name in my email signature, but they do mean something in our industry. It was particularly important when I was doing regulatory consulting, because people want to see some evidence that you know what you’re talking about. I also see it quite a bit in dealing with actuaries and financial advisors, because holders of the top-tier designations in those areas genuinely do have additional experience and legal authority beyond the average.

          I don’t ever use them in any non-work capacity, because as you correctly note, they’re basically meaningless to anyone who’s not in the industry.

          Reply
        3. Specialk9

          I use my acronyms because I look 12, and they establish my expertise before I meet with someone. I’ve found it helps. I’m otherwise not pretentious in how I act or talk, so that’s a hit I’ll take.

          Reply
      3. Overeducated

        It must be. Only one person in my office does this (*not* the one person whose work requires a license), and it’s one of many examples of how this person is a bit out of touch with social norms.

        Reply
      4. Elemeno P.

        I’ve seen it here and there. I’m in theme parks, and it’s not too common to have anything above a bachelors, so people with advanced degrees display them sometimes. I don’t think anyone in my company views it as pretentious.

        Reply
    4. FunTillSomeoneLoosesAnEye

      I have mine in my office, but it’s mostly due to my school being rivals of the school that a few others went to in my office, so it is more a jab at them then being “Mr Fancypants with his degree on the wall”. I also have a good deal of other things that have my school’s name on them (name plate, calendar, mug, etc) so it’s not out of place.

      Reply
      1. LW #1

        Hah! I LOVE the reasoning for hanging that for school pride- which I also have a ton of, btw. I’m going to wait and see what the norm around the office is before I may hang my degree, but I’ll have some school swag in my office for sure!

        Reply
    5. Casper Lives

      It’s so dependent on the office! At my last office, I put my law and BA up because all of the attorneys displayed them. At my current office, only the partners have their degrees up.

      Reply
      1. sam

        It’s definitely office-dependent. When I was at a law firm, pretty much everyone hung their degrees on their walls, as well as their bar admission certificates (in NY, they’re quite nice looking parchment-y certificates with ribbons and gold seals). So i had mine done in all matching frames.

        Then I moved in house and NO ONE here hangs their degrees, so I left them at home. I think they’re under my dresser in my bedroom now because I’ve got nowhere else good to store them.

        Reply
    6. Jenny

      I hang mine. I mean, I work in higher education where it is more commonly done.

      But also, dammit, I worked hard for my masters degree. I went to grad school while working full-time with two kids and I was in my 40s. It wasn’t easy and I’m proud I did it.

      People walk around with giant honking engagement rings, they have photos of their families on their desks, vacation photos to Europe are all over my Facebook feed – for some reason it’s OK to show off some accomplishments and not others. Show off the grad degree. Be proud of what you did.

      Reply
          1. tigerlily

            Is your salary a particularly proud accomplishments, like the other things Jenny mentioned (engagement, family, etc)?

            Reply
            1. fposte

              Yes, of course it is. Why wouldn’t it be? I worked hard for it over years of my life and it’s made many things possible.

              Reply
              1. Alienor

                Yeah, I’ve always thought it’s a little odd that engagements and weddings are treated like accomplishments. I got married two weeks after graduating from college, and it felt really lopsided to me that the wedding drew tons of attention and congratulations, but I practically had to beg my parents to attend my graduation ceremony. I was happy to be getting married, but I was a lot prouder of my graduation (and so was my husband) because I’d worked so long and hard to get there.

                Reply
                1. SusanIvanova

                  Now I’m reminded of the LW who wouldn’t let an employee off for her graduation – I wonder what that LW’s policy was on weddings?

          2. Kate 2

            Not the same thing. Working isn’t a choice. Everybody has to do it if they want to eat. Not to mention there are other signifiers of high status at work: title, office, office size, etc. You don’t have to post your salary to know that the CEO is getting paid more than the average person, or that the manager has an office while everyone else has cubicles. These are all status symbols.

            Reply
            1. fposte

              I’m not posting my working status–if I’m there, I’m working. I’m posting something I earn and am proud of. People are arguing that’s why it makes sense to hang their diplomas. (And working hard for something and being proud isn’t mutually exclusive with being a status symbol.)

              Reply
      1. LW #1

        This is a great point! I have coworkers who hang marathon medals at their desks, and one who just recently got engaged kept congratulations balloons at her desk for WEEKS (why?!). I appreciate your thoughts!

        Reply
        1. Jenny

          I feel like sometimes in life – especially with women – we’re meant to downplay the non-traditional accomplishments. For example, I went to an all-girl high school. When the alumni newsletter comes out there are long lists of baby births and engagements in there. But for some reason very few submit a promotion or a new degree. Granted, I am married and have kids so I did get to be celebrated/acknowledged for those things, but not everyone does. And I have a number of friends who got PhDs or masters degrees. Or they got huge promotions or they wrote a book. I think those should be acknowledged or celebrated a little. It’s a big deal.

          So no, I don’t think a salary should be posted in response to fposte. But if fposte was made Vice President of Global Teapot sales, brag on that! Do a FB post that says “Hey, I’m really proud to announce that I am VP of Global Teapot sales!” – well done!

          I don’t know if you’re a woman or a man, but I think sometimes women are conditioned to downplay things pertaining to our career and our academic accomplishments. I don’t think anyone should go around being like “That’s DOCTOR Smith to you” or saying “As I have a masters degree, I feel I should weigh in on this” – no one wants you to be an asshole. But simply putting a framed degree up in your office is a minor acknowledgment in my opinion.

          Reply
          1. Bostonian

            I agree with the sentiment of your statement, but I can understand why people wouldn’t announce a promotion due to its transience. If you have a kid, that’s a LIFE event. That’s a new human being added to the family that you’re stuck with FOREVER (barring an unforeseeable tragedy). The new title and salary that comes with the promotion…. how long does that last? A couple years?

            Reply
        2. KC

          LW #1: I have coworker who has adventure race finisher/participation medals hanging in her office as well as her college academic awards (All-American All-Academic etc) and college athletics trophies/certificates (from a lower level athletic division) as well as a certificate for a low-level training certificate from our field that is kind of viewed of as a joke of a course in our field, but is a pre-requisite for taking higher level certification courses in our field that are more prestigious. Even though we work in athletics where this is somewhat relevant, I almost laughed when I saw these in her office, because it just came off as really pretentious and not impressive. Most people in her position would have college degrees, higher level certificates, or awards from the athletes they coached hanging (or team photos etc), but I’ve almost never seen coaches hanging awards from their time as an athlete in their offices. If I see that from someone in a higher level coaching position, I would assume they aren’t very accomplished as a coach if they’re trying to impress me with their lower-level college athletic accomplishments from 10 years ago.

          Does anyone else view participation medals and college athletic awards as a weird thing to hang in your office, particularly for a more senior level job?

          Reply
      2. Specialk9

        I don’t think of any of those things as status, but as things to talk about. I get why you do for all but the family photos, because they cost money, but when I see an engagement ring or vacation photo or family photos I think “ooh here’s an opportunity to connect with this person, I can never think of topics” and then ask them about it so we can have a nice chat.

        A diploma might very possibly, in very rare occasions, spur a conversation, but for the most part it’s either establishing required credentials (eg doctor, lawyer) or, well, silent bragging.

        But I get you on how freaking hard it is to get a degree while working, even more so with kids! Yeah, you rock!

        Reply
        1. Lindsay J

          See, one of my psychiatrist’s degrees hanging on the wall did spark conversation, because I saw he had done it on the little island I lived on for three years. So we were able to talk about that, how the place had changed in the intervening years, etc.

          Reply
          1. Specialk9

            Perfect rare occasion! Or if you know someone from the same cohort, or care about the sports team.

            That said, I think this is a pretty low stakes thing. I wouldn’t put up my diploma (it sits in the depths of my closet) but the most I’d do for someone who did is think ‘hunh that’s odd’ and move on.

            Reply
    7. Kyrielle

      Where I work now, a number of my coworkers have a masters or a Ph.D.

      I…couldn’t really tell you which ones, unless they’re in one of the job roles that requires a Ph.D., in which case I assume they have it. My respect for them isn’t based on their degrees, it’s based on what they bring to the job.

      Reply
      1. the gold digger

        I know only where my co-workers went to school because there are football rivalries involved. I know two of my co-workers got their PhDs at Stanford only because one is Mexican and one is Spanish and I asked them what brought them to the US.

        Almost nobody I work with has heard of the college I attended and there may be one or two people who know I have an MBA. It doesn’t matter – all that matters is whether I can do the job. (I can.)

        Reply
    8. Elysian

      I think this is a totally “know your office” thing. I am a lawyer and have been in offices that feel both ways about it. My first job out of law school felt VERY strongly about displaying diplomas, etc, and went so far as to pay to have mine professionally framed so that I could display them. My second job doesn’t care at all and most people don’t have them – I’ve kept mine hanging up in this office even though I’m in the minority just because they’re already framed and I have no where to put them in my house, but if they weren’t already framed I wouldn’t have hung them up here. I think this is very office and profession dependent.

      Reply
    9. Jen

      Absolutely this! I work in communications, and many of us here have BAs and MAs of different stripes, and I’ve never once seen a degree on someone’s wall (including our executives). I work for the federal government, so it could easily be different in the private sector, but I wouldn’t do it.

      (Funny story: when my sister got her second MA, she asked me how I displayed my credentials on my business cards; I laughed at her on two fronts – a) not something I have included in my sig file, and b) no way do I qualify for business cards!)

      (I also used to work at a science-based department that had a lot of people displaying Ph.D. or Dr. on their stuff… I thought it was a bit silly, since not everyone did it, but I fully respected the time and effort that went in to the achievement).

      Reply
    10. Graciosa

      I once worked with a Ph.D. who insisted on listing it on his business cards and being addressed as “Doctor” instead of Mister. For those outside the U.S., the use of “Doctor” this way is generally limited to medical doctors (at least outside of academia, although I’m used to “Professor” there).

      He was considered a pretentious jerk.

      His argument was the same as the OPs (“I earned it and I’m proud of it”).

      I think Miss Manners comments in this area are right on – just because you’re proud of something – like your money – doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to show it off.

      Reply
    11. Specialk9

      When I was getting my masters degree (while working full time plus), my diploma took on outsized importance. I thought a lot about how to frame, display, and even light it. I put my degree in my email signature, at first. So I get it, OP!

      That said, don’t put your degree up at work!

      Reply
  4. KarenT

    #3. I find saying, “Wow, what do you say about me when I’m not here?” to be a really effective phrase for shutting down this kind of talk.

    Reply
    1. C Average

      I’ve used this line, and also, “I like Wayne and don’t really want to hear smack talk about him. Can you guys please stop?”

      I sorta feel like Gallant from “Goofus and Gallant” in the moment, but it usually works.

      Reply
      1. Ramona Flowers

        I shut down one complainer colleague in previous job by repeatedly saying things like: “That’s not a problem for me” or “Thanks for letting me know but I don’t have an issue with that and I don’t want to talk about it.” My insistence on acting like she was trying to help me, and not giving her the listening ear she wanted, made her give up on trying to talk to me. Which was blissful.

        Reply
        1. Foreign Octopus

          These are good scripts to use (I particularly like the second one).

          When I’m faced with people complaining about coworkers, or just in general, I like to turn it around.

          “It sounds as though you have a problem with Wayne, how do you intend to solve it?”

          Toss the ball back at them and make them think of a solution. Very few people will actually come out and say that they just want to complain. If they do, you’re then open to say that it’s very mean-spirited and tiring to hear it constantly.

          Reply
    2. HS Teacher

      I say this all the time. It’s frustrating to work in a place where people talk badly about their coworkers.

      Where I work, everyone hates the boss. I’m not a fan either, but they say such nasty things about her that I find myself defending her. I resent my coworkers for making me defend someone I dislike.

      Reply
      1. Miss Anthropic

        I had to learn this the hard way, but when coworkers and bosses talk smack with you, they won’t hesitate to talk smack about you.
        At a former job, I was very close to the owners and felt like part of the inner circle when they’d include me in their nasty gossip. Eventually I learned the downside!

        Reply
        1. Foreign Octopus

          I learnt this the hard way as well and now I’m very cautious around people who indulge in this type of gossip. I get the frustrated blowing off steam but if it’s continuous then I know that they’re not a person I want to spend time with, let alone trust in.

          I remember feeling so betrayed when I discovered a “friend” had been talking about something I’d confided in her with other coworkers and laughing about it. Looking back now, my sense of betrayal was almost at hilarious heights. I turned into a very posh English woman “how very dare you?” type of style.

          I’m surprised I didn’t slap her with a glove and challenge her to a duel, such was my sense of betrayal.

          She remained confused as to why I no longer went out to the cinema with her or spoke to her outside of a professional context after that.

          Reply
          1. Specialk9

            Ha, I do that exact same thing. Draw myself up to full height and cloak myself in cold hauteur when most offended.

            Reply
        2. Dawn

          I had a friend like this. She was nasty about people, then I wondered what she said about me. Another mutual friend confirmed that she did trash me (well my car, I loved that car), I then cut her off completely. There is no reason for people to be so horrible about a fellow human.

          Reply
        3. Emily

          This is one thing (of many) that I hated about my old research group! (I’m a graduate student, and I’ve since switched projects/advisors.) People – including my old advisor, who should have been above that sort of thing – would talk smack about others all the time. It made for a toxic environment, at least for me, and made me very anxious about what people were saying about me when I wasn’t in the room.

          Reply
        4. Roscoe

          I think I’m going to disagree here. I think trash talking your boss is somewhat normal, in a bonding kind of way. Yes it can be taken to an extreme, toxic level. But just because I’d complain about my boss over beers, doesn’t mean I’m shit talking all of my co-workers to other co-workers

          Reply
    3. Anon non non

      I have found that to work for me too. I usually use “Wow! That’s mean. Are you this mean about me when I’m not here to defend myself?”
      Back in school there was a new girl who was awful. Nobody liked her. I remember sitting in a class once and she was out for the day and the class and teacher were saying truly awful things about her. I wasn’t one for confrontation then but I ended up saying the above followed by “if you wouldn’t have the courage to say this to her face you shouldn’t be saying it at all.” It did stop the talk immediately. My teacher apparently felt chastised enough that she apologized to the girl and told her what I’d said when she came back to class. Sometimes calling people out on their hateful behavior is enough to stop it.

      Reply
      1. Marthooh

        Ugghhhh, not impressed with your teacher’s response. “Guess what, we’ve all been talking smack behind your back! Sorreeeeeee!”

        Reply
        1. Specialk9

          That’s awful. The most popular girls apologized to me in middle school for gossiping about me, and I still see that entire period through the lens of ‘everybody said terrible things behind my back”. It’s a well meaning apology that actually is 100 times worse than the original offense.

          Reply
      2. Jennifer Thneed

        Teacher *should* have apologized to the rest of the class for setting such a poor example.

        Poor that new girl.

        Reply
    4. Anonaday

      I have been the person uttering mean things far more often than I’m proud of, and here are some things that I’ve heard that have made me stop in my tracks and really think about what I just said:

      “Wow, I wonder what you say about me when I’m not around!”
      “Wow, I wonder what Fred would think if he knew that’s how people talk about him.”
      “What did Fred say when you brought this up to him?”
      “That has not been my experience with Fred at all, so I am surprised to hear you say that.”
      “Yes, I’ve noticed that Fred does [mild annoying thing], but I just [remember something humanizing or positive about him or react like a kind human being] and I find I’m able to deal with it.”
      “I am shocked and appalled by this problem with Fred, and I am going to help you by calling Fred right now and letting you say these things to him directly so we can correct the problem.”

      Over time, responses like these have really cut down on my snark at work, and led me to address problems with people directly and professionally, or find a positive way to deal with them. I do still say things sometimes, but only when they are true and really aggravating and I’m dealing with it appropriately as well.

      Reply
      1. ss

        I hadn’t realized that I’d fallen into the habit of making disparaging comments about my husband when talking to one of my co-workers. It really snapped home to me when he (the coworker) looked at me sadly and said “Does it make you feel better about yourself when you talk negatively about him?”

        Reply
    5. DeskDuck

      I am super curious what it is he is doing that is annoying literally every person at this company. I can’t help but wonder if this is behavior that his manager should be addressing with him? If he is being rude to coworkers or singing the small world song all the time at work or emails everyone using brightly colored backgrounds and colored fonts it might be worth it to have a quite word with him to let him know these are things that don’t cast him in a good light? I can’t help but think that if you can’t get along with anybody – then maybe it is worth considering that the problem might be you? It might be in everyone best interest to directly address the problem behavior rather than the fallout of that behavior.

      Reply
      1. Roscoe

        Yeah, that was my thought as well. Like if every single other person finds someone annoying, well maybe their behavior could use a bit of modification. Not saying it needs to be a whole intervention, but something should be said.

        And if management is doing this too, I’m thinking he is great at his job, and has been talked to about it, but he knows he is good so he refuses to change his behavior.

        Reply
      2. OP3

        #3 here. The problem is absolutely him. He has issues communicating which make it really difficult to work with him, and I do know that his manager is working with him on it. However, we are in a small industry and what he contributes is really hard to find in other candidates. Essentially, management says live with it. So, typing that all out, maybe these guys are justified in acting out because this is a management problem? (That’s not sarcasm, just thinking out loud)

        Reply
        1. Marthooh

          Even if Wayne is truly dreadful, other people being dreadful is still… dreadful.

          It’s a management problem because they’re contributing to the toxicity, not because they need Wayne.

          Reply
        2. I'm A Little TeaPot

          I get that maybe he’s hard to work with, but there’s no excuse for cruelty. Honestly, if he’s got such in demand skills, he should leave and go somewhere where he’ll be treated better. And be clear in his exit why he’s leaving. Sometimes it takes a metaphorical slap in the face to wake people up.

          Reply
        3. Observer

          It’s a management problem, all right. But that doesn’t excuse the trash talking. In fact, it makes it WORSE on the part of the upper level people. These guys DO have a choice and they have made the executive decision to trash talk him rather than making it clear to him that his continued employment is dependent on improving his communications (as well as giving him ALL of the resources he needs to make that happen.) Sure, he’s hard to replace, but what happens if he quits? Or finds a job he likes better? That’s not as impossible as it sounds. Let’s face it, communications problems or not, it’s not that hard to tell when people are this contemptuous of you and most people don’t like working in that kind of environment.

          Reply
          1. I See Real People

            They don’t replace him also because they enjoy the sport of making fun of him. It’s part of their entertainment. It’s sad.

            Reply
      3. a Gen X manager

        So much yes, DeskDuck. We have a person on our team who annoys the bananas out of every single one of us – even the most patient, nice, saint-like person! Managing this annoyance / dislike within the team is really challenging. People act respectfully when interacting with her, but too often there is complaining about her in her absence. I continually remind people to be professional, etc., but seriously, their complaints are spot-on and it seems like it is almost a relief valve on a pressure cooker (even though I know venting can actually make things worse and allow people to become further entrenched in their disdain).

        Reply
    6. AKchic

      I’ve always enjoyed: “you’re complaining about the problem, but I don’t hear you talking about a solution.” I mom it up. “Stop finding the problem. You keep circling back to the problem. Find the solution so I don’t have to listen to you constantly whining. You’re an adult, act like it and find the solution to your problem.”

      Reply
    7. As Close As Breakfast

      I’ve found that it can also be effective to take the person being talked about out of the equation altogether and have your response focus completely on the meanness/negativity/etc. of the complainer. If the complainer says something awful about person A and you respond by defending person A, it often has the effect of raising the complainers hackles to the point where you end up in this surreal back and forth argument about person A. You probably can’t change how they feel about person A, and your goal really is to just make them stop the toxic complaining (hopefully altogether, but in reality maybe just around you.) So I like responses that shift the focus like “Wow, that’s an incredibly mean thing to say. I’m really not okay hearing things like that said about, well, anyone really. Please do not say things like that to or around me in the future.”

      Reply
  5. C Average

    Doug sounds scary and possibly unstable, and if I were an employee attending this party, I would be inclined to wear a bullet-proof vest under my party clothes. At a minimum, you’re putting all the other attendees in an awkward situation at an event that’s supposed to be fun. There’s also a chance you’re putting them at risk. Make it clear that Doug is not welcome, and consider hiring a bouncer who’s familiar with Doug’s picture and has specific instructions and a script for dealing with Doug if he does show up. And have a frank chat with Andy about good judgment! How could he possibly have thought this was a good idea? He sounds to me like he might be problematic in his own right.

    Reply
    1. KarenT

      Agreed. The profanity riddled applications combined with his statement about wanting to see stunned reactions set off alarm bells instantly for me.
      I thinks it’s also very possible Andy did not invite Doug to the party since the OP only knows this via Doug, and thar Doug is just being an agitator.

      Reply
    2. Susan K

      Yeah, I would be very concerned by the statement about looking forward to seeing everyone’s stunned reactions. Doug seems like a guy who wants to stir up trouble, and especially if there will be alcohol at this party, there’s a very strong chance of Doug causing an incident. (I do think it’s interesting that he asked in advance if it would be ok for him to attend.)

      As for Andy, though, it seems possible that he’s not aware of all the issues with Doug. OP #2 says that Doug has been lying about the circumstances of his termination, and he probably hasn’t told coworkers about submitting profanity-filled applications, either. I can see Doug asking Andy to invite him to the party because he just misses everyone so much, and Andy not realizing that Doug might have bad intentions for wanting to attend.

      Reply
      1. Observer

        Still bad judgement. Doug has made it clear that he harbors resentment which makes inviting him just strange at best.

        Reply
    3. Roscoe

      Scary and unstable? This seems to be an extreme reaction to someone wanting to go to a party they attended. Bulletproof vest? Like how are you going from was fired because he didn’t do his work right to mentally unstable and someone who may shoot up a place?

      Reply
      1. Observer

        Well, if you read what the OP actually writes, there is a lot more to it than “wants to attend a party at his former workplace.” It’s former workplace the FIRED him. It’s also a place he as been lieing about, and to whom he has sent (either directly or through his friends) expletive laden “resumes” and applications. And, he explicitly states that his aim in coming is to shock people.

        Yeah, I think there is a lot to worry people in all of that.

        Reply
      2. AKchic

        C Average isn’t wrong.
        Here’s what we know about Doug, just from this letter:
        – He lies constantly to save face.
        – He loves shock value.
        – He manipulates.
        – He has anger and impulse control issues (those emails? c’mon)
        – He has poor judgment

        That is all from one quick letter and not even knowing him. I’d be concerned about him continuing to waste time with dummy email accounts and fake resumes, prank calls, possible vandalism of property even without the head’s up about the holiday party. With the holiday party issue, now I’m concerned about what he’ll do there. He’s no longer an employee, so he’s not held to company standards. Will he show up completely drunk and start hitting on staff? Will he try to throw a punch? Will he start throwing things or try to start a food fight? Or worse, will he really come armed because he is more unstable than I had really assessed (because up until now, I had only thought of him as a very immature frat-boy type)?

        LW has a duty to protect not only the company (and the company’s image), but more importantly – the employees that make up the company. A security guard at the party wouldn’t go amiss. If we’re wrong, it’s only money.

        Reply
        1. Specialk9

          Add to that good list:
          -Problem with authority. Picks fights and lashes out.
          -Testing limits, inappropriate behavior and words.
          -Fixated on the perceived injustice done to him. Holds grudges and acts on them.
          -Blaming others for his actions.

          Yeah, worth keeping an eye on him and having everyone in security sign off on his photo weekly, so he can’t get in.

          Reply
          1. AKchic

            Thank you. I was on my break and couldn’t list everything and I *knew* I was forgetting things. I am so glad that others can help! :D

            And none of us who are saying this *could* happen are saying it will. We’re just advocating for the minimization of risk. It’s better to pay (roughly) $200 for a security guard to keep Doug out of a 4 hour party than run the risk of a scene, which could be embarrassing at the very least, costly if someone decides to pursue a lawsuit depending on what he does; or worse – our worst concerns do manifest and he ends up permanently hurting someone or worse. We all want to be wrong on this one. We’d like the worst thing for Doug to do is waste his own time creating sock email accounts and sending fake resumes and think he’s a funny rebel. But the harsh reality is that we can’t underestimate the potential disasters that could arise.

            Reply
  6. kas

    2. Doug seems to have some issues if he’s looking forward to seeing everyone’s stunned reactions. If I was fired, there’s no way I’d want to attend a work function. That’s super awkward and uncomfortable. It may also be awkward and uncomfortable for the employees. I don’t think he should be there, especially after the email he sent. I’m giving Andy the side eye too. He can go alone or invite a different guest.

    3. I don’t know how people feel comfortable speaking about others so openly.

    Reply
    1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis

      I don’t know if it’s the lack of sleep, but my brain interpretted #3 as being written by an “Andy” several months before “Doug/Wayne” was fired. Not in terms of the detail at all, but because of the perspective differences. Swap them, and you have a Sliding Doors style narrative for an office based movie. There’s a whole lot going on in the background of both cases, which is the nature of advice columns, but I wonder if there’s more to #3’s trash talk than they realise.
      I apologise if this is rambling, I got 3hrs less sleep than usual and my stress levels are through the roof.

      Reply
    2. Queen of the File

      Yeah. I can see being socially awkward enough that going to the party after being fired doesn’t seem like such a bad idea (I just want to say hi to everyone!) but I don’t think angry, retaliative people fall into this category too often. To me, Doug is clearly looking to press buttons. Hard pass.

      Reply
  7. HS Teacher

    I hang my degree at work and always have. It never dawned on me not to, but I’m pretty sure everyone I’ve ever worked with in three different industries has hung up their degrees.

    I was the first in my family to finish college and then obtained a master’s degree. I think my pride about that would outweigh the idea that I may be upsetting someone or coming off a certain way.

    Reply
    1. Artemesia

      I have never seen a degree on the wall in a HS and I spent a good chunk of my career in a prestigious academic environment and it was not the norm for people to hang degrees on the wall there. Unless other people are doing it in the workplace, I wouldn’t. It seems incredibly pretentious.

      Reply
      1. Anon non non

        My fifth grade teacher had a doctorate in education. Her degree was hung in her classroom and she made everyone call her Dr. She worked hard for that distinction and was proud of it. I also had a teacher in high school who hung her Masters degree on the wall in her classroom. For myself I always thought they were kind of inspirational. My fifth grade teacher was older and had worked for years on her doctorate getting it when her own children were starting high school themselves. My high school teacher was raised by a single mom and was the first in her family to go to college. She’d frequently tell us about it anytime a student would give excuses about why something was impossible – not in a look what I did way but in a you can do it because anything it possible way.

        Reply
        1. Former Hoosier

          I do not hang my diplomas on my wall (and I have four) but I am very proud of my doctorate. I earned it while working full time and as a mom and it represented a lifelong goal for me. I walked in graduation for two reasons: one because visualizing being hooded (a significant part of a doctoral graduation) helped me get through the long hours of writing my dissertation and two because I wanted my two teenage sons to see their mom accomplish something that was important to her while also doing other important work such as being a mom.

          I do think it varies and there are so many reasons to be proud of your degree even if it isn’t the office norm to hang degrees on the wall. If you really want to, own it and just do it. But it can be perceived as show offy in some places.

          Reply
    2. LadyL

      I’ve never understood why people get their feathers so ruffled about other people’s accomplishments. It’s like when people mock those who ask to be called “Dr.” instead of Ms. or Mr. How does it really affect you, and why not just call them what they want to be called?

      Sure, if a person can’t get through a single sentence without bringing up their prestigious university, that’s definitely obnoxious, but just hanging something on a wall? People work hard to earn degrees, and it’s often a highly significant moment of achievement for them. Why shouldn’t they be proud?

      Reply
      1. Julia

        I feel like, if you shouldn’t hang your master’s or PhD certificate, you shouldn’t hand a wedding photo either. But people do that all the time, so why not let them hang their real achievements? (Not that marriage isn’t hard, but getting married is not an achievement.)

        Reply
        1. Ramona Flowers

          I don’t think people who hang wedding photos view them as achievements. Is it possible they just like seeing them there?

          Reply
          1. Tuesday Next

            Ditto pics of your kids. They aren’t achievements. It’s just nice to see them there. Sometimes you need reminding about why you come to work LOL

            Reply
            1. Catherine

              If I need reminding why I come to work I’m definitely hanging my degrees up. Student loan debt is a hell of a motivator!

              Reply
            2. The Cosmic Avenger

              Yes, I don’t know anyone who has hung theirs on a wall. I have pics of my family on my desk, where only I can see them unless I’m showing someone something on my computer screen and invite them to step behind my desk. They’re there for me, not for anyone else. This is almost exclusively what I see in other offices, too, although it’s not like I see a lot of other peoples’ offices outside my company.

              Reply
            3. AKchic

              Yep. I keep pictures of my crotchfruit around so I know why I don’t stay home. Kidding!

              I keep pictures around because occasionally, the boogers can be cute. Occasionally.

              Reply
          2. OlympiasEpiriot

            Mmmm, maybe some. But, I know several who DO treat them as achievements. These are the same people who will talk about their kids’ “achievements” at every moment unless you actively redirect them to something else…like filing that hasn’t been done, or how are those forms coming.

            Reply
              1. GriefBacon

                Maybe it’s a regional thing, but…you’d be surprised. In the South, weddings photos and maternity photos and family photos are very frequently subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) attempts at one-upping their community.

                Reply
              2. OlympiasEpiriot

                The ones who aren’t actually buddies and stick their nose in your biz and pester as to when you’re going to have children/have more children and say things that actively deflect form any work accomplishments (eg: “You’re too pretty to go into the field!” or “You should put more energy into your husband” or some other things that just really have taken the f***ing biscuit) ARE, indeed, putting up their damn pictures at others.

                Reply
                1. Artemesia

                  True but in my experience people are not called Dr at prestigious Universities only at marginal ones (and it was big at small colleges in the south where lots of faculty don’t have doctorates at least back in the day) and people with doctorates from prestigious programs rarely insist on people calling them Dr. socially whereas people with less prestigious degrees or even honorary degrees more often do.

                  Same with hanging the diploma — you don’t see them on the wall in offices of prestigious universities. ON the other hand in a professional practice it is not unusual because of the need to demonstrate certification in practice. So you do see them in counselor or doctor or lawyer offices relatively often.

            1. Specialk9

              Oh FFS, seriously they say those things to you?! I’ve worked with some truly loopy noodles, and some poison puffer fish, but never dealt with that nonsense. Blargh.

              Reply
              1. OlympiasEpiriot

                I seem to attract people (often other women) who give me advice on how to Act Like A Lady all the damn time. Hasn’t gone away yet and I’m old. I usually respond with something included about I’m No Lady, I Prefer Broad…Think Shelley Winters In A Hard Hat. (Yes, *that* also shows how old I am.)

                Reply
        2. OlympiasEpiriot

          I really tried to get my divorce included on the “company family milestones” section of the slides at the holiday party. I had been forced to see peoples miniature winston churchills and their wedding pics every year. My divorce was a wonderful thing to achieve and I was both blissful and proud about it.

          I could not convince anyone of this.

          Cowards.

          And they STILL have that stupid section of the slides…it comes after the “these were our top ten projects in billing this year”. It is a company party. It should be about the company. I don’t want to know much of anything about anyone’s personal life unless they are a buddy and I don’t approve of this worship of procreation.

          Reply
          1. Elizabeth H.

            That sucks so much! I love that you tried to have it be included. What IS an important personal milestone if not a divorce??

            Reply
            1. Artemesia

              LOL I actually consider my divorce after a brief first marriage one of the things I am most proud of. I came from a background where marriage was important and divorce was reviled and took a lot of crap from my family about it. The fact that I had the courage to figure out this was not going to work for me and walk away with ‘no reason, he doesn’t beat you’ as my mother noted is a source of some pride. (the guy was fine, just not for me — we were just a bad match and I am sure he has led a much happier life with his second wife as I have with my second husband of 45 years) so yeah — I can imagine your divorce was both an important achievement and milestone. Congratulations.

              Reply
              1. OlympiasEpiriot

                Thanks!

                The court signing off on the divorce came almost 4 years after I got him to move out. It was a huge relief and I was and am in no way ashamed of it, in fact, I was over the moon. (Everyone else at my company who has gotten divorced seems to keep it pretty quiet while weddings are well-known and babies…well, babies get Full Company E-mails.)

                Reply
      2. Colette

        No one is saying they shouldn’t be proud.

        The thing is, if no one else has a degree on the wall, it would make me wonder why the OP feels the need to hang it there, and whether she thinks it will give her more credibility I think her workplace than she’d otherwise have. In most workplaces, it’s just not relevant – what’s relevant is how you do the job.

        Reply
        1. Mike C.

          There are a ton of things people post on their walls that aren’t directly relevant to the specific job at hand.

          No one for instance had a problem if you hang a medal for running 26.whatever miles in a single go. But if you study for four+ years that’s suddenly something to hide.

          Reply
            1. Elizabeth H.

              Really? Marathon medal seems about on par with a photo of your kid or dog or something to me and not strange in the least. Just something that makes your work space that you spend so much time in, feel more like “you.” I think a lot of people just like putting up something that makes them feel happy when they look at it, and have the desire to have their environment reflect themselves in some way. I don’t think stuff you put in your office/above your desk/etc. needs to be just work focused.

              Reply
              1. fposte

                As some of us are saying, this stuff is really workplace dependent. It’s not so much that I think your workplace has to be workplace focused as I think that including things that signal achievements can raise the question of what you think that achievement means to your work; a picture of you running a marathon would be less likely to raise that question. That doesn’t mean the medal is automatically a problem or automatically great, just that it comes with a different range of reading possibilities. (This came up in the comments about that post about the woman who hung her shooting targets up at work, too.)

                Reply
                1. Elizabeth H.

                  Hmmm . . . the “achievement” aspect doesn’t really jump out to me as a significant aspect of this, assuming that it’s an office where people do put up some personal items around their desks. And marathon totally wouldn’t even register like that for me, but it occurs to me that’s maybe because I live in Boston where the marathon is just super super normal and SO MANY PEOPLE have run a marathon especially in my socioeconomic stratus. I mean, I know it’s a big accomplishment and all but it is really unremarkable. That may be coloring my perception :P

                2. Specialk9

                  I once brought in my ribbon from the zombie run (a medal of a severed hand), because that was a freaking awesome race and I wanted to tell everyone about it. My time and distance wasn’t anything special, I just liked the story.

          1. Colette

            No one is saying she should hide that she has the degree, but in the environments I’ve worked in, displaying a degree prominently would be a little off. Not career-ending, but out of step with the environment.

            Having said that, I’ve worked in high tech/IT, which probably informs some of that. Degrees do not matter as much in my environment as they do in other areas.

            Reply
          2. Specialk9

            I still maintain that a lot of this stuff is about topics for starting conversations. Like when people throw out conversational hooks, it’s only polite to catch it and ask about the topic they want to discuss.

            That said, I think this is a fairly low stakes question. I vote for no diploma unless it’s the cultural norm where you are, but it’s no big deal either way.

            Reply
        2. Millennial Lawyer

          What if she just likes to have it up in her office, which is her space, because she likes it? Like putting up pictures or whatever else you want in your own office? It’s not in anyone else’s face if it’s in *your* office.

          Reply
          1. fposte

            What if she just wants her human-shaped shooting targets in her office for the same reason, as in a previous AAM column? Or if she wanted, in a more pleasant example, her wedding dress? If somebody asked here about those, I would advise her against them, even if it wasn’t in anybody else’s face in her private office. I don’t think its being in her office is enough to make it not matter what’s there.

            Reply
            1. Millennial Lawyer

              A good faith reading of my comment assumes that what they would like to put up is workplace appropriate generally – the discussion is about a diploma, not anything completely wacky or offensive. A human-shaped shooting target is violent, and would not be appropriate. A wedding dress crosses the line into more wacky territory. You’re comparing these things to a diploma, though? Seriously? That is one of the most basic work appropriate things you could hang up.

              Reply
              1. fposte

                I *am* reading in good faith–I’m not upset or angry or even that exercised about diplomas, and I think you meant what you said. But I also think that you’re drawing some invisible lines about work appropriateness and assuming everybody sees them where you do. And my point is that different workplaces are going to put those lines in different places–there are places where the line will include the shooting target and the wedding dress, and there are places where diplomas will be on the outside of it.

                Reply
                1. Millennial Lawyer

                  I was almost going to say in my previous comment, hey there may be an office where a wedding dress hanging up would be appropriate, or an office where no one minds a shooting target! But if we’re assuming OP works in a traditional corporate office environment, I can see why something really out there and wacky would be frowned upon, but something like a diploma I’d compare with family photos. I feel comfortable drawing a line between that and the examples you gave.

                  It’s definitely possible there are work places where people would be weird about diplomas (I’m learning from everyone’s comments!) but, again, that would be surprising to me. At the end of the day it’s OP’s analysis of her own office’s culture that would be important.

            2. JB (not in Houston)

              I usually agree with everything you say, but I think your comparisons here are really a stretch. In no way are your examples in the same league as hanging up a degree. Sure, there are offices where hanging up a diploma will get you looks. But in most offices where you have your own office with walls to decorate, it won’t be nearly as out of place as a wedding dress or a human-shaped shooting target.

              Reply
              1. fposte

                I think that’s generally true too–it was more that those were plausible examples to falsify the hypothesis.

                And when we’re talking context, I think the context isn’t just the workplace as a whole but that individual office. A minimalist office with gleaming white walls bearing only a gold-framed bachelor’s diploma and a 5k completion award? I’d wonder about that. An office crammed full of everything and the kitchen sink with pictures of everybody the person has ever known, six spare outfits for every season, and boxes from previous offices? I doubt I’d bat an eye at the wedding dress.

                Reply
            3. Huxley

              What? How is a human-shaped shooting target in any way comparable? Earlier you tried to compare displaying a degree with displaying your salary. No one displays their salaries or a wedding dress. It’s a relatively common thing to display degrees. Not to be rude but these analogies are laughably bad.
              Im honestly shocked that anyone would compare this with a human-shaped shooting target.

              Reply
      3. nopetober

        You can be proud of something without feeling the need to put it on display for others to marvel at. It’s the displaying that’s the issue, not the pride.

        Reply
        1. Coffeelover

          +1
          As with many things in life it’s one thing to be proud it’s another thing to brag. Hanging it up feels a little too close to bragging. This holds doubly if you hold a higher degree than others in your office or if you went to a “prestigious” school.

          Reply
          1. Artemesia

            And in a twist, if most other people have degrees, perhaps from even more prestigious schools or higher degrees, but don’t display them, then you are going to look a little pathetic needing to display yours. Same with honorifics. I have worked in environments where it is assumed everyone has a doctorate and so a person demanding to be addressed as Dr. will make them look a bit sad.

            Again — if others are doing it, if it is a thing in your environment then it is fine. If not, hesitate.

            Reply
        2. MCL

          I hung mine because I had a bare hanging nail in my office and my proud mom got my Master’s degree framed. I work at a state university from which I received the degree. I guess it never occurred to me that it could be seen as pretentious. I could care less if people want to hang theirs, and mine has hung for years drawing no attention or comment. If someone ACTS pretentious, then there’s another kettle of fish. I see that some people see that differently, though.

          Reply
          1. Koko

            You’re in an academic environment where I think this is more likely to be OK.

            I don’t think it would be an egregious offense in most places, but marketing is one of those cross-cutting fields where you could end up anywhere from a prestigious accounting firm to a bro-y startup to a corporate retail chain and everything in between. That means there are going to be places where most people don’t have degrees, where the environment is very casual/non-hierarchical, where hanging up a degree would be seen as a bit stodygy and putting on airs.

            Reply
        3. Millennial Lawyer

          Maybe it depends on the setting and how open the offices are, or if it is cubicles? Where I work everyone has their own office and no one would consider something you put up to be for others to marvel at, it’s for yourself.

          Reply
        4. JB (not in Houston)

          But why is hanging it up automatically putting on display for others to “marvel at”? I mean, if hang up some art, it’s not so other people can stop by my office and fawn over it. It’s because I like looking at it.

          Reply
          1. fposte

            It’s not so much that it’s automatically for display as you can’t automatically prevent it from being read that way. (There’s a reason corporate art choices are a big thing.) Then there’s also the fact that what you like to look at all the time is going to be read as meaningful to other people, just as it is to you, even if the meanings aren’t read exactly the same.

            Reply
      4. Mazzy

        Well, it’s not getting your feathers ruffled, but it did make me ask alot of question in my head once, which was a distraction and not the sort of questions you want circling around you….so I had someone about the same level who probably made a little less for whom the job was a bit of stretch position, but most of the company had good or even too much experience. The one in the stretch role was the only one “advertising” their MBA. It made them look a bit insecure. It raised the question as to whether the role actually requires an MBA (it helps but experience trumps degrees there). And how did I find out they were in a stretch role? Because someone rolled their eyes at the MBA also being put in their signature, which raised the question as to whether they are an insecure person, which spurred someone else to chime in and say they only had X – 5 years experience.

        Not the type of conversations you want people having about you! If they hadn’t advertised the MBA, no one would have said anything.

        Reply
      5. I Dodged a Ballet

        Why don’t we just treat people as individuals who have their own reasons for doing something? Not everyone is going to be the same. Maybe get to know them as an individual human being and find out their story. Maybe they did struggle and it was a big achievement for them against the odds, and you can be proud of their accomplishment with them.

        The ones who are pretentious about it? You can just roll your eyes and move on.

        Reply
        1. hbc

          Well, we can all agree here to be more open-minded, but it’s worth pointing out that lots of offices would find it out of place. You can get away with it in some situations, but if you need to work with people who view advanced degrees with suspicion or the last person who occupied your job was a total snot about his education or the culture is very what-have-you-done-lately, there’s a real downside.

          I mean, at least be careful about placement. My pictures of my kids are in the spot where I can see them best, not mounted facing the entrance so everyone else can marvel at their wonderfulness. Most diplomas I’ve seen in the workplace are clearly placed so that visitors can see them, not so the occupant can gaze at it and get a quick nostalgia and pride fix.

          Reply
        2. Specialk9

          Because we’re being asked for advice? They want to know what people might think but not say out loud. We’re telling them.

          Reply
    3. Broadcastlady

      My Dad is in Academia and displays all of his. He has a Ph.D. He got his Bachelor when I was 10, and his Doctorate when I was 21. My Mom worked two or three jobs the entire time, and insists he be called Dr. XYZ(even my son calls him Doc), and that he hang his diplomas. Fairly sure she’d assault anyone that might comment about those things. Lots of sacrifice incolved.

      Reply
    4. Temperance

      I personally think that it’s so critical for you to post your degrees, so long as you’re also telling kids your story! There’s so much value for kids to meet someone with a background like theirs. It would have changed my life if I knew any of my HS teachers also came from blue collar families.

      Reply
    5. paul

      We have our certifications and licenses but not degrees hung up.

      Now I’m really curious if my doctor hangs hers up, and plan to check next time I’m in.

      Reply
    6. Sabine the Very Mean

      Yep, you should continue hanging your degree–good for you. This reminds me to stop internally judging those around me (in a public transit agency) for hanging theirs. I may be working with the woman who quit her job after her boss wouldn’t let her off to attend her college graduation ceremony after she worked for him for 6 years while working toward her degree part-time. Sister should have a flashing neon sign pointing at her degree and I hope she is someplace making tons of money and doing that now (if she in fact is not one of my colleagues!).

      Reply
  8. Mike C.

    Why does the diploma thing seem like such a contentious thing to begin with? I don’t have mine up but I’ve never worked so hard in my life for something like that and I know others who had their own issues to deal with, received their degrees much later in life and so on. I wouldn’t begrudge them for an instant if they wanted to display it – it’s not actively disrupting the operation of the business, it’s not offensive so why this when so many other similar things are found in offices and cubicles with no problem?

    Is this really about folks walking by and muttering “what, does she think she’s better than the rest of us?” or what?

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      I for one have worked with people who assumed their degrees meant things they didn’t. I have heard someone say: “I’m not doing menial work. I have a degree.” I knew of an intern who walked out of a paid internship that would have opened a lot of doors because they asked her to transcribe interviews (pretty standard thing to do in journalism) and “I shouldn’t have to do that. I have a degree.” Rightly or wrongly, in some fields hanging your diploma on your wall will get you lumped in with those sorts of people.

      My take: be proud of it for sure. I’m proud that I completed my BA and MA amid very difficult life circumstances. I don’t personally want them on my wall but I think it would be okay in some workplaces – you just really need to take the temperature first.

      Reply
      1. Millennial Lawyer

        I don’t really understand this! If you’re working in an office setting, chances are most people have a degree of some sort. I don’t see how anyone could generalize “people who went to college” out of a couple of examples.

        Again, maybe this is a cultural difference because (1) I’m in a field where *everyone* in order to *be there* has a college and law degree. So hanging up your college or law school diploma literally can’t mean you’re trying to be pretentious, it’s the base level of being able to have that job (2) I have experience in government where even people with graduate degrees had to do menial tasks and everyone involved recognized it’s because you’re serving an elected official and needs to be done

        Reply
        1. fposte

          It’s not the universality of the degree that guarantees it’s not pretentious–it’s the universality of the hanging. Academia, particularly older, more traditional academia, is one of the areas where having the degrees is such a norm that hanging them up can be out of step by suggesting you thought you needed to; there’s definitely overlap with the institutions were “Dr.” is considered inappropriate for a PhD, because of course you have a PhD and it’s like ending your sentences with “I have a PhD.”

          Reply
          1. Millennial Lawyer

            Interesting, must be a culture thing. I work in in a government law office and so everyone with an office has a law degree, but it’s very commonplace to hang it up. In fact we have our maintenance staff come by and help hang them up. If you hear hammers, you think, oh maybe someone is putting up their degree! And I work with people who went to law schools with a variety of prestige. Then again, there are always new “classes” of law school grads that join us who are mainly the ones that do this. So maybe that’s another reason why it’s so normal.

            Reply
            1. fposte

              Yes, in my experience, it’s really de rigueur with a lot of professional degrees, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lawyer’s office without diplomas. (I don’t know whether it’s as standard for non-lawyers to hang their bachelor’s diplomas in those offices, though–do you know what happens around your office?)

              Reply
              1. Millennial Lawyer

                I don’t even have my diplomas hanging up because I’ve been too lazy to take them to work. A lot of people don’t have them up. I’ve seen both – some people have just their law degrees, and a some people both their college and law school diplomas. It’s pretty anything goes. I don’t think anyone seems to care, and certainly no one looks at it as showing off! It’s a public law office too so everyone’s more down to earth IMO.

                Reply
              2. Graciosa

                I don’t have mine up either (and never have) – but I’ve spent my career working in Fortune 100 companies. Now that I think about it, the only attorney I’ve ever seen display them at work (again, business environment rather than a law firm) was fairly insecure.

                I think it’s very much a know-your-environment situation, which is pretty much what Alison said.

                What I find interesting is how many people seem to think that wanting to show off an achievement is a justification for doing so (?), and that others are wrong (or nastily judgmental) for drawing conclusions from that behavior.

                If some coworkers may think a display of an achievement is a bit pathetic under the circumstances, or if it will set you apart from your team, it’s probably not a good idea. Polite people won’t be rude about it, but there’s no point creating problems for yourself even if nothing is ever voiced.

                If the OP isn’t confident this is common practice in her office, she should hang it at home.

                Reply
          2. AMPG

            I corrected an intern on this once – her email signature said, [Firstname Lastname], B.A., M.A. candidate. On my team, even interns needed a B.A. (with a couple of small exceptions), so it looked very odd and I told her so.

            Reply
      2. LW #1

        Can I just say I laughed out loud at someone working in journalism thinking they’re above transcribing interviews!! I spent the first five years of my career as a news editor.

        It’s not at all me thinking I’m above any task or better/smarter than anyone- especially going to a new job, I know they’ll be teaching me a lot. I’ll wait and see what the office culture is. If it seems normal I’ll do it, if no one else does it I’ll hang it at home!

        Reply
        1. Specialk9

          It’s just so… Misguided and elitist and DUMB. The way you advance is often by doing menial tasks in a way that people come to trust you. Being a nobody with no skills or connections, and being a snob about work you’ll accept is like shooting yourself in the foot, then extracting the bullet to reload and then shoot the other foot.

          Reply
        2. BioBot

          I think assessing the company culture is a good idea. One thought–did you walk for graduation? Would putting a picture of yourself in a cap and gown, smiling with family and/or classmates kind of split the difference? Kind of like having a wedding photo up instead of the marriage certificate? A more casual, fun way of noting a great day in your life?

          Reply
    2. Quasi

      Some reasons off the top of my head why hanging your degree may come off as naive or pretentious to some people. Not saying it’s right or wrong to hang it, just what might be going through people’s heads:
      -Many fresh grads think their degrees make them automatically competent in their fields, maybe even above people with more work experience but no degree (which can make some competent people without degrees pretty defensive sometimes).
      -Graduating is an accomplishment but it’s also a privilege. Not everyone gets the opportunity to go to school.
      -School is often seen as distinct from “the real world” of a job. It’s to help prepare you for a career, not an end in itself.

      Reply
        1. a1

          But that’s more about their attitude and personality and not about hanging something on the wall. They’d be that way even w/o it on the wall. So why blame the thing on the wall?

          Reply
          1. fposte

            Nobody’s blaming the thing on the wall; they’re questioning the person who decided to put it there. The person chose that space rather than their home, and they chose that item rather than a landscape. How those choices will read depends on what else is in their office and how their workplace operates, but we make those choices with meaning in mind so it’s reasonable that people read them with meaning, even if it’s not with the same meaning that drove us.

            Reply
            1. H

              It’s reasonable to read them with *a* meaning, or rather, it’s reasonable to assume it was hung for *a* reason, but I think that it’s unreasonable for people to assume they know the *specific* reason. Now, I understand that you can’t control what people are going to think of you, and it’s probably worth it to be aware of those possible perceptions, but it feels some of the comments here are saying “I knew some people with this reason, so it’s reasonable of me to assume that’s the reason” (not necessarily you, fposte, you just phrased it in the way that allowed me to understand what’s bugging me about this). To me, this reads similarly to “some women who dress fashionably are shallow, so it’s fair for me to assume that’s true of most fashionably dressed women.” The fact that you had experiences where that proved true (and very possibly suffer from some culturally-induced confirmation bias) doesn’t absolve you from having made the assumption.
              More specifically for LW1, yes, be aware of the culture and how hanging your degree might be seen, but also know that it’s also a valid choice to hang it anyway because it’s meaningful for you, and acknowledge that you may have to do more work to counter the perceptions.

              Reply
              1. fposte

                I think “valid” is too slippery, though. It’s valid to hang anything you like in your office, because it’s your office; it’s also valid for your office to ask you to take it down if it’s upsetting other people, or for the rest of the office to read its meaning as the one that’s dominant in that workplace. If you were hanging it just for you, nobody else would see it; if it’s someplace where everybody sees it, it becomes publicly available for interpretation.

                Reply
                1. H

                  I don’t disagree with the first part about validity. I didn’t consider the word choice that carefully, so maybe I should have said something more like “you should weigh the potential negative perceptions and fallout at work against the value hanging your degree would have for you.”
                  I do disagree that “if you were hanging it just for you, nobody else would see it.” To me, my degree reminds me of my resiliency and ability to rise above difficulties. Sure, I could hang my degree in my house, but for me, my house is a place of peace, I don’t actually need those reminders there. So it wouldn’t be as meaningful *for me* there. (All hypothetically. My degree isn’t hung anywhere, because I don’t have an office to hang it in.)

                2. Colette

                  If you were hanging your degree at work for you to see, presumably it would be in a place where you would see it (I.e. over your computer monitor where it’s visible to you and not as visible to others). If that’s what the OP wants to do, I think that would somewhat negate the impression that hanging the degree could otherwise give.

                  I mean, people are proud of graduating high school, but I’ve never heard of someone hanging their high school diploma up at work. In many places, it’s not a noteable accomplishment. Hanging a degree at work is done for a reason, and commonly the person hanging it thinks it gives them some sort of status. Maybe they think “this is a sign of my hard work” or “I graduated from a prestigious school, unlike Sam in the next cube” or “they have to listen to me because I have a better education” or “I’m glad I never have to go to school again”, but they don’t get to choose the reason their coworker assign to it.

      1. Falling Diphthong

        Also, it can come off a bit like the rule of not treating your stay-at-home-parenting like a dozen different jobs (Nutritional Counselor, Nurse…). If most people at your work have a degree, then saying “Look, I have a degree” can seem a little naive. If most don’t, it can seem like you’re trying to make a point of yours in an odd way.

        Miss Manners had a rule about displaying photographs of yourself shaking hands–only if the other person would be equally likely to display the photograph.

        Reply
        1. Falling Diphthong

          Adding, this is not the world’s greatest office decorating faux pas. More a mild “read the office, fit yourself in” thing.

          (And now I’m thinking of Peggy inheriting the Japanese tentacle porn.)

          Reply
    3. chi type

      I’m with you, Mike. They seem like one step above wallpaper to me, in terms of things you could hang on an office wall. Who cares if someone has theirs up there?

      Reply
    4. sheworkshardforthemoney

      I got my degree when I was in my mid 40s and I’m very proud of it. But don’t ask where it is right now.

      Reply
    5. Rachael Love

      No one is saying it’s “contentious” or “offensive”, just that it looks a bit naive or pretentious and those are not particularly great impressions to make, especially for a new grad with no reputation to offset them.

      Reply
      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)

        This. It really varies by field and office, though. If I were a lecturer in my academic field with an actual office I might put mine in there, because it reinforces legitimacy (and makes space for something else at home). But if I were working in the more standard open plan office in a commercial environment I wouldn’t bother trying to find a place for them, because it would more likely read as pretentious.

        There’s nothing inherently wrong with displaying your diplomas but you should be aware of the possible connotations and how it’s likely to be received in your own workplace first.

        Reply
        1. Blank

          I’m a lecturer, but we all work in open-plan offices with very little space to tack up immediately-relevant things, e.g. module planning notes, term dates, our PhD students’ completion schedules. Ah, for an actual office with space! We make do with our email signatures as a way to signal legitimacy.

          Reply
        1. fposte

          In that people feel different ways about it, yes, but that’s pretty par for anything. I would think “read the norms of your workplace” is pretty reasonable guidance that most of us would agree with; we’re just talking about the reasons why those norms can differ.

          Reply
          1. Mike C.

            It’s contentious in the sense that many folks posting feel perfectly fine in assuming a whole lot about the person who hung it up, and usually negative while others don’t. That’s a strange dichotomy.

            Reply
            1. JHunz

              It’s just so incredibly field-dependent. Apparently it’s totally normal in a law office. I’m a software engineer, and it would be incredibly out of the cultural norms anywhere I’ve ever worked.

              Reply
        2. Specialk9

          When someone asks “should I do this, is anyone going to think something about it?” then people are being reasonable to say, yeah, check around first. It can be totally fine, or expected, or seen as odd. It seems very dependent on field and local micro-culture. It’s not contentious to have different opinions when someone asks for advice.

          Reply
    6. Cassie

      Maybe it’s because I’ve been a large corporation cubicle drone my whole career, or maybe it’s because my grad degree took over a decade to finish, but I’m split 50/50 on “pride over having finished my master’s degree” and “pride over having an actual wall to hang it on”.

      Reply
    7. MuseumChick

      Thank you Mike C. Earning my Masters is something that I am incredibly proud of, it took literal blood, sweat, and tears. It would be not different than someone displaying a photo of them climbing a mountain or finishing a marathon or some other achievement that took them a long time and a lot of effort to complete.

      I don’t understand why people would take offence to the display of a huge achievement as long as the person wasn’t pointing it out constantly/being obnoxious about it.

      Reply
      1. SignalLost

        Because it isn’t understandable what the effort is. My masters is from one of the most prestigious schools in the world, and I’m pretty sure there was a lot of sweat and tears and frustration to get it, but it wasn’t a difficult thing – I didn’t have to ford a river every day to get to class, wolves rarely attacked me, etc. (There also was no blood.) Your masters is a different story. The masters of the poster above’s dad, whose mother made a lot of sacrifices for him to achieve it, is different again. Compare that with looking at a photo of rock climbing and recognize that you can immediately identify the level of difficulty that takes, even if to the person in the photo it was NBD. Look at your masters diploma and mine, and you have no idea what the difficulty level for the individual was.

        Where I’m going with this is that with most other achievements, there’s always a story behind getting there, but degrees have a more uniform look that makes it hard to tell what that story is. We know less of an individual’s story from a degree than from a marathon medal, mistlybhevaise I would be really surprised if anyone medaled in a marathon without serious practice, but it’s harder to extrapolate the practice you and I put into our degrees from just the visual.

        Reply
          1. fposte

            This wasn’t somebody writing in about what to think about other people’s decorations; it was somebody else writing in about what to hang. While we might tell somebody concerned about a co-worker’s dress not to think about it, we would also reasonably tell somebody writing in to pay attention to office norms and not just assume that finding a style of dress comfortable and meaningful on its own was always going to work out.

            Reply
      2. Specialk9

        I’m curious about the literal blood. Mine took money, tears, sweat, frustration, money, boredom, time, and an unfortunate reintroduction to middle school social dynamics. I refrained from actually shedding blood though!

        Reply
    8. Runner

      It just seems … I don’t know, like hanging up the varsity letters you earned in high school athletics. Kind of out of touch.

      Reply
      1. Millennial Lawyer

        I don’t even see the problem with that! If it’s in an office setting, someone has their own office, and they want to decorate with what makes them proud/happy. It doesn’t say anything about anyone else’s experience.

        Reply
    9. Zathras

      Yeah, I had a similar reaction – I don’t think I’d think twice about it unless they had hung it up in such a way as to obviously call extra attention to it. But if it was just on the wall, particularly if there were some other things on the wall (photos, art, a calendar, etc), that seems fine to me. You need to put it somewhere, might as well be here. Although, before my current job I worked for a university, so maybe my perspective is skewed. (Now everyone I work with has a half-cube, so there isn’t really a wall.)

      So if OP really wants to hang it, but no one else does, maybe just don’t hang it so it’s the first thing you see coming in, and hang some other stuff up at the same time.

      Reply
    10. kittymommy

      Yeah, I’m a little confused as well. I’ve worked in a few different fields and most of the people who had degrees, hung them, even if it didn’t really relate to the field they were in. Nobody thought twice about it.

      Reply
    11. Dawn

      I got a late start with school, bad upbringing and all that, and I got my associates degree and framed it in a large frame with a lot of glitter. I hung it at home above my desk, but it is super noticeable. Any degree is an accomplishment, and they should all be celebrated.

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        You rock. It’s hard to do WITH an amazing support system, and an incredible feat without. You deserve every iota of that glitter, and the pride in your hard work and perseverance.

        Reply
    12. GriefBacon

      I think the context is important. At my last job, the only people with advanced degrees were MSWs. They had private offices because they were constantly meeting with low-income clients, many of whom didn’t have high school diplomas/GEDs. I don’t think anyone would have begrudged any of them for displaying their diplomas, but it certainly would have been a little tone-deaf. (Plus, an MSW was a requirement for their job, so we all knew they had them).

      On the flip side, several of us were former AmeriCorps volunteers and most of us displayed our AmeriCorps completion certificates in our cubicles. Because, while maybe not as academically challenging as a masters program…that shit is hard. I didn’t work directly with clients, so displaying software certifications would have been perfectly fine. But if I was meeting with clients, many of whom lack basic computer skills? That would have felt inappropriate.

      Reply
    13. a Gen X manager

      Same, Mike C.!

      I am genuinely surprised by how hanging your degrees in a regular office environment is being interpreted. I didn’t used to hang them up, but around the time I finished my masters degree I read somewhere (sorry, this was years ago, otherwise I’d provide the source) that a much higher percentage of men than women with the same degree display them at work. As a result I made a point of hanging my BS and MS thereafter and have never given it another thought. Now I’m wondering how it has been perceived at each of the three employers I’ve worked for since then. Hmm.

      Reply
    14. JB (not in Houston)

      I don’t have strong feelings on the subject at all. Hang it up or don’t, I don’t care. But I am baffled by the number of people here who think hanging up a diploma makes you look pretentious or like you’re bragging. It’s a piece of paper that says “this person did this thing.” While I can see arguments saying “that’s not really relevant to the work place,” depending on the workplace, I just can’t see why it’s at the level of pretentious. Yes, I could come up with a scenario where that’s the case. And sometimes, the hanging of the diploma combined with the person’s behavior can make it clear that it is bragging in that case. But most of the time, it’s either because the person is proud of their accomplishment and happy to have it or they don’t know what else to do with it. It does seem like people projecting on to the diploma-hanger their personal feelings about why a person would hang a diploma.

      Don’t get me wrong, I totally get that it is not the norm at a lot of offices, but I don’t get why, in most cases, it would merit more than a “huh, that’s weird” and a shrug.

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        One doesn’t have to be invested in a cultural norm for it to be a potential stumbling block. That’s all people are saying, when directly asked for advice on the topic.

        Reply
  9. Ramona Flowers

    #4 This is why I refused to work for friends when I was freelance – it’s really awkward chasing up a friend for money. It’s great that you have a dear friend, but it can sometimes be helpful to ask yourself how you’d feel and react if the person wasn’t also a friend.

    You mention that there are things about your job in theory that don’t really happen in practice, but are great things to have – so it sounds like you don’t really have them. You’re also not getting paid on time.

    You don’t know how your boss really feels – you’re being very generous towards her in your assumptions. It can be hard to admit that a friend isn’t behaving entirely as you’d want. Be careful not to give her too much of a pass on this.

    Reply
    1. emvic

      +1. I always help a friend in need, for free, if I have the time/energy. Never did business with friends or relatived. In my country they say “mixed things smell like shit”. I don’t like the smell.

      Reply
    2. Foreign Octopus

      +1 This is a good observation. It seems like your job is great in theory (your benefits, working with your friend, interesting work) but in reality, it’s falling short.

      I won’t contribute to the “don’t work with friends or family” discussion (but seriously, don’t work with friends or family) but I will second Ramona’s point that you should probably ask yourself how you would react in the same situation but where your friend isn’t the boss.

      You’re doing a job. You need to get paid on-time for doing that job. It’s not your responsibility to worry about the business’s cash flow.

      Reply
      1. Ramona Flowers

        And indeed the fact they’re a friend can create a sort of cognitive dissonance where you believe it can’t that bad because they’re a friend – when that arguably means it’s worse.

        Reply
        1. Foreign Octopus

          That’s true. People do seem to let friends take liberties that they would never allow their employer to do.m

          Reply
        2. Works For Friend

          OP here. Thanks for your input! Yep, thinking about how I would feel, react, behave if she wasn’t a friend is a solid exercise. To be honest, I would still find this conversation a difficult one, that is just something I’m aware of about myself, but I would have brought it up or sought advice much earlier. Also, I should note that the reason some of the perks haven’t happened is not that they’ve been explicitly prevented but rather because I’ve realised that I find studying at work harder than I thought I would (I need less interruption to get anything done) and the doula work hasn’t clashed too much. You’re right though, in many ways it’s just a regular, if enjoyable, job.

          Reply
    3. eplawyer

      Your friend is taking advantage of the fact you don’t want to ask her for the money. She knows when the pay periods are. She just wants to let it slide for as long as possible for whatever reason.

      And if the business is struggling why are you working a “side project” with her? She should be devoting her time to saving the business.

      Reply
      1. Works For Friend

        OP here. This may just be semantics, but I don’t know that she is taking advantage rather than relying on my good nature. Haha, maybe that’s the same thing but it sounds a bit better. In terms of the side project, this began before I had the knowledge of her business struggling and it is also something that will in turn partially support her business.

        Reply
    4. ZVA

      You mention that there are things about your job in theory that don’t really happen in practice, but are great things to have – so it sounds like you don’t really have them. You’re also not getting paid on time.

      This is what I came here to point out! To be honest, OP, this situation doesn’t sound great — and I think you might be overlooking some fairly major issues because she’s your dear friend. I would urge you to take a step back, try to put the friendship aside for a moment, and ask yourself if the pros of working for her outweigh the cons. I can’t see things getting any better and if this goes on too long it’s likely to put some serious strain on your friendship.

      Reply
      1. Works For Friend

        Thanks for that, I agree. Ugh. As much as on one hand I’m dreading this conversation I’m also looking forward to it being out in the open and settled.

        Reply
  10. WhiteBear

    2. I think you are leaving someone out of this holiday party who needs to be there… security. Seriously, if this letter is from the U.S. Doug sounds like he could fit the bill of the disgruntled ex-employee who shoots up the holiday office party. I would feel much better in this case if there was security at the event who can recognize Doug and will handle him should he decide to surprise everyone and show up anyway… gun or no. A liar who badly handles rejection and wants a reason to return somewhere he’s been fired from, he doesn’t sound stable, safe, or predictable.

    Reply
    1. Chloe Silverado

      This was sadly where my head went as well. I feel like the OP should make higher ups in the organization aware of Doug’s email and the “f you” job applications (if they aren’t already) and request security for the party. He may turn out to just be immature and odd, not violent, but I’d take the precaution just in case.

      Reply
  11. JamieS

    Re #3: No they’re mean if what they are saying is mean regardless of whether or not anyone has asked them to stop. A competent adult doesn’t need to be told not to say cruel things or talk behind someone’s back any more than they need to be told not to put their hand on a hot stove or not to drink gasoline.

    At this point I don’t think anything is going to change at this company. Hopefully I’m wrong but realistically it sounds like it’s reached a point that OP needs to decide if they want to work in this environment. If they do decide to stay at this company (which for all I know could be great other than this issue) they may have to accept that this behavior is considered acceptable and is going to continue.

    Reply
    1. Marthooh

      “A competent adult doesn’t need to be told not to say cruel things or talk behind someone’s back any more than they need to be told not to put their hand on a hot stove or not to drink gasoline.”

      No in fact, we don’t feel the pain we cause as if it were our own. I certainly need an occasional reminder that what I think is clever might sound cruel to someone else.

      Reply
      1. JamieS

        Would you say those ‘clever things’ to the person you’re referencing? If not that’s an indication you’re very well aware it’s not an acceptable thing to say. If you would then that’s a whole other problem altogether.

        You don’t need to ‘feel the pain’ to know something is mean and/or unacceptable. I can’t feel the pain if I spit in someone’s face but I still know it’s not okay to do.

        Reply
        1. Natalie

          Do you really think it’s so unusual or a Problem to say something you think is clever only to realize after you said it that it was more mean? There’s a pretty common English phrase for it (foot in mouth) and in my experience it’s something most people have done.

          Reply
  12. Dan

    #1

    Usually, diplomas are physically sized relative to the “prestige” of the degree. One of my coworkers had an alma mater that had an unusually large sized Masters. She hung it up on her office wall. Her office mate, the office smart ass, took his BS and blew it up at Kinkos to a 20″x30″ print. I thought it was funny.

    Reply
    1. HannahS

      That’s hilarious! I remember being deeply unimpressed by my aunt’s MD because it was the size of plain ol’ printer paper, and the big one with curly script and a bunch of gold seals was just from paying her yearly fee to the licensing body.

      Reply
    2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)

      I wonder if this is an MA thing? My BA and PhD diplomas are on normal-sized paper but I had to find an extra large frame for the MA.

      I’d find the super huge print of my diplomas pretty funny.

      Reply
    3. blackcat

      I went to a Very Fancy College for undergrad.

      My undergrad diploma is HUGE. GIANT. TWICE THE SIZE OF MY MASTERS DIPLOMA from a merely “good” school. If I were to hang them next to each other, it would be very odd.

      Reply
    4. Natasha

      I didn’t know this! My MS is smaller than my high school diploma (neither of which I have hanging at work). I think I will finally hang my MS at home, though, mostly to remind me I can finish something and I’m not an impostor at work!

      Reply
      1. Chameleon

        All my degrees are a standard 8×11, but when I passed my general exam I got a postcard-sized “Candidate Certificate.” I thought that was hilarious.

        Reply
              1. OlympiasEpiriot

                Cornell’s is large and those around here who have a degree from there have it matted so the framed thing is HUGE. Somehow, your sentence seems to fit them.

                Reply
    5. Millennial Lawyer

      So… I’m on the side of “I don’t understand why everyone thinks hanging up diplomas is weird.” But if it is not purely your own space, like you have an office mate, and your diploma literally makes theirs look smaller… that is very uncomfortable!!!

      Reply
      1. fposte

        Do you mean literally in size? Because this might be an indicator of some cultural and taste differences right there–I’d be much more comfortable with the smaller size diploma than the larger one.

        Reply
        1. Millennial Lawyer

          Oh I didn’t mean I would be uncomfortable with a small diploma. I prefer a smaller size as well.

          I meant from the original comment’s specific example that it’s a little passive aggressive from the office mate… like if I hung up my diploma one day from a state school and my office mate from an ivy league puts up a HUGE diploma the next day.

          Reply
    6. sam

      Heh. At my old law firm, we developed a theory that the better ranked the school, the smaller the diploma. Yale law grads had the smallest diplomas out of anyone (Yale is consistently ranked as the #1 law school).

      I did not go to Yale :)

      (also, rankings only mean so much)

      Reply
    1. Damn it, Hardison!

      My masters degree in Theological Studies would go over so well in IT! Pretty sure it’s gathering dust in my basement…

      Reply
    2. Danger: Gumption Ahead

      This whole conversation made me realize that I have no idea where my degrees are. I’m pretty sure I still have them

      Reply
      1. Marillenbaum

        My father’s BA is in my mom’s garage…they’ve been divorced for 20 years. I’m pretty sure the only reason it hasn’t been tossed is because she forgot it was even there.

        Reply
    3. KayEss

      I work at a place where when we reference the head honcho in official communications, we have to list his degrees… I get a chuckle out of it every time because along with his business/organization development or whatever Ph.D. he has that supposedly qualifies him to lead this dump, he also has an MFA (in film, I believe).

      Reply
    4. GriefBacon

      I’m pretty sure displaying my BAs in Religion/American Studies and English/Gender Studies would get me laughed right out of my accounting job!

      Reply
    5. Birdbrain

      I know a couple of people with an M.Div, which I maintain is the most awesome-sounding degree name. If I had a piece of paper proclaiming me to be a Master of Divinity, you can bet I’d display it.

      (I don’t hang my degrees in my office and none of my coworkers do either, but I don’t have a problem with it as long as it’s not unusual for your office.)

      Reply
  13. Gen

    Re: #5 I had to do this at my first post-university job (in the uk) for a financial institution that liked to start new folks after they could be added to the payroll system for the month. I think I worked 7 weeks before I got paid, though the difference here is that they’ve been upfront, not told you about it on the first day. I was just told to take out a loan. The whole thing caused me financial issues for years so I just want to second that it’s okay to say no if you honestly cannot afford it. At this time of year there are lots of commitments you might not be able to get out off so it’s not unreasonable to not be able to do it.

    Reply
    1. Rebecca Anne

      This is so common in the UK. If you’re paid monthly, you tend to need to be enrolled in the payroll system in the first half of the month (but they don’t start the payment before you start) and then, if you miss the cut off date, you have to suffer until the end of the next month.

      Although, the worst that I’ve had is that you work a month “in-hand”. So if you worked for all of December, that was paid at the end of January. January was paid at the end of February, etc. That was really hard to keep track of in terms of budgeting and overtime payments. It was also REALLY odd when I got a paycheck the month after I left…

      I hate it when you have to try to budget for starting a new job and you don’t get paid for 6-7 weeks. :(

      Reply
      1. sheworkshardforthemoney

        A major school here pays its staff once a month on the last day of the month. I asked a friend who works for them if they make an exception for December because of the holidays etc and he said no. It causes a lot of resentment.

        Reply
        1. Star

          That’s interesting – I used to be paid like that, and my partner currently is, and both of us don’t like being paid early in December. It helps over the holidays, but it makes that six week stretch to the end of January very difficult. I guess there’s pros and cons for every arrangement!

          Reply
      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)

        Yeah this has happened to me a couple of times. It sucks but no amount of complaining helped. I think the company might have had some unofficial loans for people who had no cushion.

        Reply
      3. J. F.

        When I started grad school they used to pay the stipends at the END of the semester. Or all up front for the whole year. It’s terrible, but it wasn’t illegal. Alas.

        Reply
    2. Murphy

      Yeah, we get paid once a month, so I definitely started in June (at the end of June) and didn’t get paid until the end of August (and as I recall, they forgot to pay me for June, so I didn’t actually get paid for June until the end of September). If I’d started earlier in June, I think I still would have had to wait until August.

      Reply
      1. JeanB in NC

        That doesn’t sound right (on the company’s part, I mean). When I worked at a university and was paid once a month, anyone who started in June would be paid on by July 31st at the latest. We put payroll in for exempt employees around the 20th of the month for a check on the 1st. So in July, we’d process payroll on 7/20 for a 8/1 check. It would have been extremely painful to have to wait until the end of August!

        Reply
        1. Bess

          Depends on whether the pay is funded through undergrad tuition–if so, it’s not just about the monthly schedule but about when the funds become available.

          Reply
    3. neverjaunty

      Bookmarking this for the next time someone outside the US expresses horror at our vacation policies. ;)

      I find it unbelievable that they “can’t” add someone to payroll for a freaking month.

      Reply
      1. Gen

        Even better the next financial institution forced everyone to open an account with one of their group banks. You could not be paid unless your wages went into that account. You could set up an auto transfer out to your previous account but it’d take 3 days. So if you usually got paid on 25th and your mortgage came out of your old account on the 26th, then you missed the payment, went overdrawn and incurred charges of hundreds of pounds. They said people could move their mortgages and bills but there wasn’t enough notice to do it for the first month. Imagine the drop in morale when a company policy puts hundreds of staff in debt overnight :/

        Reply
  14. H.C.

    #1 I lean towards ‘no’ if you work in communications; I’m in PR/marketing and I have a master’s and work alongside many colleagues who also have advanced degrees — none of us have it displayed in our work areas.

    Reply
  15. Myrin

    #3, you are such a kind and awesome person! I don’t have any advice but I do think that it’s laudable that you want to defend someone you don’t necessarily love a lot either and don’t just fall in with the meany talk. It seems to be astoundingly hard for many people to on the one hand realise that someone is difficult to get along with but to on the other hand be courteous towards them.

    Reply
    1. Anion

      YES. And big huge applause to #3, also, for knowing that telling Wayne what’s being said is not the answer, and would help no one–especially not Wayne.

      Reply
    2. OP3

      That’s really kind of you guys to say. I definitely don’t think I’m perfect in this situation but I didn’t realize how much this was wearing on me until I started getting a little emotional about some of these replies.

      Reply
  16. sheworkshardforthemoney

    I’d be very concerned about Andy who believes bringing a recently fired employee to a festive occasion is a good idea. Even if he isn’t aware of the details of the firing his judgement is very questionable. As for the fired employee it is apparent that he wants to attend the party to stir the pot with impunity. He can release F-bombs all over, what you are going to do, fire him?

    Reply
    1. Foreign Octopus

      It’s quite possible that Andy doesn’t know any of this is taking place.

      Or Andy could be caught between a rock and a hard place. I know that there’s been occasions when I’ve made a non-committal grunting sound to someone just to get them to leave me in peace and they’ve taken it as my tacit agreement to whatever chaos they’re planning. I’ve then proceeded to shove my head in the sand and hope it goes away.

      However, with regards to Doug, who is clearly looking for an opportunity to stir the pot, shut that down with a hard no. Have security at the event. Talk to Andy and say that given the nature of Doug’s firing, he’s not to be included at the party and both of them will be turned away at the door if they show up.

      Reply
      1. SignalLost

        Yeah, I used to try the grunting thing. Then someone bought international plane tickets and made my life hell for ten days. Never. Again.

        Reply
  17. Subsriba

    OP#4 – your friend sounds like she’s taking you for a ride a bit with the promises of flexibility that never arise. She probably wants to be the “awesome boss” who provides you with great perks that her business isn’t actually able to support. If it’s anything like similar situations I’ve been in, this will end with you asking to actually get paid (probably eventually just “at all”) and her saying “but I give you all these great perks, you’d never get this elsewhere!!” Get clear in your mind that these are not actually perks that you have.

    Reply
    1. Tuesday Next

      Ja, none of the great benefits seem to have materialised so far, and paying you late repeatedly, is a shocker. She’s taking advantage of you, friend or no.

      Reply
    2. Works For Friend

      Hey, OP here. I agree that things aren’t great but I want to clarify that the perks not happening as often is not due to them being prevented from happening but just that, for example, I’ve found it more difficult to work on school stuff at work than I thought I would and in terms of flexibility for on-call work, the timing has worked out that I haven’t needed to take off work as much as I thought I might at first.

      Reply
  18. MuseumChick

    #2, this is a little off topic but might help in the future.

    A few weeks ago a long time employee with let go. He was someone who was well-liked and and work for the company for 5+ years. One morning everyone got called to an all staff meeting where a C-Level explained that Fergus had been let go because of *extremely serious* reasons including but not limited to tried to cover up a six-figure mistake he had made. The guy was in a key financial position at the company so everyone worked with him he had his hands in everything!

    Of course, you don’t need to, and shouldn’t do this everyone time someone is fired. But in this case, it allowed the C-Level team to explain that he was not fired because of the mistake he had made (it appears to have been an honest mistake, not intentional) but because he tried to conceal that mistake. It also gave them an opportunity to talk with everyone about integrity.

    If Doug is causing panic still it might be worth calling a meeting and saying something like “I want to address some of the rumors that have been circulating recently. So you know Doug was let go X weeks ago. It’s been brought to my attention that this has caused some concern among staff. We have a very lengthy and thorough process for addressing issues before an employee is let go. Barring something extreme a firing here will never come as a surprise. There will be multiple warnings, coaching, feedback etc. For privacy reasons I cannot get into the specifics of Doug’s situation but wanted to give every a chance to ask any questions they might have. If you don’t feel comfortable asking your question in font of everyone you can contact me or Jane after the meeting.”

    Reply
    1. Observer

      We had a similar situation years ago. Our ED called a meeting of senior staff and explained the outline of what had happened (I knew the details because I had been involved in figuring out the extent of the problem) and asked for them to reassure their staffs that we had not pushed out someone because she had gotten injured on the job. (This was pre-fmla, but we definitely held jobs open for long stretches.)

      The good thing in our case was that she showed up at work to try to make a scene (she also threatened to sue) but then made a comment (on tape – she had brought someone with her to record the whole interaction) that made it crystal clear to every single person that she had actually been fired for very serious cause.

      Reply
    2. NW Mossy

      I had to fire someone for performance reasons while we were in the middle of consulting with an outside vendor about outsourcing, so I used a script similar to this one to reassure people that her departure wasn’t the first step in a wave of layoffs. Alison suggested something similar in an archive post, and it was a really helpful way to defuse a lot of rumors and worries.

      Reply
    3. Lindsay J

      Yeah, I had to have a similar discussion with my staff a few years ago after I had to fire one of the woman who had worked for me for years.

      Everyone assumed that it was due to something innocuous and that they perceived to be unfair (like crashing a company vehicle, which you would only be fired for if you covered it up). She had really been fired for stealing several thousand dollars, which we had on tape, and for which she only escaped jail time for because she paid restitution to the company.

      It was a tough case because everyone liked her. Heck, I liked her. I never suspected she was capable of a thing like that until I saw evidence gathered by our loss prevention team with my own eyes. So I totally understood why “Abby was a thief” was not the first, second, or third thought on anyone’s mind when she was suddenly fired.

      I didn’t get into specific details about exactly what happened with her, but I did make it clear that it was not what they were assuming, that it was something that was both illegal and considered gross misconduct, and went into the types of things that would and would not result in immediate termination, and the disciplinary procedures for things that would not result in immediate termination.

      I didn’t want them to be afraid to do anything that required driving the company vehicle or similar because having the perception that you can be a great employee, make one mistake, and then get fired for it is really scary and not cool.

      Reply
  19. Random thought

    #1 for what it’s worth, I’m an attorney but started working at my org in a non-attorney role, and I’ve always had my bachelor’s, JD, and bar admission hanging on my cube wall! I worked too hard for those pieces of paper, and required or not, I’m really proud of them. This isn’t strictly normal where I work, although I got the idea from someone with a master’s. It’s been a talking point when coworkers visit my cube, the same way hanging pictures of kids would be. If you want to display it, just go for it (but be prepared to talk about it)

    Reply
  20. Lady Phoenix

    #2 Contact Andy and let him know under no circumstances is he allowed to invite Doug. Then r ply to the email the same way. Inform security and hand them a picture. Security should be there to handle any drunkeness.

    Reply
  21. SchoolStarts!

    When I worked in engineering, those who earned their PEngs (Professional Engineers, meaning they can stamp documents with their seal), they hung up that certificate and that was standard. It really depends on your industry.

    Reply
    1. Engineering consultant

      Can confirm this with engineers, my office is half engineers and half architects. I haven’t seen anyone hang up their undergrad degrees, but there are a few that hang up their MS or PhD diplomas.

      Reply
    2. Kvothe

      Engineer here and I can confirm that every office I’ve ever worked in it was pretty standard to hang up your degrees/p.eng certificate and even the certificate from the iron ring ceremony (Canadian thing). Now I’ve never seen anybody hang them up in a cubicle but I think that’s more due to space restraints than anything.

      Reply
      1. Scott

        The only thing I’ve used the iron ring certificate for was to replace my iron ring, (I’m pretty bad at misplacing things)

        Reply
    3. DiscoTechie

      Civil Engineer here with a few more letters behind the name than average. Everywhere I’ve worked (across the US) it’s been standard to hang your diplomas (undergrad included), PE licenses, and other major certifications up. In my cube I’ve got my eng degree, Professional Engineering license certificates (the fancy ones you get when you first get your PE, my Professional Transportation Operations Engineer certificate (another long long test), along with the very drab biennial licensing document sent by the State of Michigan that I’m required to post that is on the same papers as my hair dressers.

      One firm I worked with in NC (which has a fairly fancy certificate ribbons and seals, etc.) had all of their PE certificates framed and matted with red matte lined up in the hallway as you entered their offices in alphabetical order. You could tell when someone left and they hadn’t had a chance to reshuffle 50 or so frames.

      Reply
  22. Temperance

    LW2: I think it’s time to have a chat with Andy about why it’s not appropriate to bring someone who was fired to an office holiday party.

    Following this, I think you need to inform management at the venue for tonight’s party and your security team at your office (if you have one) that you have a disgruntled former coworker who is acting deranged. Give them a photo if you have one, and ban him from the premises.

    I think it’s also time to clue in some of your current staff about what Doug has been doing, so they don’t help him get back on the premises or something.

    Reply
    1. MuseumChick

      Yes to all of this. I would go farther than just talking with Andy though, I would have a quick 5 miunet meeting with the whole to team to address rumors and go over the all the steps that will happen before someone is let go (unless it’s something egregious).

      Reply
  23. Nox

    2. Our holiday party policy states that any guest who is a former employee must have left voluntarily or be on LOA to attend. Anyone termed for reasons outside that isn’t allowed to attend, even of it was performance based. They also still pay the non employee deposit.

    Reply
  24. The Other Dawn

    #3

    These people aren’t “kind of mean,” they ARE mean. Especially the managers and C-level (!). It’s one thing to make occasional comments amongst peers when a coworker is annoying, but it’s quite another to do it all the time. And to have the guy’s manager, that manager’s manager AND the C-level all doing the same thing all the time is just horrible. There’s big issues at this company and I think OP should think about whether she wants to stay at a company like this. She can try some of the scripts suggested, but I really don’t see these people changing anytime soon.

    Reply
    1. Marthooh

      This sounds like a toxic atmosphere, indeed, and the meanies are likely to push back with “But you know it’s true!” or “Wayne deserves it!”

      I’m not hopeful that OP can change things, but since it affects so many people, it’s worth at least one more try.

      Reply
  25. Delta Delta

    Re: degrees – I’m an attorney and I used to have my degrees on the wall. Then my office got painted and I never put them back up. Nobody ever seemed to care much. Now I think they might be in my basement. My husband is also an attorney and has his degrees up. He also happens to have his deceased grandparents’ degrees, and he has those hung up, too, because he likes them and they’re neat conversation starters and because he loved his grandparents very much.

    Reply
  26. Murphy

    For #3, I think badmouthing a co-worker constantly like that is out of line whether or not he’s a nice guy, or those complaints are valid. It’s especially egregious coming from upper management like that.

    Reply
  27. OlympiasEpiriot

    1) First off, CONGRATULATIONS! I can imagine how you feel.

    As far as putting it up, look around and see what others do at your firm, especially whoever you admire there. Some fields it is required, some it is encouraged, some it is considered a mark of a parvenue. For example, in my office (a specialty of engineering where we all are supposed to get licensed as soon as possible), the people who have their degrees up are mostly people who (imo) like to remind others that we should value them, as opposed to the people who just get their work done and are valuable. Otoh, most have their licenses up. If we have licenses from multiple jurisdictions, they are all up. We are also supposed to have a copy of this with us on any site visits to show to officials if asked.

    2) Jayzus onna hockey puck! Please have security there. Warn Andy that Doug is using his name. Let people know that when someone’s fired, it is not a decision made lightly.

    3) I’m with everyone else who has said something like “what do you say about me when I’m not here?!” And, I’m sorry you have to work around that. Sounds really unpleasant.

    4) Alison has great advice. Working for friends is hard. Even working with friends as partners is hard for many of the same reasons. Good luck.

    5) I don’t understand how they would be allowed to not pay you for 2 months (not being paid until the end of January and starting now). This might be a helluva red flag for this operation going forward. Good luck. Definitely go with the “I have prior commitments” line.

    Reply
  28. Emi.

    Writing to Allison and describing your workplace as “relaxed” is like writing to Carolyn Hax and describing your boyfriend as “wonderful”: there’s always an enormous “but…” coming, and it’s probably not anything you can fix short of leaving.

    Reply
    1. OP3

      Ha! #3 here and you’re totally right. I usually think of it as a positive but in this case my intent in using that word was to imply a general lack of adherence to professional norms, which is why I think so many people feel comfortable acting like, well, jerks.

      Reply
  29. Cait

    OP #1, I agree with previous posters and Alison, wait to see if other people in the office have their degrees hanging. If not, I would have a mug with your school on it if it cheers you up to be reminded of your accomplishments. I too worked full time while getting my masters at night, it’s a ton of work but no one in my office hangs degrees but I like having my school mug and it’s a great conversation starter if someone does come in your office.

    OP #2 – Sending in profanity laced job applications and now a threat via email…I would be documenting and getting security involved. Can your IT department trace the IP addresses of who is submitting the job applications? This is some really unhinged behavior.

    Reply
      1. ss

        True…. check the IP addresses for the resumes and see if it matches to the IP for his latest email about coming to the party.

        Reply
  30. Samata

    I was teetering either way until this We only know this because Doug emailed us to ask if it would be okay, and how he was looking forward to seeing everyone’s stunned reactions when he shows up at the party.

    No freaking way should this guy be coming to your party.

    Reply
  31. Grey

    I suspect these emails are from Doug or Doug’s friends lashing out at us.

    Just remember that Andy is also one of Doug’s friends. And who better to know when and where a job at your company is posted and how to apply.

    Reply
  32. Minister of Snark

    The fact that Doug mentioned wanting to see people’s “shocked expressions” as he shows up indicates that he knows that this is not an appropriate action, and that he doesn’t have good intentions. And frankly, Andy needs a stern talking to about his bad judgement and his intentions to make his coworkers uncomfortable and turn the Christmas party into some sort of statement about firing Doug.

    Reply
  33. Observer

    #3 I agree with Alison. But I’m also going to say that you should NOT defend Wayne. Just point out that this is not a nice way to behave. That should be enough. If they start “But he’s sooo annoooooying!” your response should be “That’s not relevant. He’s your coworker. This kind of behavior is just inappropriate” Or something like that. The point is that adults are supposed to be able to manage their behavior and stay decent and appropriate even when they are annoyed. “He’s annoying so I’m going to be a jerk” is understandable in kindergarten, but that’s where it stops.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      I think this is a good point–it’s too easy to get dragged down into the weeds of “But you find him annoying too.”

      Reply
      1. Marthooh

        Not only that — I think the OP is suffering from this behavior more than Wayne is, since Wayne’s rarely around. Having poison poured into your ear all day is horrific, and that is the immediate, actionable wrong that’s being done. “Please don’t say these things where I can hear them” might work.

        Reply
    2. OP3

      #3 here. This is a really good point. A good chunk of my job is arguing opposite viewpoints so I think I fall into the habit of presenting counterarguments when that’s not really relevant or appropriate here.

      Reply
  34. Anon!

    Re: #1 … so, I had never given it a second thought to have my degree (BFA, no less) at work. I live in a tiny apartment without a home office or much storage and my parents had my degree framed very nicely– I think it would be far stranger to hang it in the middle of my living room and I’d expect my friends to roast me every time they came over, ha.

    I’ve never actually hung my degree but I keep it propped against the wall on top of a cabinet in my office and it’s been that way for five years in my current job. Literally no one has ever commented on it, maybe it’s because it’s not on the wall and therefore it’s not “elevated” in that way– but I suspect it’s because no one cares.

    The discussion on this is a little weird to me! I agree that if someone is constantly bragging about their education THEN having the degree on the wall would be weird, but this seems on par with judging any other wall decoration in someone’s office? Which is to say, if it’s not harming anyone why would you comment or even think about it at all?

    Reply
    1. fposte

      But the same question could apply to your putting it up at home, and you think people *would* say something or think something if you put it up there. So I think some of the things you feel your friends would read it as meaning if you hung it up at home are things that some workplaces will read it as meaning if you hung it up at work.

      Reply
      1. Anon!

        Fair enough, especially since I didn’t provide this clarifying detail in my original post: I’d expect my fellow BFA friends to joke about how “useless” our degrees are. If they came to my office they’d probably comment on it, because they’re my close friends and it’s a running joke amongst us. If my coworkers were in my home I would think it very odd if they commented on it still!

        I DO work in an environment that might be unique. We have a strong culture but it’s not at all tied to dress code or, I suppose, office decor now that I’m dwelling on it– because those things vary wildly on my floor alone. It does have the advantage that it’s hard to make negative comments about things unless they’re directly tied to work performance. Which may be why it feels very odd to me that others would negatively judge someone in that way at work.

        Reply
    2. Millennial Lawyer

      Why would your friends roast you for hanging up your degree in your own house? Assuming you’re happy with what you studied, that would be pretty rude of them, no?

      Reply
  35. Hiring Mgr

    I couldn’t tell you where any of my diplomas are at this point, but I honestly can’t see why anyone would care if someone wanted to hang one in an office… People put all sorts of things in their offices from family or pet photos to professional trainings/certifications, etc, to sports or music souvenirs.. I don’t get why this would be different? Some people spend way too much time concerened with things that aren’t their business

    Reply
  36. Cringing 24/7

    It’s good of Doug to ask if this is okay. At OldJob, they now have a no-former-employees rule for all work get-togethers because a former employee, Ronald, showed up to a holiday party several years back as a +1 to a current employee. Ronald had left in very poor standing after being at the company for a very short time and leaving several major projects in precarious positions extremely close to their deadlines. The employee who invited Ronald was young and had little professional experience, so they just didn’t have the knowledge to know that this was not a wise choice of invite without clearing it through management.

    Reply
  37. TokenArchaeologist

    LW#5 – Even if this is an “internship” there way be issues with not paying you until late January if you start early. Background: I run an “internship” program that is not an internship – we call it a work placement program. Because the participant are employees, according us and the IRS. Many, many organizations run internship programs that are not, legally, actually internship programs. The legal requirements for a true internship are very specific, and can be very hard to meet. If this graduate program is run by/through a university or other educational organization, the graduate position you’re in may be one of few that actually counts as an internship.
    Either way it is worth pointing out that starting soon, but not getting paid until late January, would put you under considerable financial strain. If this is an internship, and they are not paying hourly, they should have some flexibility as to how they are paying you. We used to work with our interns on a relatively regular basis to get them some of their payment earlier so they could get to the work site. (We pay hourly now… cause, not interns!)

    Reply
  38. Poetic & Noble Land Mermaid

    For #3 I’ve found saying something along the lines of “wow! I wonder what you say about me when I’m not around” does a nice job of pointing out that that kind of rhetoric only makes them look bad

    Reply
  39. Goya

    #1 – I get being excited and working hard, but around here it’s weird.

    Our newest co-workers has her B.S. hanging, AND has one of her dorm door decorations on her office door, AND uses a school lanyard for her keys. It comes across as very immature in our office, as we all have our undergrads and some have advanced degrees. It’s not against the rules, so no one says anything – just roll our eyes when we catch a glimpse.

    Reply
  40. Meg

    Wow, that seems absurd that Andy would think it was ok to invite someone who was fired to the party. For context, one of my best friends pushed me to apply to her company (about 50 people). I got the job, in which I never interacted with her, and we worked together for over a year. She moved on to another job over the summer. She left on good terms, and people here periodically ask how she’s doing, and to see wedding pictures, etc. We joked about it, but it’s definitely not totally appropriate for me to bring her to our holiday party. I can’t imagine what’s going through Andy’s head…

    Reply
  41. Funbud

    The Doug Christmas Party letter reminds me of a situation we recently faced in my workplace. My boss left for another position, and offered a job at her new company to “Sylvia”, a woman in my dept. Sylvia accepted and left shortly after my boss. I had a few e-mail contacts with Sylvia in the following months, just friendly, as did a few other people in our dept (we were all “work friends” ; Sylvia had socialized with some of the women outside work as well). My new boss started about six months later and Sylvia suddenly upped her level of contact, reaching out to other employees beyond the original group of work friends, offering lunch invitations, etc. No one accepted, as it came out that the general feeling had been that Sylvia was very negative and most people were glad she had left. One day, Sylvia called me and, catching me off guard, asked me to get her a few product samples. I agreed (product samples are fairly easy to obtain for friends & family) but then she said she wanted to stop by in person and “come in and say hi” to a list of people here (she named them).

    This caught me by surprise and I stammered out a “I don’t think that’s the best idea” reply. Seriously, I don’t know what she is thinking. Our building is corporate and formal, with security, and I can’t picture anyone just coming in and “wandering around to say hi” to various former co-workers. My demurral made Sylvia think that my new boss (whom she does not know) frowned on the idea, so I let her think that. I did get her the samples and handed them off to her outside in the parking lot. Our conversation got cut short by a few fellow employees seeing her and stopping to chat on their way to lunch. I have not had much contact with Sylvia since.

    Some of my coworkers think that Sylvia is eager to keep up her contacts here as she is not all that happy at the new job. I can understand that, but trying to get access to a secure building, with no legitimate reason to be there, so she can walk around like she’s re-visiting her old high school? I’m still flabbergasted that she thinks this is a good idea!

    Reply
    1. Lady Phoenix

      Sounds like Stlvia got caught in the latest Mary Kay/La La Rue/Pyramid Scheme but not quite? People can get annoyed by stuff like that i can see why they would not like Sylvia.

      Reply
  42. Manager-at-Large

    re: diplomas
    I’d wait to see what the others in your role at NewJob do with respect to diplomas. You can always hang it at home in your den.
    I’ve worked in IT my entire career and rarely have I seen a diploma in an office, inside or outside the department. The exceptions were things like an MBA that was completed while working at the current job – it might hang for a few weeks/months almost as a conversation starter – “What’s this? […] Oh, just this past May? Congratulations!” .

    When I started in IT, it was very rare for anyone in IT to have an IT or MIS or CS related bachelors. Many senior staff had no bachelors at all. It would be interesting to see a wall of bachelor degrees for an IT department – music, biology, business, fine arts, accounting, sociology – we’re quite the mixed bag from the olden days.

    I have seen certifications on walls in IT, but again, usually only for a few weeks after completing the certification.

    Reply
  43. Is it Friday Yet?

    OP2 I seriously have to question Andy’s judgement for inviting a terminated employee to the office holiday party. This is a big “no no!”

    Reply
  44. Detective Amy Santiago

    #1 – I think hanging your degree is far more circumspect than having your keyboard lit in school colors and having multiple stuffed mascots around a Christmas tree decked out in school colors.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      Is this hypothetical? Because I kind of hope it’s not. (Now that I think about it, I could see some of our advancement people doing that, but they at least actually work for the school.)

      Reply
    2. Temperance

      Okay I have to admit that I giggled, because that sounds totally like something that other PSU alumni would do. (I am one, and I can’t resist joining in or yelling WE ARE, but that’s where it begins and ends for me!)

      Reply
  45. CM

    OP #4: Since this is such a small business and it sounds like you two are working so closely together, maybe you could approach this as a shared problem. It might feel better to say, “Hey, I want to make sure I get paid on time and I feel weird about chasing you down. Can we work out a system to make sure that happens? Is there anything I can do to help?” rather than thinking of it as, “I need to get paid on time and you need to make this happen.”

    Reply
  46. Ghost Town

    #1 I work in higher education administration and in my suite of about 10 people with higher degrees (masters to phd) a bit over half have a degree on their wall. In some ways, it is evidence of authority since we work with graduate students, so showing the degree is a shorthand for why they should listen to us.

    I have a masters degree, but don’t know where the diploma is, other than chilling in some box somewhere, still in the envelope in which it was mailed. However, I am not the first in my family to go to college. I am the first in my immediate family to get a post-baccalaureate degree, though. My husband, though, is the first in his family (immediate) to graduate with a bachelors degree and he just finished it. (he was definitely a non-traditional student) His diploma isn’t displayed in his cubicle at work, but his co-workers (at the uni) did get the registrar to fast-track its printing and we know exactly where it is right now.

    Basically, try to read your office and your field. In some fields, it is normal to display your diploma and it may come off as out of touch in others.

    Reply
  47. Lady Phoenix

    #1: Gauge your office environment and your work degree. If you don’t see people hanging their diplomas and/or your degree is unrelated to your job, then I would hang to diploma at home.

    #3: I think it is time to realize that you are in a toxic environment. If the bosses and hr are in on making fun of Wayne, then there is no chanc in hell that they will protect you if you become the next gossip target (especially likely because you are DEFENDING their target). I would take this as a sign to start job searching and to hold their behaviors at arm’s length so you don’t get sucked ibto the drama.

    #4: It doesn’t matter if she financially struggling or if she’s your friend, she is sill taking advantage of your services. If she can’t be bothered to pay you and pay your reliably, then you need to find a job that does. This is why artists and other projectors either never work for fanily/friends or do it for free: because money has a funny way of screwing things up.

    #5: Say that your previous commitments prevent you from taking the job before the intended date. Considering that it is Christmas, the company will probably understand.

    When I was job hunting last year, I waited a few days after Christmas and Thanksgiving to talk to them because of the holidays.

    Reply
  48. Audiophile

    #5 I have been in this situation.

    Last year, I accepted a job and set a start date for the beginning of December. On my first day, the person in charge of my orientation session (I was the only person starting that day) announced that I wouldn’t be paid until January 1. This meant I was working almost a month without a paycheck. Had they been upfront during the offer stage, I would have started earlier. I now make sure to ask how pay periods and pay days are structured.

    Reply
  49. MCM

    5. Employer wants me to start work a month early

    Don’t do it. You shouldn’t be working before your contracted hours. You can state what Alison said, but ask them if they can bring you in as a temporary wage or emergency hire.

    Reply
  50. MCM

    hit the submit button too soon. OP …. tell them you cannot wait that long to get paid or are uncomfortable working before your contract date. But you would be willing to work if they would be able to set you up as an emergency hire, or temporary wage. You may have to do a formal job application, but that’s easy enough.

    What would happen if you worked 20 – 40 hours a week for a month, and something happened and you couldn’t start college in January. It would have been free labor because the contract in place would not allow you to be paid before hand.

    Look at your contract start date. Sometimes they are based on the pay cycle versus the first date of classes. I work at a University and this is something I have to watch out for. For Example: Faculty are not supposed to work their graduate assistant & work studies when classes are not in session. They’ll have someone work, and tell them to enter the hours beforehand (last time card submitted for break … for hours not worked that period); but the student doesn’t come in or there is a disagreement of how many hours were worked.

    Reply
    1. Natalie

      If the LW is in the US, the lack of a contract doesn’t mean she wouldn’t get paid. Contracts aren’t common here, and with or without them you can’t get out of paying your employees.

      Reply
  51. Lemon Zinger

    I work in higher ed and plenty of people here display their diplomas (some prominently, some not). Most staff also list their advanced degrees in email signatures too: “Celestia Smith, M.Ed.”

    I will complete my graduate degree in the spring and I think I will probably display my diploma at home with my diploma from undergrad. I am quite young and not taken seriously in the functional area I work in. Does anyone in higher ed think it would benefit me to list my degree in my email signature when I get it?

    Reply
  52. AMT

    Re: #1, I have a similar concern along the same “does-this-make-me-look-egotistical-or-out-of-touch” lines. I wrote a book in my field that’s being published soon. It’s an important professional accomplishment for me and I list it under the publications/conferences header on my resume. Would it be weird to include a little thumbnail of the book cover alongside that section? It looks good graphically (I’ve done some graphic design work and I think my resume is pleasing to the eye in general), but is it in good taste? Does it scream “massive ego” or “disproportionate emphasis on something that maybe deserves one or two lines”?

    Reply
    1. Millennial Lawyer

      I’m not in hiring, but while you should of course definitely list your forthcoming publication (pretty essential on a resume), a literal picture of it sounds like way too much – not because of an ego thing, it’s just unprofessional.

      Reply
  53. Fellow doula

    #4: I’m also a doula with 20 years of experience. I *know* how difficult it can be to find a job that can mesh with that work. And how often having something else is crucial because of the limitations, low pay, and how rare repeat business can be. Not like a restaurant where they can come every day! The most repeat business I’ve ever had from one client is four births. And I love, love, love your use of the word “sustainable” because knowing what is and isn’t sustainable in the doula world is a challenge for many. That’s why turnover is so high.
    Here are my thoughts:
    1. Is this happening to her other employees or just you? (I’m assuming since you said “new” she has other employees. If by “new” you mean “replacing her only employee” you might need to think about why the other employees have left…) If it’s just you, I can totally see you friend thinking “I can’t quite cover payroll this pay period, but Penny’s my friend. Penny will understand. Penny’s got doula clients to tide her over.”
    2. Sometimes when our heart is in the supportive role it can be hard – really hard! – to step out of that and be assertive. And yet, it’s perfectly appropriate and even good to do so. So saying “Hey, Randy, my paychecks have been late almost every pay period. What can we do to make sure that I can count on getting paid? I am starting to feel frustrated and would hate for this to become a serious problem!” Also, don’t wait for her to be in the office. When it’s payday, if you don’t have your pay, immediately send a text or email.

    Reply
    1. Works For Friend

      Hello! OP here, so lovely to hear from a fellow doula. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, this is super helpful. I found it really interesting you pointing out about generally being in a supportive role, you’re right I do find stepping out of that difficult. There is another employee and I’ve wondered about this, I’m sure it is the same for her. She is much younger than myself and I’m sure it is likely even more difficult for her to have this conversation. I like the “What can we do…” that echoes what the answer up top says about my potentially being part of the solution. I’d be happy to help if that’s how it works out!

      Reply
  54. MBA Candidate - Go Cougs!

    #1
    – If it’s from UoP, probably don’t hang it (http://www.askamanager.org/2015/03/should-i-take-the-university-of-phoenix-off-my-resume.html). I saw someone display a UoP diploma in her cubicle and I’m sorry to say that my opinion of her was negatively affected because of it.
    – I think a degree gives an office character if the walls lack other decoration. Also, I follow college sports, so if it’s a Division I school it might spark additional off the cuff conversation. The last person who I noticed had her degree on the wall of her office was a regional manager of a relocation company. It was just a BA from UNLV, but I asked her if she enjoyed watching their basketball team go to the NCAA championship in the 90s.

    Reply
  55. FortyTwo

    #5. I’ve been in a similar situation as a TA in grad school. The quarter began mid-September, but the first paycheck came November 1. I could manage because I was married to someone gainfully employed, but for a lot of my colleagues, it was very difficult to get through October. Eventually, the university started giving the option of a small advance on October 1 (due to pressure from the union), but before that, I don’t know how they made it, and I suspect everyone’s solution was different.

    Anyway, yes, this happens, especially in jobs that aren’t your typical 9-5. Good luck!

    Reply
  56. Cassie

    In two companies in which I’ve worked, it’s common to hang up scholastic/professional accomplishments. Particularly popular was/is hanging your patent plaques.

    Reply
  57. Shock&Naw

    I am fascinated by the comments on hanging degrees in your workspace. It would never dawn on me that my personal accomplishment could be seen as unprofessional, out of touch, braggart, etc., etc. I guess the way I see it is if someone else’s accomplishment made me feel a certain way, I need to examine why I feel that way and determine what I’m going to do about it. Similarly, I would not do something that does not seem remotely offensive because someone else may feel…however they feel. I do appreciate the honest responses (though I’m not taking my degrees off of the wall) and agree it’s situational. At my organization (which is not medical, technical, or educational), some people display their degrees and others don’t. But to my knowledge, no one takes another person’s education as a personal reflection of themselves. And we support and congratulate those who are in pursuit of additional education and those who achieve it.

    Reply
    1. Bea

      As a person without any degrees, my career has been made possible due to extraordinary opportunities, I have nothing but respect and appreciation for everyone’s degrees and certifications. I would never be phased by anyone displaying them.

      Reply
    2. Emma

      You articulated my feelings on this really well. I feel like it’s probably best to assume that someone has good intentions when they display something in their office. And if you know they don’t I’m guessing it’s not because the thing is on display– it’s because they brag about it in an unseemly way.

      Reply
  58. Bea

    #5 I’m shocked they have the balls to say “we need you sooner buuuuuuut you won’t get paid until January.” I assume they operate on monthly salary, fine enough but you still need to be paid at the end of December if you work 2-3 weeks. That’s a gross way of starting off a new working relationship!

    Reply
  59. AKchic

    #2 – Why do I have the feeling that Doug talked Andy into this? As in “hey, wouldn’t it be HI-larious to bring me along to the holiday party to mess with everyone after they fired me for no reason? It would be like rubbing their noses in their shame and guilt!”
    If Doug has continually lied about the circumstances of his termination, I’m sure that Andy has been lied to as well, and has been manipulated both at work and in his personal life by Doug since they are “friends”.
    Doug should not be allowed at the party. Doug just wants to get reactions and is doing it at the expense of his “friend’s” career and reputation.

    #4 – Do you think that maybe your friend partially wanted you to work for her because it’s easier to get away with not paying a friend on time than it is a standard employee who doesn’t have the “friendship” entanglements? Regardless of your friendship, your friend isn’t a great boss because the biggest obligation she has to you isn’t being fulfilled. She isn’t paying you on time. That puts the rest of your life in chaos. She puts undo stress and burden on you when you have to chase her down and pretty much beg her for the money you rightfully earned helping her keep her business afloat and running. Does that sound like a good friend? A good boss? It doesn’t sound like either to me.
    It’s time to compartmentalize friend X and boss X. And then have a very frank conversation with boss X about your expectations about your paychecks. They need to be on time from now on, without prompting, reminders, hounding, chasing, or cajoling (or whatever you need to call them). Otherwise, she will find herself without an employee and there might even be a call to your local Wage and Labor division. It is what any other employee should do in your shoes. She is taking advantage of your friendship.

    Reply
  60. Salyan

    (Allison, on Q1, did you mean ‘without’ the degree?)
    “…genuinely can’t perform the job with the degree…”

    Reply
  61. LadyKelvin

    LW1: Definitely check out the culture of the office, but in my field/office it is totally normal to have your terminal degrees hangning in your office or displayed in your cubical. I’m in a STEM field and work in a government building where most people have PhDs. Everyone displays their most recent degree if its master’s or phd. Mostly we use them to figure out where you got educated and then gossip about the people we both know from there, but we’re a really small field so you probably got your degree from one of maybe 6 schools in the US.

    LW3: We have a Wayne, and I certainly sometimes feel bad for talking about him behind his back, the majority of our conversations are the women (there are three of us) discussing what happened and how to establish boundaries with this dude without causing yet another temper tantrum followed by several weeks of silent treatment. And also reminding each other to document and that it is totally ok to say no to unreasonable requests and that if he makes it awkward then its his problem we just need to be civil to him. I’m not saying that’s the case in your office, but I’m sure our colleagues think all we do is complain about Wayne. Its partly their fault though, they see these things happen to us and say nothing to him (and council us to let it go, um no!). It can be really stressful having a challenging coworker.

    Reply
    1. Observer

      It doesn’t sound like you are actually trash talking. Practical advice or reassurance about a specific incident are reasonable things to discuss.

      Reply
  62. Rebecca

    #3 I know how it feels to be in that kind of workplace – we too have a coworker who everyone talks about behind his back.

    The thing is, we only talk/vent about him and nobody else, because he is emotionally abusive and probably a sociopath. Our huge staff turnover in ONE section of the company is solely his fault, but unfortunately he won’t be seeing any consequences for that. He’s completely entrenched due to his skills and being buddy-buddy with one of the directors who is never actually at the company day to day, while being toxic to everyone else. I can easily see a newer person or someone a bit more arms-length from him only seeing his charismatic intelligent side thinking we’re all unreasonable bitches… but frankly, the current record of a new staff hired under him leaving due to the way he treated them is less than 4 hours. Management has essentially told us “that’s how he is, you have to deal” and so this is how we deal.

    Reply
    1. Observer

      You do realize that this is a really maladaptive response, though? This is one of these “your boss is not going to change” situations, and you (I mean all the people in the place, not you personally) need to figure out how to deal or find another place.

      And this absolutely IS a boss problem – he’s the jerk, but the boss is totally enabling him.

      Also, what the OP describes is annoying, possibly intensely so, but not abusive. Which means their reaction is really far less excusable, especially since some of the trash talkers DO have the option to put an end to the situation.

      Reply
      1. Rebecca

        Yep, I know. It’s toxic and maladaptive, and like I said lots of people leave. You definitely don’t need to explain to me that it’s the bosses doing the enabling!

        And sure, LW3 just referred to annoyance, but I’m pretty sure people told me when I was directly under the jerk that he was annoying too. It can be hard to recognise abuse if it’s not happening to you, and it’s not screaming or physical. Mainly I just saw lots of people mention “they’re talking about you behind your back too!” and wanted to provide an example of why that might not be the case (albeit extreme).

        Reply
  63. Antilles

    #5: Since you mentioned one of your concerns is finances and the chance to get ready, you should be aware that if they ask you to come in early and you do it, they’ll won’t cut you any special slack in terms of transit, clothes, etc – if you show up and you don’t have the right business attire, they’ll think “doesn’t she know how to dress?” even though it’s largely their fault for putting you in the situation.

    Reply
  64. The Other Katie

    OP#1, it might interest you to know that the canonical British place to display your degrees is in the guest toilet , thus showing the appropriate balance of pride in earning and modesty as to what they actually imply about you. Rather than hanging them at work, unless you’re in a field where the assurance is relevant, why not hang them someplace nice at home, where you can bask in the glow of a great achievement and not feel weird about it?

    Reply
  65. Is it Friday Yet?

    #1 I work in Communications, and if I saw this in one of my co-worker’s offices I’d probably think it was a bit odd. However, unless you were prancing around in your school’s mascot costume or bragging about your degree on a regular basis, I probably wouldn’t give it a second thought.

    Reply
  66. True Story

    re: Letter Writer #1

    The head of the PR department at our agency has her degree framed and displayed in her (shared) office. Granted, she earned her masters while launching our PR team. It was a pretty massive undertaking and she singlehandedly build up our client base and hired all her staff, so finishing her masters on top of that was insane.

    That said, even if it had been something she finished before starting at the agency it would have been totally kosher to display. Like Alison says, it depends on your environment/culture. We have one employee that keeps a stack of board games behind her desk (100s of them) that people can borrow to play during lunch and another than has a collection of those POP figurines displayed proudly. We embrace the things that make our employees happy.

    Reply
  67. Soon to be former fed

    “Brag” walls are a thing. Mine is in my home office. Federal contracting officers are required by regulation to post in their work area their certificate of appointment showing their limit of authority.

    Reply
  68. Lora

    5: My first grad school did this to me – STEM PhD program. And yes, they did want me to literally work for free, which they framed as “you will get a head start working in the labs and have your pick of rotations you will be able to get a Research Assistantship instead of having to teach, so show up three months early and work for free.”

    The students who started early and worked for free did indeed get RA-ships instead of TA-ships, and they did indeed get their pick of labs to rotate in first. They also were going straight from undergrad to grad school, and their summers (and first month’s rent/security etc) were all paid for by the Bank of Mom and Dad. I said sorry, I have a full time job, my spouse has a full time job, we both have commitments we cannot break, I will be there in August when I said I’d be there.

    It did not, however, make a single blessed bit of difference in who even completed the program, who finished their degree in a timely fashion, who was happier or more successful (by any standards, academic standards included). People who started with an RA-ship in the labs they wanted to join were still miserable and ended up TA-ing for years after the RA support grant ran out. People who started with an RA-ship still mastered out at the same rate as us supposedly slacker TAs.

    There is no justice in this story though, because the people who never had a job outside of their RA-ship and relied on the Bank of Mom and Dad still got to fail upwards: Mom and Dad helped them get fairly cushy jobs, at which they somehow stuck around sorta-kinda, at least for a while. And there are plenty of employers who use “has PhD” as a proxy for “is a competent manager” no matter how much evidence they have to the contrary, so, eh.

    Reply
  69. Mephyle

    Andy invited Doug to be his guest at our company office party. We only know this because Doug emailed us to ask if it would be okay.
    Thus, there’s zero evidence that Andy even knows about this. If you read the letter and thought that Andy should be given a stern talking-to, take this into account first.

    Reply
  70. OP2

    OP #2 here.

    Doug has been told in no uncertain terms that he is not to attend the holiday party. I also discussed the matter with the head of human resources and the head of the company.

    To answer some questions and clarify some issues raised above:

    Neither Andy nor Doug is new to the workforce. Both have well over a decade of job experience (although not all at this particular company), so we can’t attribute this error in judgement to inexperience.

    According to the employees who have expressed their concerns to me, Doug is contacting them directly with his tale of woe. It seems reasonable to assume that Doug gave Andy the same misinformation that he gave others.

    As a general rule, when someone is fired, I don’t give out specific details. I only tell employees that the person is no longer with the company. In this particular case, when other employees came to talk to me about Doug, I reassured them that no one gets fired without notice unless they do something egregious (assault, theft, extreme insubordination, etc. – noting that we do not have a history of these types of issues at our company), and that anyone who has a job performance issue is going to be given the opportunity to correct it.

    I have been debating what to say to Andy. I may sit Andy down and ask him to explain his thought process behind inviting Doug, before I do anything further. I am not sure whether I should tell him directly that Doug has been providing misinformation and/or that inviting a fired employee to a holiday party was poor judgement on his part. This probably depends on what he says in response to my first question!

    I will try to post an update after the holiday party.

    Reply

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