my coworkers scoff and roll their eyes when I question decisions in meetings

A reader writes:

I have an issue with my coworkers in staff meetings. I’m on a team of about nine analysts, and our manager does a great job of communicating changes to our department’s policies, as they arise. However, I find myself questioning management’s decisions on occasion, and instead of being that horrible “yes man,” I sometimes speak up and ask if a particular scenario had been considered when the decision was made, and most often the manager takes down my concern(s) and sometimes their decisions are changed. For example, our manager recently told the team that we no longer had to do a particular task anymore, but I got the impression that it wasn’t thought out thoroughly.

So I asked a probing question and the entire team scoffed and rolled their eyes at me. While the decision ultimately stood, and I accepted it (anytime we get to do less work is awesome, right?!), I feel it is my job to be analytical and ask questions to get a sense of whether it had been considered thoroughly. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the kind of person who questions everything that’s said…but I don’t feel like analysts should just nod their head and take notes during staff meetings.

I was really taken aback by their reaction! It seemed to me that instead of wanting to ensure quality work, they liked what they heard and just wanted to accept it. They have reacted this way to me twice now, and I’m firmly opposed to it happening again. I feel embarrassed, especially when our management doesn’t address their behavior (or mine, if they felt I was out of line).

As we are all analysts, I feel it’s our job to analyze the changes and address concerns about those changes to management, even if they ultimately decide my concerns are unwarranted. I was told in a previous analytical role that as long as I have a seat at the table, speak up — and I do.

Am I being too sensitive about this, or is my team out of line? I’ve debated on how to handle this the next time I get such a reaction, but I’m at a loss here.

Well, there are two possibilities here. One possibility is that your coworkers are the problem. Maybe they want to get through meetings as quickly as possible and so they’re thinking “shut up!” every time you ask a question because it means they’ll have to sit there longer. Maybe they’re lazy and prefer to do their jobs without much thought and so they’re scoffing at you because you’re actually invested in the work.

But the other possibility is that you’re sort of overstepping the bounds of your role. When you say that you feel it’s your job in these meetings “to be analytical and ask questions to get a sense of whether it had been considered thoroughly,” I immediately want to know whether your manager would agree with that. Maybe she would! In which case, great, roll forward with what you’re doing. But it’s not uncommon for someone to feel like they should be doing that, when in fact that’s not what their manager is looking for.

It can actually be pretty irritating to have someone regularly question whether decisions have been thoroughly considered. It’s one thing to do that occasionally when something jumps out at you as not making sense, but if you’re doing it regularly, that’s actually fairly combative. (Plus, sometimes decisions might not be the thing that makes the most sense for you or your team, but are the right decision for other reasons — and it can be exhausting to have to continually explain that. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask when you have questions — a good manager will welcome questions and input, at least to a point — but it does mean that you’ve got to bring some emotional intelligence to it, which usually means not fighting every single possible battle.)

The best way to figure out which of these two things is happening here is to talk to your manager. You could say something like this: “I know that I ask a lot of questions at our team meetings, especially about whether decisions are the right ones. My thinking is that it’s part of my job to be analytical about this stuff and ask questions to help make sure we get to the best outcomes, but I want to make sure that you see it the same way. Is what I’ve been doing okay, or would you rather I rein it in sometimes? I don’t want to do it if it’s annoying or unwelcome.”

{ 472 comments… read them below }

  1. Anlyn

    I had a coworker who constantly questioned decisions made by our upper management. While she had some good points, they were drowned out by the frequency of her arguments, and managers eventually started disregarding her altogether.

    1. Lil Fidget

      Agree, I would suggest to OP that they try to make a personal rule about the frequency of their comments (that’s what I have to do, because I’m a know-it-all Hermione type). Assuming most of the meeting participants are people senior to me, and weren’t not talking about some particular area of my expertise, I try not to make more than one original point per meeting – I can build off of other people’s points if it’s helpful – and not EVERY meeting. YMMV.

      1. zora

        This is good. It pushes you to make sure you are prioritizing the most important points so that you have more capital to give to those! This is definitely something I had to work on, too, I’m often too verbose and chime in just to have something to say.

    2. President Porpoise

      I’ve seen that as well. Also, maybe consider whether you’re being respectful of everyone’s time when you raise your questions. Please don’t review the history of alpaca domestication or your own qualifications as an alpaca shearer when questioning your company’s decision to switch from alpaca wool to sheep wool. If you can’t ask your question without doing that, it might be more appropriate to take it offline.

      1. JeJe

        Yes. Although it wasn’t necessarily indicated in the letter, I’m getting the impression that these questions come in the form of a self-aggrandizing speech.

          1. JeJe

            The letter contains several comments that that they do this because as an an analyst their “job is to think critically.” Not because these decisions are impacting their work or their team in a way that leaves them unsure how to proceed. They describe wanting to be sure that decisions were thought through. These comments themselves are self-important. Of course we can’t be sure of how exactly questions are phrased, but, I’ll bet the attitude that’s motivating the questioning of decisions is impacting how the questions are framed and the narrative that is provided with them.

            1. LBK

              Yeah, I think you hit on what was bothering me – it seems to imply that no one else is thinking critically. But she’s on a team of 9 analysts, so does she think the rest of the team is just shirking their responsibilities? Being lazy? Not good at their jobs?

            2. Wolfram alpha

              Except more often than not that is an analysts job in many many companies and if the process breaks frequently the analyst pushing the process along is the first to be blamed for not explaining to the process owner the implications of the change. As an analyst I saw no troubling or self aggrandizing language from op and think this sort of speculating is rude to the letter writer.

              1. JeJe

                I am not familiar with the day to day duties of an smaller an analyst. In my years of corporate experience, when it’s a person’s job to provide feedback, critique someone’s work or question the decisions of others, there are typically specific parameters surrounding that role. I find it pretty hard to believe it’s the OP’s job to provide unsolicited feedback on any decision handed down from above.

                1. Phoenix Programmer

                  Your pretty defensive in this comment. I have worked as an analyst and it’s been my experience that – yes when it is announced that process you work in is changing that you speak up if you see an issue that hasn’t been addressed. This is a very common analyst process owner set up.

            3. Artemesia

              This is what flared for me. Questioning if the boss had ‘thought the decision through’ is deeply insulting. And if this attitude is coming across then no wonder the peers are ridiculing her in meetings. You can be right about the issue and still alienate everyone in the room if you are not careful.

        1. Jadelyn

          I’m really not sure where you’re getting that from. I even went back and re-read the letter to see if I could pick it up, but the most I could get was potentially that OP is That Person who can’t let anything go without questioning it (but doesn’t realize how they’re coming off to others) – nothing suggested to me that “self-aggrandizing speeches” were involved. And either way, that’s a pretty unkind thing to say to someone.

          1. SignalLost

            Look, you’re just not doing it right if there isn’t a self-aggrandizing speech AND a parade.

            But in seriousness, JeJe, there is nothing at all to suggest this, and my read is the same as Jadelyn and a1’s.

          2. JeJe

            I explained above why I do think this is happening. I also don’t think it’s unkind. Just blunt.

            1. Jesca

              I think it can be argued that this is certainly how someone can come across in this situation, especially if people are even slightly aware of the OP’s belief.

            2. Jadelyn

              All you said was that you’re “getting the impression” of self-aggrandizing speeches. That’s not an explanation.

              And bluntness is not an excuse for being unkind when there was no need to be.

              1. JeJe

                I followed that comment up with an explanation.

                I don’t think it’s automatically unkind to say something someone doesn’t want to hear. Most people wouldn’t want to the things they do to be described as self-aggrandizing but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to point it out. It’s not a pointless insult, it’s a description of behavior.

                1. LetterWriter

                  Hi JeJe,

                  Oh how I wish I could take a handful of commenters and have them sit in the staff meeting with me. Perhaps I am a little aggressive in my speech, that is a possibility I’m willing to entertain. I’d hope that my remarks are taken as I intended, but that may not always be the case (certainly not with the reaction my peers on two occasions have delivered). But I’m certainly not raising concerns to self-aggrandize. I’ll just have to be more careful with my tone and language.

                2. JeJe

                  Other commenters have also suggested that the issue stems from your attitude. The idea that you need to make sure that management has thought the decision through and the justification for raising questions being that it’s your job to think critically both indicate a problematic mindset that goes beyond tone and language. This implies you don’t have respect for the decision makers. I hope you’ll take those comments seriously. If you don’t start from the assumption that the decision makers are competent, no amount language gymnastics are going to mask your lack of respect for them.

                3. Phoenix Programmer

                  Also it’s a violation of the commenting rules.

                  There is a difference between “it could be tone or attitude” and “I’m inferring attitude from your letter so fix that it’s the issue”

          3. Tuxedo Cat

            I once had to attend meetings with a person who designated themselves as the group’s skeptic (literally called themselves that). They would bring up the same generic concerns, take up time, be negative, and wouldn’t give things a chance. For example, the group wanted to try working by using Method A and the skeptic wanted Method B. The skeptic wouldn’t give Method A chance, even for a week or two. It wasn’t a concern of danger and now making deadlines or anything.

            1. Not So NewReader

              I saw two groups in the community dissolve because of this. No one could tell the question box to stop. In one instance the person threw up hurdles, what about this, that and the next thing.
              In the other instance, the person was way too philosophical/ theoretical with a group of very pragmatic people. “Okay so we are going to plant carrot seeds. How will we ascertain if that particular seed actually wants to be planted?” The entire group would groan in pain.

        2. Eleven

          For what it’s worth I tend to agree with you, JeJe. In the description of the scenarios the OP seems to be asking questions simply to check if things had been thought through and questioning things for the sake of being analytical – not necessarily due to genuine concern. That type of “hole poking” and questioning is valuable in the planning phase when that type of feedback is often solicited, but once a decision is made and being rolled out do you really need to test your manager? Certainly ask questions about how this will impact your operations (as in: “with this new system, how will this team handle X moving forward?”) but this tone seems like it could be construed as grilling or doubting the competency of the decision makers (as in: “have you considered X?”)…enter the conversation with an open mind and assume they have considered the important factors. If you later get the impression that something has been overlooked – perhaps a conversation offline would be more appropriate?

    3. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws

      Yeah – it’s easy to pick up the reputation of a contrarian who doesn’t trust others to handle decisionmaking. OP, if you have a serious concern and you want to ask it on the spot, I’d consider phrasing it differently – instead of “have you considered…” maybe “how can we expect this to affect…” But I’d also consider whether most of your questions or concerns are better addressed offline with your manager in private, rather than in front of your colleagues in these meetings. Offering meaningful input is one thing, but constantly questioning decisions of the higher-ups eventually starts to sound like undermining leadership, and that’s never a good look.

      1. MissGirl

        I like this because it gives the benefit of the doubt to management but might get needed information across. And, yes, some things don’t need to be in a meeting.

        1. Jesca

          I agree. i definitely like the phrase Kalros uses “how can we expect this to affect … ” Usually if you start asking questions like “Have you considered …” you often are putting people on the defensive in what is otherwise meant to be an informative meeting only. Sometimes people can sound like they are turning into a collaborative meeting where they come off like input is imperative. If it is going to go outside the scope of “How can we expect this to affect …” conversation, it is best to wait until after the meeting.

        2. Bobbin Ufgood

          I like the idea of taking it outside the meeting — you are less likely to cut into other people’s time, and the manager will be less likely to be defensive

        3. Tiny Soprano

          I like this too. You still get to do your job without so much of a risk that people will misunderstand your intent or typecast you in a negative way.

      2. Specialk9

        I’d also go directly to the most otherwise-decent of the eyerollers and try to negotiate the conflict. “Hey, I noticed that you and X rolled your eyes and made negative noises when I asked a question about Y. It hurt my feelings, honestly, and it was surprising because I understand my job to be analyzing and asking questions. But I know that sometimes things look one way from one viewpoint, but totally different from another. Could you tell me why you were acting like that?”

        Then listen, openly, without arguing, and restate their point with NO sarcasm or embedded gotchas you can later exploit. “So what I’m hearing you say is that you feel like A when I do B. Did I get that right?”

        Then thank them for their honesty and tell them you’re going to really think on what they said. “It’s really important to me to be respectful of you, and everyone on the team.”

        Then do think on it. Write down what they said, get your defensiveness and justifications out of your system, and then analyze. Generally in most conflicts, there are two sides. Even if one is mostly right, there’s still stuff you’re doing.

        So for example your behavior changes might be:
        *to change the venue of your questions to private (if they think you’re delaying a meeting – ie disrespecting their time) or
        *to find ways to verbally affirm your team members (if they feel like you look down on them) or
        *to ask them for advice (if they see you as a know-it-all).

        It’s hard but so very worth doing.

        1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo

          I agree with you in spirit, but not in application.

          Generally speaking I am a direct person. I will straight out ask a coworker (and boss) “Hey we seem to be butting heads the last few weeks, I think we need to talk did I piss you off?”. Your script seems like something better used on a playground with a teacher standing over them or a marriage counselling office. It doesn’t sound like a great script to use in the workplace.

          If I were the LW who wanted to get the opinion of a coworker I’d just straight out ask “Hey Bruno, got a sec? Am I being a pain in our meetings? I’ve noticed some eye rolls when I’ve asked questions. Am I being ‘that guy’, you know like Gayle’s Coworker*?”

          *Gayle’s coworker from down comment

          1. Anna

            Specialk9’s script is based on the kinds of scripts often given by Alison for negotiating these types of interaction in the workplace. But to each their own.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              I’d probably go shorter if I were writing scripts for this one — something like, “Hey, I’ve noticed you rolling your eyes when I ask questions in meetings. Can you tell me what’s up?”

              But all this stuff is going to be adapted to some extent for personal style.

            2. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo

              I recognize the script, but if the LW is trying to find out if they are coming across as a know-it-all to their coworkers, this script is not going to help. It comes across as a script, stilted, and to be honest when I hear someone say “Now this is what I’m hearing you say…. thank you for your honesty” I am going to roll my eyes so hard it would be audible.

              This LW already knows they have a perception issue with their coworkers (either earned or unearned). Using a script with them will just make it worse. I think the best thing for the LW to do is be honest and own the fact right up front they know they might be the problem.

              1. Specialk9

                When I’m mad, I want to be heard. Yes it sounds corny, but it’s worked for me. So often when we talk to people, we don’t even listen to them, and most people aren’t used to being listened to in their frustration instead of getting arguments. But of course, this evidently sounds inauthentic to you, so likely not a good approach for you.

            3. Specialk9

              It’s actually based on lots of conflict management reading and therapy. If it were based on Alison’s scripts, it’d be shorter and pithier. :D She has a gift!

          2. Natalie

            I don’t think that’s really fair. I also prefer a more direct communication style, not quite as blunt as yours but way more direct than the predominant mores where I live. That doesn’t mean more indirect styles are automatically bad or childish.

          3. LetterWriter

            YES!! I did exactly what you suggested and got some good feedback. I also asked for feedback from my manager, and was assured it was the right forum to address concerns (I’m assuming that’s why I haven’t been taken aside and told not to do what I’ve been doing). Thanks so much for your input, very wise!

        2. NorthernSoutherner

          I would strongly advise against saying “it hurt my feelings.” That’s taking the conversation to a personal level. There are accepted meeting procedures, and eye-rolling isn’t one of them. That’s all.

      3. LBK

        Agreed – don’t come at it from the perspective of criticizing their thoroughness, that can come off really condescending. If you have a specific concern, ask about it directly. Don’t ask if they thought of it because often they probably have, so if you just ask the question you want to ask, they’ll have an answer ready for it. If they haven’t already thought of it, they’ll just come back and say “Good point, I hadn’t thought of that, let me look into it some more and get back to you.”

    4. Oy with the poodles already

      I have a staff person who does this and it’s exhausting. It’s frustrating. It makes me immediately defensive and has resulted in me, not very professionally saying, “just do it, please.” It’s also resulted in me looking to move this person out of my department because they’re so frustrating to work with.

        1. nonegiven

          Does this need to be said?
          Does this need to be said by me?
          Does this need to be said by me, now?

        1. Oy with the poodles already

          Oh yes. There’s frustration all around and an understanding that this person needs to find a new place to work so that they are successful. This person is really bright and capable, but frustrating. In another environment with work that more closely aligns to their strengths they’ll be very successful. Just not here.

    5. JGray

      You make a good point. I once went to a half hour staff meeting that turned into an hour & a half when one of my coworkers kept wanting to fight with our manager about the decision. The thing was that we worked at a large national retailer, the decision had been in the works for a year or longer, and it really didn’t impact his job that much. I felt that he was just arguing to argue especially since my manager had no control over the decision since it was made at corporate and the meeting was just to notify us of the most current timeline. I think the change had actually been enacted before this person was even hired at the company and my manger told him multiple times that she had no control over the decision. That was annoying. Now if the person is just asking questions for clarification than I am fine with it because it would be good to know sometime. But to just argue for argument sake it gets annoying.

        1. Jake

          I went to a new company where I want in position to do it and instead was part of the team it was done to.

    6. MommyMD

      Anlyn, very good. LW to put it bluntly, is driving his colleagues crazy. Not a couple of them…the majority of them. The Devil’s Advocate role while helpful at some points, gets old when used chronically.

      1. Swedish Chef

        I have started pointing out to colleagues and family members that the Devil has plenty of advocates, thanks. It’s usually said in a lighthearted way, but it does tend to get the point across.

    7. HR Here

      Yep. I scoffed and rolled my eyes reading the header. These employees are exhausting. Raise legit concerns, sure, but I feel like people who perceive themselves as obligated to play devil’s advocate often do so in inappropriate ways, at inappropriate times, way too often, just for the sake of arguing… You get the point

      1. Jen S. 2.0

        This. I recently read an article in which some popular actor (Kat Dennings, I think?) was talking about how she makes sure people know that she’s “not a pushover.” I seriously groaned and rolled my eyes at what a pain in the caboose she is likely to be.

        It’s great to ask questions when critical elements aren’t clear. It’s great to bring up important points that haven’t been considered. But if you are wasting people’s time *and* all of your clout by being difficult at every opportunity because you think it’s your job to question every little thing, your coworkers are going to do more than roll their eyes pretty soon.

        1. Immersang

          Oh, I had a coworker like that at OldJob. She wouldn’t necessarily question every general decision – although she did love hearing herself talk in meetings – but she would often question when our manager (she was on my team and we were on the same level) asked her to specifically do something. Or when he told her that he would like her to do something different in the future, because he wasn’t happy with how she handled something. He wasn’t picking on her by the way, he did that with all of us. But she was the only one who constantly argued against him.

          Now, I’m all for putting your foot down and standing by your decisions when you are convinced that you handle something the way it should be. I do that. But I pick my battles. She didn’t.

          She would constantly explain herself and argue against our manager’s every criticism. And it would make the team meetings seemingly last forever. The other members of my team and I were just sitting there thinking “Just accept that he wants you to do X and move on.”

          She also didn’t realise that this essentially put a target on her back. If you took his criticism well and showed that you would respect what he wants to you prioritize/change/whatever, he was pretty hands-off the rest of the time. But she put herself up for him keeping a closer eye on her. Stupid really.

    8. Artemesia

      This. When management hands down a decision, it is not the place of those it is being handed to to openly criticize their processes and suggest they haven’t done a professional job of decision making. If the issue really seems important then approach the manager privately with your concerns. Otherwise you become ‘that’ employee who is ignored.

      I have had a job where as a middle manager part of my role in staff meetings was to be the one who pushed back. My CEO liked that invited it and when ideas were floated, they were not being delivered as decisions but as possibilities for which he sought feedback. Most of my peers were polite agreers and he came to value my willingness to push back. But I would never do that same sort of thing in a meeting where the director was telling a decision already made; if I were deeply concerned, I’d talk to him privately or if there was broader discussion very rarely bring up concerns.

  2. Jesmlet

    Were both of the times this happened after you questioned a decision that lightened their workload? I would probably be internally scoffing if this happened this way and I didn’t see your point.

    1. LetterWriter

      Hi
      Yes, that was the context of their reaction. We just implemented a new system and so procedural changes are a constant right now. I agree with Alison in that I need to ensure I’m not being combative, but I can’t help feeling that my team is too eager to take a shortcut.

      1. Parse

        I think it’s also worth it to think about how you’re phrasing these questions. There’s a difference between “I understand that removing X will offset our workload, but I’m concerned that this will cause problems down the line with Y” and “Actually, we have to do this because…”

      2. Jesmlet

        Shortcuts that save time are good, shortcuts that cause quality issues are bad. It’s not necessarily your responsibility to think through all the consequences, but sometimes these things are important to bring up. Best advice I can give you is to choose your battles. If you’re pointing out something you think is obvious, maybe save it for a private discussion with the manager. If it’s something more nuanced, maybe the group discussion is the appropriate place.

        1. The Other Dawn

          I would say, too, that maybe OP’s question or concern will be addressed while carrying out the new process. It’s not always possible to think of every little detail before you actually start doing the work. There are lots of times when we think something will work great, but then we come up with questions while actually doing it and we end up making a small change.

        2. Mike C.

          When you’re inundated with the philosophy of “create no defects, accept no defects and pass no defects”, that sort of issue can become everyone’s job. It’s obviously within the context of the specific workplace but I just wish people would understand that there are places where these sorts of things are expected behavior.

          1. JB (not in Houston)

            I think people understand that there are places where these sorts of things are expected behavior, but from the OP’s letter, we don’t have enough information to conclude that’s the case here, and we have some information suggesting that possibly it’s not.

            1. Mike C.

              We have conflicting information – after all, changes have been made because of the OP’s input. We also have lots of folks complaining that the OP is just like that one guy who asks dumb questions to waste time and feel smart. I don’t think the latter is useful.

              1. JB (not in Houston)

                Changes may have been made because of his input, but that doesn’t mean that it’s his job to do what he’s been doing. And even if people are making assumptions about him, that doesn’t mean that you’re right that people don’t understand that there are some jobs where what the OP is doing is expected. It’s that they don’t see it in this letter–the OP certainly didn’t say that was their job.

              2. Snark

                Changes have been made, and the question may have been good, but that doesn’t mean it was the right forum to ask them or the right tone to use. So it might kinda be both.

                1. Jesca

                  Right. Generally if it is an informational meeting only, then its usually just best to wait and pull your manager aside later. I think the OP is just assuming no one has objections, whereas many of them might just be waiting for a smaller audience to address them outside of an informational meeting.

                2. LBK

                  Exactly. A broken clock is right twice a day; that doesn’t mean you’re looking at it for the time 24/7.

                3. Mike C.

                  If that’s the case, I would hope the manager would say something like, “I hear your concern, why don’t we discuss it further after this meeting”.

              3. Yorick

                Some changes were made, but maybe those were times when LW should have spoken up and there were other times when LW shouldn’t have.

      3. Important Moi

        “my team is too eager to take a shortcut” is there anyway to expound on that without offering identifying details that would be problematic?

        To me it sounds like either you think your team is lazy (and you’re not) or you don’t think the procedural changes have been thoroughly vetted (and that is not your call to make).

      4. Snark

        “I agree with Alison in that I need to ensure I’m not being combative, but I can’t help feeling that my team is too eager to take a shortcut.”

        Wow, that’s pretty…..uncomplimentary. If that’s how you think about them, I’d be surprised if they hadn’t gotten the impression you view them and management with contempt.

      5. Mike C.

        Would you mind saying in a general sense what industry you’re in and what sort of data you look at?

          1. Anon Accountant

            For what it’s worth, OP, I’d expect for members of my team to bring up substantive issues right away, before they become a problem. I think the difficult part is to make sure that (1) you’re limiting yourself to feedback that you think has the potential to prevent major problems down the road and (2) you do it in a manner that works for your boss. Might be that addressing the issues during the meeting is not the best idea, maybe approaching her directly after the meeting is better, especially because if your feedback does come across as criticism that is always better addressed in a private setting. So just ask your boss how she perceives your feedback, and whether she wants you to scale it back or not hring up those points at all, or whether she’d prefer you address them with her directly.
            The one caveat to this that I do have is – if you are in a situation where you are rather new to the industry / junior to the job I would try to hold back until you have more experience. At least in my industry the best way to do something may not be readily apparent and you may need several years of experience to appropriately weigh the various courses of action.
            Finally, either way I think it’s unprofessional for your coworkers to roll their eyes.
            Don’t let it get to you!

      6. Naruto

        But you’re not their manager, so it’s not your job to police them for being lazy or whatever.

        1. Lilo

          This. Nothing worse than a peer trying to wrongly manage a peer or overrule a manager. Sometime stuff is done for policy reasons you aren’t involved in.

          1. MizA

            I work in health care in Canada. We process map things to minute detail, and often apply change through PDSA cycles. And it’s when the processes get broken that we learn the most about best practice, all the while keeping safety firmly in mind. The human aspect of what we do ensures that there will always be exceptions. Sometimes it’s important to let the system do, then identify where you can do better once it’s under way. We have working groups where the various aspects of policy are worked through minutely before informational meetings with those affected by/affecting said changes.
            It’s worth speaking with your colleagues with regard to their disrespectful behaviour during meetings. But it may also be worth speaking with your manager for a better understanding of the process and how you fit. It may be that there is need to bring in one or two people who will be affected by these policies to sit in the working group, or it may be that they already are. Managing change is challenging, and it’s important to have a broad overview of its process to know where (or if) your input is best offered.

            Wow. Long.

      7. Natalie

        I’m definitely speaking from my own experience and not saying that this is what you’re doing! But, I have had some co-workers that were, in my opinion, way too resistant to new, more efficient ways of doing things because they putatively needed this or that piece of documentation, or approval step. In reality, though, they didn’t need those things, they were just more comfortable with them or were uncomfortable with change generally.

        The reason I mention this is that you say you’re the only person to notice these problems. So I do think it’s worth considering if they are actually problems, or if you could be a little more flexible with procedure.

      8. Observer

        Maybe they see you asking questions that don’t need to be asked plus a dose of attitude.

        On the attitude, I’ll point out that although you don’t intend to, you come off as rather superior to both your superiors (I have to make sure that they have thought their decisions through properly) and your coworkers (who have a sloppy work ethic.)

        Also, you asked questions and the decision stood. Is it possible that YOU are the one who missed an important point, rather than you coworkers?

        I also agree with what the others have said about being respectful of people’s time and how you frame the question. Both are extremely important.

      9. Jadelyn

        I’m not sure how to word this, but the way you say you feel that your team is “too eager to take a shortcut” is giving me some kinda holier-than-thou superiority vibes. Because if you’re questioning decisions that would lighten the workload for you all, and you’re specifically doing it because you think the others at your level are just trying to take a shortcut, it kind of suggests that you think you’re…more thorough? More conscientious? than they are, and/or that you don’t think they’re very thorough/conscientious/whatever. Which, if that’s the case, probably comes across in your mannerisms whether you ever actually *say* so or not, and which might explain coworkers who roll their eyes at you like this.

        Because if I had a peer who questioned process improvements that would make my job easier and pushed back on it specifically because they thought I was “too eager to accept a shortcut”, I’d be pretty annoyed at having my integrity/conscientiousness questioned like that, and while I like to think I’d keep the scoffing inside my own head in front of other people, my demeanor would probably convey it at least a little. Sort of like “Yes, we get it, you’re the most thorough person ever to thorough at anything and you don’t want to let us lazies off the hook, but stop actively trying to make our job harder please.”

        Just remember that harder/more involved processes are not always better, and sometimes a “shortcut” is really an efficiency improvement by eliminating unnecessary steps and wasted energy.

      10. 42

        Are you presupposing issues before they arise?

        Is it feasible to wait until the new processes are in place for a couple of weeks and see how it all shakes out, and THEN call out the issues you see?

      11. Not So NewReader

        It may be that they are too eager.
        It’s also true that not all shortcuts are bad, some are actually an improvement.
        It also could be part of the job to find efficiencies. My father worked for Household Name Company. Each year he was tasked with finding x dollars in savings through streamlining, materials or whatever. Every year his assigned amount was increased. He was disgusted with the process, mostly because they were never thanked properly for the amounts they did save the company.

      12. Someone else

        Something that immediately stuck out at me, that may help you determine if it’s situation 1 or 2:
        In the cases where you are expressing concern something hadn’t been thought through, is it because something about the new whatever it was specifically sounded like they hadn’t considered whatever you were worried about? Ie, it seemed to have a logical flaw or otherwise didn’t make sense or would crumble because of thing that immediately came to mind to you?
        Or were you concerned they hadn’t thought it through in a more generic sense? (Whether that’s because the person has a track record of not doing so or whyever else)

        If something they said immediately brought to mind “oh no this doesn’t seem to account for X”, then that’s a probably good case for you bringing it up and you’re probably being reasonable, assuming thoughtful wording that acknowledges the possibility they did think of X but due to other priorities, made this call anyway.

        If you find yourself more generically assuming they didn’t think it through, absent any specific evidence to suggest that’s the case, then you’re probably being more combative than you mean to, and maybe should consider dialing it back a bit.

    2. LadyL

      I once had a coworker like this, the adult version of the kid who reminds the teacher about collecting last night’s homework. I enjoyed her as a human being outside of work, but as a coworker I haaaaaated her. She wasn’t even being malicious, she was just genuinely a more virtuous human being than I am and clearly a much harder worker. It was frustrating though.

      1. Jesmlet

        Yeah I’m just not that person either. Our weekly operations meetings are usually more detailed than they need to be and last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. The last time I ran it without the CEO, I clocked it at 12 minutes (and was super proud of that time).

      2. Lil Fidget

        I think this is really key. A lot of the comments are about the frequency of comments or the appropriateness of the venue, but if it’s always happening around discussions of lightening the workload with OP piping up to counter, I think that’s the crux of it. It’s a perception by the coworkers that OP is a suckup / too virtuous / a goody-goodie or whatever. Juvenile, but it happens.

        I think the most likely solution is for OP to make notes of their thoughts and then approach their manager (or the person most obviously involved) in email or in person, one on one instead of in front of the group, because there’s a kids-waiting-for-the-bell effect going on.

  3. Anon Anon

    Definitely ask your manager. Even if management acts upon your suggested changes, you could be getting the reputation as being a pain in the backside. Is it possible that you may be underestimating how regularly you are asking these kinds of questions (or at least you may feel that you only ask occasionally but your boss may feel that you are constantly asking and challenging her/him)?

    As Alison noted, it could be completely appropriate and fine. Or might not be. Asking is the best way to find out.

  4. Dee

    Your coworkers may also feel that these meetings are not the appropriate place for your questions.

    1. Lil Fidget

      Yeah especially if you just want to make sure it’s a thought-through decision – that may be important to your personal work satisfaction but not everybody else’s, if they’re more comfortable with the need-to-know basis.

      1. Future Analyst

        Agreed. One of my biggest pet peeves in meetings (team, benefits, whatever) is when someone holds the group hostage to ask a question that’s overly specific to THEM.

        1. Falling Diphthong

          I recently finished a series of remote meetings, and was really grateful that one of the senior people on the call would regularly say “This is an important issue we should hash out, but not here, because it doesn’t concern 3/4 of the people on this 3 hour call.”

          Other things I relate from those meetings to this letter:
          • Figuring out how much speaking up is right–so you are contributing but not derailing, and people think “when FD chimes in, it’s useful”–involves social calibration. You’re getting blaring social signals that you are off on whether these questions are worth asking in this meeting and should recalibrate. Can you ask them later to your manager? In an email? Will the answer become clear as you go? (I regularly hold off on sending questions because there’s a good chance if I get all the way through a given assignment I will have answered 3/4 of them on my own. Then I send a short list I’m reasonably confident were not actually covered.)
          • It struck me that you are asking about decisions that already happened. This meeting is not about brainstorming ways to submit expense reports, it’s telling you how expense reports are to be submitted, and no one wants to sit there while you relitigate something that doesn’t need litigating. Unless it’s a major safety or legal thing (“Wait, how does this address the documentation requirements?”) the staff meeting is not the place to analyze decisions that already got brainstormed, researched, and made.

          1. Specialk9

            Figuring out how much speaking up is right involves social calibration. You’re getting blaring social signals that you are off on whether these questions are worth asking in this meeting and should recalibrate.”

            This comment is worth its weight in gold. Social calibration based on social signals.

            1. Autumn anon

              What if you don’t understand the signals you’re getting, or don’t know you’re getting them? Obviously this doesn’t relate to the OP, as they’ve noticed huffing and eye-rolling, but what if you haven’t noticed anything and know you miss stuff like this? What would be useful to watch out for?

              1. Teacher

                One thing is to pay attention to how much your behavior lines up with others’ behavior. For instance, it might mean asking yourself if others speak up in meetings as frequently as you do or if you are taking up a disproportionate amount of air time. Or noticing whether you are the only one regularly challenging decisions that have already been made.

          2. myswtghst

            Yes, all of this. Social calibration is very important, and OP is getting very clear signals they need to recalibrate.

            Also, I think your last point is particularly important – it might be worth it for OP to sit down with their manager and ask if there is a way to be involved in the discussions before the decisions are made, so they can give input in a productive way, rather than after the fact by challenging a decision which has already been made.

      2. Mrs. D

        Exactly what I was going to suggest! Maybe in the meeting note down the points you want your manager to consider, and approach them after the meeting.

    2. Candi

      Yes, this. Our company frequently has large meetings where management decisions are announced, and inevitably some people ask incredibly granular questions about how those decisions will affect them, and while there isn’t any eye rolling, there is definitely a widespread are you really taking up everyone’s time with this annoyed glances. Some of your questions might be better put into an email to your manager, OP, depending on what the team meetings are usually used for.

      1. Arya Snark

        Especially when it’s the same person asking the questions at every single meeting, even more so when the motivation is to have a convo with higher ups just so they know who you are and that you are paying attention. If we’re talking about Eric that I used to work with, then there was definitely some serious eye rolling going on!

      2. Perse's Mom

        I’ve seen that at my employer, and sometimes I think it’s because they’ve tried their manager and gotten nowhere (as in the manager is unresponsive, not that they’re not getting the answer they want).

      1. Not So NewReader

        Yeah, I had to sort that one out also.
        A couple things:
        I would figure out how critical my question was.
        Sometimes I would ask someone else’s advice, “should I ask about x at the meeting?” If their faces did not light up with a very emphatic YES, I would slow down my approach.
        And I made sure I understood context. “We need B to happen. B absolution must happen. We have choice #1 which is not great. We have choice #2 which is even worse. Since B must happen and we only have the two choices, we will go with choice #1.” Unfortunately, people do not speak this clearly when explaining this and sometimes we have to extract that from a long-winded and poor explanation.
        Then there were times where the decision has been made and the manager delivering the message was simply a “message delivery person”. “We are taking all our new llama brushes and throwing them away. We will buy llama bushes that cost twice what those cost. CEO has decided this and we must carry it out.”
        [Which brings me to my next point, you could be working with a stupid llama grooming company and you are just realizing how frivolous they are.]

            1. Sara without an H

              Rather, absolvo te.
              Alas, there’s no way to edit a comment here, once you’ve hit the submit button.

    3. Lynca

      I was going to respond with this. When changes come down the pipes to our office the place to discuss concerns is one on one with management, and not with the team present. We’ve had employees question decisions during the meetings and it’s just not the place to ask probing in-depth questions about why the decision was made or if it’s correct.

    4. Shiara

      I was thinking this as well. Especially if the LW’s pushing back turns it into a one on one conversation between her and the manager with the rest of the team as passive witnesses, that’s just not an efficient use of team meeting time.

      Plus it sounds like in a lot of cases, while LW’s points may be taken on board, the manager doesn’t even have the authority to render a final decision in the moment, so it really might make more sense to raise these issues later, since raising them in the meeting isn’t going to change the immediate takeaway for anyone.

    5. LBK

      Yeah, this is a big part of it. You need to understand whether you’re in a working session or the “this is what we have decided” meeting. Sounds like for the most part the OP is in the latter.

  5. Parse

    I think a good compromise would be to talk to your manager after the meeting/send an email with your concerns. This way, you still get to make meaningful contributions, but you also avoid your eye-rolling coworkers if they truly are acting annoyed for no good reason.

    1. Lil Fidget

      Yeah, it’s a fine line. Your manager may actually really appreciate that you’re doing this, but if you’re annoying every one else on the team I would still try to back off a little and maybe take your thoughts to the manager one on one after the meeting, as someone suggested below. You probably want your coworkers to like and respect you – and one of them could easily be your boss in a future role, or a networking contact that you really need for something.

      1. Falling Diphthong

        This is a good point. The social signals say you need to not ask these types of questions in these meetings. That’s regardless of the rightness of the question, whether the decision should be analyzed and whether it’s your job to do it, and so on.

        Your goal is to get people to listen to you and value your input–being technically correct while failing on those fronts won’t help, no matter how Right someone is. (The first guy to figure out germ theory had terrible people skills, so it spread not at all.)

    2. JB (not in Houston)

      This. Even if you have good points, a staff meeting isn’t always the best place to raise them.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Some people believe that asking questions in groups is a form of grandstanding or showing off. It’s almost beside the point if we are or are not grandstanding, they will take that perspective anyway.
      If you must ask a question, you might be able to soften your appearance to others by saying “Thanks for explaining that.”
      Inclusive phrasing might help sometimes, “Are we worried about the expense of getting rid of the old llama brushes?”

  6. Lil Fidget

    I wondered somewhat if you came across as the school kid who reminds the teacher that they were going to give a quiz today … if it was an unpleasant task that had been removed from your team’s plate, your coworkers weren’t looking to probe harder and make sure it was the right decision – they were just glad it had happened. Are you newer or younger or otherwise coming across as a bit of a “suck up”? This really shouldn’t be a dynamic in a work place at all, but it doesn’t hurt to be aware of it since social dynamics can play out-sized role in success.

  7. Noah

    I think there’s a third possibility: OP is not overstepping their role, but they ask these questions so often and take so much time with it that it drives the coworkers nuts, so much so that they don’t want to talk for fear of extending the meetings.

    1. LetterWriter

      There are plenty of meetings in which I don’t have any concerns to contribute and meetings go by nicely. My questions typically take up less than 5 minutes (we each go around the table and have an opportunity to address concerns or issues that we have at our jobs before we adjourn).

      1. srs

        The timing might be part of the issue for your colleagues as well. If you typically raise any questions during the roundtable right before the meeting ends, they might have already mentally moved on to the next part of their day and are annoyed with you for delaying them.

        1. sap

          Yeah, this might be the issue right here. If it’s possible to ask questions/make comments during the discussion of the problem you’re commenting on rather than at the tail end of the meeting, you might get a much better reception. Or, if the questions aren’t about something that your manager raised AT THAT MEETING, maybe shift more of them into one-on-ones unless it’s something that you really think the other team members should weigh in on.

          I know that at the end of a 45-minute meeting, I’m usually mentally transitioning to Next Thing, and if someone asks a question about something from minute 10 of that meeting and it takes another 5 minutes, I’ll be annoyed (even by reasonable concerns) in a way I wouldn’t be if the same question took up 5 minutes back at minute 10. I don’t roll my eyes at my coworkers because I am an adult and I recognize my annoyance is more about me than about my coworkers, but it’s still… annoying.

          1. LBK

            I think MommyMD meant that since the LW says everyone has opportunities to bring up concerns or issues, what things are her coworkers bringing up? It might provide a valuable contrast to understand why the LW seems to be getting a worse reception to her concerns than others do.

      2. Not So NewReader

        To those who have moved beyond the question, that five minutes feels like an hour. A good thing to do is make sure the questions you ask are not wordy. Probably you thought of that, but it’s good to keep checking ourselves on how long we are holding the floor.

  8. Archie Goodwin

    “It can actually be pretty irritating to have someone regularly question whether decisions have been thoroughly considered.”

    Oh, yes. I think we’ve all worked with someone who questions everything – I know I have, for instance. And at some point it becomes difficult to take someone like that seriously. Even if they do raise a good point, the tendency is to discount it because of the source.

    I like to hope I haven’t been guilty of eye-rolling myself, but I can’t swear to it. I’ve certainly been tempted once or twice.

    What I have tended to do, if I have questions that might disrupt the flow of the meeting, is to hang back at the end and ask the manager/coordinator one-on-one. That way, if it’s something I need straightened out for myself it can be taken care of quickly and without bothering anyone else. And if it DOES turn out to be important, it can always be disseminated later.

    1. SheLooksFamiliar

      I used to have a recruiter on my team who always questioned decisions: who was part of the decision-making team, what did they consider, who made the final decision and so on. But the most important question in his mind was, why didn’t anyone ask the team what they thought, to make sure things are done The Right Way? Since this was my recruiter, I knew he meant His Way. The team did some eye rolling because it seemed like Recruiter wasn’t asking for clarity, he was challenging the decision for his own reasons.

      Our VP of HR was pretty polite until the 5th or 6th time it happened. She told the recruiter that, while she was happy to clarify, the recruiter was just going to have to trust the leadership team to make good decisions. ‘And if I’m wrong, you can be the first person to tell me “I told you so!” Deal?’ Happily, the recruiter quit a few months later in an epic manner, and we had fewer interruptions in our meetings.

        1. Not So NewReader

          He had questions and a mob scene occurred. He fled out the back door never to be seen again.

    2. Revolver Rani

      I work at a company whose culture is that everything is very carefully considered, vetted by many people, often piloted before being rolled out, etc. So when we’re in a meeting being introduced to, say, a new process, it’s very likely that if you ask “Have you considered X?” the answer is going to be “yes.” That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask, but you do need to develop an approach that is respectful of all the work that the team likely put in to developing the new process. “I’m sure this came up in your design reviews, but I’m wondering about X.”

      (One senior manager I work with always phrases his questions as “Why don’t you just do Z?” which I find maddening, because if it was feasible to “just” do Z, of course that’s what I’d be doing. It took me a while to realize he’s not attacking me when he asks that question — he’s only asking what hidden facts are making the obvious solution not the right one.)

      The calculation is different, of course, if you are in the team when the new thing is being developed. Then it’s part of the job to suggest things that might not have been thought of. But when the new thing is being rolled out, people are quickly going to label you obnoxious if you’re always throwing out questions as though a whole team of reviewers wouldn’t already have thought of them.

  9. EA

    You probably can question some decisions, but not all decisions. You have to pick your battles, and it isn’t ‘analytical’ to question everything.

    Also – maybe try to question privately with your manager. Meetings are boring and your coworkers probably want them to end.

    1. BadPlanning

      Yes, I was thinking, is the OP asking a question that takes 30 seconds or 10 minutes? The difference between, “Does that temperature change affect Special Snowflake Glaze teapots?” or “As you know, Special Snowflake Glaze teapots have a very small temperature change window. Most people forget that and then we’ll have a batch of awful Special teapots and we’ll have to fill out a lot forms…So I’m wondering where that glaze falls on the temperature change plan?”

      But some people just get antsy and want to leave regardless of valid points.

    2. Dotty

      Completely agree with this – OP perhaps try to re-frame it in your mind away from ‘has this decision to been thought through’ to ‘is there a clear risk with this approach? What might be the (negative) impact?’

      I agree you should be able to ask questions (and I’ve definitely experienced some subtle scoffing from colleagues in meetings at times) so now I try to pause, and ask myself the question ‘What’s the likely impact of this?’ – I try to question only those things that I can see having a really important impact if overlooked. It’s still analysing but also ensuring you pick your battles. If it’s difficult to work through that thought process in your head in the timeframe of the meeting then save it and follow up by email if needs be (but again pick your battles)

    3. Not So NewReader

      It would be a good idea to get a clear definition of what it is you are supposed to analyze.

      I do a lot of work where I bump into government regs. If I stop and think about each one of them, I might hurt my brain. It’s a good idea to learn what is under our watch and what is not.

  10. Mike C.

    If the OP is truly an analyst, they should absolutely be asking these sorts of questions. I don’t see a single thing that’s disruptive about asking for more information or how changes will affect other issues.

      1. Mike C.

        And I have to wonder if the OP’s coworkers are slacking by not raising these issues themselves.

        1. Falling Diphthong

          If the issues raised have never led to “Oops–LW is right, this wasn’t thought through at all and is utterly unworkable” then it’s possible the coworkers have a better calibrated sense of when to analyze and how.

        2. NW Mossy

          I don’t think we have enough evidence to assume that failure to inquire is rooted in a lack of care about the job. It’s equally likely that the other analysts didn’t ask the same question because they already knew the answer, were planning to ask it in a different forum, or evaluated the risks/possible downsides of the decision differently than the OP did.

            1. Forrest

              I think it’s weird that you’re even wondering that 8 other analysts are just slackers to begin with. One to three I could see but it’s hard to see that only 1 out of 9 analysts actually works hard. I think it’s more likely the LW is asking really simplistic questions that the other analysts have figured out without asking.

              I wonder what the ratio of helpful questions vs questions that just took up air time.

                1. Forrest

                  I guess if you think I’m wondering on the extreme that you are.

                  I don’t think my wondering is as extreme as yours, since your wondering requires everyone to be a crappy employee other than our super hero OP. That’s 8 people who would have to be crappy employees, which is a ridiculous thing to wonder if you don’t understand odds.

        3. Not So NewReader

          It could be that some of the folks are longer term employees and realize that the company’s response is in alignment with other times the company has faced a similar decision. While it may not be the choice many of us would make, OP may find that it is consistent with previous things that OP has seen.

    1. Emi.

      It depends on what kind of analyst they are. If your job is to analyze spout performance, no one really cares whether you think the decision to change the handle glazing protocol was well thought out.

      1. Cmars

        Exactly – having the title of analyst doesn’t immediately mean you’re supposed to analyze everything, everywhere, every time.

        1. Legal Beagle

          This is what jumped out at me, too. “Analyst” is a job description, not a mandate. If it’s not related to your job, you don’t need to be picking it apart it in staff meetings. (And even if it is, that may not be the best way to raise concerns.)

          1. Justme, The OG

            Yep. Analyst is in my job description but it’s not up to me to analyze things not within my job description. Especially to my boss who has much more experience than I do.

          2. Specialk9

            “Analyst is a job description not a mandate.” Exactly. It’s an incredibly broad title that in my line of work means “someone with a college degree, 0-5 years of experience, works in an office”. That’s it. Generally someone doing fairly low level work, but maybe running the whole project in a pinch! So I wouldn’t assume anything based on that title.

          3. Danger: Gumption Ahead

            Especially if it isn’t your data, your analytical role, or your topic. I’d love to pitch in my $0.02 on the decision to change to a new vital records system and the change impacts my job, but that is a totally different department and they are the ones who have to deal with running the data system, so their decision stands, no matter what I think of it.

          4. LBK

            Exactly what I came to say, as a fellow analyst. I’m there to analyze the things that are within the purview of my job, I’m not there to analyze literally anything and everything put in front of me.

              1. Mike C.

                See something that looks odd, like a potentially massive safety for regulatory issue, aren’t you going to at least say something just to make sure you hear, “no worries, we have a solution to that”?

                1. LBK

                  Two pieces to this:

                  1) If they’re regulations that are within my purview to worry about, then that doesn’t really contradict what I said. “I’m an analyst so my job is to analyze” is a reeeeally broad statement and trying to apply it universally to things that aren’t your job to be concerned about can come off as really condescending. If I’m in a meeting with a salesperson, it’s not my place to analyze and question their approach to selling just because I’m an analyst. My job is to analyze specific things, not everything.

                  2) The way you raise the question makes a huge difference. I have two coworkers who tend to ask a lot of questions in meetings where I’m announcing changes but one does it in the right way (coming from a place of humility and collaboration, genuinely trying to understand how her concerns might have been considered and addressed) and the other does it in the wrong way (coming at it almost as a “gotcha!” trying to test my thoroughness and speaking as though I’m a moron and he’s the only one who could understand even extremely obvious pitfalls of a certain approach). Based on the OP’s follow up comments, it sounds like she’s coming off the second way, even if that’s not what she intends.

                  All in all, it feels a little to me like the OP is asking questions just to ask questions because she feels obligated to as an analyst, and I don’t think that’s the right approach, especially with the way she says she’s phrasing those questions.

                2. Elsajeni

                  Sure, which is why I don’t think I’ve seen anyone in these comments saying “No, you should never ask questions about anything, no matter what.” But it’s not clear from the letter whether the OP is restraining herself to only questions that are important and relevant, or whether she’s possibly erring on the side of “I should ask about this, just in case no one else has,” even on issues that aren’t in her purview, or that aren’t very important in the first place. It’s also worth considering the tone, timing, and wording of those questions, even when they are potentially important, and again, we don’t know much about how the OP is phrasing her questions or whether she’s asking them in the most appropriate forum.

        2. Falling Diphthong

          I kept thinking of this overheard discussion with the parent organizing fields for some youth sport, about how applications shouldn’t be due so early. *reasons* *back and forth* leading to basically “Oh, well, couldn’t they redo the way they do all the sports for all ages in all towns, because then my kid could register last minute?”
          1) No
          2) The person you’re talking to doesn’t have the power to do this
          3) If your kid wants to play spring softball, this is the deadline to register

      2. Mike C.

        How do I know that the new handle glazing process doesn’t affect spout performance? I mean sure, there’s a limit to this but I don’t think two questions is over the top and the reaction from the coworkers is unacceptable.

        1. Falling Diphthong

          The coworkers have had that reaction to two questions. Those are not the only two questions LW ever asked.

        2. Not So NewReader

          In that case, I would consider asking a more senior cohort in a private conversation. Or I would look for resources to beef up my knowledge. Maybe there will be a handout with test results. Maybe I can’t come up with any resource and I must ask.

          Another important thing to remember is that this one question by itself is not a big deal. It’s the habit of repeatedly asking this type of question that is the actual concern.

    2. Roscoe

      Even if that’s true, the meeting isn’t always the place to do it. It comes of as kind of annoying that you HAVE to raise your point every single time, holding the rest of the meeting attendees hostage

    3. Snark

      I totally agree that asking for more information, or clarifying how changes will ramify, is the prerogative of anybody implementing a new directive. Nobody should scoff at that, or give it any sideye.

      But I feel like I’ve also seen it happen where questions are less “Can you give me more information to do my job better and make this work” and more “I think you’ve probably failed to think this all the way through, so let me probe your decisionmaking process for weaknesses.” And that’s the kind of questioning that can burn capital at an alarming rate, so one needs to really interrogate whether one is doing it because they a) truly believe their boss might have missed something important or didn’t consider some potential wrinkle or b) whether one doing it because they’re a smug know-it-all who thinks they’re entitled to a full justification of the entire decisionmaking process before they’ll move ahead.

      And if it’s b) then I think that’s a temptation to be avoided, because at some point, second-guessing everything your boss decides is a great way to annoy the hell out of them.

      1. Mike C.

        See, whats odd to me is the idea that this would be “second guessing the manager” in the first place. I’m accustomed to situations where the analysts do analysis and the managers manage the analysts. That, and it seems like (maybe I’m misreading here) decisions questioned are made by upper managers and communicated by the direct manager. Given the things I’ve seen (decisions made by gut rather than data, etc), and given that changes have been made based on input given, given that there have only been a handful of questions, I think the reaction of coworkers is really over the top.

        One should always look and see if they’re the source of a problem, but at the same time I’m seeing a lot of non-analysts commenting on this issue as though you’re only supposed to take what is given without question.

        1. Snark

          I’m in about as anaytical a field as they come, so I think I’ve navigated these waters enough to comment. I commented more down-thread about taking some questions and reservations to email, but I think that’s generally a better forum than peppering someone with questions and reservations during the meeting.

        2. Emi.

          “I find myself questioning management’s decisions on occasion … For example, our manager recently told the team that we no longer had to do a particular task anymore, but I got the impression that it wasn’t thought out thoroughly.”

          This is, like, textbook second-guessing.

          1. Mike C.

            If you’re talking about a contractual/regulatory/quality task, as in, “we no longer have to perform these safety inspections” or “we no longer have to include positive/negative controls in our testing” with no other information then it seems perfectly fine to raise the question.

            1. Snark

              We can go back and forth with examples supporting one approach or another all day. My point remains: pick your battles, pick your forum, and spend your capital wisely, lest you irritate the crap out of your bosses and colleagues.

            2. Specialk9

              Mike, I’m guessing you often like to ask probing questions of management in team meetings? You seem really wedded to this OP’s right to do something that isn’t working out for them.

              1. Not So NewReader

                OP may have the right to do this, but it comes at a price as Snark details above here. Prolonged periods of habitual questions will lead to, “How come no one likes me here?”

                I remember a girl in high school, let’s call her Jane. We could count on Jane to say, “But, Teacher, I don’t unnndddderstaaaand.” By mid-semester every time she said that at least a half dozen peers would throw their pencils in the air as if to say, “I give up.” I am not sure if she even tried to process the teacher’s response because his answer would only beget another question.

                1. Mike C.

                  A whole lot of people are bringing up their bad coworker who does nothing but ask useless questions and waste time as a way to describe the OP.

                2. Forrest

                  That still doesn’t mean they’re saying “never ever speak up nor ask questions.”

                  It just means “think thoroughly about your questions and if they’ll add to the conversation.” Which is a good thing.

              2. Elfie

                Well, I’m with Mike and the OP on this one. I’m an IT architect, and whilst not an analyst, architects have to have that analytical nature. Part of my job is take proposed solutions, look for weaknesses in order to mitigate them, and generally be as critical as I can about things. I can’t help it if my job attracts a certain type of person (I often semi-joke that cynicism is in the job description), and that we as a group tend to analyse every solution (whether it’s part of our job or not) for flaws. The only difference being that in all the teams I’ve ever been in, this has been somewhat expected, and I’ve never been the worst offender (when I’m the only architect in the room, definitely worst offender!). Maybe this is because I’m IT (where we’re expected to know about process along with everything else), but I’ve always just thought of analysts and others like me as having that ‘need to know’, and personally, I don’t see anything wrong with it. Obviously, pick your battles and determine when and where to ask questions, but don’t stop asking questions just because others don’t or won’t!

                Tl;dr – I’m surprised by the number of comments that seem to be judging the OP as That Guy, and the lack of support for Mike’s POV.

            3. Emi.

              Then you say “Can you explain how/why you made this decision?” (and as Snark points out, you probably do it outside the meeting). This is not that.

        3. Jadelyn

          No one is saying “take what is given without question.” That’s a wild misrepresentation of what the bulk of the commentariat is recommending, which is more along the lines of reconsidering how, where, and when OP should be raising these questions.

        4. LBK

          I’m a senior analyst and it’s a collaborative effort between myself and my managers to make decisions, for sure, but there are other more junior analysts on the team who don’t get a seat at the discussion table because they don’t have the knowledge or the experience. They only get a seat at the announcement table, because the research has been done and the decision has been made by the time it gets to them. That doesn’t mean management and I are infallible, by any means, but it would certainly be undermining and insulting to get comments from the rest of the team that basically questioned my ability to do my job. If the OP’s senior team members are consistently making bad decisions and overlooking important factors, then that’s a whole other issue.

          It seems to me the OP thinks she’s at the former table when she’s really at the latter, and you don’t earn a place at the discussion table by asking condescending questions like “Did you think about X?”

          1. Mike C.

            This distinction is great, I’m just getting tired of all the examples of “hey I have that coworker who is a complete and utter jerk and never ever shuts up and always asks the dumbest questions” and so on.

        5. NW Mossy

          I’d written about 5 different comments I didn’t post in reply to this before I finally hit what it is that’s bugging me. There’s an implication in it that analysts are the ones who know how to make good decisions based on data, and that managers/senior leaders who don’t listen are doomed to make the bad gut decisions.

          It’s rarely a good idea to go into meetings where your boss is announcing decisions with the mindset that managerial decisions are per se stupid, lazy, ill-informed, hasty, or otherwise fatally flawed in some way because it doesn’t align with the analyst’s point of view and priorities. That mindset tends to leak out in how you frame your questions and how you react to the answers you get, and those clues are more than enough for any decently observant manager to note “Wow, Analyst could really use some coaching on constructive disagreement.”

          You can have all the questions you want if you’re asking out of genuine curiosity and with respect for the fact that others can validly make a different decision from what you would have chosen. But if your questions are rooted in mistrust, you’ll end up damaging the very relationships you need to get your concerns heard when it really counts.

          1. Mike C.

            No, you shouldn’t go in with assumptions. But when you spend all day looking at the data that points to X, Y and Z, and then a manager comes in and says, “screw that, we’re working A, B and C” with no empirical data then you have issues. That’s certainly a rare issue, however.

            More commonly it’s “yeah, your data is right, we’ve just decided to look at a completely different thing so adjust accordingly” and that’s fine but you only find out these details by asking. Sometimes they aren’t great articulating what it is that they really want and you have to draw it out of them. It’s a collaborative thing.

      2. Malibu Stacey

        “I think you’ve probably failed to think this all the way through, so let me probe your decisionmaking process for weaknesses.”

        I have a coworker who does this in meetings, and it’s obnoxious.

    4. Anononon

      I’m an attorney, but I doubt my boss or coworkers would appreciate me arguing and litigating everything.

      1. Mike C.

        But you’re assuming that the manager of a team of analysts is also themselves an analyst rather than a manager.

        And no one here is saying that everything must be questioned, that’s not what the OP is doing.

        1. Observer

          Well, that’s one of the problems – it’s quite possible that they ARE actually questioning things that they shouldn’t be, or questioning too often.

          Being an analyst really doesn’t mean analyzing everything. If someone told us in a meeting that certain IT related process no longer needs to be followed, I’d most certainly feel confident in questioning it. However, if the decision were about food safety rules, I would be hesitant to bring any questions up. I’m IT – that’s my province. Food safety? What do I know? It doesn’t matter that I happen to be an analyst as part of my role. It’s not my field.

          1. Jen S. 2.0

            Agree. The fact that colleagues are annoyed DOES hint that perhaps OP is pushing back at inappropriate or unnecessary times, or way too often, or for weak reasons.

          2. Mike C.

            “Analyzing everything” has come up several times, but I haven’t seen anything to show that this is the situation.

            I could have missed something here, but it feels like a straw man to me.

            1. JeJe

              I think it’s that the OP’s reason for all these questions it that they are an analyst and it’s their job to think critically. That comes across like they claiming to be in a position to analyze everything not just things in their purview.

      1. Wintermute

        people always ask “who watches the watchmen?” what I want to know is who milks the milkmen?

    5. MommyMD

      Being an analyst doesn’t grant the power to analyze minutiae or over-analyze. Or to derail meetings to the point when entire staff is repeatedly rolling their eyes. OP may mean well but the delivery and where it’s made is not coming off well.

        1. TassieTiger

          I think they are gauging the possibility of over-analysis from op’s coworkers body language. I agree that is not an infallible metric, but offhand I wouldn’t know what else to measure the presence of over-analysis. What do you think would work better as a measuring stick, Mike?

        2. Not So NewReader

          Something is going on because OP felt compelled to write in. OP herself says the entire team scoffed at her.
          Either the entire team is a bunch of jackasses or something is going on. Very seldom is a group of people all on the same page, if they are there is a reason for that.

    6. Lissa

      Wouldn’t this only be true if the meetings were for analysis or asking those sorts of questions?

      1. Mike C.

        I don’t know how other people do it, but if I’m in a meeting to hear about something related to work (as opposed to the process of running the business), I’m there specifically to ask/answer questions about things that don’t sound right, give input on how to better deal with issues in my area and so on.

        Most of the time I complain about meetings because I was called into to do so when the topic had nothing to do with me and I had nothing to say.

        1. a1

          I could have replied to any of your comments, Mike. I’m with you. I don’t see where all these assumptions are coming from and in my experience meetings are absolutely the place to ask questions about these kinds of things. Plus, her manager is not the one with the rude body language, nor complaining. Plus, in her updates she said her manager said that is absolutely the right thing to do.

  11. Higher Ed Database Dork

    I would also ask your manager in what format she’d like to receive your questions/concerns. It could be that she definitely wants to hear them, but the meeting is not the place for it. Some managers like to have quick meetings and address questions one-on-one…some like meetings to be more of a conversation.

    1. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

      Great point!

      Also, LW–if you have a person in the eye-rolling group you can trust to be honest with you, you may ask them why the sighs/eye rolling. Sometimes peers will be a bit blunter than management.

      It’ll also give you a more firm idea about why the eye rolls. If it’s something that you don’t agree with, it may just be a style mismatch between you and your peers.

      1. Lil Fidget

        This is a great point. We can all speculate here as to the reason, but if OP could just pull one of the offenders aside and ask, they could potentially get the real answer straight from the source. Of course this depends on their relationship with their coworkers – someone who doesn’t know them very well, and isn’t very direct, would likely try to escape the question without answering, or just say something nice so OP doesn’t feel bad.

  12. JeJe

    What kind of analyst is the OP? I would expect the job of an analyst to apply some specific aspect of the company’s business. I don’t believe the job would entail critically assessing everything one encounters. I’m an Engineer but I don’t attempt to fix or troubleshoot everything I encounter that isn’t working properly during my workday.

    1. Lil Fidget

      Can you please talk to some friends of mine??? :D They are engineers and can’t help “optimizing” everything they encounter. I’m always reminding them that they’re off the clock!!

      1. JeJe

        Off the clock is a different story… At home, I can fix everything my self and never need to hire anyone. I can probably fix everything in your house too ;). During the workday, I just worry about designing and developing the products I’m getting paid to build.

        1. Falling Diphthong

          My husband is an engineer, and grew up in an old house that always needed something taken apart and repaired, so he’s excellent at that stuff. But when I tell him about stuff in my purview (I’m the organized day-to-day person) he doesn’t pepper me with questions about whether I have optimized things sufficiently and considered every possible alternative. We ask each other questions in the planning stages for lots of things–timing really matters for these sort of analyses.

        1. the gold digger

          I refuse to shop for bacon with my engineer husband. He has to check every single package to make sure he is getting the optimal ratio of lean to fat.

          Signed,

          Bad Bacon-Eating Wife

      2. Wintermute

        to quote the old Dilbert TV show, when Dogbert says just that, “Oh, work is just meetings, this is *real* engineering!”

    2. Jennifer Thneed

      OP talks about “a previous analytical role” — was that at a different company? If so, there might be a cultural-assumptions issue here. I wonder how long OP has been in their current position.

      1. Naomi

        Oh, that’s a really good point. OP may be thinking “well, I was told to do this at my previous job” when it’s not as accepted at the current one.

    3. Elfie

      Whereas, I, in my job, do that. Maybe I’m not expected to, but I’ve certainly found it’s never hurt me (and I mean, never damaged my reputation, in fact it’s always enhanced or consolidated my reputation).

  13. EditorInChief

    Definitely talk to your manager. Maybe an email post-meeting might be more appropriate. It’s quite possible that your questioning is derailing conversation of more relevant issues, and prolonging the meetings. No one likes long meetings.

  14. Myrin

    OP, I hope this doesn’t come across as combative or rude because I absolutely don’t mean it that way, but I’ve been thinking about how to phrase this for several minutes now and nothing but a blunt sentence comes to mind: You seem very wrapped up in your “I’m an analyst” mindset and like that means that you absolutely need to analyse anything coming your way.

    That might be what clashes with your fellow analysts’ outlook – you say “I don’t feel like analysts should just nod their head and take notes during staff meetings” and I’m wondering: why not? Aren’t the people deciding about these changes you guys talk about in meetings also analysts? But even if not, I don’t think it’s objectively wrong that maybe your coworkers “liked what they heard and just wanted to accept it” – that’s not a bad thing! If they did indeed like what they heard, they shouldn’t not accept it just for the heck of it! (Not that I think critically engaging with work problems, challenges, and changes isn’t something workers should be doing, but I see that pendulum swing the other way sometimes where people feel like they need to question and probe everything just for the sake of questioning and probing.)

    All of that aside, noticeably scoffing and rolling their eyes is super rude! They absolutely shouldn’t be doing this and I find it quite unprofessional. Also, you say that you do this “on occasion” which could mean a wide array of things but if the timespan we’re talking about here is “once every three meetings”, that’s also going to be different from “three times every meeting”, so you might wan to take a look at that as well.

    1. Cmars

      Very well put. If the OP’s entire team of 8 colleagues is all reacting this way, repeatedly, I’m inclined to think that it’s happening a lot more than OP is aware of.

    2. LBK

      (I think my company’s internet filter ate my last comment so apologies if this is a duplicate.)

      This is such an excellent point – agreement does not imply lack of critical thought. If you have a good management team, you should agree with their decisions most of the time!

      1. TassieTiger

        I’m reminded of a comment I read on AAM—apologies, I don’t remember which letter—where someone mentioned they got anxious when they ran a software test and it came back with no errors. In their experience, there was always a big or two, and they knew to double check the software test when it came back clean. I wonder if it can be similar in this situation—that op thinks everyone agreeing is “too good to be true”?

    3. Not So NewReader

      Yes, OP, it could be just because of the nature of your letter but I definitely go the impression that being an analyst is super-duper important to you. You might find it helpful to tell yourself that you are a human being first, just like them. I think you know that there is more to you than what you do for a living.
      See, we don’t build good relationships with others by focusing on now DISsimilar we are. A good question to ask yourself might be, “Why are others thinking this is okay? What could they be seeing that I am not seeing?”

      You might gain some traction by prefacing with, “I might be missing something here…”. Do not use this often but do show a willingness to say you might have skated by something.

  15. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo

    First things first, thank you for asking the question! I would definitely ask your manager. But I think it’s A. Great that you took notice of your coworkers reactions and B. are open to the idea that you may be in the wrong (so to speak).

    I’m just not sure that any of us have the background to provide a definitive answer, only because it could be so many things and it’s really dependent on the group involved and the history. Personally, I’ve experienced many different variations of this same type of situation and can’t say that I could point to the same outcome/cause/circumstances.

    So whatever you find out you’re already ahead of most by being open.

  16. Jan

    I work with a woman who does this and I confess I’ve seen some eye rolling (and taken part) when she does. In this person’s situation it comes down to these sorts of instances:

    -It’s not something she should be concerned about. For example, we’re all in a larger department. She handles teapot lids and the discussion involves a change in using felt pads on the bottom of teapots. She’ll share a lot of thoughts and devil’s advocate type scenarios and it’s like “Oh for Christ’s sake, let the tea kettle folks handle this!”

    -It’s too late. A lot of the time she will start arguing something that is already decided and has come down from a few levels up. Casual Friday was already decided. It’s already on the calendar. I always think, please don’t spend 10 minutes of the meeting discussing something that’s already settled when it doesn’t make a difference really.

    -She takes too long to get to her point. This is the key issue that gets the eye rolls. Rather than saying “Did we look into cork pads for the tea kettles? When we did research the last time they were cheaper” she will say “Ok, now excuse me for saying this because I’m sure you’ve all thought about this before. And this is just something I think about because I’ve been here for 15 years and I remember like a decade ago it was Julie – was that her name? With the red hair – no wait, I’m thinking of Gayle. Oh I loved Gayle. She took me horseback riding that one week. Does anyone still talk to her? Anyway, Gayle wanted to put pads on the tea pots and I sat in like 3 months of meetings – we met like every Tuesday at 2. Every week. I remember that because we were all in that conference room over in Y Building when that tornado came. Remember that? We all had to sit in the ladies room for like an hour. Oh thank God we’re not in Y building anymore. Oh that was so hot in the summer. Anyway, months and months of meetings to discuss this and it turned out that felt was too expensive. And Gayle went and told Dennis – he was the VP at that time before he went over to Coffee Pots Inc. – she told him about our data and he was happy about it and we didn’t do. But now we are? Has felt really gone down in price that much? I could get you the binder of our research. I have it my office. I just know that there were reasons we decided this? And that’s fine if they want to ignore that but like we tried it. And it didn’t work. I just feel like we repeat the same mistakes over and over again.”

    1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo

      Does everyone have a Gayle’s coworker in their workplace?

      Loved the narrative, sadly I’ve sat through far too many of these.

      1. Specialk9

        That made me feel stabby. Congrats, Jan, fellow internet people hate your coworker too! Argh.

    2. Lil Fidget

      Hehehehe excellent points – OP, this might be one way that your coworkers view these questions in meetings.

    3. Temperance

      Booth describes that behavior as “when I was a girl, I used to ride the trolley!” which I think was a quote from Family Guy or South Park.

      1. Natalie

        My go-to is Grandpa Simpson: “I needed a new heel fer m’shoe. So I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on ’em. “Gimme five bees for a quarter,” you’d say. Now where were we… oh yeah. The important thing was that I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. I didn’t have any white onions, because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones…”

        1. myswtghst

          We use the “tied an onion to my belt” bit in my family all the time as shorthand for stories which take much longer than needed to be told.

    4. fposte

      We have a Gayle’s friend. We are a very well-behaved group so there is no eye-rolling, but suddenly everyone is sitting stock-still and keeping their eyes away from anybody else to avoid meaningful eye contact. It’s like we’re all holding our breath until she’s done.

      1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo

        Holding your breath might be dangerous depending on how long the stories meander :)

    5. AndersonDarling

      I was going to say something along your second point. If the decision came from the CEO, then you can be darn sure that all the managers in between thought about all the scenarios and implications. And there is an expectation that individual departments will troubleshoot and adapt to the changes.
      If the VP of HR says that employees will use the timeclock in the breakroom instead of the timeclock in the lobby, then bringing up a scenario where someone, somewhere doesn’t eat lunch in the breakroom, well, that isn’t helpful information. A manager isn’t going to fight the chain of command for a scenario like that.

    6. Matilda Jefferies

      This is my boss! I like working with her for lots of reasons, but I don’t necessarily need to sit there while she tries to remember if it was Sarah B or Sarah J that she went to the park with that one time in grade 6, or was it Michelle?

    7. Teapot Librarian

      My office’s Gayle’s coworker KNOWS that she’s like this but can’t rein herself in. And yes, we’ve rolled eyes in meetings about her.

      1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo

        Have you suggested a code word that you could all agree on?

        I have to admit that I am married to Gayle’s coworker. When the stories start going waaaaayyyy off track I’m allowed to say “Land the plane!” and it’s a way to signal that a refocus may be in order.

        1. Teapot Librarian

          She actually bought a set of business card-sized cards that say “Stop Talking!” and gave them out to us for us to use on her. Unfortunately, using them generally starts another round of the story about when she bought them, and why, and that she gave our boss more of them, and so on and so forth. I like “land the plane!” as a signal.

            1. Specialk9

              Ha ha ha – land the plane! Abandon ship! Fire in the hole! Aaaaaaghhhh! (Throws cards in air)

              1. Plague of frogs

                LOL!

                A very lovely lady I know, who unfortunately is not equipped with a shut-off switch, once made me half an hour late for lunch with my parents because she was talking to me. She was telling me that she had realized she talked too much. For half an hour she was telling me this.

        2. Malibu Stacey

          My late mom would say after someone rambled like that: “That was a really long drive to find out the store was closed.”

        3. Not That Jane

          I can be a bit, hrm, long-winded sometimes… and I used to date a guy who would try to rein me in by saying, “Sex it up, sweetie, I’m losing the thread!”

          I loved it :)

        4. MeowThai

          I’m engaged to Gayle’s coworker, haha. When she starts rambling, I’m allowed to say “You’re getting locked on” or make a subtle wrap-it-up signal if we’re with friends.

      2. Argh!

        I have a coworker who’s almost this bad one-on-one. I have been patient with her so far, but I worry she’ll start this stuff when I haven’t had enough sleep or caffeine or something. I want to say “Can we put a period on that sentence?” or “How many times do I have to say yes before you really believe me?”

        But so far I bite my tongue and nod.

        1. Snark

          I think you deserve some kind of official commendation for not having already done so. The AAM Medal of Valor.

        2. Not So NewReader

          I had a coworker with a run-on sentence and she spoke so fast her words merged into each other so you couldn’t always get what she was saying.
          But she was very likable and very hard working.

          I used to ask her to speak faster because I was falling asleep between her sentences. She got what I meant the first time I said it.

    8. Lynca

      We recently had our Gayle’s coworker retire and meetings have been so much more productive since then.

    9. Anlyn

      *Looks at Jan’s last paragraph*

      *Looks at mirror*

      *Sighs and updates New Year’s resolutions*

      Though in my defense I don’t get too off-track with non-work stuff. But from the word Anyway on, I have said things in this way more times than I want to admit.

      1. Anonym

        *hugs*

        Why is it that increasing self awareness never seems to turn up anything fun or flattering? Kudos for making yourself the person you want to be!

      2. Lil Fidget

        My friend had this issue, and I started trying to help by saying, “can you tell me in three sentences?” Now, if you are a run-on sentence person, this may not help you, but she says that she now tries to limit herself to three sentences (maybe three clauses, if you are an “anyway” person?) in most of her communications.

    10. knitcrazybooknut

      I have slowly trained my husband out of this. He grew up in Oklahoma. We live elsewhere now. I don’t blame the state or its residents, but his father was a storyteller magnifique in the same vein as his driving, where a “shortcut” would take three times as long as the original route. My amazing husband has learned that when I start tapping on the hard surface nearest to me he should start getting towards the point real soon, honeybutt. I don’t mind a good story, but I need to know that I am not supposed to glean any information from it. He’ll start out saying, Oh, there’s something I need to tell you, and I go into information retrieval mode, and suddenly I’m surrounded by pecan trees and car models and who lived in the brick house three doors down when he was eight and I’m starting to lose my frickin’ mind.

      1. Plague of frogs

        “I go into information retrieval mode, and suddenly I’m surrounded by pecan trees and car models and who lived in the brick house three doors down when he was eight…”

        LOL! I love this.

        My MIL called me to give me an update on my FIL in the hospital. At least, that’s what I thought she was doing. Instead, she gave me a description of everything she felt and did before, during, and after his heart attack. She literally told me what she had for breakfast. When she was finally done, she said she had to go. And I was like, “Wait! I want to know how FIL is doing!”

      2. Tretinoin Newbie

        My husband does this! I’ve asked him to (especially at work, because they are not required to be as loving and patient as a wife!) get to the point and fill in details later if asked for more information.

      3. Anlyn

        You might be on to something about it being cultural. My dad grew up in Oklahoma, and he was a rambler. I was born and raised Oklahoman and do the same thing, though not to the same extent. But Dad did have a way of bringing it back around to the point, despite the wandering, and suddenly you realize you just hiked a 10-mile looped trail of conversation with him.

    11. Ann O'Nemity

      “Gayle’s coworker.”

      This is so good I bet it’s going to turn into one of those AAM symbols, like Wakeen and Hanukkah Balls.

  17. Allison

    People don’t really like being questioned and/or criticized in front of others, and spoken to as though there’s no way they fully thought out their decision. Sometimes you’re either involved in a decision or you’re not. If you have a legitimate concern about a decision someone made, it’s best to speak with them after the meeting and state your case. Not to mention, it does drag out the meeting longer than it needs to be. I hate having to sit there an extra fifteen minutes because one person doesn’t understand something, or 2-3 people have started collaborating on something that has nothing to do with me, or one person has questioned a decision and now they’re arguing with the decision-maker and again, it has nothing to do with me, but I’d really like to leave so I can get back to work, or eat lunch, or go to the bathroom.

  18. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

    When questioning whether anybody is making the “right” decision, it usually comes across as very condescending — as though the asker feels the decision maker is obviously too dumb to have thought this through and they need to have their “error” pointed out to them. It can come across as very Captain Know It All, especially from someone who wasn’t part of the decision-making process, and may not have all of the pertinent information or expertise. I suggest that the OP analyze their question and the possible answers on their own outside of the meeting and then ask the manager privately if necessary. In my opinion, the only time to question an announcement during a meeting is if you truly don’t understand what is being communicated.

    1. Allison

      Right. Honestly, if I wanted someone’s input on a decision, or wanted some kind of “check” to make sure I wasn’t overlooking something important, I would have consulted them already.

      1. Teapot Librarian

        Just yesterday I issued a new policy. I’d spoken with half the office while writing the policy to get ideas and feedback and make sure I was thinking of all the consequences of the policy. I sent the policy out by email to my team, and promptly got back a response, copied to everyone in the office, suggesting I hadn’t thought through everything. FROM ONE OF THE EMPLOYEES I’D SPOKEN TO. Dude, I wanted your input, you gave it, now let me manage.

        1. Bagpuss

          oh yes. I used to have a colleague who did this. I took responsibility for a bunch of necessary but boring stuff which involved (among other stuff) drawing up policies for the staff handbook to meet compliance requirements.

          I would draft these, circulate to him and my peers, ask for input / comments and questions and give them a deadline. Then make any changes, and send them out again, with a specific “I am adding this to the handbook and notifying all staff of the new rule on [date], so I need any further comments by [date-1]” message.

          And Every Single Time he would ignore this, wait until whatever it was had been circulated to all staff and *then* start with the ‘have you considered this?’ and ‘Wouldn’t it be better if you did that’. I suggested that he take over from me and he told me he wasn’t interested as it wasn’t what he trained for. It wasn’t what I trained for, either, but since we are a smallish business in a very highly regulated profession one of us has to do it, and if you want to have an input then do it when you are asked for input, not after it is too late to change. (he also had a habit of saying things like ‘I think this could be better worded’, but never actually gave a suggestion about how, specifically, he thought the wording could be improved. (Except the one time when he got really pissed that I reworded things so the documents didn’t use ‘He’ as the default throughout, and wanted me to change it back. I didn’t.)

          1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo

            I’ve worked with this guy.

            My general response is “Hmm, that’s the type of suggestion I was looking for a week ago when I sent out the draft for review and comment to you and others. You might want to write down those suggestions for the next time we update it. If I’m still in charge of them at that time I’ll be sure to send out draft (like I did this time) with a deadline for suggestions and I’ll be happy to incorporate them at that time. Otherwise you can feel free to make the updates yourself now, if you do I’ll consider it your willingness to own these going forward”

            Oddly enough, nobody has ever taken me up on the offer to take ownership.

    2. AndersonDarling

      Yep, if I knew that a decision would break laws or go against regulations, I would talk to my manager directly about it. If something is on that magnitude, I don’t need to bring every eavesdropper into the discussion.

    3. LetterWriter

      I typically frame the questions as “Has x been considered?” Thank you for your input. I’ve been operating under the assumption that by addressing concerns in the moment, we can delay implementation until additional information is received/considered (unless of course my concerns are immediately invalidated by the manager). Going forward I’ll address them 1-1.

      1. Snark

        “I typically frame the questions as “Has x been considered?”

        Yeah, this is problematic wording. It’d rub many people the wrong way even if it hadn’t been considered. There’s lots of scripts for how to ask these questions in a way that assumes the issue has been covered, and I strongly suggest you use that aproach.

      2. Emi.

        That’s still kind of aggressive, imo. I’d say something like “How will this affect X?” or “That sounds like it will have Y impact on Z, so how should we deal with that?”

      3. Snark

        Also….

        “I’ve been operating under the assumption that by addressing concerns in the moment, we can delay implementation until additional information is received/considered”

        Is it possible this sentiment gets percevied as “HOLD THE PHONES, we’re not doing anything until my questions are satisfied”?

        1. Sylvan

          +1

          From someone who tends to get a bit anxious about concerns I think have been unaddressed, resulting in “WAIT STOP what about X?!”

          …When X isn’t an emergency and, usually, it’s already being addressed. Being calmer and more easygoing about things helps – and helps get people to pay attention to me when X really is worth checking on.

      4. AnotherJill

        A good way to check that feeling of urgency is to ask yourself “if x is implemented poorly, will there be loss of life or property damage? If the answer is no, then you have the time to let it be tried and then raise your issues if problems do arise.

        1. LetterWriter

          That’s a great point, Jill. I tend to prefer a more pro-active attitude than reactive approach, though. It’s definitely food for thought.

          1. myswtghst

            I still think it’s worth drawing a line, so to speak, about what requires being proactive and what can wait. For example, in my line of work we often look at if a process change will directly impact our customers. If there really is no direct impact (i.e. changing how we make notes on accounts internally), it’s a lot less risky to give it a go and see how it shakes out. But if it impacts something customers see / do (like an update to our website), we try to be more proactive about predicting and preventing potential issues.

            It could at least be a good thought experiment to come up with guidelines for yourself about when it’d be worth spending the social capital to speak up in a meeting, versus bringing it up in a one-on-one or via email to your manager, versus waiting to see how it goes and following up afterwards if there is an issue.

          2. Not So NewReader

            I am reading along here and you might actually enjoy as well as benefit from reading up on decision making processes. What are the various methods people use to make decisions? What is the preferred method at your place?

            I worked for one place where I was left to my own devices too much. I was making decisions that were beyond me. I asked my boss, how do you want me to make decisions going forward? He said, ” Pick the choice that is the most conservative.” I thought about this. What I landed on was to make the choice that was the easiest to fix if it was wrong when I had no other way of deciding. This was the guideline I used for making decisions while I worked in that place.

      5. Sutemi

        I really dislike the wording of “Has X been considered?” because I’ve mostly heard it from longwinded, self promoting colleagues who are trying to use it to score points with upper management. I’m always tempted to respond “Yes. Next question?”
        If you start with the assumption that your managers and colleagues are smart, reasonable people then they have probably considered the obvious. Don’t ask them if they have considered it, ask them what the impact is on your widgets.

        1. a1

          Just responding at the bottom, so not singling out Sutemi, specifically. But I’ve never worked anywhere where this phrasing is seen as bad. It’s direct and to the point and, I thought (and have experienced), with no subtext – that’s not the right word, but you know what I mean. If you just take the words at face value – the semantics, it’s quite benign. And I’ve been in the workforce, working in change management or business development, for over 15 years.

          And a side note, it doesn’t seem like it’s the manager who has an issue with the question, so saying they would like it done differently seems odd when this letter is about the coworkers, not the manager. It can be good advice, in general, of course. Some feedback or questions is best one on one, and some is best in meetings/groups.

          1. Snark

            “If you just take the words at face value – the semantics, it’s quite benign.”

            Semantics are not face value. On face value, sure, the phrase is neutral, but the semantics can carry a strong note of “….because I don’t think you did, and I did, in the 30 seconds you’ve been telling me about it.”

            1. Specialk9

              Yes. I try to remember that smart people who have thought of something for weeks/months/years likely HAVE thoroughly considered that thing I thought of in 2 seconds, thank you very much.

              But then again, my brain is wired weirdly, to connect things that aren’t obvious to other people, so sometimes things are glaringly apparent to me and not others. It’s been one of my self-knowledge challenges to sort out which situation is which. Work in progress.

            2. a1

              “….because I don’t think you did, and I did, in the 30 seconds you’ve been telling me about it.”

              If I didn’t think you thought of it I’d say “It doesn’t sound like anyone thought of…” for example. So saying “Have you considered X?” simply means “I don’t know if you thought of this. You might have or you might not have….” no assumption or value judgement. Words have meaning. At work I choose my words based on those meanings. Don’t read into anything because I’m not implying anything other than what I’m saying. And as I said, no one I’ve worked with the past 15 years things it’s condescending. We all use this phrasing, across 3 different companies.

              1. Turkletina

                Genuine question: How do you expect someone to respond when you ask them “Have you considered X?”? Because, for me, if you expect anything beyond “yes” or “no”, you *are* implying something with the question. You’re asking the other person to justify their decision.

                “Have you considered that the thin handles might break easily?” “Yes.” — That’s a weird, kind of rude, conversation.

                “Have you considered that the thinner handles might break easily?” “Yes, but that risk is outweighed by the more durable connection to pots. It means the handles are less likely to detach.” — That’s a normal conversation, but it would strike a lot of people as presumptuous for an employee to ask their manager that question when the decision to produce the thinner handles has already been made.

                It’s possible that we’re making some different assumptions about tone, but I don’t think it’s strange for the “Have you considered X” wording to be taken as condescending.

            3. LetterWriter

              Ha, I enjoyed your comment (partially because it is true!). Our department is experience a lot of change, and our manager admit to mostly flying by the seat of their pants. So sometimes, that is the literal truth. But I agree with other commenters, my delivery may be amiss on occasion.

            4. Turkletina

              You’re talking about pragmatics! The semantics is the face value; the pragmatics, which is at least as important, is everything that’s not said but is nevertheless conveyed. In this case, the pragmatics is exactly what you mentioned, and it can come across as condescending.

              (I don’t get to nerd out about pragmatics very often.)

          2. Sutemi

            “But I’ve never worked anywhere where this phrasing is seen as bad.”

            I have coworkers who believe the same thing.

      6. Observer

        I agree with the others on the wording.

        Also, what are you basing your assumption that the implementation can be delayed? If the decision came from above your manager, then it almost certainly will NOT be delayed. And even if it’s in the purview of your manager, it’s quite possible that it still will not be delayed.

        Unless you are talking about something potentially illegal, unsafe or catastrophic, that’s probably not the best framework to be using.

      7. MommyMD

        Yes, one on one would be better as you are not being well received in the meetings. Also, consider that management may not be totally inept and perhaps you are arguing just for the sake of argument.

          1. Sylvan

            Yes. Try to assume they have it covered.

            (If management is totally inept, it’s not a problem you can solve by speaking up in meetings.)

            1. a1

              Asking questions doesn’t mean you think they are inept. That’s a weird conclusion to draw, imo.

              1. Sutemi

                You can phrase a question that assumes competence or incompetence. Doing the former is often more productive.

      8. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

        I think you should assume that the decision was thoughtfully made and will be implemented without further input. If you take some time to analyze your own question before bringing it to the managers attention, you might realize that you can deal with XYZ concerns just fine under the new policy, or that a perfect solution doesn’t exist so the managers are willing to just let XYZ be a problem because they have other priorities — that is actually pretty common in my experience.

      9. LBK

        Nope, nope, nope, don’t say that. Practice humility when you ask questions like this – assume everything has been thought of and that if you’re not seeing how something jives with your understanding, you are the one who’s overlooking something, not management. Frame the question that way and I think people will be a lot more receptive because it won’t sound like you’re questioning their ability to do their job.

  19. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand

    When I was previously a manager, I had a direct report who would do this. Sometimes, I found it to be helpful, but there were also times where her questioning would be over the line (and sometimes petty), which got to be annoying. Also, its important to remember time constraints–if a meeting has only been planned for an hour and there are X amount of things on the agenda, there might not be time for a long and drawn out conversation/questioning time in that meeting. I would definitely talk to your manager about the most appropriate way to frame your questions and concerns to her. I would also perhaps ask your manager how she perceives your questions, like Alison suggested.

  20. Kate 2

    OP the fact that: 1) management has changed their decisions sometimes because of your questions,

    2) the fact that you don’t question *every* decision,

    3) and the immature way your team responds when you ask questions

    all lead me to believe that you are not doing anything wrong.

    1. The Supreme Troll

      I’m tending to mostly agree with you, though I still think that the OP should ask this perception question (gently & non-defensively) with her manager. However, I also believe that the OP is asking important, constructive questions that are useful to the business’s good health & productivity (and not just questions that make the OP look self-important or trying to make the rest of the team look bad). So I think that she should not let her colleague’s reactions bother her.

    2. dr_silverware

      I completely agree that 1 and 2 are good signs. 3 makes me think that there’s something else at play there–like, their colleagues are stressed, or they haven’t spent enough time building goodwill around the office–but I still just don’t think that OP is particularly wrong.

      1. Lil Fidget

        I don’t think it’s “wrong,” but I think OP could probably use some other strategies to get their questions addressed so that they’re not wasting coworker goodwill on this.

      2. Anon for this

        Re: 3, I wonder if the “something else at play” is that the manager doesn’t do well when they feel like they’re being questioned, and the other analysts have started to handle this by not asking questions or providing input. That one analyst who sticks to their principles around professional communication and doesn’t adjust their style to handle a difficult manager is making a mad dash for BEC territory.

        I used to work for a manager who was often unpredictably defensive with direct reports *and* peers so we avoided asking them questions, particularly in group settings where it would be more difficult for them to maintain “face”. (And yes, we basically stopped having our questions addressed, to the point where our ability to fulfill our department’s mandate suffered.) Well, all of us except for one analyst, whose most benign questions would unleash really salty behaviour from our manager. It didn’t take long for us to get fed up with this analyst, despite the value of his questions – we were tired of of every response from our manager was a blow to our team’s morale.

        I don’t know if OP is in a similar situation, but if they have good enough rapport with their colleagues – are they getting a sense that the other analysts have trouble having any sort of professional dialogue with their manager? If so, that might be a sign that they should lower their expectations themselves.

    3. MommyMD

      If all team members are rolling their eyes, something is wrong. At least in the delivery. I really doubt they are all lazy sloths.

      1. Snark

        I’m imagining OP in a conference room full of tree sloths, asking a question….and the sloths all roll their eyes, very slowly, ten minutes later. :D

    4. Specialk9

      Mmm, I’d still say they likely need some social calibration. Even if their ideas were implemented every time (which they’re not) there are still opportunities to fine tune social skills. Especially since “letter writer” gave an example and everyone suggested more diplomatic phrasing.

      Being clever doesn’t negate being socially awkward. (Ask me how I know.)

    5. Jesmlet

      1) Yes, this is a good sign
      2) No, this means nothing. Someone who questions 50% of decisions is still questioning too many decisions. You want to be a decision maker? Become a manager. You want to have a greater say in what decisions your manager makes? Have a better batting average.
      3) No. 8 people responding a certain way, immature or otherwise, is generally a sign that the odd man out is in the wrong. Not always, but very often.

  21. Snarkus Aurelius

    Similar to the pain letters, there’s nothing more frustrating than listening to a bunch of questions that assume I was ignorant of alternatives or glaring details.

    I’m not saying this is the case, OP, but this could explain some of the reactions to get.

    A really common example in my world is social media. Yes, ours sucks. The reasons are: I don’t have the money to pay a contractor or employee to do it and I don’t have the power to make other overworked departments constantly thinking of content and I certainly won’t be able to convince anyone above me to buy ads on a platform they use to watch kitten videos and post pictures of food. But that doesn’t stop someone from lecturing me once a month about how Facebook is important and why my agency should have it.

    During those times, I want to do more than eye roll and scoff. Trust me.

    In the future, before you open your mouth, you should assess the decision and the people who made it. Are they smart? Intuitive? Thoughtful? Sensitive? Long-term thinkers? Budget conscious? Yes? Then you should assume that they’ve considered obvious risks and pitfalls.

    1. Snark

      All of this. My guess is that a generally competent and decent boss has thought of most things that would occur to you in the space of a 30-minute meeting. They’ve been considering the issue longer than you have in the process of making the decision.

  22. sjt8685

    Agree 10000% with Allison. I work with a junior colleague who frequently questions decision-making from higher-ups and it is a pain in the butt. It comes across as pretentious and know-it-all, and after 4 months of working together I often have a hard time taking her seriously.

    1. sjt8685

      I’ll add that sometimes her prodding works on other colleagues, as they’ll sometimes make changes just to get Questions Everything colleague to go away.

  23. Naomi

    It’s certainly possible that OP is overstepping… but even if that’s the case, it sounds like the coworkers are expressing their displeasure a bit rudely. If OP speaks to their manager and the manager confirms they should be speaking up this much, what should OP do if coworkers react this way the next time? Ignore it? Speak to the coworkers privately? Elevate to the manager?

    1. Kms1025

      The eye rolling leads me to think this has been more than two instances of questioning. Perhaps two questions in meetings, but frequent questioning outside of meetings and in general?

        1. LetterWriter

          Lol, I certainly hope I’m not. I generally have good relationships with my coworkers, albeit some more than others. Of course that could easily just be my perception, too.

    2. Lil Fidget

      I agree, eye rolling is over the line for professional interactions. Shame on them, and it’s possible that OP just works in a Mean Person House of Jerks. I do worry that it means OP has exhausted too much their political capital / colleague goodwill by being a PITA though :( Hard to say from here which degree of which is at play.

  24. animaniactoo

    OP, I am you and my manager and co-workers both roll their eyes at me and thank me continuously every time I’ve made something simple or thought of something that was going to be missed.

    In general, they have the patience for me because my batting average is pretty good on raising issues. But… they still do the “there she goes again” thing.

    At this point I take it as human nature, secure in the knowledge that my manager gets annoyed at me sometimes but gives me the rope to hang myself because she respects my attention for detail and the number of times I’ve been right.

    1. Lil Fidget

      Hmm. I could certainly see that sometimes you have to be a PITA to get things done, but I don’t think I’d be secure if I knew I was annoying people around me frequently. Are you sure there’s not a better *way* to bring up your concerns that might be less irritating? Or are you perhaps in a role where this is par for the course, like quality control / internal assessment / lawyer?

  25. Snark

    I generally take the approach, myself, of taking serious concerns or questions to email after the fact. Even if it’s a good question about an aspect they truly didn’t think through, I don’t want to put my boss on the spot by grilling them in person, with an audience of their subordinates. And it lets me articulate my question in a more thoughtful and considered manner than tossing things off verbally. It generally ends up feeling more productive and less like a pretentious know it all demanding that the boss justify and defend their decisions.

    1. Snark

      Another criterion I have is, is this something Boss needs to consider offline, or is this something that everybody at the meeting will benefit from knowing the answer to? Because if this is just my personal desire to understand the decisionmaking process, that can wait, if it needs to be satisfied at all.

      1. Lil Fidget

        These are good points. Since OP is an analyst, it may help them to analyze the situation in this way before commenting.

      2. Dono Vorrutyer

        I like this. An office version of Craig Ferguson’s “Does this need to be said? Does this need to be said by me? Does this need to be said by me now?” criteria.

  26. Cordoba

    I’ve seen a similar occurrence when managers introduce a new general policy and one person (usually the same person every time) sees this as their opportunity to think up a specific rare situation where the policy would not apply or work as intended.

    It’s like they think they get bonus points for finding a loophole in the policy, or that if they don’t like the policy and can just point out one case where it doesn’t apply then the manager will be like “You’re right, nevermind all that stuff I just said”.

    For example:
    -Boss: “From now on please have your weekly expense reports turned in by 5PM on Friday.”
    -Loophole Larry: “But that won’t work. What if I take a sick day on Friday, and then that afternoon my power goes out before I can turn in my expense reports?”
    -Everybody else: *sigh and roll eyes*

    I encourage the OP to double-check whether the issues they are bringing up are sufficiently broad and important to merit Open Discussion With The Whole Team Right Now.

    There’s also the question of to what degree an employee (even an “analyst”) should voice an opinion on things that don’t ultimately impact them. I’m an engineer, I get paid to solve problems at a big company. I see 10 things an hour that are inefficient but I don’t bring them up unless they’re my responsibility, causing a problem for my group, or a legitimate safety/ethical issue.

    If Purchasing wants to have an clumsy bidding process it’s not really my place to “engineer” that for them unless they either ask for my help or their clumsiness prevents me from doing my job well. It’s just extra work for those guys? Eh, whatever, not a fight worth having.

    1. AndersonDarling

      I’ve been at staff meetings where I’ve actually braced myself for That One Person to stand up and do this. It gets tiring.
      The OP probably doesn’t fall into this category, but I’m taking the opportunity to vent about it.

    2. Spelliste

      “sufficiently broad and important to merit Open Discussion With The Whole Team Right Now”

      I will be applying this concept forthwith and broadly. Thank you!

  27. Opalescent Tree Shark

    I don’t know if this will be helpful to you, OP, but I tend to want to question every change my manager presents us with. I have been burned in the past by decisions that genuinely weren’t thought out and I kind of have issue with authority anyways. But I am also conscious of these biases and don’t want my coworkers to get annoyed with me the way yours do with you. So, here is what I do to still get my points across, but in a meaningful and not combative way.
    1) Only ask questions that directly impact me. If there are changes in staffing levels on Sundays and I don’t work Sundays, even if I foresee problems, it’s not my problem. If there are changes to staffing on late Friday nights when I work, then I can ask questions.
    2) Always ask the question assuming they have already thought about it. i.e. “How would you like us to handle programming on Friday nights if someone calls out since we will only have 3 people instead of 4?” not “Have you thought about how it’s going to affect programming when someone calls in sick now that we have only 4 people on Friday nights?”

    So far, following these rules has worked well for me and I have a much less combative relationship with my manager at this job as compared to my last job.

  28. Leatherwings

    Like others, I can definitely see an issue if you’re asking tons of questions about decisions that have already been made – especially if they’re made at a higher level than you.

    If you’re even infrequently but aggressively (or frequently but unaggressively) asking a million probing questions about things superiors have already decided, you might come off as a little naive. Sometimes orders come from on high that might not make sense to you, but that doesn’t mean it’s your place to analyze the process.

    Obviously I don’t know if that’s what’s happening here – maybe the decisions are coming from a different department and/or it really is your place to see if they work. But it’s worth considering the above angle and asking yourself if you’re probing into decisions that were made above your pay grade. If so, then the more appropriate course of action is to ask your supervisor for more background about how the decision was made rather than asking probing questions or analyzing it yourself.

  29. Nobody Here by That Name

    I’d be curious as to the gender makeup of this team. Not that I disagree with the need to read the room and make sure you’re not ignoring the expertise of those who make these decisions for a reason. But in my experience it’s not also uncommon for me to be the only woman at a meeting asking “Have we considered X?” in regards to a tech/data/process change and be treated like an idiot for asking by the men at the table. Then cut to months later when the change is implemented, X is very much an issue, and those same men are talking about how nobody could’ve EVER seen X coming.

    Could be that OP oversteps, could be that OP is dealing with the same background radiation of sexism that a lot of us do.

    1. Not That Jane

      Background radiation of sexism. What a genius phrase. Especially since a lot of dudes probably are used to assuming that it’s just bird poop on the radio telescope.

      1. Nobody Here by That Name

        Isn’t it though? Credit to the comic Shortpacked! I think URLs go into insta moderation so I’ll put the link in another reply.

    2. Tiny Soprano

      Ooh that’s a good point. And could be an issue with multiple kinds of discrimination, eg: racism, ableism, etc.

      If this isn’t the issue though, I’d be confident that the other commentors’ suggestions about posing questions via email and moderating language will be enough to stop the eye-rolling behaviour.

  30. Rusty Shackelford

    If eight people are publicly scoffing and rolling their eyes at you, either you are unfortunate enough to work with a bunch of really rude people, or you work with normal human beings who have been pushed to the brink.

    1. Snark

      I mean, I hate to say it, but…..ergh. Yeah. Either you’re That Person, letter writer, or you’re in a disrespectful and disorganized workplace.

      1. JB (not in Houston)

        Yeah, I mean, they shouldn’t be rolling their eyes even if the OP is That Person. But if the OP is That Person, then at some point it can be really hard to hold it in.

        I do think, though, that the manager seems to be falling down on the job. I feel like if the OP is That Person, the manager should talk to them about picking battles and when to ask these questions and -also- talking to the coworkers about not rolling their eyes in meetings. If the OP works in a disrespectful, disorganized workplace, well, the manager is just the beginning of what’s wrong there.

  31. Delphine

    Generally, are these meetings so that you can be told what is going on, or are they meetings where you’re encouraged to speak up if you notice something off? For example, at my job we have weekly meetings about project approvals, and everyone is encouraged to lend their voice. In fact, putting myself out there and speaking up was something I had to teach myself to do, because it looked like a lack of participation when I didn’t.

    Whatever the case, scoff and rolling eyes at a coworker is pretty unprofessional…

  32. Matilda Jefferies

    This is very much a Know Your Audience type thing. I had one boss – my first – who *loved* when I asked questions like that in meetings, and he still tells me I’m one of the greatest employees he ever had because of it. (*I think he probably tells everybody they were the greatest employee he ever had, but I don’t doubt that he genuinely appreciated my contributions!)

    I left that job thinking that was the way things were done in the workplace, and that all my future bosses would think I was a superstar if I did the same thing. Most of them didn’t mind, but none of them were as super-enthusiastic as my first one. It took me years to figure it out, and I didn’t really “get” it until I encountered one who hated those types of questions as much as my first boss loved them. To this person, decisions were decisions were decisions, and if we were hearing about them in a meeting it meant that they were absolutely final and no questions were to be asked ever.

    So clearly, there’s a middle ground here. It’s important to know what your manager in particular thinks of these types of questions, but it’s also important to recognize what types of situations are appropriate for asking them and what are not. Sometimes the time for analysis really is over and you’re getting the final packaged version, and sometimes there’s still room for discussion and negotiation. It takes some practice to figure out the nuances of each.

    Also, consider that it may be worth holding off on your questions *just* because your coworkers don’t like them, and for no other reason. Even if your boss loves the questions, if your coworkers don’t, you’re not going to make friends with them by asking all the time. Even if you’re “not there to make friends,” you still need to maintain good working relationships with others, at least some of the time. Obviously if you genuinely don’t understand something, you should definitely ask – but if the purpose of asking is for the sheer joy of intellectual wrangling and analysis, maybe there’s a better time or place to do that.

  33. SallytooShort

    Honestly, group meetings are rarely the right place to raise these concerns unless the meetings are explicitly for it.

    It takes up the time of your co-workers and not in a productive way. Sometimes, the policy changes but all those other times it doesn’t. What was the point of them being there for that?

    Is there a reason you can’t bring issues up with your boss after the fact?

  34. Sue Wilson

    I think it’s fair to ask how a policy decision will affect another policy, and those questions are the ones which are least likely make people defensive and most important to know, but minute logistics I would leave for email or a one-on-one.

  35. dr_silverware

    From the sound of it your questions are appropriate. Your coworkers are being rude. Despite that my guess is that your questions are violating some unwritten rules in your office or rising above your unwritten status; I think a lot of commenters are going to give you advice remembering when one of their own coworkers broke unwritten rules and it was uncomfortable and annoying.

    Don’t take that too much to heart–unwritten status can be “you’re a woman and I’m a man” and in those cases is worth violating–but it just means you have more at play than you originally thought. You don’t just have to analyze the policy change, you have to analyze how speaking up about the policy change is going to play with your status among your colleagues and what the rules of the meeting are. This is something only you can do.

    Here is some recourse, however. Some if-thens:

    Don’t have enough goodwill built up among your colleagues? Spend more time bonding with your coworkers so they either don’t scoff.

    Do people not usually speak in the meeting when asked for questions/concerns? Either keep your question very short or ask it in private.

    Do people try to reduce their workload? Frame your question more and acknowledge impact on workload.

    Do people see you as lower-status (newer, younger, what have you) and feel uncomfortable when you ask these questions about a higher-level decision? Ask the question privately to your manager; ask the question casually over the water cooler; directly ask your manager whether it’s ok if you continue to raise your concerns in that context; or don’t worry about the scoffing.

  36. ZenJen

    I supervise someone who speaks up in meetings, and I had to coach this person because their questions were mostly about different parts of the meeting and it was causing disruption to the meetings’ flow.

    I sat the employee down and explained that I wanted them to listen to the presentation and stay WITH what was currently being discussed (i.e., to NOT mentally jump to other ideas). The employee writes down any questions, and at the end of the presentation I check whether anyone has questions. Most of the time now, that employee doesn’t

    1. ZenJen

      (hit reply too soon!)
      doesn’t have any questions, or they have a question that is more relevant and productive to the discussion. And, my other employees do NOT go acting like the LW’s coworkers anymore.

  37. Stellaaaaa

    I am not saying that you are at all like this, BUT…

    There is someone at my company who does this ALL THE TIME and the questions are frankly not very good. She sees problems in the new systems because she doesn’t know how to use them. She thinks she’s showing us all up for asking these questions but the questions only prove that she doesn’t understand the plan that was just laid out. There’s major Dunning-Kruger going on. She doesn’t realize that other people aren’t asking these questions because they understand the content of the meeting and also possess the troubleshooting skills to handle the rare scenario when a new system wouldn’t work. Yeah, we all roll her eyes when she talks because she is rudely wasting our time with a problem that isn’t a problem. Rolling your eyes is rude, but so is speaking up when you know that other people don’t have time for it.

    1. Anon and on and on

      I wonder if Alison would see this a manager issue. This employee is wasting everyone’s time. Can’t manager say, stop doing that. And explain that employee sounds naive and unaware of how to do her job?
      Because if nobody addresses this, it will never end – except with everyone frustrated and not wanting to work with her.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yes. It’s not always black and white, because you don’t want people to feel like you’re shutting down questions or differing opinions, but there’s a point where it’s reasonable to say it’s too much. I have a post about that somewhere — if I can find it, I’ll put the link here.

        Also, it sounds like there’s a deeper performance/competence issue here as well that also needs to be addressed.

      2. Observer

        I think it’s a manager issue on both sides. Yes, the coworker is being rude, and the manager should coach her. But, the rest of the staff are also being rude and your manager should addressing that, too.

  38. DCompliance

    OP, you are stating that the in a recent meeting, the decision stood and you accepted. This gives the impression that you still did not ultimately agree with the decision. So, I have to ask, I are you truly asking these questions as way to find out the rational or as a way to voice your disagreement?

    1. Manager-at-Large

      Interesting point that “the decision stood and you accepted” – was this a meeting that was intended to build concensus? Was it a meeting that was intended to reach a decision? Or was it an announcement of a decision – in which case, how did LW have an option to “not accept” said decision?
      It seems like this is a case where you need to be able to read the meeting and the manager. Is input being sought or a direction announced – that sort of thing.
      And I agree with the rephrasing advice –

    2. LetterWriter

      Hi, and thank you for your input. I don’t always agree with decisions, that’s a fact. But no, I am comfortable enough with my manager to be frank when I dissent (but obviously that’s a one-on-one type of conversation). I did solicit feedback today from a team member and was told that I sometimes can come across as condescending (I’m horrified, but definitely willing to put in the work on that!). As Alison so eloquently mentioned, my concern is truly getting the best outcomes. Perhaps my approach has come across less than intended in those instances in which I received the eye rolls and scoffs.

      1. The Supreme Troll

        Yes LetterWriter, Alison’s advice is excellent, and you should ask your boss about what kind of perception vibe she is getting from you at meetings. But, in whatever response you get from her (whether she agrees with you or is offering constructive criticism), do not let it silence you, or convince you that you have to always agree with the majority opinion. To me, your intentions seem to be strictly about what is best for the company.

      2. vjt

        LetterWriter, ouch! But I bet you anything this is it the crux of the problem. I’m worried you might be the person in the office who thinks he’s so much smarter than everyone else that no one will even NOTICE that he thinks so. That’s what being condescending is all about. So, for the record: everyone notices.

  39. Princess Cimorene

    Hmm I feel like LW made it clear that this only happens on occasion, they wrote they SOMETIMES speak up. I feel like their question was a bit more how to handle the co-workers scoffing and laughing and rolling their eyes rather than if they should ever question things (not that it’s not warranted to check themselves on if they’re speaking up too much or being undermining or combative) but I feel their actual question wasn’t really addressed.

    1. Lil Fidget

      This is a fair point. I think most of us are trying to strategize solutions for OP so that they won’t annoy their coworkers so much in meetings, to prevent the eye-rolling reaction. It’s also possible that OP works in a House of Jerks, in which case I guess they’d have to go to their manager and request better protection from the Jerks. I also liked the suggestion someone gave above, about approaching the eye-roller and just asking what’s up. I could see a conversation that went something like, “hey, Chaddington, can I ask you a quick question? I noticed that you were rolling your eyes in the meeting when I brought up my questions about the new teapot glaze. Can I ask you why my questions were irritating you?” (listens thoughtfully). Then if the answer is something stupid, I might say, “It really hurts my feelings when you all share inside jokes while I’m talking. Can I ask you not to roll your eyes next time I’m trying to bring up a point?”

    2. Stellaaaaa

      Sometimes questions warrant an adjustment of the lens. OP wants to know why people dislike her questions and how to make them stop being inpatient with her, but she should really be asking if her questions should be voiced at all. It’s like asking, “How can I get people to be nicer when it say hi every single time I walk by their desks?” It’s such a borderline tone-deaf action that it’s misplaced to present other people’s reactions as the problem in need of solving. She wants to know how to handle this next time; evidence indicates that there should be no next time.

    3. serenity

      I think Alison’s point was 1) the legitimacy and frequency of the questions may be an issue, and 2) the OP should go to her manager to assess this. I think the speaking with the manager part will clarify what’s happening for the OP, and will also help her to see if it is indeed her co-workers who are being rude or if OP’s questions are long-winded and inappropriate (and are thus causing the eye-rolling among colleagues).
      So, her question was in fact addressed.

    4. Observer

      You make a good point. But part of figuring out how to handle rally is to figure out why it’s happening – and part of that is checking to make sure that they are not doing it too often or inappropriately in other ways.

  40. mf

    You don’t always have to raise these kinds of questions in meetings. It can be just as effective to raise your concern in a one-on-one setting or via email after the meeting. This could help if you’re worried you may seem combative.

  41. Anon and on and on

    I am the question asker, too. My meetings are mostly just my group, but sometimes involve others. My manager and I have a system, I raise my hand, just a bit. She sees it. I get a nod to wait until after the point she is making, or the entire piece she is saying, or the go ahead to ask then or even to wait till after the meeting.
    This is probably a lot of hand holding to some people. It’s what evolved after working together for 20 years. But I’ve gone from saying nothing in meetings, to saying EVERYTHING in meetings, to pretty much just about right. And it helped me learn how to function in a meeting. Again, hand holding, or maybe synergy.

    1. Lil Fidget

      I have learned to write down all of my questions as they come to me. Some of it I think is that I want to show off how smart I am by thinking of such an intelligent question – that part really needs to be smothered. Writing it down at least ensures that I don’t have to worry that I’ll forget it so I can try to let it go and listen. At the end of the meeting, if I still have one question that I think is valuable TO THE GROUP and hasn’t been answered yet (most questions get answered sooner or later) I can raise it – but only one, and only if there’s time and only if I think it is of general interest. If not, I might email the organizer of the meeting with my question or questions, but usually I think the root of it is more ego than necessity.

      1. Mananana

        Lil Fidget – we may be twins. Especially this “I want to show off how smart I am by thinking of such an intelligent question”. I have that tendency too. Which I learned to rein in when I found myself being oh-so-irritated by my organization’s Question Asker, Janice. Because Janice had to comment or ask questions that either 1) only applied to her situation, 2) had already been answered, or 3) were about situations that weren’t up to being questioned.

        In fact, LW’s letter set off my Janice-alarm. She too, thought she was asking “probing” questions. Instead, she had a deep-seated need to let everyone know how good she was at her job. And thought by asking the “hard” questions, it proved her value and worth. I’ve noticed that the more comfortable I am with my own performance the less compelled I am to “show off”.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Yeah, probing questions caught my eyebrow going up also. It’s good to remember that the questions are only probing to us, OP. They are something else to other people. We have had lengthy discussions on the Socratic method. Mine is short. I have absolutely not one ounce of patience for that method. If someone has something they want me to know they need to just say it.

  42. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

    I almost forgot something.

    I had to learn how to calibrate what “a lot of questions” is.

    I am a person that always has questions. Always. For me, if I ask 3x the number of questions others on my team do, that’s a lot of questions, relatively. (Regardless of how frequently they are being asked.) You may just have more questions than the rest of your group. Try to scale it back if that’s the case. You can always send emails or follow up with the manager later. Try to limit it to the ones that: 1) Directly impact your team 2) Directly impact safety/security 3) Are beneficial to the whole team if voiced now instead of later.

    For example, I probably ask about 1/3 of the questions that come into my head on average. When it’s finances it’s about 2/3 (with Google picking up the other 1/3). At work it’s about 1/6- 1/8. That guideline above really helped me.

    And, I still ask more questions than my coworkers…. LOL

    1. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

      I said all that to say–you may think it’s “sometimes”, but your sometimes might be your coworkers “all the time”.

  43. Bend & Snap

    Tone is also important. I have a coworker who has good points (sometimes) but she is so officious that everyone rolls their eyes when she opens her mouth. It may be worth asking a trusted colleague how you’re coming off.

    1. Snark

      And on the flipside, I had an old boss who could literally say “Hey, can you shut your trap,” and it would come off wry and funny.

      1. Louise

        I had a boss who would say “land the plane” when folks were taking too long to make a point.

  44. Jana

    It’s possible that your coworkers are rude and/or lack interest in the particular topics discussed at these meetings. Their behavior isn’t kind of helpful, but the lack of gusto on their part that you perceive isn’t really your concern unless they are your reports or they’re failing to get work done and it affects your work. Is it possible that there’s something about how you’re raising your concern, what you’re raising concern about, or how frequently you’re questioning decisions that’s the problem? You mention that you might “ask if a particular scenario had been considered when the decision was made”—is it possible that that’s coming across as assuming that management hasn’t been thorough in their process?

    In terms of there being an issue with the specific concerns you raise, is it possible that you’re questioning things that aren’t appropriate for you to have input on? You write, “I feel it’s our job to analyze the changes and address concerns about those changes to management…”, but I’m not sure where being an analyst comes in unless you are bringing up concerns about the specific issue or range or issues on which you produce analyses. The job title of analyst generally has an issue-focus rather than an expectation that you analyze all aspects of your workplace’s policies. If your concerns are completely in line with your job duties, then it makes total sense.

    Finally, I think it’s worth a try to simply speak with your manager after the meeting if you have a concern. It sounds like management has considered your points in the past, so there’s reason to believe they’d continue doing so. However, making this a private conversation at least saves you from your coworkers’ reactions that upset you.

  45. bopper

    Also do you have to ask these questions at the meeting or can you ask privately afterwards?

    Because if your boss says “everyone has to use blue pens now” and everyone else is cool with that, you could ask privately “I was wondering if that would affect color blind people?
    They may not have thought about that.
    But if you are asking “What is the 10 year outlook on the fluctuations in blue ink” that maybe something you let the boss worry about.

    1. LetterWriter

      Thanks for your input. I’d like to think that my questions are of the former variety, but that’s only my perception. :)

    2. Not So NewReader

      Wait. I DO actually have to use a blue pen at work. ha!
      It’s just for our own purposes so we do not care if other people find it useful. It’s for our use only.

      This is something good to consider, make sure you have a clear understanding of the goal. Our goal is to quit wasting time figuring out which is the original and which is the copy. Yes, we could stamp copy on them, But invariably we get ten interruptions and when we return to the stack of copies and originals we have no idea which is which. It’s not intended to be of any benefit to outsiders.

  46. BadPlanning

    Even if your coworkers eye roll some of your questions — it is nice to have a coworker who is particularly brave at a asking a pointy question. I used to have a coworker who was good at asking Elephant in the Room sorts of questions. He was short, to the point, and relaxed about it. He was also a more senior (and pretty great) employee, so mileage may vary.

  47. Argh!

    I used to have a coworker like this. He had fans on the staff but the rest of us groaned when he spoke up. It wasn’t so much that we didn’t want to hear his points, but he just loved to talk and would go on forever because our boss didn’t cut him off. Much of the time a decision was a done deal so belaboring it just ate up our time and patience. Other times, he was almost insubordinate, insisting that we didn’t have to carry out the decision made above our boss’s head. Some of us also resented his smarter-than-you attitude (he wasn’t smarter than any of us).

    In order to know what’s really going on you’d need to think about what you say and how you say it and whether you derail the meeting. Your manager has probably noticed the eye rolls and can offer an explanation or alternative method of getting your points across.

    I work in a team that is extremely passive, and I am frequently the only one to talk at all, or the first one who breaks the ice. I wouldn’t say that going against the grain is a bad thing, but it can be uncomfortable, for sure.

  48. Sweater Weather

    Personally, I think its a huge sign that OP’s coworkers are noticeably reacting and supervisors/higher-ups are ignoring it. Unless OP has a toxic workplace (which could very well be the case) someone at that level would probably interject with an affirmation such as “no, that’s a good question…”. Silence or indifference indicates that they are also frustrated but don’t know how to address it. Its very possible that’s not what is happening here, its just my read on the situation.

    I’ve worked with combative coworkers who spent more time questioning decisions than actually doing things. It stemmed from a deeper discontent with management as a whole, but it was still extremely annoying. If someone gives me a task, unless it feels way out of left field I’d rather just do it than waste time questioning it.

  49. Lissa

    I am just speaking from my own experience here as someone who has a LOT to say if I let myself, and I think I may have some disagreement here, but I would try not to be too out of step with your coworkers in situations like this, about 99% of the time. What I mean is… if you are the only one asking the questions, or you’re asking 80% of them, it’s usually not worth it. Whether your belief that as an analyst this is your job is true or not, it’s clear it’s NOT the belief of the other people in the meeting. so it’s likely you’re standing out and not in a great way.

    I don’t mean “never stand out” or anything like that, but I often play little “games” with myself so I’m not perceived as taking over a class/meeting etc., is to try never to be the one to speak out twice in a row, or wait till 3 other questions have been answered, or some other appropriate thing that involves others speaking. If I am always the only one speaking up ever, I just don’t think it’s doing much good, it feels like I’m out of step.

    Yes maybe others “should” be speaking up more but if they aren’t, it isn’t really your problem to fix.
    Signed, formerly that One Student

  50. TiffIf

    I am a quality analyst for software and often when product management comes up with a new feature or direction a bunch of questions immediately pop into my head. Often, they have taken into consideration a lot of the more general or widely applicable implications but haven’t thought through the fringe and edge cases which may not be as visible but could definitely impact clients. I generally know better than they do how our clients use our product especially when the clients have a lot of customization or specialized workflows.

    My strategy is usually to write down my questions, and follow those up by reading the design parameters for the new proposal. At that point I can usually answer about 50-75% of my questions. Then I can send an email about the stuff that is still outstanding along the lines of “Company XYZ uses this feature in this manner, how should this change interact with that workflow?”

    1. Sutemi

      I love documentation and pre-reads! If the designers/managers have already considered your idea and the results are on page 3 of the pre-read, you don’t look extra-smart by taking up everyone’s time by asking your question in the middle of the meeting.

    2. Argh!

      We’re currently in the middle of a major technical reorganization, and I’ve done this, too. There hasn’t been a problem with eye-rolling, but all of us have our niches, and will ask questions that others don’t really care about but the technical team hadn’t considered. Since we’re all speaking up in meetings, it’s not an issue because the team leader is open to comments, always says “Good question,” and responds either with the answer or “I’ll get back to you” and makes a note to himself. Our meetings are rather tightly focused, so that may help with the team spirit. When it’s a larger group, it does seem derailing for someone to ask about their specific thing.

      1. Argh!

        … what I forgot to say, was that the leader is open to questions emailed after the meeting, so there’s no urgency to be sure you make your points. If I have something to say that’s micro-my-stuff, I’ll say it afterwards in an email. This seems to work.

  51. theletter

    is it possible that this meeting comes right at the end of the day, right before lunch, or sort of an awkward part of the day where everyone wants to get back to their desks to get to work? Or there’s another meeting afterward?

    Could it be that this meeting is often very stressful for people or doesn’t count as billable hours?

    While I agree that it’s rude to scoff, it may be that the meeting’s purpose and scheduling is supposed to be quick PSA’s and updates, not discussions. Regardless, you should be able to ask “How does this change affect such-n-such aspect of our work?” if it’s not clear from your manager’s report, and directly affects everybody immediately.

  52. puzzld

    Forgive me. I haven’t read all the comments and may be replowing the same ground as others, but…
    Are these meetings being held simply to announce done deal changes in procedure or policy? I really wish people wouldn’t do that. Why meet if you don’t want a discussion. Just send out an email. If you want feed back, then LW is doing what s/he should be doing.

    As a person responsible for running meetings, it’s frustrating to have a table full of people staring at me while counting the minutes till they can get back to whatever it is they’d rather be doing, and then hearing from the same folks that they “knew it wouldn’t work” or “didn’t have the opportunity to give an opinion.” So I like Alison’s advice to run it by management. “Just why are we having a meeting? Are we planing and troubleshooting, or is this just a proforma “here it is, deal with it” thing (maybe not those exact words tho.)

  53. Nita

    I’d love to have more context about these meetings. Are they just to inform the team of a decision made by upper management, or to bounce the idea off them? Since OP is the only one bringing up concerns, it might be more appropriate to talk about them with the manager one-on-one. Even if OP has valid points, it’s likely the decision came from higher up and the boss will need to discuss the concerns with other decision makers.

    And if OP brings up potential problems very often, something’s wrong. Either management is not very competent and doesn’t make decisions well, or OP is making a big deal out of little things.

    Although… in my office it’s been the year of bad decisions. Management is trying to roll out some changes to key procedures. I know there are good reasons for these changes, but the rollout seems to be creating more problems than it solves. I can’t tell if these are just growing pains, or if the problems are built into the new system and here to stay. One big issue seems to be that the decision makers don’t seem to have a good knowledge of how some departments work, and could use the perspective of staff in these departments. If that’s the case in the OP’s company, I definitely see the value of questioning decisions often, but still don’t think a team meeting is the right forum.

  54. Samiratou

    I think I could totally be the LW here, as far as questioning things, but it sounds like the meetings might not always be the best way to do this. Depending on the meeting and people in it, if I had concerns about something I’d bring them up to my boss offline or even bounce them off a coworker first (“Is it just me or could we have problems down the line with X and might there be a better way to do things?).

    Also, it’s fine to have concerns, but it shouldn’t just be “I think this is going to be a problem” but instead “I see potential problems with this approach (list concerns), perhaps it would be better to solve this problem using this other method that isn’t likely to have the same concerns?”

    Always poking holes in things gets trying unless you’re suggesting alternatives. If there are things they haven’t considered then an alternate approach may be welcome (I’ve had that happen a couple times this past year) but otherwise it’s easier for your boss or whoever to be like “yes, we know about and we considered the other approach but it has its own issues so we went this route instead.” rather than having to hash the whole argument out from the beginning.

  55. LetterWriter

    OP Follow up:

    I did solicit feedback from a trusted member on my team, and was told that I am generally fine, but can sometimes sound condescending. While I’m not sure the team scoffed and rolled their eyes on my tone, it is possible. I also decided to ask my manager when or if they’d like feedback, and it was confirmed that asking questions during staff meetings is appropriate and encouraged for our team. So I’m still not sure on the why the team had reacted badly to me in the past, but I do have some things to consider, namely my tone and the words I choose. Thanks everyone, especially to the person who said that I might be “THAT person” on the team (we all have one, haha). While I don’t think that’s the case, I have more incentive to ensure that it isn’t me!

    1. mf

      Sounds like you’re mostly in the clear. As someone above mentioned, you could try reframing your questions. Instead of “Have you thought about x?”, something like “What would you like me to do about x?”might seem less condescending.

    2. Anony

      It might be helpful to reframe your goal in your mind. You aren’t trying to see if they have thought it through. You want to clarify the new policy so that you can comfortably implement it. By changing your mindset from “probing” to “clarifying” I have found that I don’t come across as hostile or condescending. It flips the role so that instead of acting like you are the teacher, you are acting like you are the student. Most people are happy to be treated as the expert.

    3. Phoenix Programmer

      You sound like me on my old team. They rolled their eyes frequently when I spoke up in meetings. My boss had mostly great things to say about me with vague “sometimes you come across as condescending” with no actual examples. A year later I am promoted and making 30% more then everyone on my old team. Some teams aren’t worth getting to like you and frankly any team that will scoff and role eyes is probably one of them.

      1. The Supreme Troll

        Good points, and good for you. I hope the LetterWriter doesn’t get her confidence shaken to the point where she has to be completely silent and in agreement with her colleagues all the time, so as to appear that she is not making waves and is not a “disruptive” employee. Not really saying that it would happen, but I’m just putting it out there in case.

    4. Catelyn

      Also, don’t forget : everyone hates meetings! So if it’s an end-of-day (or early morning) meeting and you’re dragging it out with questions, people will be annoyed.

    5. Elsajeni

      I think this goes along with your comment upthread that you’re often wording these questions as “Has X been considered?” — that phrasing can come across as if you’re assuming it hasn’t, or as if you’re looking to prove who’s smarter or more attentive (“I thought of X right away, did you?”), so that may be what’s striking some people as condescending. I also think part of what’s bugging your team might be that it sounds like the start to a longer digression, rather than a question that can just be asked and answered (would you be satisfied if your manager just said “Yep!” and moved on?) — so if you’re raising X because you have a specific concern about it, it might work better just to start from the more specific question. “How will this affect Q [where Q is a process involved in X]?” “Will we need to change how we Z?”

  56. Em Too

    As a fellow analyst, the phraseology seemed odd to me. I would assume that any analysis needed to feed into the decision was done before the decision was made. Once it’s been made, I think analysts and non-analysts are equally entitled to speak up if they see problems. But an analyst is not expected to reanalyse every decision that crosses their paths.

  57. Meagan

    I think the context is important here – are the decisions being shared for input/feedback, or have they already been made and are just being communicated? As a manager, if I were looking for input I’d frame it that way, either one-on-one or in a bigger meeting. However, if I’m communicating a decision that has been made, in my opinion my team should assume I’ve done the legwork to justify it, and I probably wouldn’t appreciate questions or comments that imply otherwise – unless I’ve missed something glaringly obvious (which would hopefully come up before the decision is made).

  58. Phoenix Programmer

    I find it so odd that people automatically assume – coworkers are rolling their eyes and scoffing in meetings so clearly the OP is the problem.

    The only unprofessional behavior in the letter are the ops coworkers and 100 examples of “that guy” and “obnoxious know it all” are not only unhelpful but pretty far fetched given the letter and the update.

    1. Argh!

      Yes, the manager is the ultimate problem in most cases of almost anything.

      Also yes, eyerolls are a clear signal of social norms being broken.

      I hope LW consults with the manager about this. 1) everyone should make contributions, so the eye-rolls don’t just upset LW, but they intimidate the coworkers. This is why only LW brings things up. 2) The manager should shut it down… somehow. Addressing one of them in the meeting on the spot just once could cure it. “Jane, you look dubious. Is there something you’d like to add?” 3) If the manager has set a tone where people are discouraged from interrupting meetings and LW hasn’t twigged to it, it’s the manager’s responsibility to tell LW in a one-on-one. If the manager is like my current manager, though, it won’t happen. Weak managers who let things happen are also weak when it comes to fixing those things.

  59. LTLFTP

    I worked with someone in my team who was that person. He was a developer who dragged his feet on every task given to him. He also came from a culture that think it’s okay to talk over everyone especially women.
    OP might be ‘that person’ without realising it.

  60. Sara without an H

    Hello, OP — I haven’t read all the comments, but you seem to be a very good sport about taking criticism. My question is, instead of being what you call a “horrible ‘yes man'” are you becoming the Abominable No Man?

    I work in higher education (libraries, specifically), and I’ve seen programs derailed, or at least significantly slowed up by team members who wanted to write detailed procedural/policy documents that would forestall every possible problem capable of human invention. Or by responding to every initiative by saying that we’d tried that before (back during the first Truman administration), so of course, it can’t work now.

    Don’t be that person. Please.

  61. Mad Baggins

    I work in a culture that makes decisions very differently than typical US/western countries. Instead of throwing an idea out during a meeting to be batted around and reshaped, consensus is slowly gained privately, and then during the meeting the decision is announced. This was incredibly frustrating for me as an expat because I was used to meetings being discussions, not announcements. It took a long time for me to learn how to identify the key decision makers and preliminary meetings where the real discussions were had, and learning when and how to raise my questions improved my relationships with coworkers.

    It sounds like you are going through the same kind of cultural difference: you’re used to addressing concerns at a certain time and place and with a certain attitude/tone, and it seems like your team is used to a different set of norms. Many thoughtful commenters have shared great ways to rethink/rephrase your concerns, and I would add that maybe it would be helpful for you to frame it as increasing your emotional/cultural intelligence (rather than shutting down your curiosity or sinking to your coworkers’ level, which both sound resentful). Good luck!

  62. ZW

    I kind of get the feeling that you may be the problem, OP.

    Lately I’ve realized that my dad never agrees with me on anything. He never lets a point I’ve made stand. Even just talking about TV shows, any comment is nitpicked and torn down. He can make all the predictions he wants while we watch shows but if I make one, everything stops while he takes the time to explain why I’m wrong and my idea wouldn’t work out and how unlikely I am to be right. It’s become a major thing with me that leaves me silently fuming and he doesn’t seem to notice at all how condescending or contrary he is whenever he talks to me.

    I’m willing to admit that plenty of times the things I blurt out don’t totally make sense and probably aren’t completely feasible. But the fact that he needs to correct me every single time has gotten under my skin. He’s an engineer and constantly sees problems waiting to be fixed and he is a bit of a know it all and it’s straining our relationship without him even realizing it. Not every point or decision needs to be analyzed. Maybe try letting some of these things go, even if they seem illogical to you. If it’s really intolerable, speak up. But maybe turning everything into an analytical exercise isn’t the best way to go about this.

    To be clear, either way I think your coworkers are probably being a bit rude here. But maybe you should try to understand their motivations, you might learn something about the situation that you haven’t been picking up on previously.

    1. Wintermute

      I feel like if it was one co-worker it would be likely they were just being rude. An entire team? It’s likely the OP is significantly out of the norm here.

      1. ZW

        I only meant that there are likely more professional and/or productive ways for the coworkers to express what they’re feeling.

  63. peanutbutty

    OP – thanks for writing in this letter and for your updates throughout. It must be hard to hear that most people here think you are likely overstepping either boundary or tone. The good news is that you were open enough to hear that and get feedback from your colleague. Again, that must have been hard to hear. I have total respect for your openness in being willing to address how you are being perceived.

    The letter struck a chord with me because I know I am a details person. I’ve been working on it and my emails are definitely getting shorter! But it is a struggle. This whole thread has been a great reminder for me to focus on the fact that my need for details does not (usually) trump the value of everybody else’s time.

    A good way I try to look at it when tempted to ask for more details in a group meeting is to count the number of people in that meeting and do a rough cost of how much their combined salaries cost. Is my question really worth £100 (or whatever) – if it’s truly important that I know the details, could it not be dealt with afterwards with manager alone?

    Good luck !!!

  64. peanutbutty

    The other thing it might be worth bearing in mind is the concept of “thinking hats”.
    http://cultbranding.com/ceo/six-thinking-hats/
    It sounds like you are wearing the black thinking hat fairly often, whereas others might consider that point in the meeting one where you’re all supposed to be wearing white or yellow hats etc.
    Having a black hat can be incredibly valuable in a lot of cases but incredibly frustrating if the meeting is supposed to be focussed on e.g. generating ideas.
    So it might be helpful to do a mental check of how often you are wearing different hats in meetings, and make sure your team see you wearing other hats at times too.
    Black hats are useful, but no one wants to be stuck in a meeting with the Black Hat of Doom!

  65. Say what, now?

    Definitely, definitely talk to your manager. Ask them if this is part of your role. I say this as a manager who has to deliver unpopular protocols to my staff frequently. My answers are not up for debate because they’re usually the result of our sales team selling something in a problematic way but by the time it gets down to me a contract has been signed and we are legally bound to do things in this manner. That may not be your situation but it’s an example of how there is information that you may lack.

  66. Workfromhome

    It may also be just part of company culture (and not necessary a good culture)
    I had a past job where many of us had spent 10 plus years there. Occasionally a new person would come in and might ask some very legitimate question about a poorly considered decision they would often be (in our opinion) 100% right and we all thinking the same thing.

    But after 10 plus years we knew it didn’t matter because management always asked for “input” well after they had made their decisions and put them in stone. If people agreed they would be very happy and say “Yes I’m glad everyone sees what a great decision we made” If anyone disagreed it was either ignored or framed as “Well our company strategy dictates we do what we have already decided”

    Point being we might sigh and roll our eyes but it was directed at the general lunacy of the company culture rather than at the naivety of the poor new person who did not know yet that they were wasting their breath.

  67. KayEss

    I once had a job where I was expected to be that person… I had become the company’s only subject matter expert in a particular compliance topic (by virtue of being the only person with tangentially-related job knowledge), and was then brought into all sorts of meetings with vendors and high-level project planning bigwigs with the intent that I would aggressively interrogate them. It was hellaciously uncomfortable. My coworkers hated having project meetings with me, because they were inevitably not considering the issue, so every time I opened my mouth it disrupted their plans and created more work for them.

    It was an important issue and I don’t regret learning about and championing it, but wow did it suck for internal office relations and burn my entire team’s capital fast.

  68. Ronno

    Manager of a small team chiming in. I am only able to spare 1/2 hr per week (on average) for team meetings, so we have a lot to cover in any given meeting. If I announce a procedure change at one of these short check-in meetings, it’s almost always something I have discussed with other managers/senior admin behind the scenes– short staff meetings are not the appropriate venue for me to defend these decisions. Sincere procedural questions, sure– but that’s different.
    I once had to take a team member aside & ask them to rein in the number of questions they ask me at meetings, the type of questions, and how they’re asked/phrased.
    I wish this individual had come to me to ask whether they were behaving appropriately in meetings, and how to improve; I would have been impressed by the initiative and self-awareness. Figuring out how to respectfully approach unique, sensitive issues with subordinates is the part of my job I find most emotionally taxing; when someone saves me the trouble by approaching *me,* it’s a huge relief.
    OP, please do no pass up the opportunity to discuss this one-on-one with your manager!

  69. Taryn

    I’d be wary of making assumptions that because you’re an analyst be profession that it’s actually your job to analyze /all/ things about the business. That is: if you’re analyzing banking matters, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should assume it’s also your job to analyze management decisions. Which is not to say that people shouldn’t respond to management decisions with concerns, but I feel like the framing and approach are particularly important here, especially since you indicated that when you spoke to one of your coworkers, they did say that you sometimes come off as condescending. And you clearly don’t mean to, so it seems like just a matter of approach!

    I saw that you you said you use wording like “Have you considered X?” which some other commenters pointed out may not be coming off well. A better way to think of it might be something more along the lines of “Great, how should we handle that change if X happens?” It still gets to the point of “Oh, I can foresee a potential wrinkle here,” but it puts the focus on “oh let’s problem solve if we need to,” whereas I’m going to guess there are a fair amount of people who would hear “Have you considered X?” with an undertone of “I don’t expect you to have thought this decision through.” (And it might be the case that they didn’t! But it’s a matter of wanting to present your concerns in a manner that’s productive but will also not get people immediately defensive if it’s not necessary.)

    Good luck!

  70. GreenDoor

    I’m an analyst to, so I get the impulse to immediately dissect news and poke holes in it and explore alternatives. But as others have said, the more often you do it, the less your ideas are appreciated and welcomed. What has worked for me is giving things some time. Sometimes the best way to analyze is to sit back and observe. So I might wait a month or two and then go to my boss and say, “Since we’ve implemented X, I’ve observed Y and Z problems. Could we try B instead?” After all, sometimes analysts are wrong in their forecasts…

  71. AnonAnalyst

    You could by my co-worker… I work on a team of analyst and we have a team member who does this, in every meeting. A lot of the time it’s really unnecessary, like stopping someone giving a presentation to ask them if they’ve considered that not everyone in the room might understand a certain technical term they’d used, when it turned out everyone did. Or in group meetings that require audience feedback he tries to answer EVERY question himself. Sometime he just speaks up to reiterate what was just said like he wants to show the speaker that he understands their point, which is… great? But there are 20 other people in the room and if everyone did this then the meeting would never end! He also had a habbit of started question like “Well as an analytics i’m particularly interested in…” “As an analyst I have to ask about…”. Honestly it has got to the point where every time he speaks up everyone shares a look and rolls their eyes. I think that even when he speaks up to say something relevant people stop listening because they get used to tuning out his constant interruptions.

    Talk to your manage and or co-workers and tell them you’re gathering general performance feedback. If they don’t bring it up ask about how you are in meetings specifically.

  72. Martha, my dear

    I am a manager in a similar situation. This post helped me address the issue, with “choose one thing if you want me to hear you”. In my team, I believe the root cause is tethered to anxiety. The worker in question does exceptional work. If the behavior in group settings doesn’t change, it might not matter.

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