I got a text from my boss during a funeral

A reader writes:

For context: I’m a relatively new employee (~six months) on the outreach team at a large nonprofit. Our team rarely gets together, working remotely and out at events most of the time. My supervisor’s managing style is odd to me, and I’m not really used to it yet. She is very hands-off and flaky, but extremely numbers-oriented and goal-driven. She doesn’t respond well to emails and often ends up communicating solely via text.

Last week, a friend of mine passed away unexpectedly. My manager was out of town and not working that day, so I emailed instead of texting her to let her know that I would be travelling for the funeral and wouldn’t be working on Monday or Tuesday. She actually emailed back apologizing for my loss and telling me to just let her know when I’m back in town. I was impressed that she got back to me and thankful for her flexibility.

On Sunday night at 11:30 p.m., I received a text from her about a Monday morning meeting that I chose to ignore because I was annoyed that she would text me so late and expect a response, even if it would just be to remind her that I’m out. At around midnight she sent another that said, “That’s right, you’re out. I forgot.”

On Tuesday morning, while pulling into the church parking lot for the funeral, I received a text from her to our whole team complaining about outreach and program recruitment numbers with several follow-up texts asking for immediate explanations for not meeting this month’s goals. I immediately silenced notifications from the conversation and haven’t addressed them.

Am I wrong in thinking that this was extremely inappropriate and insensitive? I feel like that conversation would have been much better suited for an in-person meeting, or even an email, especially since she knew I was out on personal time. At the very least, she should have left me off of the text chain, right?

Should I talk to her about this when I see her next? Go to HR? Bring it up the next time I take a personal day (“I’d like it if you don’t text me while I’m out this week”)? I’m really terrible at confrontation and am nervous about looking like I’m overreacting, but this really upset me. Thankful for any advice you can give!

I can see why you were bothered by this … but I think this falls under the category of “other people will not remember your schedule like you do.”

In other words, she was fine with you being out, and she probably wasn’t expecting you to do work the day of the funeral. Rather, if she’s like many other managers, she just didn’t have it top-of-mind when she was sending work messages later.

That’s actually a really common thing to happen, and it’s only a problem if the manager then expects you to respond, gets upset if you don’t, or otherwise expects you to do work while you’re out for something so important.

I think that especially explains the text the morning of the funeral — that went to your whole team, so she probably wasn’t thinking about each person individually, but rather just “I need to send a message to the whole team about this.”

That would have been perfectly okay for her to do if she were using email. It’s normal and okay for people to continue sending you work emails while you’re out. The assumption usually isn’t that you’ll read or respond to them while you’re away, but that you’ll deal with them when you’re back (and that meanwhile it’s fine for other people’s workflow to continue like it always does, including the sending of messages).

It’s because this was in text that it ended up being much more intrusive. You’re more likely to be interrupted by texts than you are by email (plus they’re going to your personal phone, whereas you may not even have your work email on your phone at all).

However, on a team that communicates heavily by text, this is going to happen. I’ll never understand why some people use texting like emailing in a work context, but a lot of people do, and she’s one of them. Inadvertently texting someone who’s at a funeral is one of the many reasons why it’s a bad idea, but nevertheless, in a text-heavy workplace, I can see how it happened.

I think the way for you to look at this is not “my boss texted about work when she knew I was at a funeral” — because again, she probably wasn’t thinking about your days off at all — but rather “It’s really frickin’ annoying and intrusive to use texting so much for work.”

That still leaves you with a less-than-ideal situation, but it’s not as egregious as it otherwise would be. And because of that, it’s not really a thing for HR.

I do think that the next time you’re taking time off, it’s okay to say, “I want to be able to disconnect from work during those days, so can you try to remember not to text me? I know you wouldn’t be expecting a response until I’m back, but since I have to have my phone with me, texts will pull me back into work mode.” This may or may not work if she’s a texter rather than an emailer, but it’s a reasonable thing to ask.

It’s also reasonable to ask that she not send late-night texts (unless you have a job where late-night work is part of the deal). And if you really want to tackle this, you and your coworkers could explicitly advocate as a group for a shift from texting to emailing, particularly outside of work hours.

{ 177 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. hayling

    It sounds like your team could really benefit from something like Slack. It’s as easy and fast to use as texting, but it keeps everything organized and can be used on phone/desktop/tablet. You can mute notifications outside of working hours. It’s also way better than email for back-and-forth.

    Reply
    1. hayling

      (BTW I don’t think that adoption of Slack means “email is dead”, but I have found it to be a useful tool for communicating with teams.)

      Reply
    2. Doodle

      Strongly agree. At least with our team, Slack has all of the benefits of both email and texting with almost none of the disadvantages.

      Reply
      1. commenter

        Be careful with Slack– their privacy and security protections aren’t the strongest. And be aware that your employer can read those messages. Also, it wouldn’t solve OP’s basic problem, which is the feeling of needing to be immediately accessible– the messages would still show up on his/her phone.

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        1. Solo

          Nah, Slack allows you to set “Do Not Disturb” mode (OP’s phone probably does too, but OP may have lots of reasons for not wanting to send DND while outside of work, including the need to be available for family.) Plus OP could temporarily uninstall/logout if OP normally stays logged in. I’m not aware of selective number-muting/blocking for text messages, although something like that might exist!

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          1. Just Allison

            If the OP has an iPhone she can also set a do not disturb to certain conversations, she could have muted all text from her boss or team while she is away. This way she still gets the messages they just aren’t interrupting her time off and she doesn’t have to install an app on her phone.

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            1. Arjay

              For me, the issue would be that I would still see the texts when I went into my messages, even without notifications. So my sister texts me something about the funeral, and right underneath it I see recent texts from the boss that are going to infiltrate my brain. I like having work messages segregated somewhere I don’t even have to know they exist when I’m not working.

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        2. hayling

          Out of curiosity, what are your concerns with Slack’s privacy and security? My company has extremely strong infosec policies and we use Slack. Yes, your employer can read your Slacks, but they can also read your work emails and Gchats. And if you have a company phone, they can read your texts too.

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          1. Celestine

            Slack has no end-to-end encryption so technically anyone at Slack can read your messages. Slack stores everything in their servers so if they get hacked (which they have in the past) who knows what got leaked. Since they save everything, Slack conversations can get subpoenaed.

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        3. K.

          Employers can read emails too. In general, I take a “Big Brother is watching” approach to work communications – that is, I assume they can see everything.

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          1. Antilles

            Right. Even if all you do is use the company’s Wi-Fi on your own personal cell phone, your actions are trackable. Read your Network Use Policy that you signed on Day 1 of your employment; it almost certainly is explicitly clear that the company reserves the right to track and record any use of company property – which includes their wireless network and Internet connection.

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            1. Monica

              I’ve never signed a Network Use Policy in any job I’ve ever had, and none of my employers have any access of legal right to access any of my communications.

              I’m not saying it doesn’t happen but it’s hardly universal.

              Reply
    3. KG, Ph.D.

      I’ve heard good things about Slack, but I had to sit in the most frustrating, time-wasting meeting recently because one person on a committee is trying to force everyone else to start using Slack for committee business, and everyone was resisting, and the person pushing it couldn’t figure out how to add everyone to channels…it was a whole thing. Not Slack’s fault, of course, but I’ll have a have time not associating it with that awful meeting in the future! Ha!

      Reply
      1. Triumphant Fox

        I think it works best when it’s used as part of a company or department’s main communication methods. I would never try to get people on a committee (especially in academia) to adopt a software just for communication. I love slack, but I would be really irritated if I only used it for a committee. It takes up space on your phone/computer and is just another thing to keep track of if you don’t use it frequently.

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        1. Annie Moose

          Yeah, my company uses Slack for our normal in-company communication, to the point that we rarely use email, so it’s very normal for us to throw up a new Slack channel or group message for whatever comes to mind. But that’s because it’s a part of our company culture and we’re used to using Slack for many other purposes already. Trying to get people to adopt it for a single project does not seem likely to succeed!

          Reply
      2. Nonprofit Lady

        yep, I’m also on a planning committee where the organizer is trying to get everyone to use slack…. FAIL.

        Reply
    4. LBG

      I really would be adverse to adding yet another communication channel that I have to monitor. Emails are fine. If you need something urgent, call. Our group just did a year long trial of an official twitter account for posting office “news,” and the overall feedback was very negative – especially since we have an official intranet site just for that purpose. I know I’m old, and a lawyer, so I like keeping things in one place and not having to check multiple accounts for information. Plus I don’t have an office cell phone/tablet, and don’t want to use my personal cell for work purposes – electronic discovery is difficult enough without adding personal computers/devices.

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      1. paul

        One of the biggest pains in my ass dealing with other organizations is how many different communication channels different organizations use to disseminate information. Email, group texts, slack, etc…it gets old. Why we all can’t agree to *one* channel of communication with each other is beyond me.

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        1. Jules the Third

          Because different tasks work better with different modes of communication. Sometimes, you don’t want to call someone up or set up a meeting with them, and sometimes you need more discussion than you can get in emails.

          Need to explore an issue in-depth with multiple people? Meetings.
          Quick non-urgent question? Email
          Request for detailed data? I’d use email, but clearly this co uses text.
          Quick time-sensitive question? Instant message (slack / im / text)

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        2. Runner

          OMG even outside of work it’s crazy how one family member only uses texting, while one cousin only wants to communicate with Facebook Messenger (which I truly can’t stand to use), etc.

          Reply
      2. TardyTardis

        Slack at our tax office works very well, because we have different channels for different things that are monitored by supervisors, and you want them to be–when a client is doing something Extremely Weird with their Schedule A, it’s easy to go onto the channel unbeknownst to the client and explain your little problem, and then someone who really understands how weird it is (or in some cases, actually Not Weird) can type back fairly quickly ‘no, he can’t deduct the llama, but he can deduct the teapots Because Reasons’ on the Schedule A channel.

        Reply
      1. Marshmellin

        OP might have trouble with that. For me, it’s hard to pretend that kind of stuff — if I see it, it will get a reaction out of me.

        Reply
  2. Naptime Enthusiast

    I’m so sorry about your loss.

    I believe another option that you can use for the late night texts is to set your phone on Do Not Disturb, with certain contacts (family, friends, SO, etc) as exceptions. I know it is an option for phone calls at least, and I think it works for texts as well. I’m sure others can confirm or correct me.

    Reply
      1. Specialk9

        Yes! I have DND scheduled every night at a certain time, till a certain time. A few people have break-through privilege, but only if they can be trusted not to call or text late or early.

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        1. Happy Lurker

          This. Schedule your DND time. Just because boss is a flake doesn’t mean you have to see it at all hours of the night.
          Agree with all the posters above. Email is a professional work tool, or can be. I feel texting is best left to the personal realm. I cannot imagine trying to keep track of instructions and deliverables via text. Texting in the workplace should be limited to immediate issues. “I am stuck outside the building without my keys.” My personal phone is mine, just like my time off.
          *shudder* flaky bosses, ugh.

          Reply
          1. Julia the Survivor

            I’ve had to learn to keep track of instructions and deliverables via text because my boss loves texting and doesn’t read his emails.
            I take screen shots of the texts and email them to myself, and print them out if necessary. I also email them to my personal email so there’s record of his instructions if it’s ever questioned.
            It’s not efficient, but he’s in charge of my work time and apparently wants me to use it this way…

            Reply
    1. LiterallyPapyrus

      This. My boss is a lot like OP’s boss, in that he prefers text as the primary mode of communication. I’ve learned to live with this, but as he too forgets my schedule or when I’m on PTO vs working out of the office, I’ve just gotten into the habit of putting all communication from him on do not disturb while I’m out. I also un-sync my work email from my phone while i’m on vacation which has been such a sanity saver for me.

      If it’s deeply urgent Apple’s Do Not Disturb feature will ring if the same person calls 3 times in a row, so I never worry about missing something super important while i’m out.

      Reply
    2. LQ

      Strong second on the dnd or mute the conversations from her. This is a really good way to handle it, especially if your boss isn’t expecting a response.

      Reply
    3. TheCupcakeCounter

      Yes it works for text and emails. My husband’s phone is a work phone and he is on call 24/7 so needs to have the ringer on but doesn’t want to get alerts about texts and emails at night. He set DND up just for email and text from 10pm to 6am.

      Reply
    4. Jules the Third

      It’s a pain to do this manually, but I’ve heard there’s apps that can schedule settings changes. I keep meaning to look into this, to have my cell forward to my office phone if I’m at a certain location. The manual change is getting old.

      If I had to do more than three button pushes, it would not work for me as a regular thing.

      Reply
  3. The Person from the Resume

    Can you put her on do not disturb mode, ignore, or mute late at night or when you’re off.

    I would hate to work for someone who used texts this way, but she’s the boss and she gets to choose her preferred method of communication.

    I’m a volunteer and our group uses IM for work and I hate it because it’s so easy to miss things and so hard to go back and find things or search the interminable thread for past info. At least MS Lync conversations can be archived and searched later.

    Reply
    1. K.

      Yeah, the late-night texts here bother me more than the day-of-funeral texts since the latter was to an entire group. I have my phone set to Do Not Disturb mode from 11 PM – 7 AM Sunday – Thursday, with a handful of contacts set as exceptions (all of whom are family – if they’re calling or texting me at 1 AM, it IS an emergency).

      Reply
      1. LQ

        (Slightly off topic, but I recently learned why we turned off the history feature and it made me glad to know so I’m going to share. If we have the history it’s a record has to be maintained, archived, can be used in lawsuits etc etc. Your company may have very good reasons to not have history on.)

        Reply
        1. JHunz

          Seems to me that “we turned off history specifically so we could avoid future discovery of these electronic messages” would not be an answer that would particularly impress a judge.

          Reply
          1. a different Vicki

            It depends on the kind of organization, I suspect. Most public libraries are deliberately not keeping records of what people borrow (after they return those items), because existing records can be subpoena’d, but no law requires them to keep records.

            Yes, some companies and organizations are required to keep records, but those requirements may fall short of “including everything any two of your employees say to each other in any format.” What you have to keep, and what you have to disclose if it exists, are not the same thing.

            I am, of course, not a llama.

            Reply
            1. dragonzflame

              Interesting, when I worked in a public library it recorded all previous issues. People loved it because you could set it to alert when they’d already borrowed an item. There’d have been hell to pay from some of the oldies if they’d nixed that feature! I’m not in the US though so maybe it’s different there.

              Reply
          2. Judy (since 2010)

            Every company I’ve worked for had a records retention policy. They’re usually like this: Drawings used to produce an object: stored forever. Project artifacts used to create items (source code, CAD models or project reports): 2 x product life. Project notes, emails, etc: 2 years after start of production.

            Beyond not having piles of stuff around, this is mainly to limit discovery. You don’t want an offhand comment coming up in 30 years.

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          3. Lynn Whitehat

            I once attended a seminar that was advertised to be about keeping track of all your organization’s documents. In fact, the whole thing was laser-focused on making sure you don’t keep a single thing one second longer than required by law. The things I was interested in, like how do you label or tag things across different media so you can find what you’re looking for later, were not touched on.

            Reply
    2. The OG Anonsie

      I suggested this as well below, but I just had a realization– when someone I have on DND messages me as part of a group chat, I still get a notification because of the rest of the chat. So even if she had done this, the chat still would have pinged her when the other people replied. And to be totally fair, she didn’t realize until this that she needed to put her manager on DND at the time anyway.

      I still assume this was an accident on the manager’s part and, though I know why the LW was hurt by it regardless.

      It can be really frustrating when something like this happens because you my not be able to turn your phone ENTIRELY to DND. When I was on bereavement leave recently I couldn’t have my phone silenced or DND’d because I had to field a lot of calls from a lot of sources whose numbers I may not have known. Various numbers from the medical examiner’s office, funeral home, all arrangement of family members and friends of family members who received my number through the grapevine. It’s easy to say “you should ___ your phone if you don’t want to be reached” but you often need to be reachable when you’re on leave from work.

      Reply
  4. Snarkus Aurelius

    My former boss forgot I was on vacation for two weeks and sent me a whole bunch of emails and a couple of nastygrams.

    I was really on my honeymoon, but I’d kept my wedding a secret to the bosses so they never knew I got married until I quit. Not that it should have mattered!

    Anyway, yes he forgot, and, no it ended up not being a big deal.

    Reply
      1. Solo

        A message that expresses the sender’s displeasure and/or threatens adverse consequences to the recipient.

        Reply
      1. TheCupcakeCounter

        Not sure if this is their reasoning but I’ve had a couple of coworkers hide their weddings for a couple of different reasons. One hid it because it was her 4th marriage and she was marrying a coworker and while it wasn’t explicitly forbidden it was most definitely frowned upon because of their working relationship. She didn’t have any plans to change her name or change any insurance/beneficiary information and he was looking for another job at the time. It came out after he left the company.
        We just found out a coworker married her partner last summer. She had concerns because she is in a same sex relationship and we live in a very conservative area (not the deep south). Apparently this is a thing because I have heard a few other stories from friends that are somewhat similar.

        Reply
        1. Snarkus Aurelius

          Something similar happened on Say Yes to the Dress. A woman was getting married in two days and then flying to Paris while wearing her dress. [Cue the fake freakout.] Anyway, she said she had been dating a coworker for five years, and they decided to get married quietly in Central Park and honeymoon in Paris. She said NO ONE at their workplace knew they were dating. They had kept it a secret for so long. They had separately asked for vacation time that week. They were going to announce it after they got back from Paris.

          This is literally the only episode I’ve ever liked of that show.

          Reply
      2. Manders

        I’m not Snarkus Aurelius, but I kept quiet about my upcoming wedding for a long time at work. While weddings are happy events, sometimes the exact circumstances are tough to talk about (when you’re scheduling around a family member’s illness or impending death, when you can’t have the kind of party you want because you’re on a tight budget, when you’re estranged from your family, when the wedding is rushed because of your partner’s immigration status, etc.) and being constantly asked questions about your wedding at work can become extremely painful.

        This boss already sounds like he has some issues managing appropriately and remembering his employees have lives, so I understand not wanting to add more personal details into the mix.

        Reply
        1. a different Vicki

          I married my long-term partner on short notice because of medical news and possible concerns about legal next of kin (that was in the last century, and we’re fine). I didn’t tell anyone at work until afterwards because I didn’t want to discuss reasons, and because we were doing this for legal reasons, but not to create or celebrate a change in the relationship.

          So I took a day off, went down to City Hall, and when someone asked “how was your day off?” I said something like “Cool, I got married.” They got me a cake, and when asked I just said that it was a recent decision, and that we’d scheduled around my mother being in town (both of which were true).

          Reply
      3. Snarkus Aurelius

        I wasn’t getting along with my two big bosses. They had made it literally impossible to go to them about anything because they’d turn argumentative and combative. My big boss even snapped at me once when I made a comment about the weather.

        I had made a not so great but not so bad mistake, but the big boss had a target on my back since that day. She never let up.

        Because of all that, I didn’t feel comfortable disclosing my upcoming wedding, especially as I didn’t want her to give me anything. She traditionally did. It would have been so awkward.

        I wish I’d known about AAM back then. I would have definitely written in for help!

        Reply
      4. Lemon Zinger

        Personally, I keep my personal and professional lives separate, and would not talk to my boss about it if I were getting married.

        Reply
      1. Snarkus Aurelius

        No but I did playfully bring it up at the going away party I didn’t want. I was asked to give my best and worst memory. That was the worst, but I made sure to tell it with a smile on my face. Plus everyone at the party knew what happened anyway.

        The boss who had been emailing me felt bad, but he never apologized. (Also, it shouldn’t matter that I was on my honeymoon. Vacation is vacation.)

        Reply
  5. CM

    Wow. I would not deal well with a boss like that at all. I absolutely hate texting and having my boss text me at midnight about something non urgent would drive me up a wall. I agree with Alison that the text during the funeral is not the real problem since it was a group text and she was essentially using it like e-mail (which would have been fine). I once had a boss e-mail me right before I had surgery to ask me to do something for her. She was mortified when I reminded her that I was at the hospital.

    Reply
    1. shep

      Ugh, yeah, this is the worst. When I was very new to the work world, I let my boss basically walk all over me–late-night texts, calls about work that in retrospect I should’ve been compensated for, etc. (She was likewise pretty new to the work world. While I liked her as a person, she was a TERRIBLE boss. Part of it was (hopefully) just lack of experience, but part of it was also definitely a lack of boundaries.)

      Reply
  6. Wannabe Disney Princess

    If you can remember to umute, just mute her when you don’t want to be available. I do it on my phone all the time. I actually have texts muted and phone calls not (nobody calls me – unless it’s an emergency*). I’ll also just mute specific people. It’s been a godsend if I don’t want to be disturbed by everyone every second of every day..

    *or a GrubHub delivery driver who can’t find my apartment

    Reply
  7. Why Oh Why Does this keep happening?

    I have a policy of not replying to my boss’s emails outside of work hours. If she’s had a busy day and can’t get to her to-do list until 9:00 p.m. that’s her problem, not mine.

    Last Thursday she emailed at 9:00 p.m. to say she would be on vacation the next day & throughout this week. I had sent several emails promising to follow up “tomorrow” which of course was impractical.

    Then she decided she’d handle one of them at an airport layover. I didn’t reply. I hadn’t done the work because I thought she’d be gone, and she didn’t give me a specific time. She just said she’d have some time between flights. I wouldn’t voluntarily email someone who is traveling for the same reasons I didn’t reply to her last week: I don’t expect someone to give my email full attention on their day off when they’re surrounded by strangers and a PA system & a bunch of TVs blaring at them. After ignoring me for over a month, she decided to be my supervisor from a distance with a time constraint. Uhhhh, no thank you.

    Unless the person regularly travels on business for business, I wouldn’t expect them to do their job remotely.

    I think in LW’s case I’d think of it as being kept in the loop rather than being commanded to show up at a meeting during a funeral. I’m on a few committees and we all regularly cc: the rest of the members no matter what could be going on with them that day.

    Reply
    1. LouiseM

      I don’t get this. Your boss gets to decide whether or not she wants to work remotely. It might be annoying for you, or less convenient, but it makes sense that someone would decide to get a bit of work done at an airport. I do it all the time. It’s not very unusual.

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        Yeah. I liked the part about not getting sucked into being on the hook 24/7, that’s excellent boundary setting.

        But trying to to dictate to your boss when they can work, especially based on your prediction of how much they’re concentrating on your emails, is stepping pretty far over a boundary, yourself. Simply put, not your right, not appropriate, and more broadly not a good work habit

        And as an aside, expecting a manager to give your emails full attention seems unrealistic, as a rule. It’s just not how the world works.

        Reply
      2. Why Oh Why Does this keep happening?

        She’s a very disorganized person, and it’s very difficult working for her. I have decided to set my boundaries for my sanity.

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        1. rich tea

          If I was your boss, your “boundaries” would be understood as manipulation and insubordination, and you’d be fired. Maybe you should be glad your boss sucks, it might be what’s keeping you employed.

          Reply
    2. caledonia

      I am another person – as are many, many people I know – who work their 35-37.5 hours a week and switch off.

      I’m an admin. Sure, sometimes people send me stuff outside of 9-5 am. But I am not on the clock then. The only time I have logged into my work emails were a) to put on my out of office when I was sick for longer than I thought and b) this last week to check if my workplace was open or not due to the bad weather. I do not respond to emails – in fact, I would get into serious trouble if I did.

      Reply
    3. Penny Lane

      It’s completely and utterly normal for people to work on planes or in airports, even on vacation days. Honestly, what better time to get to something than when you can focus on it and don’t have people breathing down your back?

      Reply
    4. Elizabeth H.

      I’m having trouble understanding your middle paragraph about “After ignoring me for over a month, she decided to be my supervisor from a distance with a time constraint” – it sounds like you had planned to work on a project and discuss it with her on Friday, but then abandoned that plan after she said she would be on vacation, and then were unprepared when she followed up on the project while she was gone? It sounds more like a miscommunication or like you didn’t make your plans or expectations clear, and maybe not great that you didn’t reply to her at that point.

      It also seems pretty discrepant that you are frustrated with your boss emailing you outside of work hours (why have a ‘policy of not replying’? she probably doesn’t expect this from you) yet find it reasonable for the LW to regard this as simply being kept in the loop while she’s away and for you to do the same thing with committee members. I don’t really get it.

      Reply
      1. Why Oh Why Does this keep happening?

        Well, the thing she emailed me about is rather complex, and I checked with the person it will eventually be delivered to and it’s not that urgent. (And that person already told my boss that) Also, she didn’t give me a specific time, just “early in the day,” which is my busy time. I couldn’t possibly have finished it anyway.

        Being kept in the loop is different from being emailed about a work-in-progress with an expectation of a reply showing work being done.

        I plan to discuss this with my boss when she returns. Not necessarily that one email, but her habit of cancelling appointments with me and never sharing her vacation plans and then requiring me to submit everything to her for her to micromanage. It’s just not practical.

        Reply
    5. I'm Not Phyllis

      This wouldn’t fly where I work … so I guess it depends on your job. My boss has reasonable expectations and wouldn’t expect me to work late at night, but if he were to send me questions while he’s offsite he’d expect a reply if it was within working hours. If I only replied to him when he was in the office, that would mean I’d only be willing to communicate with him about 50% of the time, which wouldn’t be feasible. But like I said – depends on your job and your office culture!

      Reply
      1. Why Oh Why Does this keep happening?

        This is the first time she’s ever done this. She doesn’t travel for the job, just vacations & occasional conferences.

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    6. Mediamaven

      It’s a bit unreasonable for you to mandate that your boss answer emails or work only when you think she should. You don’t have to answer but she has the right to work when she wants.

      Reply
    7. LBK

      I’m having trouble understanding the situation…so you didn’t do the work on Friday after saying you would because you thought she would be out of the office? And then you weren’t prepared for her to actually email you on Friday after saying she would be out?

      Reply
    8. Kittymommy

      Yeah this would get me fired. I’m exempt, so it might be a little different, but blatantly disregarding direction from my boss and deciding the timeline on my own (which is how I’m understanding this, I may be misreading), I’d be done.

      Reply
    9. Agent Diane

      So your boss knew she had several emails from you to deal with, and picked one up during airport waiting time? And you’re not dealing with her response to you because she is on leave?

      When I go on leave, I know I’m going to be leaving some emails hanging, and that this can prevent my team progressing work. If I’m off for a week I can promise you I will be dealing with some of those emails in the boring bits of travelling because I want to help you be productive rather than you sitting there cussing me for not replying and vanishing for a week. It also enables me to stop stressing that I’ve let a team member down, which in turn allows me to switch off properly.

      So you may want to recalibrate your attitude to that situation.

      Reply
      1. Penny Lane

        Agent Diane is exactly right. That’s what professionals who take their jobs seriously do — if they have downtime at the airport or whatever, they move things along by responding to emails, clarifying questions, etc. instead of just having everyone twiddle their fingers for a week. That is Standard Operating Procedure where I am. No one expects you to spend your entire vacation on email, but really, when you’re sitting at an airport sucking down your Starbucks and waiting for a flight, it’s just no big deal to open a phone and process a few messages.

        Reply
    10. Yorick

      This is inappropriate. If your boss or coworker emails you outside of your work hours, you can wait to reply. But during work hours, you need to be working, regardless of whether they’re in the office or not.

      Reply
  8. Rahera

    If she remembered you were out, which her apology text would suggest, perhaps she was keeping you in the loop as usual, and assumed you would have your phone switched off during the funeral and reception.

    Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      Yeah, I think that the fact the text messages were addressed to the whole group makes this slightly less egregious, though I understand why OP is frustrated.

      Reply
    2. Jen S. 2.0

      Agree with this. If it was something that concerned you, this was a case of “She should be in the loop on this, and she’ll see it when she next checks her phone, since I’m sure she’ll mute her phone if she’s somewhere that it’s inappropriate to be disturbed,” and not a case of “I want her to pay attention to this now and reply immediately, even if it means interrupting the funeral.” A little annoying, sure, but really not a deal breaker. Although you were not at work that day for a terribly sad reason, the work didn’t stop.

      Reply
  9. Robin Sparkles

    Yes agree with Alison that I don’t see anything inappropriate here. I think the mode of communication is annoying though but it’s nothing to get upset with her about. You could suggest a different communication method that is similar but not quite as intrusive as texting but realize the change is hard and takes time – so be prepared to have her continue to text until she can learn to use whatever platform you all decide. And yes, the group is going to sound better than you alone. How do your coworkers feel about her texting?
    And people already gave great suggestions on muting her.

    Reply
    1. Jen S. 2.0

      I’m not even sure about a different communication mode. That’s like saying, “I know you replied-all to the team, but I don’t read emails until noon; could you call me instead if there’s an important message at 9:45?” No, you’ll just see the message at noon. I feel it’s LW’s responsibility to silence her phone or mute messages if she’s not in an appropriate space to receive them, not everyone else’s responsibility to figure out and remember exactly when she is where, even for a particularly difficult and emotional one-off like this. I silence my phone at the theater; I don’t expect everyone else to remember that I mentioned that I have a subscription to the opera and this Wednesday night is La Traviata.

      Reply
      1. Penny Lane

        This is somewhat akin to the person who received a job rejection on Christmas Day; it wasn’t personal, it was likely that it was “bundled” that all rejections go out the third Monday of the month or whatever. If you want to be unavailable, be unavailable – though I do agree “being unavailable” is easier with email, where you have to sign it to get in, versus texts, which really do interrupt you.

        Reply
    2. Robin Sparkles

      I meant changing her department to new mode (it’s why I asked how her coworkers feel and that a group is going to sound better)- not just herself -that wouldn’t be appropriate no.

      Reply
  10. Mediamaven

    I really dislike texting for anything other than for casual conversation so that would drive me insane.

    That said, I think another way to look at it is that just because you took the day off doesn’t mean she took the day off. She needs to send communication as business necessitates and that might be when you are out. If the expectation that you reply when you return there isn’t much you can do about it. I do think it’s insensitive to send nasty grams when someone is out or over the weekend but you can’t tell someone NOT to do that.

    Reply
    1. Snark

      I agree on both points. Using texting for stuff like “why didn’t we meet our targets” is really, really annoying, and people who are “bad with staying caught up on email” piss me off. And I even think business communications outside business hours are to be avoided if it can possibly be helped, just to avoid putting that on-call pressure on people.

      But you can’t schedule every business communication around when someone is out, and if you can’t be disturbed during something in normal business hours, it’s on you to mute it and ignore it.

      Reply
      1. Parenthetically

        I frankly think “bad at email” is inexcusable for a manager. Keeping on top of your inbox is like a 101-level skill in that kind of role.

        Reply
        1. Lora

          Agree. Managers get a lot of nonsense in our inboxes, but setting up alerts and filters is one of the first things you do as soon as you get a handle on which magical phrases and senders are to be attended to.

          OP, most likely your boss has come to the conclusion that “people pay attention to texts but less to emails” and decided to send the group texts assuming you’d ignore it, and similarly assuming that you wouldn’t check email while you were away, but she figured she would send you things while you were out so she wouldn’t forget to fwd it to you – that way it would be ready when you got back.

          Reply
      2. Yorick

        Even email isn’t great for “why didn’t we meet our targets?” That seems like a meeting to me.

        Reply
      3. The OG Anonsie

        Yeah, while I also assume the manager just sent this to everyone without thinking about it, this is still a super bad way for her to have been handling this. A group text callout for missed targets, plus or minus the demand for explanations also via text, does not seem like a constructive way to have this conversation in the slightest.

        Reply
    2. myswtghst

      Agreed. It sounds like text is the boss’s preferred method of communication, so LW’s best bet may be to adapt to that by finding ways to ignore texts from the boss on days off, be that by muting notifications or something else. It’s unfortunate this happened while the LW was at a funeral, but it’s likely something that will happen again in the future when the LW is off work for other reasons, so it might make sense to prepare for that.

      My boss works a lot of long / odd hours, and I try to remember that just because she’s emailing me at 9pm doesn’t mean she expects a response at 9pm – it just means that was when she had a few minutes of downtime and remembered to email me. I’m fortunate that I have a work cell phone (separate from my personal cell phone), so only my work cell phone is getting texts and push notifications about work stuff, and can be left on silent in my computer bag at night, to be dealt with next business day.

      Reply
  11. Ms. Mad Scientist

    Oh dear. This is my boss. He doesn’t remember anything. I ask him for the time off, I write it down on a whiteboard in the lab…and he still forgets I’m off.

    Reply
    1. Snark

      He chooses not to remember it, if my experience dealing with the effortful preciousness of academics is any guide.

      Reply
      1. Higher Ed Database Dork

        “effortful preciousness of academics”

        I am laughing so hard at this…and also crying a little. I don’t work with professors nearly as much as I used to and I’m so glad about that!

        Reply
    2. MLB

      I hope you choose to not respond when you’re out. Unless you’re in a position that requires you to put out fires immediately, you’re just giving him more fuel to ignore the fact that you’re off.

      I email people when they’re off sometimes, but more of an FYI, or a ‘”non-urgent thing when you get back” but I don’t want to forget about it. And there are certain people who ALWAYS reply and honestly it kind of pisses ME off when they do that because it makes me feel a bit guilty (which I shouldn’t because they made the decision to email back). It’s their day off and I’m not expecting a response, and my email even says so, but some people just can’t let go. I turn my work email notifications when I take time off. If it’s a true emergency that needs my attention, they know how to reach me.

      Reply
  12. FieldBiologist

    >I’ll never understand why some people use texting like emailing in a work context

    When I worked as a field biologist, we had a group text that was setup through some sort of system that allow ALL of us to text the group number, and it was clear it was from us, but it had the format of a non-group text. So, it didn’t use data like a group text, since it rerouted all of our texts and labelled them as from us. Lots of us worked in places with almost no phone service, so it was really the only reliable way to talk to a group all at once!

    It seems less relevant here, though, I suspect it was just a honest mistake when the boss sent it to the group address.

    Reply
  13. Natalie

    Does your phone allow you to adjust settings for a specific contact? If so, you could mute notifications from your boss when you are going to be out or give her a unique notification tone so you don’t feel interrupted by her. If necessary, you can make a point to check for messages from her during designated times, much as you might check work emails but not have push notifications.

    Reply
  14. Thlayli

    If you don’t already have one, ask your boss for a work phone. Use your work phone exclusively for work, and get a personal phone for yourself. Switch off or at least mute the work phone during days off and at whatever time makes sense to you in the evenings. Problem solved.

    Reply
    1. Trout 'Waver

      Totally agree here. If your boss is texting you assignments, your job requires a work cell phone.

      Reply
    2. LBK

      I’m skeptical that the solution will be so simple – I think it’s rare that a job that’s willing to give you a phone wouldn’t do it by default. I’d be really surprised if this request were approved.

      Reply
      1. Robin Sparkles

        Yeah siding with LBK – if this is not the norm – not sure what you can do. Also – is your boss just texting you or are you expected to check emails and read documents on your phone (I am). If so, you may not be able to get a work phone but you have a far strong case for it.

        Reply
        1. Specialk9

          Wait, does your work not pay you for BYOD (bring your own device)? I get $70 a month towards my phone plan.

          Reply
          1. Robin Sparkles

            They do pay actually -rather I get a massive discount. Ideally- they prefer I use a company phone. I opted to keep my personal phone +discount. Hm…wonder if I can count this towards taxes…

            Reply
      2. Thlayli

        TBH I suspect OP already has a work phone – if the boss is requiring her to use her personal phone for work then at the very least her employer should be subsiding her bill!

        Either way, whether it means requesting a work phone or purchasing a personal phone, the only way OP will get any separation between work and Home is to have two separate phones.

        If for some reason boss refused to provide a work phone I actually think it would be worthwhile in this scenario to get a second phone for personal use – you can get very cheap pay as you go SIM cards and either get an old phone unlocked or buy a low cost contract free phone. You don’t have to break the bank, and it would be well worth it to get some work-free hours in the day.

        Reply
        1. LBK

          TBH I suspect OP already has a work phone – if the boss is requiring her to use her personal phone for work then at the very least her employer should be subsiding her bill!

          IME work paying for your personal phone is far from a given even if they expect you to use it for work, and I’d venture even less so at a non-profit.

          Reply
    3. Goya de la Mancha

      Since it’s a non-profit, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that’s a no go?

      But there are programs like Google Voice which give you a new number for calls/texts in an App, which I believe when you have it closed out, will not notify your phone (mines always on, so not sure). I highly recommend something like this for people who are unable to get work phones, but don’t want to give out their personal number to co-workers, customers, students, etc.

      Reply
      1. myswtghst

        I wondered about something like Google Voice, if a work cell phone wasn’t an option. In my experience, most apps let you choose how notifications work (push/pull, muting during certain days/times, etc…) so it might be worth exploring that more to try to manage future texts.

        Reply
    4. Jess

      I was assuming that it WAS work phone, and was wondering why she didn’t leave it at home if she was off on a personal day.

      If it’s not, then yes, she should ask for a work phone if possible.

      (Also, I don’t see anything wrong with the boss texting – annoying, but I would imagine any text-based communication would be like work emails – the boss may be sending them as she thinks of them, but with no expectation they will be seen/addressed until the person is back on “work time”.)

      Reply
    5. [insert witty user name here]

      I agree with this – if you’re expected to use texting as a means of work communication, you should be provided with a work phone. Then keep work phone and personal phone separate.

      However – especially in the non-profit world (of which I’ve never worked), I’m sure they can’t afford to provide phones for all staff. So I hope this isn’t too much of a thread-jack, but how reasonable is it to push back on not using a personal resource (your personal cell phone) for work things (all industries)? I use my cell phone for work when I work from home (since we don’t have a house line) but I don’t actively give out the number (I set my office phone to forward to my cell when I’m home). The folks I’m closest with have my cell number and we OCCASIONALLY text about work stuff, but if there was an *expectation* that I were to be texting *regularly* for work (which would drive me crazy but is another issue), I would not want to do so with my personal phone. How much of an expectation is it these days that your cell phone is up for grabs for work use?

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        My company subsidises one’s personal phone ($70/month like I mentioned upthread), but then you have to install their apps for email, cloud access and programs you use regularly (Word, Excel, etc). And they can remote wipe your phone, though I’ve never heard of them doing that to anyone I’ve known.

        So it’s a bit of loss of privacy but I can basically work from wherever, or go run an errand without missing something I’m waiting for. The other plus side is that I don’t have to carry two heavy and bulky phones – I did that for years at my old jobs, and I have skeletal problems so I noticed the weight in my purse.

        Reply
  15. Snark

    This is an ongoing project of mine, and one I am more successful with at some times than others, but internalizing that people generally don’t mean things personally – even stuff that seems really personal! – is a good prescription for enhanced mental health.

    Reply
  16. Cordoba

    This doesn’t strike me as anything to be upset about, especially since it was a whole-group text.

    I use a Google Voice number to separate my work contacts from personal contacts on the same piece of hardware. It is free and works great.

    This way you can have different notifications for different groups, and turn the work group notifications off on weekends/funerals if desired.

    Voice also has the advantage of not requiring the other people to do anything different in a text-heavy workplace; they just text a phone number like always and you manage it however you want. Much easier to implement than trying to drag the whole office onto Slack or whatever.

    Voice also lets you see and respond to texts on any device with internet access, being able to use my laptop screen and keyboard is helpful when dealing with people who like to send and receive loooooooong texts in place of emails.

    Reply
    1. The Other Dawn

      UGH my previous comment got eaten!

      Anyway, I agree with you. I don’t think there’s anything to be upset about. It seems like a genuine mistake that the boss texted that late at night and forgot OP was out. It happens. I’ve done it and so has my boss. And it’s definitely not on the level of going to HR about; it would be a weird escalation for an innocent mistake. Also, unless OP sees evidence that the boss has unreasonable expectations that she’s available 24/7 and will respond to any and all texts no matter the time of day or circumstance, I wouldn’t mention this at all. Not even as a pre-emptive, “Hey I’ll be out and would appreciate you not texting me.” It just seems to me likes it’s looking for a problem where none exists.

      OP should look into the Google Voice option if it really bothers her this much. (I had no it existed until reading this thread!)

      Reply
  17. Rusty Shackelford

    If your manager is like a lot of people who uses group texts, she didn’t create a new one and deliberately send it to you while you were at a funeral. She replied to a group text that already existed. Creating a new group that didn’t include you would have been extra work. So yes, I can see why this upset you, but don’t think of it as “my boss texted me while I was at a funeral.” Think of it as “my boss texted all of her employees, and I happened to be at a funeral at the time.”

    (Although I find the idea of conducting work via text kind of horrifying!)

    Reply
    1. Penny Lane

      Yeah. I would think it’s self-evident that she responded to a group text that already existed, in which case it’s a little entitled of the OP to think that the manager should have manually reentered everyone else other than her.

      Reply
    2. Turquoisecow

      Yeah, it sounds to me like she sent a group text to a whole group of people (to whom she normally texts as a group), possibly as a reply to a previous group text, but not thinking “oh, I need to leave OP off because she’s at a funeral.”

      I’ve never communicated with my bosses by text, but there are often group emails I’m included on that I wouldn’t be expected to reply to while out (for any reason), and I wouldn’t expect the sender(s) to take me off just because I wasn’t in. Also, if I was sending a group email, I wouldn’t expect someone who was not in to reply to it if they were out for a funeral, I’d just figure they’d get back to it when they returned.

      It’s a bit more intrusive as a text vs email, but some people get (work) email notifications on their phones, so I could see that being annoying as well. If your boss keeps texting late at night/on weekends/when you’re on vacation/bereavement/sick leave, then putting her on mute when you leave the office might be a good idea (assuming you don’t have anything you need to do after hours). I rarely check my work email when I’m not in the office, and when I do, I rarely reply. Treat these texts the same way.

      Reply
    3. LBK

      Or even if she did create a new group, the converse problem would be “I missed important work information because my boss didn’t include me on a group text since I was out of the office.” I think all things considered, the OP probably did want to be in the loop on that info, so it’s better to have received it at an inconvenient time than to not have received it at all.

      Reply
    4. Goya de la Mancha

      “Think of it as “my boss texted all of her employees, and I happened to be at a funeral at the time.””

      yup, this.

      Reply
  18. Bea

    I think this is just having a different preferred mode if communication. If she had CCed you in emails that you arrived back to,I sense it would be less intrusive to you.

    I get that and your emotionally exhausted with your loss, so it’s more of a frustrating drain then you’re able to shoulder right now.

    I’ve had a boss who texts and got those late night messages before. But I always have my phone on vibrate and have friends in different area codes so it never phased me.

    I also had a jerk who expected me connected to my work email at all times on my mobile device. Being salary and management I couldn’t make a case for not accepting that condition and didn’t fight it.

    Sadly if you have these kinds of differences with a supervisor it’s something you’ll have to deal with. Unless you’re hourly and should be paid for the outside hours that should be clocked it’s a condition of employment and going to HR will get you nowhere you want to be.

    Reply
  19. Casuan

    OP, I’m sorry about your friend!

    She is very hands-off and flaky, but extremely numbers-oriented and goal-driven. She doesn’t respond well to emails and often ends up communicating solely via text.

    The good news here is that your supervisor seems to be a bit self-aware & it was nice she sent you an apology to her late-night text, however even those with the best intentions can get texting wrong.

    From your description, I doubt it’s worth asking your supervisor to mind her communiqués during your off hours because I don’t think positive results would last for more than a few weeks. A manager shouldn’t have to consult a list to determine who is out & not, so I can understand the group texts. And if she prefers texting to email, then that’s her prerogative.

    I don’t understand why she thinks it’s appropriate to text at 11:30pm on any night unless that’s part of your job or prearranged, there’s compensation &or the device is company-issued. This is something you can address with her & if possible it’s best to do it as a group. Keep in mind that a group text at 11:30am on a weekday is different than a group text at night. If she persists, the easiest solution is to mute one’s devices from work contacts &or to set up a scheduled Do Not Disturb. If needed, set a reminder alert for when to mute a conversation. One can text to & from email, although you’d need to be certain to check your email for time-sensitive “texts.” Probably the texts-email isn’t too feasible, although I wanted to mention the option.

    Reply
  20. Magenta Sky

    I suspect she was using a feature that has shown up on iPhones lately (and maybe Android phones, too) where you can set up a distribution list for texts. In other words, I suspect she didn’t send the texts to *you*, but rather, to the list, while forgetting you would get them, too. You often get all the replies, too, as the default seems to be “reply to all.”

    It’s a really annoying feature (to everyone else) that belongs in email (which you can also do on your smart phone, but some people are OCD about using texting, no matter what), not in texting.

    Reply
  21. foolofgrace

    Rather than asking the boss to not text you while you’re away or at night, which she may or may not remember and may or may not take issue with, I would be more comfortable saying “I won’t really be available [‘while I’m away’ / ‘after X pm’] to respond to texts, I hope you understand, unless it’s something we’ve already set up.” This way you’re not telling the boss what to do, but rather saying what YOU will do should the issue arise. Otherwise I agree with all the good advice here.

    Reply
    1. myswtghst

      This is a good point. It might be worth clarifying with the boss what her expectations are when she texts while you’re out. If her expectations are reasonable and normal (i.e. you don’t need to respond til you’re back “on the clock”), the LW can feel comfortable finding ways to mute/ignore her texts until she’s back at work.

      For example, saying something like “I noticed you texted a few times while I was out of the office, and just wanted to make sure I understand your expectations if this happens in the future. I’m assuming you’re not expecting me to respond until I’m back at work, is that correct?” and paying attention to her response. If she says “Of course you’re not expected to respond!” then all is well, but if she says “Of course I expect you to respond ASAP!” then you know it might be time to try to reset her expectations / talk to HR / look for a new job.

      Reply
  22. Leatherwings

    Sooo I was this boss once. I had a management team of me and two others just below me, and an employee told one of the other managers but not me she was going to be out for her Grandmother’s funeral. Wires got crossed and I never heard about the funeral, and ended up texting her day-of asking her where she was.

    My management team implemented a new system to make sure I heard about absences in the future, but it didn’t fix the fact that I interrupted a funeral I should have known about.

    I felt awful about it, and you’re entitled to be pissed. But I do think it helps to know your boss likely didn’t intend to interrupt a funeral. The boss is clueless and needs to do better, but it’s not quite as awful/malicious as the boss who left a note for an employee at her family members’ gravestone or something.

    Reply
    1. EvilQueenRegina

      Something similar happened at my job before last. This one employee had some relative’s funeral, and he’d agreed the day off with Boss, but it somehow happened that due to some snafu it wasn’t recorded anywhere, and Boss happened to be out that day himself. Grandboss thought the employee had no call no showed, and rang him at home. His nephew answered and said “It’s So and so’s funeral today and you have just interrupted the wake!”Again, it was a genuine accident and she didn’t mean to interrupt it.

      Reply
  23. LBK

    FWIW, if I’m going to type something out on my phone, I prefer to do it via text rather than email. I find the iMessage UI much more conducive to having a conversation than any email app I’ve used – threading works infinitely better. It’s obviously not the right solution all the time but if the manager is on the go and therefore works from her phone often, I can kinda understand why she’s defaulting to texting.

    Reply
  24. Not a dr

    Op, I have been where you are. My manager tried to call me twice, and texted asking where I was, during my grandfathers funeral.
    The next time she saw me she apologized, told me my coworker reminded her where I was. She obviously just forgot – she is a very busy woman. Your boss may not apologize, but her forgetting is not about you. It’s about her being too busy for her own good and not checking the schedule.

    If it stings a lot it may be because you are misatributing anger from other things she does. But if a good manager forgot, would you be mad? Or would you be a little frustrated but realize she is a busy person who sometimes makes mistakes, the same as you do.

    Sorry for your loss.

    Reply
    1. cncx

      this is where i am at and have been trying to take advice like this to heart. i have a coworker who has done some squirrely stuff…but he isn’t coming from a bad place, he’s just NOT THINKING. Every time i want to take something personally, i have to remember he is acting out of his own issues and that it isn’t about me. I think this is really good advice for OP to “reframe” the issue.

      Reply
  25. mockingbird2018

    As a manager, I have done this (not the late night text). But forgotten someone was out for a funeral, a honeymoon etc and ended up texting them. Like Allison said, I just forget everyone’s schedules. I have 50 plus people to am over, and sometimes I just don’t keep track.

    Reply
  26. weasel007

    I’ve been trying to teach my elderly mother how to use her cell phone including texting. She will stop whatever she is doing (including if it is driving) to respond to a small text as if it is urgent. It is very nice for extra communication, but I’ve had to explain to her that a text should never be used to communicate past a yes, no or ok. Text by design is not a guaranteed method of communication. Phones can be off, disconnected, blocked, flushed or else.

    Secondly, I’ve communicated this at work as well. If someone needs to reach me, pick up the phone and call me. I may or may not be looking at my phone to see that a text has come. Consider it the same as if you are driving in traffic and you see someone you know. Wave Hello and if they don’t see you, move along. Send a text and if I’m looking at my phone or available, I will reply if not, do not expect the message to have been received.

    Reply
  27. Annie Bennett

    When I was out of town for my father’s funeral, a co-worker made our assistant CALL me on my cell phone the day of the funeral. I had forgotten to put it on silent and the only thing that prevented my getting the call at the grave site was that the cemetery was in a bad reception area. When I found the message while riding back to the house in the limo, I was to say the least enraged. She had a history of being completely self-centered, but this pretty much took the cake.

    Reply
    1. TootsNYC

      If your phone had rung at the grave site, you could have simply not answered it.

      No one is required to answer a ringing phone. (I like that the iPhone has a switch on the side that lets you turn off the sound right away.)

      Ideally we’d all remember to turn our phones off for events like that, but we don’t, most of us. And we might need to be able to call people we are with (“I’m lost; were is the cemetery?”). But you don’t have to answer just because someone has called you.

      Reply
      1. Annie Bennett

        Of course, I would not have answered it.

        But having a phone ring during the grave side service??? For a work question when she knew it was the day of the funeral??? NO EXCUSE.

        Reply
        1. TootsNYC

          yeah, I don’t think that disturbance is on the person calling. The person whose phone it is should bear the responsibility for turning it off.

          Reply
          1. Annie Bennett

            So apparently, RW and TootsNYC think is okay for a co-worker to CALL someone with a work question on the day of their father’s funeral? I guess we have totally different concepts of humane, considerate behavior.

            By the way, I didn’t return the call until the next day (it being the day of the funeral and I was a little consumed by family matters) and not surprisingly the world did not come to an end. Probably because, as I mentioned above, she was a completely self-centered person and the question she was asking was answerable by others at the company, not just someone who was at their father’s funeral.

            Reply
            1. The OG Anonsie

              I’m with you. Yeah, generally, you’re not obligated to respond to people and you shouldn’t be upset when people try to contact you if you’re busy since they don’t know what you’re doing at every moment of the day. You set the boundaries there and all that.

              Generally.

              If you know someone is off work because they are attending their father’s funeral, don’t call them. I don’t care if you assume they’ll have the phone turned entirely off, they don’t need to get the message when they turn it back on later either. Your cell phone is a direct line of contact to you, and no one should be trying to directly contact you from work when they know you are out for a parents’ funeral. No matter how you’ve set it so they can’t actually reach you in the moment, it’s a direct contact, and doing that at a time you should be compassionately giving someone space is a shitty thing to do.

              Reply
      2. Jennifer Thneed

        I’ve had a few phones now (yeah, late adopter), none of them Fruit phones, and they’ve all had the ability that if the phone is ringing, I push the “volume down” button once, and it mutes the call. (And if I’ve had to do that, usually the next thing I do is turn the derned thing off or put it into airplane mode.)

        Reply
  28. Peggy

    OP, I’m sorry for your loss!

    I teach high school and many of my students’ parents/guardians are more comfortable with text than email, so I use a Google Voice number as my school contact number and have it set up so that all messages sent to that number are forwarded to my email. So, if a parent texts me, it shows up as an email in my work mailbox; if I respond via email, it shows up to them as a text. This works really well for me because school policy is that the students and I don’t have our phones out during class (of course we all try to sneak sometimes, but…) but I can of course send emails from my school laptop throughout the day.

    If you very much prefer email but your boss is happier with texting, consider setting up Google Voice, giving that number to your boss to text, and enjoying your new email-based (for you!) communication with the boss! Voice.google.com, and you can link to an existing Google account or set up a new one.

    Extra bonus: I have it set up so that the texts also appear on my phone as texts and can text replies, but you can turn that feature off if you don’t want to be bothered outside of work. :)

    Reply
  29. aka Duchess

    The texting thing – just ugh.

    If it really bothers you (and others) then I would politely ask you everyone could agree on *off* hours. I once managed a few college interns, and they would use texting to communicate with me. (which is fine, they weren’t required to have company email on their phone, and TBH I prefer texting over talking on the phone). Anyway, after a couple late night and early morning texts I had to enforce texting etiquette and remind them that not everyone is on their same social/sleep schedule and to keep communicate from 7am -7pm unless its truly an emergency.

    Reply
  30. Goya de la Mancha

    I totally get your feelings on this, but I think your boss didn’t do anything “wrong”. Like Allison said, she’s not going to remember your schedule like you are, but also, the second message was to the whole team. She was probably just on auto pilot and included you on it, as you are part of the team.

    I think you personally need to take a step back from your email/texts when you’re not at work and just not worry about it. You did your due diligence by informing your boss (and I assume anyone else who needed to know). The rest can wait until you are available. I know it’s not possible for everyone, but my phone is set that I have to physically get my emails vs being pushed through automatically. That means they get read on MY time. Texts that come from work people, remain unread until it is convenient for myself. That being said, my boss is fantastic about not contacting me on my time off, so if she does, it’s because she’s stuck and has exhausted all other avenues for help – so I usually answer hers promptly.

    Reply
    1. TootsNYC

      my boss is fantastic about not contacting me on my time off, so if she does, it’s because she’s stuck and has exhausted all other avenues for help – so I usually answer hers promptly.

      This is an excellent point. Our OP knows that her boss almost exclusively uses texts, and so our OP can build a sense of how urgent things are around that.

      You’re at a funeral, and a text comes in from your boss; you say, “I’ll look at that later. I’m at a funeral.”

      And then, you might even decide to not even look, because you know your boss doesn’t really need you. Or, if you’re Goya de la Mancha, you have different evidence, and you know that your boss wouldn’t have texted if she didn’t really need you, so you look =after the funeral.=

      Reply
  31. Noah

    I think there’s been a real shift from email to text. If this is how your team normally communicates, and you need to be included on communications when you’re OOO, then I don’t see this as a problem. Smart phones (and I assume feature phones, but I haven’t seen one in a long time) allow you to adjust the notification settings for each sender. If you don’t want to read texts from your team after hours or on vacation, change the notification settings. The only thing making this different from receiving a group email is how you handle it. That’s an easily resolvable problem.

    In my world, when your boss creates a problem for you and you can fix the problem for yourself, you don’t go to your boss about it. This is such a situation, in my opinion.

    Somebody will likely respond, “but but but, it’s obnoxious to do all this communication by text!” I just don’t care. That’s not a problem worth tackling when you can fix it by turning off notifications.

    Reply
  32. TootsNYC

    I’m reminded of a story that my mom told about a Norwegian bachelor farmer of her acquaintance who got a phone, back when phones were new.

    Someone came to visit one afternoon, and the phone rang. The farmer let it ring. “Aren’t you going to answer that?” the visitor asked.

    “I put that thing in for MY convenience,” the farmer replied.

    I’m always a bit amazed a people who feel that they must respond to a text, but they can let an email ride.
    You are still the one in charge, not the phone, and if you decide a text doesn’t require an answer, then it doesn’t.

    Just pretend that when your boss texts, it’s an email. And respond later.
    If you’re at a funeral, turn your phone off and don’t answer it. You’re busy.

    (at my mom’s funeral, someone’s cell phone rang. She answered it right there in pew, covered her other ear, and said, annoyed-ly as she was leaving, “I’m at a funeral, I can’t talk.” Like, why not just turn the noise off, don’t answer, and NOT talk? Live your boundaries, don’t talk about them.)

    Reply
    1. LBK

      FWIW, I can see purposely answering and delivering that message in order to make a point that just ignoring the call might not make.

      Reply
      1. TootsNYC

        in the middle of the funeral? in the pew?

        The most important thing is to not disturb the funeral. Deliver the message later. It’s not going to be that much different from delivering it in the of the funeral.

        Don’t drag the rest of us into your discipline efforts.

        Reply
    2. Susan K

      Yeah, I am always baffled by people who get annoyed that someone called/texted/e-mailed them while they were doing something important. You know what I do when I’m at a funeral, wedding, movie, interview, or other place where I don’t want to be interrupted? I turn off my phone, and sometimes I leave it in the car. When I’m ready, I turn the phone back on and respond to any messages that came in while it was off.

      Reply
      1. Cat

        I feel basically the same way. If you don’t want to be disturbed by your phone, turn it off/put it on silent. If your boss is pressuring you to reply to texts at late hours or when you are on vacation that’s bad on their part, but if they are just sending the texts at those times and don’t care when you respond, then I think it is up to you to manage your own phone use.

        Reply
      2. Lissa

        Yes, I don’t expect other people to either magically know or somehow remember what I’m doing every time they may want to call me. This sort of thing though has made me seriously paranoid about ever actually phoning anyone!

        Reply
    3. Jessica

      “Live your boundaries, don’t talk about them.” Yes, 1000x this. I’m old enough to remember the “busy signal,” and it drives me crazy when people you’re trying to do something with interrupt and answer their phone just to explain to whatever random friend has called that they’re busy doing the thing and can’t talk now.

      What the… Do you really think your friends can’t figure out that if you don’t answer, perhaps you are occupied with something else? Do you think you need to justify to everyone who calls you exactly what you are doing? Will everyone think you’re dead if you don’t answer the phone? I don’t understand why on earth people feel the need to do this.

      Reply
    4. Mr. Bob Dobalina

      Totally agree, TootsNYC. You expressed my thoughts on this exactly. I do not have the Pavlovian response to technology. The phone is there for my convenience! Other than the phone ring, I turned off all notifications on my phone. I let my phone go to voicemail whenever I am busy or talking to someone. And I would certainly turn my phone off at a funeral.

      Reply
  33. I'm Not Phyllis

    I have the opposite problem – I’d prefer a text but my boss hates texts and will always email. The grass is always greener …

    Reply
  34. FieldBiologist

    Also OP – the Verizon Messages app on my phone let’s me mute certain conversations – (like the friends group texts that never stops, or the work text) – so I can check it when I want instead of getting notified. Could you find an app that let’s you do that?

    Reply
  35. Hillary

    OP, I could have written this letter. My boss texted me during a funeral I attended last year, and it really upset me. I think the reason it’s so upsetting is not that she’s contacting you when you’re on leave, but that it shows a lack of caring. She either doesn’t care or doesn’t remember that you’re unavailable, and it lets you know that she doesn’t think of you as a human being, but just as an employee. Sorry.

    In my book, the best bosses are the ones who bother to ask you how your weekend went, check in on your stress level, or congratulate you on personal or professional milestones. In other words, those who connect with you on a human level and show they care about more than the bottom line.

    Reply
    1. Viki

      I think that’s unfair.

      As a manager I have multiple employees with different schedules and while I have them on my calendar and in notes, when I have to send information out to all of the team, I’m not going to check who is out or not before I send it. The information is needed for the team, and therefore I send to the team. Whether they are out or not, is irrelevant to the information being sent.

      That doesn’t mean I don’t care about my employees-it means I’m doing my job.

      Reply
    2. Turquoisecow

      I agree with Vicki – the boss sent a text to multiple people the same way she might send an email to multiple people. If she has a large team, expecting her to keep track of all the schedules AND not email or text people on their days out (for whatever reason) is a bit much. You also wouldn’t want to be left out of a major discussion while out, and then feel lost when you returned.

      Also, FWIW, I don’t want a boss that asks how I’m doing and congratulates me on personal milestones. I like keeping my work and personal life separate. If my boss asked for intimate details on my personal life, I’d start looking for a new boss.

      Reply
    3. soupmonger

      Jeez. As a boss, I’d love to have the memory capacity to remember all my employees rota and family schedules, their individual family dramas and stressors, plus the ability to remember if I’d told this one that important thing, or were they off that day…?

      Absolutely unrealistic. I use email a lot and yes, I will try not to use it evenings and weekends, but things happen; if I wait until work hours to send an email, then I might forget, etc. So I will contact you out of hours but I don’t expect you to reply. Just accept the funeral texting wasn’t done as a personal insult; accept your boss is annoying for using text instead of email and put your phone on silent.

      Reply
  36. Kat

    This is not the first time I’ve seen a letter about someone from work texting you. How typical is this with personal phones? Are people pressured to share their personal number with coworkers? It sounded to me like this LW was getting texts on their personal phone, otherwise why would they have their work phone on them on their approved days off?

    I have some of my staff’s cell numbers and my Director’s as well but the only time I text their personal phone is when I need to reach them urgently and can’t reach them on their work line and need a response faster than an email. And if I’m texting about work I only ever do it during work hours. If I need to send instructions after hours but don’t want to wait the next morning then I send an email to the person’s work account. Likewise, they use my cell when they need to reach me and know I’m in a meeting or working offsite. It is always the option of last resort, never the first option.

    I don’t ask my staff to give me their personal cell numbers, nor do I expect them to. And I don’t hand mine out to everyone on my team either. The only people who get my personal number are the people I can trust a) won’t hand it out to anyone else, b) won’t use it inappropriately, and c) who I wouldn’t mind talking to outside of work about non-work related matters eg sharing a funny meme or joke.

    Reply
  37. Mrs. Fenris

    I don’t know, this wouldn’t have bothered me too much. I would take it the way Alison did…boss sent a text to the group and didn’t necessarily think about what everyone was doing at that moment. I’ve posted this before, but I worked for years in a 24-hour animal hospital. There were 6 doctors that communicated 24/7 by group text for medical consults. It was always understood that at least one person in this group at any time would be sleeping, out of town etc and would respond whenever they saw it next if they felt like it. I had my phone on Do Not Disturb at night precisely because of this freewheeling consulting service, but I usually check it in the middle of the night, so I would often chime in on something at 3 AM that had started an hour or so before. (And once, I woke up to this message from an overnight coworker who knew I was horribly worried about a patient: “Your [dog’s] [lab value] is normal. Stop worrying and go back to sleep. :-)” ) To tell the truth, I miss those pop quizzes from some of the smartest people I’ve ever known.

    Reply
  38. HR Here

    Agree about disliking texting. I get these at all hours, too. I have learned with my boss they often are things they want out of their head right then, not “drop everything and respond” as I used to interpret it as. That said, I prefer tasks via email, so that’s a challenge, remembering if a to do is in my text thread.

    Reply
    1. The OG Anonsie

      This is actually why it bothers me, though. I know some of the people I work with are just emptying thoughts every time they text and it drives me nuts. If you want to clear something out that you just thought of while you still remember it, why would you send it in the way that is going to immediately chime and flash lights at me to look at it? Staaaahp

      Reply
  39. Dh

    If someone expects you to reply during a funeral then that’s not “management style”. They’re just self-involved and inconsiderate.

    That said, bosses are like dogs, they need to be trained. Whether you assert where the do-not-cross line is, or let them run rampant, your reaction is what will set the tone for your tenure there.

    Reply
  40. The OG Anonsie

    When I’ve worked for folks who do this, I put them on Do Not Disturb as a default. That way I have to actively seek out any contact from them, same as if I was going to check my work email.

    It’s not great, and I would also prefer folks not text me unless it’s urgent, but some people just feel a need to contact folks directly any time they have a message for them. And for those people, I have DND.

    Reply
  41. Mike

    Just to lighten the mood here… it wasn’t out of malice. Remember that for you what may be the most important day of your life could simply be your supervisor’s Tuesday.

    Reply
  42. Mr. Bob Dobalina

    I think the OP is overreacting. Go to HR? Really? It’s hard to understand OP’s perspective on this. If I was at a funeral, I would turn my phone off out of respect and politeness. The text was to a group. I think this is less about the boss texting at all hours and more about the OP feeling like he/she needs to read and respond promptly to every text received from the boss. I can’t tell, from what is written, whether the boss has actually set that expectation (it doesn’t really sound like it from the other details given) or whether the OP, like many people nowadays, just lives in that Pavlovian mode of immediate response to all technology pings.

    Reply

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