I know my boss is pregnant, but why hasn’t she told me?

A reader writes:

My manager is pregnant. Six months, to be exact. How did I learn this? She didn’t tell me personally (despite meeting with her on a daily basis), announce it via email, or any of that. I heard it because I overheard her discussing her nursery decor with the person who sits 2 cubicles away. Our office isn’t very big; it’s not really eavesdropping as far as I’m concerned.

This is so awkward because that same coworker (who she treats as a favorite/best friend all the time, bringing her Starbucks, letting her park in her reserved park when she’s out, etc.) has known for 2 months. I asked another coworker if he knew and he said he heard from her personally last week, in a one-on-one meeting.

So here’s the deal: she hasn’t made an official announcement, hasn’t told me personally, but here I am, privy to this “minor” detail. I can’t exactly say “congratulations” or she’ll know I was listening to their conversation (again, not really actively listening; it was just so close that it wasn’t hard to hear). Also, people have asked me if she’s showing, and the answer is, not that I can tell (she’s not exactly petite).

There are 10 people in our department and I”m positive at least half of them know. How do I handle this? It’s humiliating to be left out of the loop.

Don’t be humiliated.

It’s her personal news, and it sounds like she’s in no rush to make an office-wide announcement. No one is really entitled to it anyway, at least not until things are at the point where she needs to be discussing logistics for her maternity leave, at which point she’s clearly going to need to share it.

I’d be annoyed by the favoritism she shows your coworker in general, but this particular thing is nothing to be dismayed or humiliated by, or even to try to figure out how to “handle.” There’s not really anything to handle; she has something happening in her personal life that will require her to take some leave from work in three months, and it doesn’t need to be anything more than that.

But if you want to acknowledge that you know, there’s certainly no harm in just saying to her, “I heard you have some exciting personal news. Congratulations!”  She’s told at least a couple of people, and therefore it’s not odd that the news would have started to make its way to other people.

{ 91 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    Why do you care? It’s her personal business. My co-workers tell my other co-workers things but not me, and do I care? Nope. I just go in and do my work, that’s it. And there are certainly things I tell only to some people, but not to others.

    1. Joey*

      What’s a manager to do? If you tell there will always be someone who complains it’s too much personal info and then you have others like the op. As a manager you have to be comfortable enough with yourself to understand that not everyone is going to be happy with everything you do. And as an employee you have to accept that bosses don’t always understand what it’s like to work for them. But the favoritism makes me think there are other problems with this boss.

    2. Anonymous*

      I have to agree. This isn’t about the OP, it is about the manager. It is her personal life to share or not.

      I really hope the next letter is from someone who is pregnant, keeping it quiet, and their manager is asking them about it.

      1. ArtsGirl*

        This was me! Except my manager knew due to me needing time off and he was the discreet type and didn’t share. I didn’t officially share with people at work until I was 5 months pregnant and showing. I didn’t share because a) it was a high risk pregnancy, b) our company was reorganizing and layoffs were imminent, c) company is male-dominated and I was one of the few women in a non-secretarial position, and d) I wasn’t really close to most people in the office, even though I got on well with them. In the end, I told people when I felt like it; of course, they were already gossiping by the time I made it official.

    3. anonymous*

      I agree with the person above. Why should you care or why should I care if I weren’t told. It is HER business…even though (as the site administrator stated) she will have to eventually share it in terms of the WORK situation–who’s doing what, etc. That’s her only obligation. Favortism is everywhere so I’m sure if your boss only told her “favs” on this, she’s done it a million time whether you’ve been privy to it or not. My concern in the workplace is when a supervisor or manager leaves employees out of the loop on their DAY TO DAY/WORK-RELATED responsibilities. That’s a huge problem and I’ve had it happen consistently in my last job. How can I be expected to perform my duties IF my duties changed and I wasn’t told in any way, shape, form, or fashion that the duties changed?

      That should be the thing that concerned you, but a pregnancy is personal and plus she’s YOUR BOSS. She doesn’t have to tell you anything–it’s the other way around.

      I know that’s not a cozy and popular answer, but it’s usually the way things work in the workplace.

  2. Joanna Reichert*

    I understand feeling . . . maybe a bit odd that she hasn’t told you, but feeling humiliated? As in, I’ve-just-peed-my-pants-in-public or I’ve-just-passed-loud-wind-in-a-crowded-subway-car humiliated? Because those things would make me burst into tears of embarrassed agony. But not being told of a co-worker/manager’s pregnancy? Really, really not a big deal. Really.

  3. Anonymous*

    It’s possible she has complications, or the possibility of complications, and doesn’t want to share in case the worst happens. Just offering that as a possibility for her silence.

    Or maybe she figured ppl heard through the grapevine.

    Either way, I wouldn’t get too worked up about it.

    1. Anonymous*

      I would agree with this comment. Women can have a lot of reasons for not sharing the news of their pregnancy – but especially if she is concerned that something might go wrong, she may not want to have to keep everyone updated. I’ve been in a situation like this in my office and it can make for a really dramatic situation; it’s possible she wants to avoid that.

      1. CK*

        It is definitely a possibility and I’ve seen it happen first-hand at a previous workplace. I didn’t work too closely with this woman as we weren’t in the same dept, but the company was small so any type of news had a way of making the rounds. Long story short, she had 3 miscarriages before she was able to carry a child full-term. Although the news of the first pregnancy made the rounds, the second was less known and third was a complete mystery to most people.

        This is precisely the reason some women choose to wait until they can no longer hide their bump and they can’t attribute it to “stress eating” or a similar excuse.

    2. fposte*

      Or she’s lost track of who she’s told and who she hasn’t. (This may not make the OP feel any more significant, but honestly, this isn’t a situation that reflects on anybody else’s significance.)

  4. Rana*

    Or she’s uninterested in having everyone in the office asking her about it all the time.

    Why, precisely, is the OP concerned about not knowing this firsthand? I mean, it’s pretty personal news, and nothing one should expect a business colleague to share until it affects their ability to do their job. If it’s that the OP feels like they’re being treated as a second-class employee, based on other things as well as this, then deal with it on that level. But fretting over this all by itself feels overly sensitive.

  5. KayDay*

    While I certainly don’t think it’s anything to be humiliated over, but I would understand if the OP is concerned about finding out about the logistics for maternity leave. If the OP works directly for the manager and/or if the manager is the head of the department (not just middle-management) then I would imagine that the maternity logistics would need to be discussed sooner, rather than later. Even if the manager thinks it’s too early to begin discussing logistics, I do understand how it could be stress to not know who your supervisor will be in three months. Also, babies tend to cone on their own time, and there is always a chance he or she will be born earlier than expected or the manager will need to go to the hospital/bed before the birth. That’s all personal, but maternity plans need to be made far enough in advance to account for those things.

  6. J.B.*

    Being pregnant makes a lot of people think its ok to ask you all sorts of intrusive personal questions (I wrote up a whole list, including “wow, you’re looking big”-I mean really?!) and not making it official slows down those questions. Since she’s a manager they’re going to need to figure out workload soon but otherwise it’s her business.

    1. Dawn*

      I was thinking along the lines that maybe OP is someone who, when she finds out news about someone, likes to ask a million (probably well-meaning but intrusive) questions. Maybe the boss isn’t telling her specifically for that reason. Or, maybe the boss thinks she already told OP, or assumes she knows already. If the boss is showing, she probably figures that people will come to the conclusion on their own.

  7. Lori*

    I just had a similar thing happen to me. One of my coworkers is pregnant with her second baby. I was pretty sure I was the last (of 8 in our office) to know the first time, and absolutely positive I was last this time. How do I know for sure? Because when she announced it at our recent staff meeting, EVERYONE turned to watch my response (which was excitement, of course).
    It sucks to be the one who is left out of the group…no matter how much I try not to let it bother me, it does. Especially when everyone I work with is pretty darn fabulous.
    The bottom line is that we can’t make people like us, but we can change our behavior. I know that I’m very task-oriented and not as chatty as everyone else, and that can be off-putting. So I am working on myself, and trying very hard not to “get a hurty” about being left out. And I do see that as I work hard to be friendly and kind, they are more welcoming.
    Don’t let it get to you. You’re not there to be best friends with everyone. You’re there to do your best job for the company. Concentrate on being kind and friendly, and let them take it or leave it. YOU know you’re fabulous. That’s all that matters!

  8. Long Time Admin*

    I know why the OP is upset – HER MANAGER IS NOT TALKING TO HER! (Mine doesn’t either, and it worries me.) This is a HUGE indicator that the manager doesn’t care to communicate with *some* members of her staff. You know how they say that people don’t leave their job, they leave their boss – this is one great big fat reason why someone would leave this boss.

    What else is the manager not communicating to these unfavored members of her staff, that she is communicating to her favorites?

    Are they in the inside track for raises and promotions? Probably.

    Who will be on the short list if and when layoffs are planned? The favorites?

    HELL, NO! The ones that the manager won’t even talk to.

    OP, try to not let this bother you. I do know how hard it is to come into work and be ignored by your boss, while others are being given special privileges. If you really need this job, then hang in there. Do you job well, but make sure it’s not the biggest thing in your life. Sometimes we have to accept lousy circumstances, but it helps to remember that nothing lasts forever. If you don’t particularly like this job, then start looking for another on. Of course, maybe your manager won’t come back after her baby is born, and you might get another manager, possibly a better one.

    Good luck.

    1. Anonymous*

      While I agree with the others that the manager’s personal business is personal, you do have a point here where there might be some lack of communication between the manager and the OP. The OP might be able to support this or negate it, but as of right now, this seems to be on track. After all, it’s not like the manager bought a new home and is telling only a few people about it; a new home is something the OP may never see. However, if she is pregnant, then the manager is obviously going to be showing (if she isn’t already) and later will be absent on her maternity leave.

      Like yourself, I would like to know how the communication is about anything else in that office when it is not focused on a baby.

      1. anon*

        I agree with LTA completely. If you don’t see it, it’s probably because you’re one of the “favorites”. Congratulations.

  9. Kyle*

    I had a Manager (a male) who was having a baby and I was one of the few who knew because I was fairly friendly with him. He was just generally really private about his personal stuff and didn’t want to put anything out there. It was at the 7th or so month when I told him he had to tell people, and that everyone was going to be mad that he hadn’t. (You’d have to understand the entire staff, lots of people were having babies and they liked to have showers and stuff.)

    In this person’s case, he was simply seen as too private, too closed off, Which isn’t a great thing for a leader. Once he told people, and particularly once he started putting baby pictures on his desk and telling stories it did him a ton of good in people’s perception of him. Humanized him so to speak.

    So, my first thought on the OP was that the Manager was trying to be very professional, but forgot that the team still sees her as a person. This is the kind of news most people would want to share and others would expect to be shared!

  10. Anonymous*

    Is it just me, or would it be refreshing to be in an office with a breeder that DIDN’T talk about it all the time? OP should count her blessings.

  11. Anonymous*

    Hello everyone, I am the OP and I’d just like to clarify a few things. I understand that it’s not really my business; it is a very personal thing, to be sure. My issue is that, like Long Time Admin said, my manager isn’t communicating to me whatsoever – but is to my coworkers (who are in the same job as I am – that is to say, not above me or whatever). She gossips with them, takes them out to lunch, talks to them on a daily basis – but I rarely get anything besides conversations about work itself, nothing about my personal life. It makes me feel like I mean nothing, and while I know I’m doing excellent work, I’m never praised or even asked questions about how I’m doing.
    That’s a story for a whole other post..and I want to thank everyone for their responses. I acknowledge that she might have possible complications with the pregnancy, and that’s why she’s keeping it on the DL, but if that’s the case, don’t openly talk about it within earshot of the 5 employees you haven’t told yet! Either tell everyone, or discuss it with the select you’ve told in private.

    1. Katie*

      Here’s the thing. You have to separate the personal from the professional. Gossiping with you, taking you out to lunch, letting you know her big personal news that may have very little impact on your daily work…those are not professional issues. Yes, it might make you feel a little like you’re in high school and not being asked to sit at the cool kids’ table, but frankly, from a management standpoint, your manager has no obligation to be your friend or to bring your into her inner social circle (however much I frown on her having so much of her inner social circle at work.)

      Now, if she is failing to communicate to you about things that are relevant to your job or that impact your daily work, that’s an issue. If she’s showing favoritism professionally–and not merely regarding whom she gossips with at lunch–that’s an issue. If you feel like you’re not getting sufficient feedback from her about your performance, you should be proactive and talk to her about it. If you don’t feel like she’s recognizing your accomplishments, make sure you tell her about them when you meet with her, because she may not be as aware of what you’re doing as you think. If you’re upset because you’re not braiding each others’ hair after hours or chatting about what color she’s painting the nursery…get over it. She has no obligation to tell *anyone* in the office about her private health status unless they will be directly impacted by it professionally, and she has the right to tell (or not) whom she likes otherwise. Unless your job will be impacted by her pregnancy, she has no reason to make a formal announcement to you or to talk to you about it, and I think it’s sort of rude to expect that she should.

      Granted, I don’t think it’s wise for managers–or anyone who aspires to go into management–to mix their personal and professional lives too much. Still, my advice to you is focus on your professional problems with your boss, and stop worrying about whether or not she wants to be your friend. That’s not her job.

      1. Mike C.*

        I think the thing you’re missing here is the fact that these activities are occurring at work. If they were doing stuff outside of work and keeping it to themselves I would be more inclined to agree with your separation of personal/work environments.

        But as it stands now there is a strong appearance of conflict of interest and favoritism and just the appearance of this issue is enough to cause serious problems.

        Look, I understand that the issue of privacy with regards to obvious medical conditions is important to you and I respect that. I see what new parents go through being poked and prodded and grilled and told what to do and what not to do and how they’re terrible human beings for not doing things “the right way”. I get that and it’s an ugly thing.

        But the issue of the pregnancy again is a symptom of the communications issue. This and the lunches and parking privileges and the like aren’t happening off work, they’re happening during work. No one enjoys being isolated like this, especially when it directly affects your work.

        1. Katie*

          The thing is, there is nothing to indicate that this *has* directly affected OP’s *work.* The comments about favoritism primarily have had to do with whom the boss goes to lunch with, gossips with, and brings Starbucks to. I haven’t seen anything from the OP that indicates that this “favoritism” extends beyond whom her manager chooses to socialize with. (The exception being allowing her friend to use her parking space when she’s out–and that is pretty minor.) OP has not, from what I can tell, been unfairly passed over for promotions or been kept out of the loop on important *work-related* communications that others have. She’s just not being asked to go to lunch or having personal chats with her boss. Furthermore, the professional problems she’s had with her boss’s communication (primarily regarding her job performance) are unrelated to her boss’s social life at work. Managers who don’t make friends with anyone they work with can fail to give good feedback on performance the same as ones who do, and you can work with a manager who isn’t your friend to resolve those issues as easily as you can with one who is. (In fact, it’s probably easier.)

          Do I approve of the way her manager has handled her social life at work? No. It’s not something I would do, and it’s not something I would recommend. HOWEVER, OP isn’t doing herself any favors by getting worked up over why her boss is gossiping with someone else and not with her. People become friends with some people and not with others for a variety of reasons, and chances are, her boss is not intentionally slighting her or purposely leaving her out for nefarious reasons. They’re just not friends….and that’s okay. Instead of worrying so much about whether she a good *personal* relationship with her boss, OP should focus on building a strong professional relationship. She doesn’t need to know about her boss’s pregnancy to do that.

          1. J.B.*

            Agree, and the maternity leave might turn out to be an opportunity to interact with others and show your value to whichever manager is involved in your current boss’s absence. Unless the crony is the one selected to run the department during that time others may not be terribly impressed with that relationship either.

    2. anon*

      have you ever heard of the phrase “..this too shall end..”?

      One day, she won’t be your boss anymore. Getting tangled in manager gossip and her ‘circle; etc isn’t the wisest thing to do for your career nor is really admirable. I wouldn’t let it bother me. Anyways it looks like your not a’one. You said half the people deal with what you deal with.

  12. Anonymous*

    When I was pregnant, I just let most people think I was simply on some kind of eating binge until the third trimester, when I couldn’t hide it anymore. I only told friends and coworkers I was close to who I knew would handle it in a sensitive manner. Why? It wasn’t to be a meanie. It was because, as a woman, I knew the announcement would lead to all sorts of scrutiny and unsolicited advice at a time when I simply did not need that stress in my life. Personal news is just that; it’s personal. People have their own reasons to share or not to share and that needs to be respected.

  13. Anonymous*

    I’m a “breeder” who doesn’t talk about kids all the time. You sound like a piece of work. I feel bad for your colleagues.

    1. Anon*

      You just think you don’t. Trust me, you talk about your kids a LOT, and it’s annoying. Like George Carlin said, “Nobody cares about your children……that’s why they’re YOUR children.”

      1. Katie*

        I always find it sort of baffling when people who name call and use sweeping generalizations to make nasty assumptions about people they don’t even know somehow think they are qualified to lecture other people on social graces.

  14. Nethwen*

    I’m joining the “why should you care” crowd. I can understand if the issue is work favoritism or lack of work communication or wondering how to tell someone you know something they haven’t told you in person, but personal news? It’s none of your business until it starts to affect your ability to do your work.

  15. Eli*

    Maybe she just plain doesn’t like you? Have you done anything that might make her feel like not sharing anythting about her personal life with you? Are you a notorious gossip? Do you have bad hygiene? Do you pick your nose and eat it? You might well feel left out but as others have stated, it really isn’t any of your business, she has the right to tell whoever she wants.. I would start to think seriously about why you are being exluded in such a manor. It sounds like this won’t be the last thing you get left out of.. Maybe raise the issue in your next one to one? I’m sure she won’t mind and will have a perfectly reasonable explanation for not telling you. If that fails just get some Ben Wa Balls, and enjoy yourself. Good luck!

  16. Lesley*

    I can sympathize with the OP (and Long Term Admin). It’s not about being privvy to personal information–I agree, pregnancy is very personal. It’s about having a boss that shows obvious favoritism and doesn’t communicate with you. It really sounds like this is just a symptom of a bigger problem. I’ve been in a similar situation (no pregnancy, but a boss who chatted with all the coworkers but me). Even though I loved (LOVED!) my job, I ended up leaving because I felt so alienated.
    In my experience, the only thing you can do is let it go. Be super professional and try to come across as friendly and excited when the news is shared with you. I think Lori’s advice is excellent.

  17. Stacy*

    I’m going to defend the OP a little bit a the risk of having people think that it’s my “goal” to personally invade everyone else’s lives.

    It’s weird when people don’t acknowledge the obvious.

    Not that everything needs to be about the pregnancy, (because that would be weird, too), but the best course of action probably would have been for the boss to decide when to announce the news, (say, at 3-4 months), and then do so in a very general way, (depending on the company culture this could have been a short but happy announcement at an all staff meeting or a note to her team in an email mentioning that she will be setting up a plan for when she’s out of the office by x date).

    Some people may need reasonable accomadations made for them while pregnant, (this depends on the type of job of course), which I think is totally normal to acknowlege and not be weird about.

    I agree though that “humiliated” isn’t the right word to use and the use of it makes me think that this is a much deeper issue than not being told about the pregnancy.

    1. Eli*

      Think about it from someone else’s perspective. Your busy finishing your report that has to be completed by lunch. You get called over for an “announcement”, your boss then goes on to tell you that she is pregnant. To be honest I couldn’t care less, why does she feel the need to tell everyone this? So she will be off for a while, as a manager it’s her responsibility to make sure there is adequate cover. The OP is feeling bad because she is most likely the only person in the office who is desperate to know what is going on in everyone elses lives.. It’s probably intentional! All of a sudden the OP doesn’t feel so special and starts to question whether or not she should be privy to everyone else’s personal lives. And here we are..

      1. Mike C.*

        Uh, the OP responded an hour or so before this response and stated that her boss never communicates with her period. Given that information, why would you say it’s only about gossip and nothing more? It’s like you’re making up a narrative and ignoring the facts in front of you.

        1. Eli*

          In her original post she said that she wasn’t told “despite meeting with her on a daily basis”, and then tones it down to suggest contact with her manager is minimal. The reason she found out is because she was talking to another co-worker about her.. If there are 10 people in her dept, and she is sure 5 of them know that still leaves 4 other people in the dept who don’t know and probably aren’t this butthurt about it. How many other departments are there? Perhaps she didn’t want the entire company knowing her business. The manager clearly wanted to tell the people she thought she could trust. I didn’t say it was just about gossip and nothing more, I highlighted a couple of reasons why her manager might not want to confide in her. It’s like your not reading the facts that are right in front of you.

          1. anon*

            lol exactly. They do communicate. OP said the manager just doesn’t include her in the personal communication.

  18. Anonymous*

    I am going to make a guess here that the OP is female (as am I). OP, the best thing you can do for yourself in the workplace for the rest of your life is this: always react like a man. Would a man be hurt if he was left out, or unpraised when he felt it was deserved? Nope. React like that. Seriously. I know it sounds all 1980 and sexist and silly, but since making that teensy change (back, um, in the 80s) I have never had any kind of issue in the office. And we are talking a lot of years and a lot of jobs. Guys never take stuff like that personally and neither should you.

    /unasked for advice from someone too old for you to listen to

    1. Mike C.*

      Uh, wow. This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen posted here. As a proud owner of a pair of testicles, I can clearly say you’re being a sexist idiot.

      1. Anonymous*

        Cmon Mike. If you can’t take it like a man how about don’t be so sensitive. It’s actually using a sexist stereotype to your advantage.

        1. Mike C.*

          But “men” aren’t some monolithic group of people that hate being recognized for doing a good job or interacting with other human beings. It was a stupid and sexist thing to say and sensitivity has nothing to do with it. It’s merely an excuse to post things that are obviously wrong.

          Furthermore, “not caring” or “not being sensitive” isn’t going to fix the underlying problem – the manager plays favorites. That’s a career killer if you aren’t in the special group. Not being told about the pregnancy is simply a symptom of this problem and acting like nothing is happening is going to delay the inevitable. She needs to polish off her resume and find a different job.

      2. fposte*

        Seriously. One of the best thing to happen to people like this was the broad inclusion of women in the workplace, so that they could blame all the behavior they didn’t like on them.

        “Would a man be hurt if he was left out, or unpraised when he felt it was deserved?” Oh, sweet heavens, yes. No gender has a corner on feeling personally slighted, either rationally or irrationally.

        1. Esra*

          I was going to say, of course men are hurt when they go unacknowledged at work! As a woman working on primarily-male web teams, I can tell you that men are just as pleased at being praised, gossipy and catty, and eager for contact as women are. It’s person to person, not sex to sex. Some people can do without those things (although I haven’t seen too many), but most people need *some* kind of positive reinforcement to maintain their morale.

    2. Anonymous*

      Would a man be hurt if he was left out, or unpraised when he felt it was deserved? Nope.

      If that’s not the biggest pile of buffalo chips, then I don’t know what is.

    1. Mike C.*

      Do you work in the real world? Do you understand the effects personal relationships have on the ability for someone to further their career?

      If you have a manager that regularly talks to, takes out to lunch, socializes with everyone in the department except you, who is going to get the best assignments? The best reviews? The opportunities for additional training? The promotions? The layoffs?

      Think about that for two seconds of your time and quit making this about “feelings”.

      1. Eli*

        Why should the responsibility of socialising lay with the manager alone? Have you stopped to think why none of her other co-workers invite her along? Maybe the OP has one eye and a cleft lip, would you want to be seen out with that? I think it’s hard for a manager too, it’s good that she can go out and have fun with her workers and still maintain a professional relationship.

        1. Esra*

          “Maybe the OP has one eye and a cleft lip, would you want to be seen out with that?”

          Wow. Really? That’s incredibly shallow and cruel. And douchebaggy.

  19. Heather*

    I’ve got kind of a related question: on a job interview a couple years ago, one of the interviewers was heavily, heavily pregnant. It was extremely obvious. She never brought it up, though I didn’t expect her to. Still, I firmly adhere to the rule that unless you actually see the baby crowning, you say NOTHING. So, I didn’t. But I’ve always wondered if that was the right call – if it somehow made me appear unobservant or insensitive. I didn’t get the job, but I doubt it had anything to do with not acknowledging her impending miracle.

    What’s your take?

    1. YALM*

      That was the right approach…for me, at least. I’m more excited about a candidate who shows some restraint and doesn’t blather on about the obvious. You didn’t know her, she didn’t know you, and it’s just a quirk of human biology that you aware of that otherwise very personal situation.

    2. Jennifer*

      I will never again assume someone is pregnant until she tells me.

      I had a friend that I would see once or twice a year. I knew she and her husband had been trying to have a child for years. We got together a few years ago (when we hadn’t seen each other for almost a year). She’s quite petite and had a HUGE belly. She honestly looked like she was about to give birth at any moment. I was so excited and happy for her! When I started talking about how happy I was that they were having a baby, she stopped me and said she wasn’t pregnant – she had a tumour. I felt absolutely terrible (not only for having assumed she was pregnant, but also that she was dealing with the tumour). Since then, I’ve *never* assumed anyone was pregnant. [My friend ended up being fine, btw.]

    3. CJ*

      Heather, that is 1000x better than the time *I* was the super-pregnant interviewer on a panel, and we asked: “How would you feel about being asked to work occasional overtime?”

      She gave a long, rambling answer, including: “Well I’m divorced and have no kids, because I don’t like being tied down and I would never be able to concentrate on work, although you know, (gestured at my giant belly) kids are great if that’s your kind of thing.”

    4. Suz*

      You did the right thing. Just because someone looks pregnant doesn’t mean they are. Complete strangers used to ask me when I was due and I wanted to slap them. The onlything I was due for was a hysterectomy to remove a 15 lb fibroid.

    5. Dawn*

      You did the right thing. As someone who has been overweight all her life, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked if I was pregnant. That’s very humiliating and I promised myself I would NEVER assume someone is pregnant, even if they’re ready to deliver at any moment.

  20. Jen*

    Once I witnessed a co-worker say to our VERY pregnant supervisor “gosh I hope you have this baby soon…so it doesn’t get the cord wrapped up around its neck!” I felt so awful for our supervisor!

    For my pregnancy I didn’t say a word about it in the office, thus making it clear that it wasn’t a topic of conversation that I would have in the workplace. So you never know why she isn’t sharing it widely, totally her choice.

    1. Jen*

      And FYI, this was in a higher education setting, the person who made that terrible comment is very “educated” but of course that really means absolutely nothing when it comes to kindness or intelligence!

    2. YALM*

      I have a direct report who is pregnant and is learning the hard way how many people see pregnancy as a spectator sport. I’m always amazed at the comments others feel free to make.

      If she could have gotten away with telling no one, she might have taken that route.

    3. Katie*

      I know a big reason why I didn’t tell people for a long time is because I hate being stopped 20 times a day by coworkers and asked, “How are you feeling?” and they want to have a 5 minute conversation about the baby. Not a big deal…until 20 people do it, and you’re losing an hour a day to conversations about your belly when all you really want to be doing is working!

  21. Anon.*

    I get it. I really do. It’s a completely different situation, but I once had a professor grow an incredible baby bump throughout the course of a semester. She never ever referenced it until the very last class when she was then shocked and hurt that none of us had the “OMG, you are?! That’s AWESOME!” reaction because we had already figured it out. I mean, we were perfectly supportive and told her congratulations and such, but it had become the elephant in the room. We were all wondering what was wrong, maybe we were wrong, maybe it was a tumor growing in her stomach and she was dying and that’s why she wasn’t telling us. It really just caused gossip to run rampant (“I saw her smoking a cigarette today! It must not be a baby!” “She was rubbing her stomach today, it’s most definitely a baby!”

    When you aren’t being told something that is easily identifiable by the naked eye it seems really strange. While humiliated isn’t the word I would use by any means, it makes you wonder what’s happening and why they wouldn’t tell you.

    1. Katie*

      What’s so strange about it? I’m pregnant, and frankly, I don’t think the fact that I have a baby bump in any way obligates me to go around telling people who have no reason to know or care about my pregnancy, “By the way, I’m havin’ a baby!” Unless your professor was expecting to put questions about her pregnancy on your final exam, she had no reason to tell you about it. Personally, I think it’s really weird that anyone thinks other people are OBLIGATED to tell them about their personal business if they are in no way going to be impacted by it. Why is it so important for you to know?

  22. Katie*

    I’m in the third trimester of my pregnancy, and I still haven’t made a formal, office-wide announcement. I’ve told the people who need to know, and frankly, I don’t see the need to tell anyone else. At this point, I’m showing and word has obviously gotten around the office, so most people have figured it out. Still, it’s a private matter for me, and I prefer to keep my personal life to myself at work.

    It’s worth considering that this isn’t something she’s intentionally keeping away from you or that she’s only sharing with her “favorites.” It may be something she’s just slowly letting trickle out as her due date gets closer, letting people know as things come up. That’s how I’ve handled it, and it’s not meant as a personal affront to those who haven’t been told…it just hasn’t come up in conversation with them yet. Trust me, this almost certainly isn’t meant as a slight toward you.

  23. Stacy*

    What I think is interesting about this comment thread is that many people seem to be applying this situation to ONE person in their life, (moreso than I’ve seen in any other thread), and then reacting strongly. I get that this involves a personal matter, so people are going to have strong opinions, but people (including myself) seem more unable to see this “issue” from another person’s perspective than in other comment threads.

    Am I imagining this?

    Maybe this happens all the time in threads and I’m just not reading enough of the comments to get that vibe. Or, it’s the type of question.

    1. Anonymous*

      I am not sure I see the same thing…but then I am the “react like a man” commenter. So this is me not commenting further. :)

    2. Mike C.*

      I was thinking the same thing. They’re all focused on the pregnancy issue without understanding that it’s simply the latest symptom of a larger (hehe) issue.

      Mix that with the “man up” internet brigade that has no emotions and are islands unto themselves and there you go!

      1. YALM*

        People focused on the pregnancy part because that’s what was raised–my boss told everyone but me she was pregnant. If the real issue is favoritism or communication, them it should have been–my boss shows favoritism/doesn’t communicate with me, and here’s the latest example.

        Pregnancy is deeply personal and not work-related beyond the extent to which coverage (or accommodations) must be planned.

        IMHO, anyway.

        1. Mike C.*

          It was mentioned before, and the OP came in and clarified further. When people come in and say, “it’s a personal matter”, that’s such a blatantly obvious fact that it adds nothing to the conversation.

          Yeah, the OP didn’t make it the focus of the initial question. So what? There are plenty of questions that show up on this blog where the obvious issue isn’t the important one to focus on. The OP then came back and clarified her situation putting the focus on the issues of favoritism and lack of communication and folks are still harping on the pregnancy.

          1. Katie*

            Because in both of the follow-up comments OP has made, OP is still harping on the pregnancy and the fact that she hasn’t been told about it.

            1. Mike C.*

              I can’t believe you’re being so pedantic.

              She had a long paragraph about the communications issues and favoritism, listing several concrete examples of things that go on at work, and finished up with a slight comment about either keeping the issue of pregnancy private or not.

              These are real issues that have a real detrimental effect on the employees who are not treated as well as those in the special group. The fact that you and others cannot recognize this even as she clarifies again and again simply makes no sense.

              She said right here that my interpretation of her perception of the situation is the correct one, who are you to disagree?

              1. YALM*

                Not to be too pedantic, but she also ended that paragraph with a note that that was for a whole other post, so I have to wonder who’s more insistent on the issue: you, or her?

                But hey, it’s her dime. I’m game. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about her particulars to comment specifically. She says that she gets nada but work conversation from her boss while others get more. This is not great for team cohesion, but it’s not a career killer.

                Is there a track record of professional favoritism with the boss–as in, have her favorites been promoted or given key assignments? Does the boss give praise or otherwise comment on the work of the other team members? Again, it’s a problem either way that the boss does not do these things with OP, but that part might not be specific to OP. It could be bad management across the board. And either way, as others have noted, this is an opportunity for OP to take the bull by the horns and raise the issue with her boss.

                How large is the team and how does it function in the larger organization (if there is one)? Is the boss well-regarded by others in the office? Are the boss and her BFFs considered a bunch of clucking hens? In that case, the OP might be better off professionally to be less tightly bound socially with the rest of the group.

                Do others in the organization see the caliber of work OP is doing?

                And to OP, I get the weirdness and stressfulness of being left out of the group the way you have been, and no, I don’t think you came a cross as psycho…maybe just a little unclear as to the core of your problems with the boss-lady.

              2. Katie*

                The OP has produced several long lists of slights she has experienced at work, but they have all been SOCIAL slights, not PROFESSIONAL slights. There is an important difference. I have seen no evidence that preferential treatment extends beyond whom the boss chooses to *socialize* with, and I think it’s ridiculous and a completely unproductive use of anyone’s time to worry so much about whether your boss is as good of friends with you as she is with someone else when the only thing at stake is conversations about your personal life and coffee. If the OP knew one of the boss’s friends was getting unfairly high rankings on their performance reviews or a promotion because of the friendship, that would be one thing. OP hasn’t implied that anything like this has happened, though. If the only thing OP is being left out of is social hour, I think she needs to readjust her priorities.

                Do I think it’s wise for the OP’s boss to mix her personal and professional life as she has? No. However, I don’t think the response to the boss’s less than ideal mixing of her personal and professional lives is to encourage the OP similarly to continue to focus so heavily on building a good *personal* relationship with her boss or to argue that the boss should be required to discuss her personal life with *everyone* at work so that’s it’s all even steven. The recommendation should be to focus on professional problems and building professional relationships, and stop worrying about whether or not the boss wants to be your friend.

        2. Anonymous*

          OP here again and you hit the nail on the head. The issue isn’t the pregnancy, but rather why I’m being left out/lack of communication. I was sort of psycho and not thinking clearly when I wrote this question to AAM because I was hurt. Also, humiliated is probably the wrong word. it just brings back memories of school and being excludes on purpose – which I agree sounds stupid and childish, but it has a huge effect on morale.

          Thanks for all the feedback, positive and negative. I love this blog!

          1. fposte*

            But I think there are two things going on here that it might be helpful to divvy up a little. Your boss may well like other people more than you. That can be an ouch, just on a personal basis, regardless of the professional side, and you may be able to address the professional situation without ever being liked as much as those other co-workers.

            I guess what I’m saying is I don’t necessarily agree that it’s an inviolate sign of a *professional* problem when you’re excluded from *personal* closeness. I think, as Engineer Girl below suggests, it’d be valid to directly address the professional communication problem with your boss, but I’d suggest being clear in your head what professional changes you’d like to see happen so you know what success looks like aside from getting Starbucks brought to you. (Not that she doesn’t sound a little interpersonally clueless.)

  24. EngineerGirl*

    OP, If there is a communication issue, there is nothing stopping you from bringing it up to the manager. It is just as much your responsibility to have clear communications as it is your boss. There also may (I reapeat may) be reasonable reasons why your co-worker is treated differently than you. Maybe she is handling major extra work. Then again, maybe not. But YOU need to take responsibility for what is happening with YOU.

    I would schedule a meeting with your manager. Specifically note that you see different treatment, and you were wondering if there were performance issues involved?

    This next statement may seem harsh, but is needed. I’m bothered that you would be so hurt and not try to correct the situation with your manager. Does that sort of passivity go into your work too? Or perhaps you are putting up barriers that make the manager hesitate talking to you? Thats no excuse for the managers behavior, but you need to take care of your side of things.

    1. Anonymous*

      I would argue that there is no need to discuss the pregnancy issue with her manager- I’d hate to have to explain to someone why I didn’t want to share my news with him/her. But certainly, there must be other examples where your manager has failed to communicate with you, and you should talk to her about them.

      Also, never send an email to a blog when you’re in psycho mode. You’ll come across as a psycho. If you find you’re a person who goes into psycho mode, a Dear Diary might be better use.

  25. Anonymous*

    OP here again and yes, the boss’s “friends” do get special treatment when it comes to positions, reviews, etc. I’m well aware of the fact that, boss being my friend or not, I’m not a good fit with the company and am actively applying and interviewing elsewhere. So really, at this point, I just want to be on good terms with her – not her BFF, not her lunch partner – just treated with the same amount of respect and professionalism as my peers. I don’t think that’s an entirely unreasonable expectation, but if there’s anything I’ve learned from being the focus of a blog post like this, it’s that lots of people will disagree/say nasty things when they don’t know the whole story. I concede that I should have phrased things differently but as a whole, I’m grateful for the feedback I got. furthermore, I acknowledge that you don’t know the whole story because I haven’t told it, which limits how you might view me as a person and/or employee.

    Anyway…happy holidays everyone and good luck to the fellow job-seekers

    1. Anonymous*

      Good luck OP. Hopefully your manager will come around in the meantime despite the favoritism you are obviously dealing with. I’m sorry you had to deal with some rather obnoxious people. I hope you find a new job soon which will be much friendler and a more pleasant place to work. Happy Holidays!

  26. ew0054*

    Why let is bother you? I would rather not be told everybody’s dirty laundry. I would consider myself lucky to not be told – no expectation of baby showers, gifts, etc.

    The single best thing about consulting/freelancing for me (aside for every day being a new adventure) is there simply is not enough time to get caught up in everyone’s drama. I am only “at the office” for a few hours a week to meet with clients and 40 hours work needs to be compressed.

    Maybe this doesn’t quite answer your question, but I am a “pay me, let me work, leave me alone” type of person.

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