wee answer Wednesday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s wee answer Wednesday — seven short answers to seven short questions, although today it features two questions I don’t have answers for. So maybe it’s five answers to seven questions. Here we go…

1. Former employer still emailing from my email address

My ex-employer is still using my name in his emails and blogs. He opened a Google business account and is still using my first/last name with his company name in his emails to over 1200 potential customers so far. I worked for over 5 months for him, and I didn’t want him to use my name at all because I thought I would be known as a spammer. Can he still use my full name in his email/blog if I no longer work for him?

Hmmm. I don’t know the answer to whether or not this is legal. Your employer owns your former company email address and can use it as they see fit, but impersonating you is a different matter and could potentially be legally problematic. Either way, a sternly worded letter from a lawyer would probably take care of the problem.

2. Is this promising?

I interviewed for a position and the manager responded back that he is trying to sort out how he can possibly use me in the office, and to please be patient and he will hopefully figure out a way to bring me on board. Does that sound promising? I’m still interviewing because I don’t want to get my hopes up too high. He is waiting for another physician to start on 11/1/12, and he says maybe he can use me at that time. What are your thoughts?

It sounds positive but far from definite, so proceed as if you don’t have a job offer, because you don’t have a job offer.

3. Introducing performance evaluations and one-on-ones in a new role

I am starting in a management role at an organization that has no regular performance reviews. Can I introduce regular formal performance reviews myself or do I need to liaise with HR about this? If I am going to introduce them, how long should I wait? I will need to develop a performance review format at least, so that could take a bit of time in and of itself.

I am also expecting push-back at the idea of regular one-on-one and/or team meetings, as this will be new to this team as well. Any suggestions for dealing with that?

You certainly should be able to introduce performance evaluations, but there’s no harm in checking with HR to be sure that there’s not some reason that they don’t do them that you should know about. I wouldn’t think you’d be ready to do a formal evaluation of anyone until you’ve worked with them at least six months, but you can and should be giving plenty of feedback between now and then. (And if there are big picture concerns to be discussed, you shouldn’t wait for a formal evaluation to do it.)

And if your new staff gives you pushback about having regular meetings with you, explain that you consider them a key way for you to touch base about their work, balance priorities, serve as a resource, and give feedback. If they continue to push back, that’s a sign of a bigger problem you’ll need to address. But as for team meetings, are you sure they’re needed? One-on-ones are crucial, but people too often default to other meetings when they’re not truly useful. You might start with one-on-ones and wait to see if anything else is needed.

4. Smelly coworker

About seven months ago, a new employee was hired for our small nonprofit (there are only 6 full time employees). The new employee has issues with both body odor and farting — loudly and smellingly — in public. A lot. His office is in a common room where you can hear everything. This often happens in group conversations, one on one conversations, and in meetings (with internal and external people attending.) So far I’ve kind of managed to ignore it, but the more it happens in meetings the more horrified I become. Add to that he has horrible body odor. He does work outside most of the time and works up a sweat…but so do the other guys I work with and they don’t seem to have this same problem. Oh, and he also leaves the toilet seat up in the shared male/female bathroom. (This was never an issue before in our predominately male office, but perhaps because the office is predominately male, the toilet seat should reflect the male/female ratio?)

I’m not a direct confrontational kind of person, and after 7 months of this has passed, I feel like I’ve passed the point of no return (meaning, I can’t say, “Dude, that’s gross, knock it off” … not that I would ever be able to say something like that anyway!) Add to that, he has told me that he has Asperger’s and so doesn’t necessarily understand social cues/conventions. Also, he is my boss’s best friend. Advice?

You can discreetly bring the issue to your boss’s attention and hope he takes care of it, or you can talk to him yourself. There aren’t really other options. However, this could very easily be a medical issue, and if that’s the case, there might be nothing he can do about it.

5. My sister-in-law said we worked together when we never did

My sister-in-law submitted a resume to a manufacturing company and did not provide me with notice that I would be a work reference, even though we never worked with each other at all. When this company called for a reference, I was caught off-guard and indicated that I did work with her, but this company contacted me while I was with a coworker and on my way out the door. I contacted my sister-in-law and indicated to her that she probably blew her chance because of what she did in telling them she worked with me.

I felt so guilty that I attempted to call the company the next day to say that we never worked with each other, but no one answered the phone and then I left for a 3-week holiday. Upon my return, I wanted to contact them to say it’s untrue that I worked with her. I also don’t want the company to go back to her and indicate that I’m the one who said we didn’t work together. I just want them to say that they did a thorough background check on her and noticed that she never worked where she stated. She basically lied in her resume and she never graduated from high school. I find there are a lot of people out there looking for jobs and getting nowhere, but someone like her lied and she’s received an offer to start in a few weeks. What do I do? Do I contact the company or do I just keep quiet this time around and hope that they figure this out on their own?

I have no idea what to tell you here. You shouldn’t have lied for her in the first place, but should you go back and correct the record three weeks later, after they’ve already offered her a job? Ethically, yes, if you lie, you should come clean. Practically, though, this is a big mess. Regardless, you can’t control what they tell her if you do contact them; once you give them the information, it’s up to them what to do with it.

6. Correcting an employee’s pronunciation

A couple of years ago, I managed a team of two other people, and I had an issue I didn’t know how to handle. It is still on my mind every now and then, and I’d really appreciate your opinion and advice for future situations. One of my team members – let’s call him Robert – was very enthusiastic, sincere, and friendly. Our team worked well together, and each person would do whatever was needed to get our work done. We all interacted with individuals and groups almost every day. Robert was always a bit colloquial in his speech and mispronounced a few words, but then we started working with a product that contains libraries, and we had to use the word “library” a lot. He said it “li-berry.” The first time I heard him, I was a bit jarred, but I didn’t say anything. After that, it seemed that it had gone on too long for me to say anything.

We are evaluated by the people we interact with, and there were a few (maybe four) evaluations that mentioned his mispronunciation of “library.” At first, I thought people should really be paying attention to the content and not to a person’s pronunciation. But then I wondered if it was my job as Robert’s manager to say something to him – (1) because others had mentioned it and/or (2) because it might hold him back professionally and make him seem not as smart as he is. What do you think I should have done?

Yes, as his manager, I think you should have talked to him about how to pronounce the word correctly, because it was one you were using regularly in your work and it was affecting how other people perceived him. It’s important for employees to know about feedback from people they work with (assuming it’s valid), as well hear their managers’ own observations, since that’s generally how people improve.

7. Manager made me cc someone’s boss on a complaint about them

I’m in an entry-level position and pretty much at the bottom of the totem pole at my company. All other lower level positions are responsible for assisting me at a particular time on a rotating basis. One person in particular has been late for or missing their times a lot. Of course, as the rotation happens about once every 2 weeks, everyone is late here and there because it’s not a normal part of their schedule (sometimes I feel like I spend 50% of my time waiting on people).

Anyway, this person missed one of their times and was nowhere to be found in the office. My boss ended up having to help me and asked me to write an email to the missing person about it and cc their boss.  I went ahead and did it because I really had no other choice. As the lowest person at the company though, I’m worried cc’ing their boss will affect my relationship with them and make me appear to be someone who tattles to people’s bosses if there’s an issue. Should I have handled this differently – pushed back at my boss? What if my boss asks me to escalate this or do something similar again? Am I just being too nice – should I be fine with telling on this person to their boss? I’d feel differently if I had any kind of authority over this person but if anything, I’m below them.

Well, you could have said to your boss, “I’d rather address this with her directly and only bring her manager into it if that doesn’t solve the problem.” And if your boss had insisted, you could have said, “If you think [the manager] needs to be in the loop, would you be willing to talk with [the manager] yourself? I’m concerned that if I cc her, it will strain my relationship with Jane since I haven’t talked to Jane about it first.” Those are both reasonable requests, but if your boss still stuck to her original request, in that case you’d need to follow it. You could, however, follow up with Jane later to explain that your boss had asked you to handle it that way.

{ 211 comments… read them below }

  1. Ryan*

    For #2 It almost sounds as though he doesn’t have the authority to make that decision and he is trying to justify it to someone else.

  2. Cube Ninja*

    #4: Having known a few Aspies, it’s *fairly* typical that while they may not immediately understand societal “norms”, they usually get it if someone takes the time to explain why something isn’t fit for public consumption.

    That said, I’m not entirely sure this is relevant to the bodily emanations issue other than maybe the guy isn’t saying “excuse me”. From my ever-so-not-professional-and-even-more-not-a-doctor brain, there’s some possibility that it could play a role in the BO issue. Aspies have trouble with social interaction because they don’t “get” a lot of the societal conventions. One of those societal conventions is people not smelling of yuck.

    Not necessarily to say that it’s a hygiene issue (medical or physiological issues are always a possibility, as I harped on in one of Alison’s links above), but here’s the logic – if the odor doesn’t bother him, he may be operating under the assumption that it doesn’t bother anyone else, either.

    Leaving the toilet seat up may or may not fall into the category of societal norms. Further research is needed in this area. In the meantime, I recommend a wadded up handful of processed dead tree products as a semi-effective barrier against any unfortunate residue whilst you lower the seat.

    1. Long Time Admin*

      “Leaving the toilet seat up may or may not fall into the category of societal norms. Further research is needed in this area. In the meantime, I recommend a wadded up handful of processed dead tree products as a semi-effective barrier against any unfortunate residue whilst you lower the seat.”

      Clorox wipes, every time.

    2. Soni*

      Also, I believe it’s reasonably common for Aspies to have GI issues (sometimes severe) that may be causing the flatulence, and that may be something that’s not entirely under his control.

      1. fposte*

        In general, people can’t choose never to fart. However, I think it’s kosher to say “Bob, please don’t do that in here.”

  3. EngineerGirl*

    #1. It depends on the state. I know in my city it would definately fall under identity theft, especially since a computer was being used to do it.

    #4. By deferring the conversation, you are now pretty much guarunteeing that you’ll explode at some point and the guy will be blind sided. If you think correcting the situation now is bad, waiting longer will make it worse. Take care if it ASAP.
    You are also wrong in thinking that talking to someone about an issue is “direct and confrontational”. It doesn’t have to be. But again, the longer you wait, the higher the probability that the conversation **will** be confrontational.

      1. Quit Using My Name*

        This is to the Impersonation Report I sent Google:

        Dear User,

        We’ve received your request. Unfortunately we’re unable to take any further action at this time.

        Just wanted to let other people known Google doesn’t really give a crap about identity theft. I would love to Twitter about the situation I’m in and see if anybody else has this trouble. I sent all the info they requested, I guess if there’s no $$ to be made by them, they don’t care. Google, you suck!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          In Google’s defense, they do take action within the confines of the law. They’ve acted on tons of DMCA requests I’ve sent them for sites reprinting my material without permission; I think this case just wasn’t a copyright issue, but rather an identity issue, which I don’t think they generally get involved in.

  4. Hari*

    #4 URGH I sympathize with you! If there is one thing that would be a deal breaker for me anywhere is working where there is bad odor or someone with bad hygiene. I would only talk to the boss if I was met with hostility or resistance from the co-worker in question though since it is a sensitive issue. For the sake of your nose I hope it isn’t medical related.

    #5 Let it go immediately and take it as a lesson learned. I understand your sister in-law caught you off guard with this but you missed your opportunity to be forthright when the company initially contacted you and asked you if she worked with you. If you had came clean there is actually the possibility that the company might contact your boss to find out what is really going on. The fact that in the end you tried to do the right thing is noble but can ,and will probably, get over shadowed by that fact that you lied in the first place. Not to mention the storm it could raise family wise, in-laws can be troublesome enough without this extra drama.

    You should definitely contact your sister-in-law and let her know that this type of behavior is not okay though. It is her business if she is going to lie but its not right at all for her to involve you and put your character at risk. The only thing that concerns me on your part is you were going to call the company and confess but not want them to tell your sister-in-law the reason if they rescinded the offer? This is kind of weird to me because it makes me think you weren’t actually going to call her out on this at all but yet wanted to save your own skin. Her lying isn’t on you but whether you wanted to or not you lied too, so the fact you would own up to it with the company but then not want her to know about it or confront her is odd and does border on shady for me (Just as it was shady for her to lie in the first place and not tell you).

    #6 I’m actually surprised it’s a topic of concern. His speech might be because of the part of country/world he comes from or it might be a speech impediment or the way he reads words due to dyslexia. I know for the life of me I cannot pronounce “aurora” correctly, I pronounce it “a-woah-a” I have no idea why but unless I’m thinking about it and saying it slow, its going to come out “a-woah-a”. I also have a friend who pronounces “pasta” like “passse-sta”, weird to hear but nothing that affects my perception of her. People pronounce things differently because of accents, etc, all the time. Just take the American English pronunciation of “valet” (val-ay) versus the British version of “valet” (val-let), neither is inherently wrong.

    #7. Awkward situation to be put in. I agree with Alison’s advice if you feel like your relationship may be strained just talk to the person. Let them know your boss was cc’d at the request of your own manager because your manager was the one who had to help you because they didn’t show up.

    1. JT*

      Problems with word pronunciation can vary in impact depending on whether or not the word is used at work. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say “Aurora” at my job except, perhaps, as a proper name. It’s super-rare in our work (might be more common if we were near a place called Aurora).

      Library is not rare where I work (and probably at many places, due to the existence of libraries in many places and also use of the term in software/IT, including in Windows), so mispronouncing it would be much more noticeable.

      1. LPBB*

        Pronouncing “library” as “liberry” is a pretty standard part of the dialect/accent in my neck of the woods. I’ve even heard educated people who have actually been to one in the recent past pronounce it that way. There’s a very good chance that he doesn’t realize he’s pronouncing it wrong because it sounds right to him.

        My boyfriend insists that I pronounce the word “jaguar” wrong, when in reality I’m pronouncing it the way most people native to my region say it. (obvs he’s not native, so it’s like nails on a chalkboard to him). I don’t hear what he’s talking about, to me I’m pronouncing the word correctly. I have to seriously think about it to make it come out the way he says is right and half the time its still wrong. So now I just try to avoid using that word altogether. Thankfully his brother-in-law no long works for the Jacksonville NFL team, so it doesn’t come up in conversation any more.

        All that to say, that while “liberry” may be jarring for the customers to hear, it may seriously tie this coworker in knots to attempt to correct his speech and create even more problems.

        1. Suzanne*

          Having worked in “liberries” for years, I would say the mispronounciation does need to be corrected. It may be dialect, it may be how he is used to pronouncing it, etc., but it’s wrong and makes him and the organization look unprofessional. If the mispronounciation has already been noted on evaluations, it certainly needs to be addressed.

          1. Anon*

            It’s not wrong. It may be non-standard in the region he’s in now, and therefore something he needs to learn to shift out of at work, but that doesn’t make it wrong. There’s not only one legitimate English dialect.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Actually, there are indeed standard pronunciations for words, and not using them does come across as unprofessional. She doesn’t need to discipline the guy over it, but she certainly needs to bring it to his attention. It’s coming up in his evaluations! He’s entitled to know how it’s affecting people’s perceptions of him.

              1. Anon*

                Well I did say specifically that, yeah, you are going to learn how to shift into the “standard” dialect at work in a lot of cases. But I still object to characterizing other spoken dialects of English as “wrong.” It’s not semantics; characterizing regional dialects – which often have as long and complex a history as standard English – as wrong has been a historically effective way to marginalize their speakers, most of whom are, not coincidentally, in already-marginalized ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic groups.

                As an illustration, I’m betting that if Sir. Patrick Stewart worked at that library he’d pronounce all sorts of words differently from the other library employees. I’m also betting nobody would say a word about it.

                But yeah, the fact is that we don’t live in a perfect world and people are still judged for using regional dialects. So sometimes people are going to need to learn how to not use them at work, and their managers will have to raise that issue. But acknowledging that reality doesn’t mean we have to continue pretending there’s only one correct way to speak English.

                1. Jamie*

                  Yes, but in your example Patrick Stewart would be using proper pronunciation which is standard where he comes from (is received pronunciation what standard English is called in Britain?)

                  There are differences in pronunciations between countries, and in those instances as long as each are saying them properly, aren’t wrong.

                  i.e. in Chicago if I started saying “schedule” with the shhh sound like Patrick Stewart I’d be mocked – but he wouldn’t if he did it.

                  I understand colloquial speech, and there’s a place for that, but if you are pronouncing a word incorrectly and repeatedly it’s a kindness for the manager to point it out.

                  And I also come from a part of the world where li-berry is used as often as not by many people.

                2. Anon*

                  But the only thing difference between British and American English vs. two American dialects is that we’re talking countries, not groups within countries. And yeah, the dominant group in a country has gotten to set the standard pronunciation and then judge everyone who doesn’t use it (and use it as a handy excuse to avoid sharing power and privileges, funny how that works). But that doesn’t make it right.

                  Again, we have limited control over that in the workplace – sometimes you have to learn how to say it the standard way to advance and that’s just how it is – but when we’re talking about it as a theoretical matter, we shouldn’t elide the very real historical dynamics at play.

                3. Anon*

                  But nobody’s disputing that (or at least I wasn’t). But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about how we’re framing the practical advice we’re giving, and that is going to have a theoretical component.

                4. Elizabeth West*

                  Yes but if Sir Patrick Stewart were working where I worked I would be too busy drooling/fainting/fluttering every time he looked at me to worry about what the hell he was even saying, not to mention how he was pronouncing it!

              2. books*

                If it’s coming up in the evaluation, absolutely it’s important. If it wasn’t and she was just annoyed by it, such is life. My husband says liberry too and it’s habit from pronouncing it that way all of his life. He says a few other things kind of incorrect too. I’m sure I do as well. So be it.

                1. Jamie*

                  I think a dialect is what I do and also includes other regional manners of speech I find charming.

                  A mispronunciation is anything that I don’t like and it just sounds wrong, which people should correct immediately. :)

                  TiC of course – I do think this really boils down to perception, though. It’s a great question.

                2. fposte*

                  I suppose functionally dialect is when you say a word the way other people regularly say it where you live, while a mispronunciation is when you came up with it alone (or in a group too small to count as a dialect, like a family).

                  But that’s about the cause, which doesn’t always matter in the face of the effect. “Fanny pack” is a perfectly legitimate American term, but an American sales assistant still can’t use it in British retail.

              3. OP*

                And I was trying to protect him, so I never showed him the evaluations. I know – bad manager! Now I know that this is not the way to go.

            2. Xay*

              I have work diction and casual diction (also known as code switching). It’s not about right or wrong, it is about the type of speech that is most appropriate for your surroundings.

              If the person’s pronunciation is this much of a problem in that environment, he needs to be told so he can adjust.

            3. AnotherAlison*

              I’m just nerdy enough that I checked, and Webster’s does show the “Sometimes US” pronounciation of liberry. Not that I in anyway agree with ever pronouncing it this way.

              1. fposte*

                Right, because most dictionaries are descriptive as well as prescriptive–if a lot of people say it one way (“nucular” as a pronunciation is in many dictionaries, too) it’ll be in there, whether it’s considered correct or not.

                1. Jamie*

                  That’s kind of too bad. I remember when I was a kid the dictionary was the final arbiter of what was correct or not.

                  In my house you couldn’t argue with the dictionary – and dictionaries were far less accommodating to me back then.

                2. Anonymous*

                  The OED has always viewed its mission as descriptive, not prescriptive. Indeed, I believe Dr J. had ideas of being prescriptive, but gave up on the idea rapidly.

                3. Melissa*

                  Merriam-Webster is descriptive as well – I remember getting this email back from an M-W employee when I emailed them about a thesaurus entry I disagreed with.

        2. Your Mileage May Vary*

          I agree with this. I bet you a million bucks he is from an area where it’s pronounced “liberry”. And if you tell him to pronounce it correctly, every time he comes to that word from now on, he’ll pause beforehand and look uncertain when he says it. That will look a LOT more unprofessional than just the mispronunciation.

          Unless he is an actor, newscaster, or some other profession where standard pronunciation is needed, I’d just drop it.

          This message brought to you by a biased respondent: I come from a place where not only “liberry” is standard but also “Feb-er-airy”. :)

          1. fposte*

            In general speech I’m all for “let it go, it’s dialect”; however, if it’s a frequent professional term and it’s affecting client feedback, then I think it’s legit to ask him to try to change his pronunciation. I’d couch it not in terms of correction but in terms of dialect–every language user has one and they almost always include stuff that other people consider a mispronunciation, as noted upthread–and say that it would help our professional image if he adopted the more formal pronunciation of the word.

            I’d be even more inclined to do this if his speech was otherwise quite newscaster-standard, so it wasn’t clear that it was a dialect-based pronunciation. But there’s nothing wrong with asking people to adopt a different phrase or pronunciation for professional reasons.

            1. KayDay*

              “however, if it’s a frequent professional term and it’s affecting client feedback, then I think it’s legit to ask him to try to change his pronunciation.” Yes! This is one of those, “it’s not a problem unless it’s a problem” type things. If his mispronunciation is affecting his work/the company it matters. If it’s just annoying/weird/funny, then it doesn’t matter.

            2. Your Mileage May Vary*

              But this isn’t like telling someone, “Hey, it’s Daylight Saving Time, no S, ok?” It’s pretty easy for anyone to say “saving” instead of “savings”. But learning the difference between the “br” sound and the “ber” sound will probably require a speech therapist. He’s going to have to learn how to hear the difference in sounds before he can say it. Even the most well-intentioned employee can’t make that change overnight.

              Any chance the company would set him up with a few appointments with a professional for this? I bet his insurance wouldn’t cover it.

                1. Meg*

                  I grew up in a bilingual household and my first year of formal education was in a non-English country. I speak Russian fluently and have a Russian drawl to some words, mostly those with r or L. I say “liberry” but not in the same way, I suppose. Its more “LI-ber-REE”. And yes, I say “ber-read” for bread and “ber-rick” for brick. I also say “der-ragon” for dragon and “ba-loo” for blue. But honestly it happens so fast that you don’t notice it is two syllables.

                  Granted I don’t have a Russian accent. Its more southern (I grew up in Charlotte NC). And the only person that has said anything about my pronunciation was my Spanish professor in college… but rather that I had perfect pronunciation in Spanish
                  and could hear my Russian drawl on Rs and Ls.

                  And February is Febuary or Feb-you-wary

              1. The Other Dawn*

                I agree on being able to hear the difference in sounds. One of my direct reports has trouble pronouncing many words because she cannot hear certain sounds. I help her pronounce them correctly, but she doesn’t always hear the correct pronunciation so it doesn’t really make a big difference. Perhaps OP’s employee has the same issue.

                1. JobSeeker*

                  I have a hearing loss, which causes my speech to be impaired–I’ve mostly overcome this but I still have a terrible time with Rs.

                  I find myself torn on this subject because if I had an issue that was coming up in performance evaluations, I’d want to know. However, in some cases I would be limited in what I could actually do to fix it (especially in the cases of the “R” sound–for the “Sh” or “Ng” sound, I can be more aware of it and correct it but for some reason I really can’t do much on improving the “R” sound.

              2. fposte*

                Actually, people often hear different pronunciations but stick with the one that’s customary for them–it doesn’t mean he doesn’t hear the others. If it does look like something he can’t simply change his pronunciation on the business can then decide whether it wants to take the matter any farther, but I don’t think it’s necessary to assume it’s going to be a big deal up front.

          2. Ariancita*

            I come from a region that also pronounces it “liberry” and “Feberairy.” I didn’t even realize it was wrong–while I lived in that region. Fairly quickly after moving out of the area, I picked up the correct way to say it. So it can be done, and it doesn’t have to be a lot of work to try to do it correctly. After only a few times, he could get it. Now when I think back to that old dialect, it’s really hard for me to say it the incorrect way. He just needs to practice it at home a couple of times.

            1. BW*

              When I am out of the area, I don’t pick up on it though I will pick up on “drawer”. I wouldn’t even necessarily call it “wrong”. It’s not any more wrong than the pronunciation differences between other words between different regions. It’s not a place name like Worcester, Gloucester, or Quincy (MA – all others being pronounced with an S sound).

              Also, it’s not necessarily easy to learn a new pronunciation as an adult. Consider it akin to someone with an accent because they grew up speaking a language other than English or someone who is from the UK…or the South vs. North vs. Midwest.

                1. Ellie H.*

                  Oh ok! I live in MA (and am from here, but I don’t have the accent – I have a slight Midwestern accent bc my mom is from Ann Arbor) but say Quincy the “normal” way with a c, not z. Interesting.

              1. UK HR Bod*

                And I have no idea how you say the first two in the US, but they are Wooster and Gloster here!
                I say ‘libry’. I’m not daft or uneducated – I just have a regional UK accent, and sound strangled if I enunciate every syllable of certain words. Some English accents can get away with Feb-ru-air-y – but for others of us it’s Febry (although there is extra sound in that ‘r’ than I can’t actually put across in writing!). I’ve known librarians with exactly the same accent, and no-one calls them on it. But, as another commenter said, maybe it’s worth flagging it to him – but only as something that’s been said, not something that needs to improve.

                1. Jamie*

                  I lived near Worcester, Mass for about a year. Or just ‘westah wistah’ as they say.

                  Except being from the midwest when I first got to town and stopped for directions I made the mistake of pronouncing it: War-Kest-Er.

                  Yeah – I didn’t exactly blend in right away.

                2. Anonymous*

                  A really weird one is Pittsburgh – apparently the locals fought the USPS to keep the ‘h’ on the end, yet pronounce the name as if it weren’t there (i.e. as a German root, not Scottish).

                3. twentymilehike*

                  Oh goodness I love it! I have friends in Glasgow and they type the way they talk on facebook and it always cracks me up. I’m learning the accent through reading!!

                  On the other hand, just to chime in, my dear hubby makes a lot of the “liberry” type of pronunciations in his speech and part of it is that’s what he’s been exposed to and is used to and the other part is that he’s had several head injuries and is dislexic. He’s fully aware of it, and knows that it may hold him back. So might this guy.

                4. Anonymous*

                  Well, in English (as opposed to Scots), it would be “Pittsborough.” The “-burgh” is denoting “town” but pronouncing it as “-burg” makes it sounds like a Germanic fortress.

                5. Natalie*

                  @ Laura L, I believe the “other” pronunciation of Edinburgh has a small “u” sound on the end, i.e. “Edinburuh”.

              2. Meg*

                Hmm. I would Worcester as “Woors-ster” and Gloucester as “Glaus-ster.” A friend of mine is named Quincy and he pronounces it as “Kin-see.” Oh, and drawer is totally “dr-oar.”

          3. Rana*

            As a person who still has to pause and enunciate clearly when I say “nuclear” out loud, in order to avoid pronouncing it “nucular,” I understand what you’re saying. But I argue that it’s more jarring for many people if the PhD they’re hiring to edit their writing mispronounces this word, than if I pause before saying it.

            Hesitancy can be masked as thoughtfulness and selecting one’s words carefully; a poorly pronounced word can’t.

        3. BW*

          I had a hard time wrapping my head around this one, because “liberry” is the norm around hear, as is “Febuary” instead of “FebRuary”. “Draw” is also the common pronunciation of the word “drawer”, and for the life of me I cannot pronounce “drawer” any other way. If “liberry” is his native dialect/accent and he’s been saying it that way all his life, give the guy a break. I’m sure “libRary” sounds just as weird to him and/or he doesn’t hear the difference that other people are hearing.

      2. Josh S*

        There’s a few issues at play here.

        First, the pronunciation itself isn’t an issue. I don’t care if you say “liberry,” “nukular,” or “acks” when you’re talking with me. (Though one of my pet peeves is “meh-tour” for mature and “shed-uhl” instead of sked-ule.) The real issue is that his pronunciation is hurting his perceived professionalism, particularly in front of clients. As a manager, you could easily say something like, “Hey, this is a small issue in general and I could honestly care less. But a handful of clients have commented on your pronunciation of “library” as “liberry”. I don’t want such a silly thing to hold back your career–and as far as I’m concerned, it wont. For me, the content of what you achieve is far more important than the way you pronounce a word. But since people are mentioning it, I wanted to give you the feedback. You can choose what to do with it.”

        That way you’ve informed him of the issue, placed it in context (it’s not really important), and given him the opportunity to make changes if he feels it necessary. The rest is up to him.

        Another consideration is whether the pronunciation is correlated with race. Without over-generalizing (particularly since plenty of people of all races mis-pronounce this one), a few mispronunciations are frequently done by certain ethnicities because of the cultures that surround them. So if it’s the case that Richard is of a different ethnicity than the OP, it may be something to weigh as you consider whether to broach the topic–the response from clients might be soft racism (though I would be extremely hesitant to jump to that conclusion absent other evidence).

        Just a thought.

        1. Your Mileage May Vary*

          I like the way you stated it, Josh S. But I think that it should only be used if it’s an ongoing thing. If the clients’ evaluation was given at the end of the contract and it’s unlikely the issue is going to come up in the future, should anything be said at all?

        2. Hari*

          ” it may be something to weigh as you consider whether to broach the topic–the response from clients might be soft racism (though I would be extremely hesitant to jump to that conclusion absent other evidence).”

          This is a good point. I wanted to make this point as well originally but didn’t know how to put it in such an articulate way at the time. YMMV but I notice a good amount of time when someone complains about a mispronunciation it is because that person pronounces things with a foreign accent. “Learn to speak English” is a common causal-ism (soft-racism as you put it) in terms of discrimination.

          1. fposte*

            I wondered about this too. But if the linguistic point is valid and it’s marring an otherwise effective presentation, it may still be worth asking for an effort to change it.

        3. Bobby Digital*

          Josh said exactly what I was thinking. I’m not sure what kind of industry this is, but it does seem suspicious to me that clients would complain over something that seems rather… nitpicky.

          That said, since they are clients, and since it’s coming up in evaluations (!) it does need to be addressed. I do think that it would be totally appropriate in this case to explain that the clients have an issue with it and, as nitpicky as it may be, the clients need to be appeased.

          If I were the manager, I might also add to the conversation something like, “You’re obviously doing an excellent job if this is the largest complaint against you…” (If that’s true, of course.)

        4. OP*

          Josh, what you said is very helpful. Robert (employee) and I are different races, and while we work in a area that is racially diverse, I think our clients’ comments were based partly on race and partly on people being nitpicky (that’s my opinion based on knowing the people who filled out the evaluations). Also just to restate it – out of about 200 evaluations over time, only about 4 people mentioned this issue. I especially liked how Josh phrased what I could have said to Robert about it – not awkward at all, just straightforward and matter-of-fact. And, as Bobby Digital mentioned, aside from this issue, Robert’s evaluations were excellent, and he was a great person to have on our team. I also appreciated what Your Mileage May Vary, Hari, and fposte said in response to Josh’s post.

    2. Jamie*

      “I cannot pronounce “aurora” correctly”

      Mine is asterisk. I don’t have a speech impediment and have NO idea why it’s this word – but if I don’t slow down and sound it out it will come out wrong every time.

      I still remember being little and seeing the words “front room” written out for the first time and being shocked that they were two words. My family is generally pretty well spoken but if you met us you’d swear that the place other people call the living room…the one with the big picture window is called a “frontchroom.”

      Everyone has something – I look at those little things regional speech patterns like wearing sweats. Comfy and homey and fine for family but you don’t trot them out for company (or business).

      1. Bobby Digital*

        “I cannot pronounce “aurora” correctly,” “Mine is asterisk.”

        For me it’s any word ending in “-tary.” My brain insists that “-tary” is two syllables. “El-e-men-tair-ee school” instead of the more common “elemen-tree” and “doc-u-men-tair-ee film” instead of “documen-try.”

        1. Jamie*

          :::very small voice:::

          I say tary words as you do, is that wrong? Off to google…

          Oh and just because I find this funny – the last time we talked about this kind of thing someone mentioned something about how in some parts of the country ‘Mary/Merry/Marry’ all sound the same and ever since then every. single. time. I hear someone say one of those words I desperately search for the difference. I never knew there was a difference – and it’s been an experiment for me to try to hear the difference and so far…nothing.

          I think regional dialects are fascinating – I love this topic.

          1. Malissa*

            Here’s one for you–If I’m back in the mid-west the place I live now is Warshington. they also warsh their clothes. I spent forever trying to figure out where the “r” came from.

            1. Laura L*

              Where in the Midwest? In my experience, that’s not a Midwestern thing. It’s more New England or Pennsylvania.

          2. fposte*

            What’s interesting is that the Chicago region is one of those places where people often elide the unstressed vowels–I say “intresting,” losing that whole second syllable.

            And then there are the words where the orthography actually reverses some of the sounds, like “iron” (nobody says I-ron) and, in most places, “comfortable” (common pronunciation is “comfterble”).

            1. Rana*

              Heh. I pick up regional pronunciations like staticky socks collect lint. It makes my spoken speech… interesting.

        2. Ellie H.*

          I am really not sure I have ever heard anyone say “Elementry” or “Documentry.” I have always pronounced, and heard them pronounced, “Elemen-ta-ry” and “documen-ta-ry,” with the emphasis on the “men.”

          I can hear the differences between Mary/Merry/marry (which I think is a common New England thing) but when I try to say them, most people can’t hear them.

            1. bearing*

              One of my favorites is the “cot-caught merger.” I come from a region where “cot” and “caught” have very different pronunciations — you can *see* the difference between the shapes of people’s mouths — but now I live in a region where they both sound like “cot” and nobody can hear the difference. (“la,” as in fa-la-la, and “law” have the same difference)

              I didn’t notice it until I started teaching kids to read.

              1. Natalie*

                I apparently grew up some place with the cot-caught merger because I can’t imagine how else to pronounce “caught”.

                1. fposte*

                  Does it help if I say that in my speech “cot” rhymes with “pot” and “caught” with “brought”?

                2. Rana*

                  Nope. “Cot,” “pot,” “caught,” and “brought” all sound like they have the same vowel to me. :D

                3. Natalie*

                  What Rana said. The only thing I can think of is pronouncing the gh like an f – i.e. how draught is AFAIK pronounced the same as draft. But I’ve never heard anyone pronounce caught or brought with an “f” so I have to assume that is not what’s happening here.

                  Perhaps some linguists have uploaded videos for me. Off to the internet!

              2. fposte*

                Oh, Slate just had an article about this! That one interests me because it’s a “within my lifetime” thing. Ditto the shortening of the long a in unstressed syllables (people often say something closer to “emell” than “email”).

              3. Laura*

                I finally taught my husband to properly pronounce my name after 15 years of it grating on my last nerve. It helped that we made a new friend named Lara, whose name he pronounced differently from mine, but also incorrectly. My name is pronounced with the “au” sound in caught or taught, and her name is pronounced with the “ah” sound in “la la la”. He was saying “Lore-uh” and “Lair-uh”, respectively. The mispronunciation of my name in that way seems to be a Northeastern thing, and it’s a little irritating but I don’t usually make an issue out of it.

                My personal pronunciation foibles are saying crown and crayon the same way and pin and pen. Also, I didn’t know until I was an adult that “bob wire” and barbed wire are the same thing, and I still call it “bob wire”. Oh, and I grew up in Kansas City, Missouri (pronounced Kansitty Missouruh).

          1. Jamie*

            My problem with elementary or documentary is remembering to pronounce the t.

            At home while being lazy I’m quite apt to ask if anyone wants to watch the ‘documennery on elemennary schools in the frontchroom.”

            I’m not fit for civilized society – no wonder I prefer typing to speaking.

            1. Hari*

              Ha! I also say “documennery” and “elemennary” too.

              Wow this conversation is really making me consider how I pronounce certain words. I will say that I do fall victim to saying “pacific” when I mean “specific”, that one I actually get embarrassed about and try hard to slow down my speech so I can get it correct.

              1. Jamie*

                Okay – please remove your listening devices from my home! And yes – with a bottleapop. Because why waste time saying “of” when you can say “a.” That’s efficiency!

                I am totally self conscious today, in an amusing way, of how I talk. I spoke with someone earlier and just for sport I made an effort to enunciate correctly. He asked me what was wrong with my mouth.

                Just me? Anyone else hearing their own words through a critical ear today?

                1. Jeb-Ray Gumpeater*

                  “…I spoke with someone earlier and just for sport I made an effort to enunciate correctly. He asked me what was wrong with my mouth…”
                  This made me spill water on my desk :-)

            2. Anlyn*

              So this is very weird for me…I say “elementree”, but pronounce out the tary in documentary. I went to elementree school, where we watched documentaries.

              I’m blanking on any other examples. I’m from Oklahoma, and have a combination of southern Okie and southern Ohio, due to my parents being from each region. I dial it back at work, but my Okie accent still comes through, especially when I’m tired or stressed.

              1. Nodumbunny*

                At work I manage to dial back all my Texas twang except if I’m looking for a file, which I pronounce “faal”.

                1. Natalie*

                  I talked to a woman today from our law firm in Boston, who had no discernible Boston accent until she said “marching orders” using only 1/2 of an r.

              2. Erin*

                I think I do this too (although I’d say I switch back and forth on documentary somewhat). I think part of it might have to do with the differing ages at which a person starts using each word regularly. Most little kids are using the word elementary way before they know how to spell it (“Guess what, guess what, I’m going to elementree school next year!”) so the smoother pronunciation, with less syllables, sounds perfectly plausible to them, and is easier to say. By the time it occurs to anyone that it might be said differently, the pronunciation’s entrenched for life. Documentary, on the other hand, isn’t something most people add to their vocabulary until much later, at which point a knowledge of what it looks like on paper, and what sounds more “proper,” is much more likely to interfere with their thought processes on how to say it.

            3. fposte*

              It’s probably not really a total absence of the t, though, so much as an unvoiced t. Britons sometimes think Americans say “butter” as if it were spelled “budder,” but we’d actually say that quite differently–we just don’t voice the t.

              1. Erin*

                Yes, if I remember my linguistics class correctly, most Americans use a glottal stop in butter (in other words, cutting off the air flow completely between the u and the e sounds, rather than making a true ‘t’ sound with the tongue on the front teeth – which reads as a ‘d’ sound, which is made further back in the mouth, to many ears. Something like that, anyway.

            4. Laura L*

              Do you say “hunner” or “hunnerd” or “hunnert” for “hundred? That’s another I only recently learned about and it bugs my mom A LOT.

          2. Liz in a Library*

            Maybe it’s more of a British English thing? My dad is a Brit (albeit one who has lived in the US for more than 50 years), and he says elementree, documentree, etc.

            I’ve always said both the other way (elementahry, documentahry), and I’ve heard that more often (in the South).

          3. Rana*

            The “ary” part is two syllables for me, if I pay attention. But words with it come out with the last vowel very soft and unstressed – “eh-le-men-tery” – so if I’m speaking fast or lazy, it will probably come out sounding more like “tree” than “tar-ree.”

          4. Laura L*

            I definitely say elementry and documentry. I might add the a in there a tiny bit, but for the most part I don’t.

          5. Julie*

            I have always said elementry and documentry (I’m from California), but I have heard a couple of people in the New England area say those words pronouncing all of the syllables. I looked it up, and both are acceptable. I do agree with the person (earlier in these comments) who was disappointed that the dictionary no longer prints the “correct” pronunciation only, but also adds other, common pronunciations for words. I feel conflicted between “what’s right is right” and “we humans created the language in the first place and are allowed to make up new words.”

      2. Laura L*

        I only very recently (in the past few months) learned that fronchroom is a Chicagoism! My mom never said it because she’s not from the area and my dad’s parents taught him to not have a Chicago accent. Oh, the things I’ve missed out on. :-(

  5. CatB (Europe)*

    #3: Performance evaluation

    I don’t know if my experience is of any help, but I introduced such performance evaluation systems in two of the companies I worked with, both times in Sales (Sales reps).

    Company A: fmcg, sales force had no evaluation whatsoever, owner decided personally for each SR. I worked up a salary + bonus scheme based on three KPI I deemed important (% of sales quota achieved, outstanding invoices and cash-on-delivery) and, aside the all-employees meeting dedicated to this only topic, I criss-crossed the country in one-on-ones with every employee involved before any change was made. It took me two months to do it, but it went smoothly enough (probably it also helped that I calculated a small 5% to 10% bump in total income for 100% sales quota achieved, compared to personal average income history).

    Company B: industrial equipment and services. Had a totally screwed-up bonus scheme that the company couldn’t support anymore. The same all-employee plus one-on-ones, only this time I did it only after I took care to establish trust and mutual respect with everyone, since the new scheme meant reducing total personal income by 20% (and in one particular case with close to 40%). I painted carefully the big picture, figures and all (and that made me quite unpopular with the owners…) and was clear about the bottom line: we stick together in stormy weather or we drown separately. They stayed with me, to their merit, along the process (and, suprisingly, started to fly away only after the owners sacked me and reinstated the old scheme – I can’t imagine how they were planning to pay wages, given the poor finance situation…)

    Hope that helps…

  6. Anonymous*

    Team meetings can be really painful depending on the personalities involved, but here’s how one prior boss handled it and I thought it worked well for that situation (team of 4, by the way):

    -One-hour team meeting every other week (ouch) to go over projects, roles, etc.
    -In the off weeks, she would spend that time meeting with each of us individually (15-20 minutes) to hear what we were working on and discuss how to prioritize and meet our goals. This also gave us each a chance to speak up privately or bring up other issues (e.g. “By the way, I’m at the dentist Tuesday and will miss X”).

    I think it also resolved some introvert/extrovert battles that erupted when we’d only have team meetings and not as many one-offs.

    1. OP#3*

      I think this helps a lot! The team I work with is all working on one big project and I know we need team meetings in order to keep our work coordinated and in order to learn from and teach one another from the issues we are facing as we each work on the project in a different part of the country.

      In my last management role we just had a weekly Monday morning team meeting in order to set up weekly goals and check progress on last weeks goals. This kept us accountable to each other as our success or failure depended on everyone meeting their goals. But we faced the exact issues you were talking about – not enough space for speaking up privately and the introvert/extrovert thing. Plus I need some space for regular feedback and don’t like to do critical feedback in a group.

      I think that I will do exactly what you are describing here!

    2. Julie*

      I love this plan! We had weekly team meetings (also a small team), but it would have been great if I had met with each person every other week. Next time I have a team to manage, I’ll be using a lot of ideas from AAM!

  7. Your Boss*

    Smelly co-worker is a tough one. This happened to me once. One of my employees complained about a guy who was using some kind of nasty, nasty lotion. That was our guess, anyway. So I had to talk to this guy, and I have to admit it was a conversation I was dreading. It is not just personal, but also you are trying to make a point without offending anyone. In the end, I was just direct. There is no other way around.

  8. Bridgette*

    #2 – I’ve been in that situation. The interviewers said they were creating a position for me and gave me a rough date when they would be able to formally offer and hire me, but that date kept getting pushed back, and then the job offer disappeared. Haven’t heard from them in months, despite their enthusiasm about me. So keep on applying and interviewing. I think your interviewer sounds sincere, and mine certainly were, but something things just fall through and they are out of the control of the hiring manager. It does sound promising and it’s flattering that he values you enough to do this, but it’s not final until it’s in writing. I wish the best for you!

    1. Anlyn*

      I’m in that situation now. I’ve been trying to move departments for three years, but there just hasn’t been the budget for it. I bring it up every once in a while to the manager in that department, and he’s always enthusiastic, but it just hasn’t happened. I don’t know that it ever will. I’m happy enough in my job now that I’m not worrying over it, and if one day he calls me and says “hey, we have the budget, we’re bringing you over!”, then I’ll jump on it. But until then, I just keep going down the path I’ve been going down…luckily, it’s pretty interesting. And if that path changes, then I’ll consider other options.

  9. KayDay*

    #1 Email: Are you sure that this guy is being shady intentionally? (From the tone of your email, he very well might be). Or could it be that he simply doesn’t realize he is doing it and/or doesn’t know how to change the name? If that’s a possibility, perhaps you could first send him a polite email asking him to change the name. If that doesn’t work, then go for the letter from a lawyer.

    How is your Google Account set up? If I send emails from our generic info account “info[at]chocolateteapots[dot]com,” the name in the “from” field says my name. Is your ex-boss doing something similar? If that is the case, your ex-boss may simply not realize that he is using your name. He needs to go to Settings>Accounts>Send mail as>edit info.

    Now, if he’s sending emails from ‘yourname[at]company[dot]com’, proceed directly to the lawyer.

    1. Quit Using My Name*

      I already sent an email to him about not using my name. The Google account is under the business name so I can’t just delete it. He has since changed the password and is still blogging with my full name. He is also sending it to over 1200 emails per month. Why didn’t he just use his name instead of mine in the beginning, I never got an answer on that one.

      Yes, he is still sending emails from my name@company.com. What kind of lawyer would take this case, since I just can’t afford to pay for a letter that might get ignored? I feel he is making money off of my name. I’m not famous at all, but if he were to used George.Clooney @companyname.com, wouldn’t that be fraud.

      I still have his list of the 1200 emails, should I just email all of them and let them know about his wrongdoings?

      1. Rana*

        I wouldn’t do that last bit. It is unlikely to make you look good, even though you’re in the right, especially if you don’t know these people.

        If I got an email from one of my clients saying that the last email I got from them was really from another person using their email, it would raise my eyebrows, but I’d be willing to listen since I had a prior relationship with them. If some person I didn’t know did the same thing, I’d shrug and think they were a weirdo.

      2. Rana*

        Also, with regards to the lawyer, the goal here isn’t to launch a full-on court case against this dude, so you’re not talking thousands of dollars in lawyer fees. The goal is to scare him enough to stop doing it. Surely paying a lawyer for the couple of hours it would take for them to write an intimidating letter would be worth it to you?

      3. fposte*

        Before you say you can’t afford a letter, ask a lawyer what the charge would be for writing one. It might be free (especially if you’re in a town where there are low-cost legal clinics) or like $25-$50 bucks. And if you don’t want to just let this go, this is your best option. Check with friends who’ve bought a house or drawn up a will or something to see who they used and then talk to somebody at that firm. A lot of lawyers are willing to talk to you briefly for free up front, so it shouldn’t cost you anything to ask.

        As you suggest, there’s no actual case here–you’ve got no financial damages, and you’re not actually a public figure (since you’re not George Clooney, it doesn’t really matter what it would mean if you were), but a firmly worded attorney’s letter can often achieve your end.

      4. KayDay*

        I just saw this, but thanks for the response. I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t a simple misunderstanding of how to use the technology before suggesting you get a lawyer. In your case, I agree with everything Rana and fposte said. Do you know any lawyers–often one’s lawyer friends will do this for free (regardless of their specialty). If you have managed to avoid befriending any lawyers, I would check with a legal clinic, or just see if any of your friends have ever used a lawyer–this sort of thing should be pretty cheap and not take much of the lawyers time.

  10. Construction HR*

    Great googley-moogely, he leaves the toilet set up!?

    Would you rather that he leaves it down & pees on it? Or perhaps puts it down afterward leaving you to wonder if he lifts it to pee (or doesn’t)?

    Is this really an issue? Really?

    1. some1*

      I think you are being unnecessarily hyperbolic here. Obviously the LW would like her co-worker to lift the seat before he goes #1. And she clearly said that before he started, none of the other men in the office left it up.

      1. Jeb-Ray Gumpeater*

        I think the point is that the position of the toilet seat is a dumb thing to complain about. If it’s up and you want it down, then put it down. Why complain? I will never understand this.

  11. Nodumbunny*

    Construction HR – Yes, this is an issue, because when a guy leaves the toilet seat up, the next woman has to touch it to put it back down. Yuck! As someone above said, many dead tree products must be used. Alison…$10 says we’re about to embark on a comment thread that will rival pantyhose: yes or no. Sorry for my contribution to it!

  12. Construction HR*

    Nodumbunny, notwithstanding the guy has to touch it once to put it up (probably) and once to put it down, use your foot like we do :-)

    1. Malissa*

      Feet are very handy in flushing toilets as well. If all else fails just remember that you are going to wash your hands in just a minute anyway…

      1. Jamie*

        This. I don’t see this as a big deal either – I agree with Construction HR. When you get in just situate yourself accordingly – I don’t need the previous guy to prepare the room for me. Just leave it clean and I’m happy.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      Maybe this is just because I’m the only female at home with 3 males, but I think he who sprays the toilet shall be the one to put down the lid. If 100% of what you do goes into the toilet, I do not have a problem putting down the lid before my turn, but when I have to get near your overspray to put it down, I’m grossed out.

      (OTOH, at jobsites, I’m really just happy that I get to use the indoor plumbing in the trailer and not the portapotties, so I don’t really care. Further to that point, our sites have a female-only portapotty so the craft women do not have to deal with that lid up/down problem.)

      1. Ariancita*

        yeah, and I’ve never seen a situation where there wasn’t some spray or dribble. I once lived in a house with a bunch of German guys and never had this problem. I learned that German men sit to pee (or so that was told to me, don’t know how true that is in general or if it was just these particular Germans). I was impressed.

    3. Ariancita*

      Except when you wear skirts, then it’s impossible to use your feet. The toilet seat is like the door–if you open it, it’s your responsibility to close it.

      1. Hari*

        Au contraire, I have flushed many a toilet with my feet in pencil skirts, mini skirts, tube dresses and body shape-wear, a lot of the times at bars and while quite a bit less than sober to boot. I’m sorry but unless its a toilet at mine or someone else’s home who I know and consider to be hygienic there is NO WAY I am touching a toilet seat or handle, or sitting down on it (paper or not) for that matter. I’m not saying it isn’t excessive, I just have a peeve about these things so I have learned how to get by lol.

        1. Ariancita*

          Flushing, yes. Lowering the lid, where you need to read higher (I think), no. Also, I’m very short, so that could be part of it too? I just know, even with flushing, it’s a struggle in a skirt. And agree–I never touch a public toilet in any way except wiht my feet. My thigh muscles are outstanding now!

      2. Joanna Reichert*

        “The toilet seat is like the door–if you open it, it’s your responsibility to close it.” Precisely.

        Plus, any layer of insulation against unsightly stains and odors coming from a toilet is just plain common sense. I’m well aware that we’re privileged in the US – ‘dump holes’ in Italy, anyone? They’re fun to use – but for gosh sake, if you have the facilities, use them.

        1. Jeb-Ray Gumpeater*

          “…“The toilet seat is like the door–if you open it, it’s your responsibility to close it.” Precisely…”
          Uh… No. A good 50% of the population does not agree with you on this.

          If you need/want it down, then put it down.

          1. Jamie*

            This. Situate your own toilet so we can get back to worrying about the important stuff – like people who don’t replace the paper in the copier.

            Those people need disciplinary action.

      3. Risa*

        So by that token, if you put it down to pee, shouldn’t you put it back up for the next guy that comes along? This really seems like much ado about nothing. Just deal with it, use paper or not. I’m not sure why the onus on 100% on men to make us women happy when peeing.

        1. Nodumbunny*

          Because there is no aiming involved with women*, as there is with men. No aiming, hence no missing.

          *exception is “hoverers” ugh.

          1. Construction HR*

            SWMBO would strongly disagree, as the appears to be several women at her place of employment who appear to stand on the seat & squat.

          2. Risa*

            I don’t know about the bathrooms you have at your workplace, but IME, women can be downright dirty in the bathroom, so I don’t grant them any exceptions.

            1. Natalie*

              Several years in commercial property management has taught me that literally every group has the capability to be an absolute jackass in a restroom they don’t personally have to clean. This ability knows no bounds of race, sex, national origin, language, religion, class, or education level.

          3. Jeb-Ray Gumpeater*

            “Because there is no aiming involved with women…”
            That is COMPLETELY irrelevant.

        2. Ariancita*

          See my reply above about the ratio: putting the seat down makes sense for everyone as it’s used with it down the majority of times of use. Only 1 out of 2 people use it up for only part of the time they use it. 1 out of 2 use it down every time they use it. 1 out of 2 people use it down for some of the time they use it, and up for the majority of time. The numbers work in favor of it needing to be down most of the time.

    4. Ivy*

      Agreeing with Construction HR…. I mean, especially if there are a majority of men in the office… OP should almost be the one putting the seat UP after she’s done…

      As for the ricochet AnotherAlison is talking about… well… what do you think happens when you flush and all those microscopic water droplets get thrown in the air?

      I’m all for the foot and/or copious amount of toilet paper techniques :)

    5. Anon2*

      Exactly. I’ve had a few male roommates and I covered this very clearly: “I’m not putting it back up when I’m done using it, I certainly don’t expect you to put it down.” Amazingly, we never had any issues.

      The one roommate who didn’t like to use bathmats and just dripped water all over the floor after his showers ….. now that’s another story. ;)

      1. Maire*

        My boss uses the ladies toilets, pees over the seat and also, on occasion, leaves a pool of piss on the floor.
        The cleaner only comes in once a week and he generally chooses to do this right after she’s been for that week.

      2. Julie*

        This – “I’m not putting it back up when I’m done using it, I certainly don’t expect you to put it down.” – seems quite sensible to me. I used to think that men should always put the seat down when they’re finished no matter what, period, everyone knows that. That’s how it was when I was growing up, but once I thought about it, I realized that it’s not fair.

  13. some1*

    #5, I agree with Allison’s approach. At this point, though, you could always reach out to your co-worker and explain that your boss directed you to CC her boss, and you would not have done it on your own.

    On a semi-related note, I always find it hilarious when passive-aggressive co-workers have CCed managers on emails (clearly to get a co-worker in trouble) and CC the wrong manager.

  14. fposte*

    On #5: ” I just want them to say that they did a thorough background check on her and noticed that she never worked where she stated.” That’s really confusing me–it sounds like you really want a comeuppance for your sister-in-law and for you to be informed of it, even though you initially shrunk at delivering it. That seems like a lot of family drama–too much family drama–is being played out through this situation. And where is your brother/husband/wife–whoever is directly related or married to her–in all this?

    There’s no doubt that your sister-in-law was unethical and inappropriate, and I understand that you’d be mad at her; I understand also if this is congruent with her history that she’d be somebody you’d have some resentment of. But I think your desire to see her suffer the consequences of her actions has to be put aside here–that’s not what this process or your involvement in it should be about.

    I’m also a little unconvinced by your why-you-didn’t-call-back explanation–did they not have voice mail? Did you not have a phone or a computer on your vacation? I think that you were conflicted from the get-go and you found the obstacles to dealing with this enough to put you off of doing it. I can’t blame you, because it’s sticky, but again, I’m thinking this is a big family deal that’s leaking out of its place.

    My personal inclination is to call and own up to your mistake, which at this point isn’t a tiny one and you may well encounter some coolness from the company. But you don’t ask them about anything else, you tell your sister-in-law you don’t want to be further involved in this job situation–you remove opportunities for your seething or gloating. However, this is likely to be a serious blow to your relationship to that part of the family, so whether that’s something you can face–and negotiate rather than escalate–is something that probably needs to be factored into the decision.

    1. Bobby Digital*

      I was totally confused as to why the OP didn’t mention her husband’s take on it. There are so many more things to consider than if this were a friend or even a sister.

      Since this is a sister-in-law, I would definitely suggest talking to your husband, if you haven’t already. Maybe he can shed some light on his sister’s behavior.

      Because of the dynamics, I think the most win-win solution is that she (the sister-in-law) be given the chance to tell the employer that she made a mistake. A mistake that was brought to her attention when you told her that an employer had called looking for a reference, which you gave because you were hurried and unclear about it being personal or work-related.

      Now, some people will probably say that giving her an opportunity to come clean is unwarranted, but I think that, as a family member, it’s the most constructive and logical thing to do. (Unless fposte’s right about really, really weird family dynamics, in which case, fposte’s advice is spot-on.)

      1. Bobby Digital*

        I also meant to say that I sympathize with your guilt, but I don’t think that it would help at all to lie to your sister-in-law (by getting the company to conceal your call-back, etc.) For better or for worse, your loyalty lies with her, which is why it would be best to have an honest, open discussion with her, if at all possible. If nothing else, it would prevent this from happening again.

      2. Hari*

        Because of the dynamics, I think the most win-win solution is that she (the sister-in-law) be given the chance to tell the employer that she made a mistake. A mistake that was brought to her attention when you told her that an employer had called looking for a reference, which you gave because you were hurried and unclear about it being personal or work-related.

        I disagree with this part. I think the best win-win situation is for the OP is to confront the SIL and tell her that in the future this behavior is unacceptable but to otherwise let it go. In a worse case scenario they both become unemployed. The SIL because she falsified information and the OP because her company was contacted and her manager didn’t take too well to her lying and misrepresenting the company, even if she did try to make up for it.

        I also think the OP does not have a reasonable excuse to get a pass on lying. I understand she was caught off guard however unless the conversation went something like the following she is responsible: “Caramel Carafe Company: Hello, I’m calling because Jane Smith gave you as a reference for her employment with the Chocolate Teapot factory, is this correct? OP: Uhh… yes I know Jane howev– Caramel Carafe Company: Thank you for your time *click*”

        What likely happened is that the company in question explained she was a reference and asked OP to verify things. Otherwise how else would OP know she lied about other things on the resume such as education? OP probably felt a loyalty as you mentioned to the SIL and being put on the spot, just went along with it. That doesn’t mean she would have agreed if she was given notice but I still wouldn’t give her a pass on lying when she had a clear opportunity to tell the truth. It’s obvious since they were checking references she knew it was professionally related. I’m also questioning if the truth was such a big deal to OP, enough to contact the company after, why lie in the first place?

        1. Bobby Digital*

          “I still wouldn’t give her a pass on lying when she had a clear opportunity to tell the truth.”

          Yeah, I agree completely. I didn’t mean to imply that anyone should be given a “pass” or that this was the right way for either person to handle the situation.

          I also think that letting it go is an -okay- way to handle it. That said, the OP seems to be really concerned with doing something to better remedy the issue. All I was suggesting was that, if she felt compelled to take action, taking action with the sister-in-law would be the most constructive solution.

      3. some1*

        sister-in law doesn’t necessarily mean husband’s sister. It could be her brother’s wife, or her husband’s brother’s wife.

        1. Bobby Digital*

          Thanks – yeah, I was definitely oversimplifying in my head (writing about shes and hes and yours and hers probably made my brain take a shortcut). Still, my point is the same. If my brother’s wife did this, I’d want to talk to him, too.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, whoever’s the link between these two is going to get dropped in it if this blows up–might as well give ’em a heads up.

  15. Malissa*

    #1–Any chance you could log into the google account and just change the name?
    #4–A straight forward conversation with the guy about hygiene expectations at work should help both of you out. Chances are nobody has bothered to have this conversation with the guy because they think it’s common sense.
    #5–Never ever lie on behalf of somebody who sets you up like that. Honestly the Sister-in-Law deserved to be sold out for putting you in that situation.
    #6–I work with a person who can not pronounce oil or any oi words properly. I also associate with many people who are not native speakers as well. I also have a slight speech impediment. Mention it once to the guy then drop it. It may very well be something he doesn’t know he’s doing or he knows he’s doing it and it may take a lot of effort on his part to pronounce it correctly, so he’s given up knowing that reasonable people will know what he’s talking about.
    #7–I’ve CC’ed many a boss when cooperation just isn’t coming from the individual. But it’s usually after I’ve tried to resolve it with-out boss involvement–so I think your instincts are just right there. But as you are new your boss may know that this person is one who will not act unless they know that their boss is being kept in the loop.

    1. Ivy*

      #5: Ya, I guess if OP5 is really vindictive…. I mean that’s just a lot of work/stress/hassle to put on yourself for what? So you can get your sister-in-law fired and have to deal with her anger (she is in your family after-all)… Not to mention damaging your own reputation for having lied…. and yes you can say that “it’s better to tell them you lied rather than them finding out,” but realistically, not really. I mean if they didn’t find out in the most strenuous background check involved in a job (the interview process), they are unlikely to find out later on…. If they do, they will just fire your sis-in-law; they won’t to come to you to berate you (not like your under oath).

      So yes, the ethical thing to do would be to spend the next few weeks hunting someone down to tell them you lied… but the thing that makes more sense is to do nothing… Besides, maybe your sis-in-law will make a great employee in which case it shouldn’t really matter about what experience she has had in the past…. if not, then she’ll lose her job and it will be of her own consequence….

      1. Malissa*

        Oh I don’t mean hunt some one down to tell them you lied. What’s done is done. Harping on it is doing nobody any good. The idea is to not lie the next time or if the OP could reverse time, not to have lied in the first place.

        1. Ivy*

          Yes, I totally agree there… but I suppose she was caught in a moment of panic? I feel like we’ve all been there to certain extents, so OP don’t feel TOO bad…

          1. Malissa*

            Catching me off guard like that is never going to result in my lying. It’s usually going to get a, “What are you talking about? I’m sorry somebody is mistaken.”
            Then again I totally suck at lying and have no bones about selling out liars even if they are related to me.

            1. Jamie*

              I was thinking the same. If caught off guard I’m blurting out the truth – some version of whafuk are you talking about.

              Bad liar, I am.

  16. Matt*

    #6 – Pronouncing library “liberry” is a very localized Southern thing – not many places do anymore. I come from rural Southeastern NC, where people do.

    Criticizing this guy on this, even being “helpful” is going to come off as condescending on his end. It’s a chauvinistic thing to do, because it implies that the “enlightened” Northerner/Westerner needs to teach the poor dumb Southerner how to be civilized. Dialects aren’t something that needs to be “corrected”. The clients who don’t like it need to be ignored, and the manager needs to just deal with it.

    1. some1*

      I think you are looking for offense here. If the guy said “liberry” because he’s from the South and the LW & the guy now live in the North, he would probably still have a Southern accent that the OP would have mentioned, since she gave background on his speaking in general.

    2. Riki*

      This is a business setting where “proper English” is used and expected. “Li-berry” is not the correct way to pronounce “library.” Fair or not, we are judge by how we communicate. Misusing or mispronouncing does not make anyone look good. Considering that this has been mentioned four times (!!) already, I think the OP would be doing her coworker a favor by correcting him.

      1. fposte*

        What I’d say is that it is actually an acceptable pronunciation in some places, but this office isn’t one of those places, because it’s causing problems.

      2. Blinx*

        For a guide to what is “acceptable” pronunciation of non-regionalized American English, just look to the evening news. If a national news anchor said “liberry”, you can bet they’d be ridiculed on Twitter in less than a minute.

        I had a coworker who said liberry, as well as never using the word “an”, and used “a” regardless what type of word followed. I did mention this to my manager once, since it reflected on the department as a whole. He said he really couldn’t say anything (or didn’t want to address it). He reminded me that the coworker, while born and raised in the US, was of non-US born parents and spoke another language at home. Perhaps, but then why did all of the other non-US-born coworkers have perfect pronunciation and grammar?

        FWIW, I think we all have pronunciation pet-peeves that sound like nails on a chalkboard to us. Mine was mentioned further upthread — commercials for Jaguar say “jag-u-ar”, while I will forever say “jag-wahr”.

          1. The IT Manager*

            As far as I am concerned it is “jag-wahr.” I never heard it any other way until those car commericals. I think the commericials, in a British accent, which mispronounce the word as “jag-u-ar” are just trying to be pretentious (and failing IMO), butI noticed them which is more than I can say for lots of commericals. It’s like those chick-fil-a cows misspellings.

            1. Anonymous*

              Coming from the UK, it has always been “jag-u-ar” for me. Of course, when describing the car, it’s simply pronounced as “jag.”

              1. Maire*

                In the region of the UK I live, a lot of people pronounce “Puegeot”(the car) as “pur-jo”
                I think this comes from the fact that I live in a rhotic region of the UK, whereas most of the UK is non-rhotic(doesn’t pronounce their Rs)
                So, when people heard puegeot by English people as “peu-jo”, they assumed there should be an R in there.

                1. Jamie*

                  I have a UK question and apologize for going off topic – but it’s really been bugging me as I’m listening to podcasts recently.

                  Ricky Gervais has this thing where his l’s sometimes sound like w’s. Is that a speech impediment, or a regional accent? Stephen and Karl have different accents so comparisons are no help.

                2. fposte*

                  From what I can see, British English can get really casual about the semivowels; Estuary English in particular seems to often treat ls and ws or rs and ws as kind of a continuum, even outside of extreme examples like Jonathan Ross (who makes Baba Wawa’s Rs sound clear and clipped by comparison). Paul Merton’s a good example of this–and hey, I just found a site that walks through it in detail:


        1. Chinook*

          With the evening news being the standard for American English, does that mean your standard is actually Canadian English (from Ontario) since a number of anchors were from there for the longest time (noteable exception being Dan Rather and his Texas idioms). Cool – the next step is to teach you all spell correctly. Repeat after me – There is a “u” in colour and favour.

          1. Blinx*

            Canadian? Maybe. Probably more like northern mid-west. Moot point, actually, since there are a lot of ex-Canadians in US broadcasting!

          2. Anonymous*

            And someday, the difference between “insure,” “ensure” and “assure” will be understood….

  17. some1*

    If the Lying sister-in-law LW shows up in the comments…I was wondering how she knows her sis-in-law submitted a false resume to the company?

    1. Ivy*

      It’s because they called LW for a reference even though the sis-in-law never worked with her. So her sis-in-law must have the company LW works for on her resume even though she’s never worked there…. Plus I assume the interviewer asked LW a few questions about the sis-in-law’s prior experience…. At the very least LW can be sure the sis-in-law has at least one false job on her resume….

      1. fposte*

        Though how she knows about the school thing is still a little confusing–maybe they read her the job description?

        1. some1*

          that’s what I meant. How does the LW know her sister-in-law presented herself as a h.s. grad on her resume? Why would an employer ask the LW, “Did Jane Smith graduate from Podunk High?” — the LW is not in a position to confirm or dis-confirm that unless they went to high school together, but even then you would call the school to be sure.

          1. Jamie*

            We don’t know that she did – the sentence structure leaves it unclear.

            She said she lied on her resume (which she did as she said she worked with the OP when she did not) AND that she never graduated from high school. Maybe OP meant that she lied about that, but it could just be an unrelated fact she was throwing in there.

            She lied on her resume and she didn’t graduate from high school.

            She lied on her resume and she’s short.

            She lied on her resume and she has an entire room in her house dedicated to Peter Tork memorabilia.

            1. some1*

              I didn’t even think of that. If the LW just threw in the tidbit about the sister-in-law not being a h.s. grad like that, I think the LW’s sole purpose here is to sabotage the sister-in-law with the new employer, especially with the bit about high unemployment = sister-in-law doesn’t deserve employment.

              (Not that I condone what the sister-in-law did at all, but the LW doesn’t have much room to talk.)

              1. Maire*

                I agree with you here. It seems that the OP really just wants to drop the sister-in-law in it, rather than trying to assuage a guilty conscience.
                I mean, would you really still be pursuing this after 3 weeks, just because you feel guilty? I think you would just get over it, particularly as there haven’t been any ramifications.

              2. Bobby Digital*

                I thought that she just threw it in there, too; I read it as an attempt to doubly criticize the sister-in-law. Like she lied on her resume and she’s also not very educated.

            2. Laura L*

              “and she has an entire room in her house dedicated to Peter Tork memorabilia.”

              Do you have this, Jamie? :-)

  18. Joey*

    #3. I’d suggest introducing the performance evaluation ASAP. You can use it as a tool to show, discuss, an document the exact expectations on which they will be evaluated in the future. But yes check with HR first.

    1. OP#3*

      I think checking with HR is great advice. Thanks AAM!

      I would like to let the team know the outline of the performance evaluations ahead of time in order to clarify what areas they will be evaluated on. I would like to do twice annual performance reviews and regular feedback.

      So, after checking with HR, I was thinking of:
      1 Month into position – letting the team know I am putting together a performance review outline
      2 Months into position – giving the team a copy of the evaluation format
      6 Months into position – conduct the first performance evaluation.

      Does this sound ok?

      1. Jamie*

        I’ve never worked in a place with twice yearly evaluations – once yearly is common.

        Assuming you are providing regular feedback in the course of the year, as all good managers should, what is your aim in doing formal evals twice a year?

      2. Joey*

        I see where you’re goinng and I do something similar but less formal. In addition to ongoing feedback I pull out the eval expectations quarterly and have a “if I evaluated you now this is what it would look like” conversation. I just think iit helps a whole bunch when the real eval is done- they see it coming a mile away. Otherwise you really don’t need a formal eval except for probationary and annually.

        1. OP#3*

          Annual makes much more sense. First performance evaluations after my first year and after prior discussions with HR. Thanks AAM team!

          1. Paige*

            We have 6 month (mid-point) and annual evaluations. I find having two formal reviews helpful as both a supervisor and an employee.

  19. Jamie*

    Li-berry letter: I don’t know why but my read on it was they were in some kind of sales or front facing side of software. If that’s the case, because they are being evaluated by people they interact with, saying something is like letting someone know that they have spinach in their teeth.

    If they go through five presentations with spinach on their teeth it doesn’t change the content or quality of the software, but in shorthand when companies are evaluating their offering he will be shorthanded to “spinach guy.”

    It’s the same thing – whether he has a right to pronounce it that way or not if he’s in sales or any kind of forward facing position he will be known far and wide as “Li-berry guy.”

    You want to work on anything about yourself that’s distracting as that can cost you sales.

  20. Elizabeth West*


    Oh, the fireworks I can see if you do call them back. Instead of doing that, I would have a talk with your sister-in-law and firmly request that she never put you in that position again. Tell her you are appalled that she lied, and you are not going to be a reference again, and if she does put you down, you will tell the truth. That ought to stop it.


    I used to work with someone who always said “irregardless.” THAT IS NOT A WORD. I couldn’t say anything, though, because he was a manager and it wouldn’t have done any good anyway. But it bugged the hell out of me.

    1. Anna*

      I made the mistake of telling my husband how much I hate “irregardless” and now he says it at EVERY OPPORTUNITY.

  21. Paige*

    #5 Perhaps the sister-in-law listed OP as a personal character reference and OP assumed otherwise? Our company requests both.

Comments are closed.