my favorite posts of 2013

We had more posts here in 2013 than ever before — 1,118 this year so far — so it was particularly hard to pick my favorites. But here’s a stab at it anyway.

10. Stop thinking you’re applying for your dream job
Because I hear way too many people say it, and it gets old having to think “um, maybe not” each time.

9. My boss is requiring us to let him be our “life coach”
Because it’s the perfect combination of bad management and absurdity, and I crack up every time I picture it.

8. I’m getting a raise — how should I manage my money?
Because we rarely get to talk about this topic, and it’s a huge one.

7. How to assert your legal rights at work
Because it should have been one of my first posts back in 2007, but it took me six years to think to write it.

6. Please stop calling it a “big girl” job
Because language matters.

5. My boss is always making out with his girlfriend at work
Because my nieces answered this one!

4. Yes, it’s legal … queries from a combined 13 years of blogging
Because I’m asked so, so often. And because I got to write something with Suzanne Lucas.

3. The problem with perfectionism
I didn’t even have to write this one. And also because it’s brilliant.

2. Signs that you’re the problem
Because sometimes you are, and if you don’t recognize it, you’ll go on being unhappy.

1. An employee is putting magic curses on her coworkers 
Because, magic! And curses!

Want more? Here’s my list from 2012 and the one from 2011.

{ 53 comments… read them below }

  1. Katie the Fed*

    For what it’s worth, my all-time favorite was the halloween one about coworkers in blackface.

  2. Yup*

    #5 (the workplace PDAs) so beautifully illustrates the intersection of “no one told me” and “no one should HAVE to tell you” in the workplace. Just like you shouldn’t need to be told to wear clothes to the office or not twerk in meetings, you shouldn’t need to be told “No, Steve, you can’t bring your girlfriend to work and canoodle with her all day.”

    I also have a soft spot for the “Ask AAM Magic 8-Ball” conversation, which randomly happened in the comments section one day. The commentariat really came together in that one.

      1. Windchime*

        I almost choked on my peanut-butter toast. Twerking in meetings….I would almost pay money to see that.

    1. ChristineSW*

      I also have a soft spot for the “Ask AAM Magic 8-Ball” conversation, which randomly happened in the comments section one day. The commentariat really came together in that one.

      Do you remember which post that took place? Would love to see it.

          1. Josh S*

            I tried. I couldn’t find anything with truly customized messages on the ‘answer cube’ for less than $30 apiece unless quantities ordered were in the 10,000+ range. With payment due up front.

            And while I know Alison has quite a readership, that seemed a bit much.

  3. Just a Reader*

    Huge yes to #6. I mean, really. When have you ever heard a man refer to it as a “big boy job?” Ridiculous.

    1. Sydney Bristow*

      Yes yes yes yes! This makes me cringe every time I hear it. I actually cringe when “girl” is used to refer to a woman in general and “big girl” anything used for anyone who is not a small child drives me crazy!

      I’ve never heard a man use “big boy job” or anything similar, but that would be annoying too. Lets stop infantalizing all adults, but especially women where the problem seems to be far more pervasive.

      1. John B Public*

        Yes! Very irritating. A “big girl” job doesn’t have a 401k- at best it has an allowance. From your parents. Because you’re still a child.

    2. Stanley*

      Actually, I DO hear people say “it’s time to put on your big boy pants and . . . ” then whatever tough task needs to be done.

    3. Anonymous*

      I’ve heard phrases like like “run with the big boys” and “run with the big dogs” to men and think I’ve heard “big boy pants” at least once too.

      It’s also quite possible that men hear these male-targeted phrases more than women, and women hear the women-targeted phrase more than men. That is to say, some selection bias in what we hear.

  4. fposte*

    Wow, did you ever think you’d be looking back at over 1000 posts for the year? That’s quite the oeuvre–I hope you feel appropriately proud!

      1. ChristineSW*

        Aww, you deserve a nice long nap…you’ve done so, so much to keep this blog alive! All while preparing to get married :) :)

  5. Adam*

    Oh #’s 1 and 5.

    I think it’s been confirmed by her before, but if not I’ve always gotten the impression that AAM is a person who when not in a professional setting has no qualms about cussing a blue streak (but in charming friendly way). And I imagine after those notes there were entertaining dialogues between her and her dearest.

  6. Emma*

    #8 – With New Years upon us/me, I want to reset my spending and make a resolution towards better financial health this year. In fact, I just now bumped up my 401K contributions by 2%.

    Thanks for picking this one, Alison!

    1. danr*

      If your employer matches 401k contributions, try to equal the match in your deductions. Where else can you double your money so easily?

  7. Craig*


    Congrats on a great year. I’ve enjoyed your blog for many years (bought the e-book, and even had you answer a question for me by e-mail) but I do want to let you know I’m on the cusp of unsubscribing, as there are Just. Too. Many. Posts! Add to that the fact your daily post is normally six/seven posts in one, and it’s actually quite a time obligation to keep up with your feed properly – let alone the great content in the comments.

    I understand it’s probably hard to balance the need to publicise (and the value in re-posting old content for new readers) vs. posting too often, but I wanted to put it out there that I’d love a feed which had one or two great posts a week.

    Do also consider that I might not be your target audience (I block ads, so I have no idea if you run them), or that you may not expect people to read every post you make. But I did want to drop a line to let you know, and seeing as this post started off celebrating the fact there have been 1100+ posts, it seemed like a good time to do it.

    Regards and thanks

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I wonder — would you subscribe to an email list that was just the 2 best posts of the week? Maybe with links to the others in case you want to skim them?

      I can’t do that through RSS but I could do it through email, as I’m sure you’re not the only one.

      1. Craig*

        My personal reading workflow is through RSS, not e-mail, so probably not; but I appreciate the idea.

        As you’re on WordPress, you could do it with categories? For example, your Short Answers category feed is If you had a category for ‘best of the week’, you could have people only subscribe to that. I think I’d definitely want to stay watching that one.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ooooh, that’s a great idea. I’m not sure if adding the category tag to a post retroactively (say, 3-6 days after the post was originally published) would cause it to get pushed to the feed or not though — I’ll look into it and find out though.

      2. Anon*

        While I value Craig’s opinion, I hope you do NOT take it to heart. I’m often bored in my job (which is another issue altogether) and come to the site for entertainment. I feel the decrease in posts has been pretty lame actually. Thanks for a great year of posts and advice!

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      Oooh, please don’t consider Craig your main target audience! :) I like that you’re looking for a way to make him happy too, but I’d be sad if there were only a couple of posts a week. Plus, there appears to be plenty of need for good advice, considering all the great posts you’ve had. I just wish I’d found your advice about 25 years ago, when I was younger in my career (yeah, I know, this site isn’t anywhere near that old).

      1. Anon #2*

        Ditto to ThursdaysGeek’s post! I hope that you’re able to accommodate Craig’s request while continuing to post daily, as the content is valuable. With that being said, I’m only checking the posts directly through your website, not via RSS, so can appreciate Craig’s feedback… :-)

        Thanks for your hard work and dedication to AAM, Alison!

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Don’t worry, I’m not going to switch to 2 posts a week. That said, 2014 might end up being the year I go back to 2 posts a day sometimes, rather than the 4 a day I’ve been doing. Four a day is a lot to write.

        I’m going to play around with some options at some point, but I don’t envision any drastic changes.

        1. Windchime*

          I love all the posts, but I imagine that it is quite a bit of work. I would be sad to only see a couple a week, though; this is the first place I come in the morning to read while I’m drinking my tea, and I try to stop by when I’m eating lunch at my desk as well.

          Thanks for all that you do. You give us great advice, and you have the friendliest, most useful “comment” section that I have ever seen on any web site. Hands down. So, thanks!

      3. littlemoose*

        Agreed! This is one of my go-to sites when I need a mental break from whatever ridiculousness I’m working on.

        1. Pseudo Annie Nym*

          I’m actually between the two camps on this. I love your site but feel that it is a bit too much to keep up with sometimes (especially when I want to go through the comments!) I actually really like that the short answers are now 5 instead of 7, and wouldn’t mind 3 posts/day–or even two!

          I would be really sad if it was only 2 per week, though!

          1. IronMaiden*

            I can’t get enough of the posts. For the most part they are so interesting and informative. I have learned so much since I stubled across this site after typing “why is my boss such a jerk” into Google. The advice from Alison and the readers is so valuable and transferable to any number of workplace situations. AAM has really helped me grow as an employee and has given me the confidence to recently step up into an acting managing role that became available short term. Thank you all.

  8. ChristineSW*

    Just re-read #10 and was reminded of a wonderful side conversation between me and another poster about grant writing. This is one reason why I love re-reading old threads! (I had a slightly different username at the time).

    1. pgh_adventurer*

      Do you remember where this was? I’m starting to write my first grant and am looking for all the help I can get!

  9. Anonymous*

    Thank you for an awesome year Alison!

    For not only the awesome advice but the daily entertainment. (I wouldn’t sign up for an email because I check the site daily if not more often!)

  10. Prague*

    Oh, the magic curses post. Loved that one. Oddly enough, it was posted the day after a particularly useless former coworker of mine was a little too serious and detailed about how he had voodoo dolls of me. “They’re in this drawer right here. One has a blazer and the other a sweater depending on what you’re wearing that day. I’m working on a third one in my spare time at home.” Totally creepy and bizarre, but I was ridiculously glad to have witnesses, and I couldn’t believe the post’s timing. The guy hated me because I made him do his job – he’d gotten away with it before I arrived – he actually took a job overseas to get away. I call that success.

    1. Adam*

      Well that’s the creepiest thing I’ve heard all day. What goes on in some people’s heads…

      Did you try to do anything about it or just fervently hope he’d leave?

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        I bet Prague made a counter-voodoo doll, and put it in a little voodoo ship, and made him sail away… :)

        1. Prague*

          Oh, I *wish* I’d thought of a counter-voodoo doll! Genius. No, I just documented like crazy (I love instant messages for this – I can save a conversation that documents a witness’ initial response as evidence). Our higher management wouldn’t do anything even thought he was in his probationary period and there were documented instances of negative impacts. But I didn’t have any authority over the guy besides delegating assignments, and the workload kept piling up. It was pretty insane for a while.

          I did have a lot of conversations with him about how he’d be happier elsewhere (his comments, not mine!), asking if I was being unclear on handing out assignments, etc, and in the end, several on how you can’t just make things up.

          He also “joked” about beating his wife, wasn’t aware of anything that wasn’t in the local newspaper, and informed everyone of his 40 minute restroom breaks (with the aforementioned paper). Sadly, I relished those breaks, because the guy never shut up otherwise.

          I was reaching breaking point when he announced that he was leaving. Best part? He gets to start all over – and I’ve gotten a decent bonus this year, extra vacation time as compensation for the long hours, and a promotion is in the works that puts me under a manager that’s slightly more responsive to issues. :)

  11. Liane*

    Here’s hoping that 2014 includes an update to the Magic Curses. The OP posted “To be continued…” and every time I’ve seen “Update” since, I’ve thought “Maybe AAM’s heard back about the Curses!!”
    Not that I haven’t welcomed the updates we have gotten–although I wish all of them had happy endings.

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