the company president took my chair and I’m sick of being disrespected

A reader writes:

I started the position I’m in just 2 months ago as an account executive. Before this position, I was an admin assistant and volunteer coordinator elsewhere. I am also 23, I’ve been working since I was 14 and been in office roles since the age of 19 – meaning I’ve been working long enough to pick up on office politics, and to avoid dramas.

Quick background of my current workplace: 12 full-time employees. Most employees have worked there for over 2 years. Some 6 years. Pretty much everyone is close but nice, and I’m the newest and the youngest. I’m sure the next youngest person is 30.

Yesterday afternoon, I ran out to get a quick snack only to return to see the president of my company in my seat talking to my coworker/ supervisor. Okay, that’s fine – her back is to me so she didn’t realize I was back so I spoke up said “hello,” and since she didn’t budge, I grabbed my water bottle and went to the cooler to fill it up. I returned – placed it on my desk with a thud and home girl is still there! Okay… I decided to sit on a couch nearby. I sat there for 15 minutes, really beginning to fume. I pulled out my phone and ended up browsing, texting some friends – from the corner of my eye I counted amount of times she turned around to look at me. 3! At that 15-minute mark I got up, excused myself and reached behind her to unplug my laptop, then returned to the couch. Of course I was too pissed to really do any work – I pretended to. She got up 5 minutes later. No apology.

I know for a fact she wouldn’t do that to anyone else. Even at my previous job as an admin assistant, my department supervisor was just the nastiest towards me, I was always overworked – I came in on weekends and very often stayed hours after work. In fact my position was terminated mainly because I didn’t reply to an email she sent me after hours until 10 a.m. the next morning.

It’s all catty and unfair and it’s a shame because all of my past and current coworkers respect me enough and see that I am capable of delivering. It just seems like the C-levels are the ones not seeing that. It happens to a lot of my friends, and I just hate to see talent like me be disrespected because (a) we look/are young, and (b) we’re the newest or different a demographic. I refuse to tolerate things like this because that’s how patterns form.

How can I command respect from people like this? I’m not trying to be best of buds, but I would appreciate being acknowledged.

Note: This small company doesn’t really have an HR, but had I known better and have been less naïve at my previous job I would have went months before.

Whoa.

Going just on what you’ve written here, which is all I have to go on, this a wildly out of proportion reaction.

Your company president sat at your desk for 15 minutes. While you fumed. While you got too angry to be able to work.

She sat at your desk for 15 minutes.

This is … not a big deal.

Yes, it would have been more thoughtful for her to vacate your chair when you showed up. Yes, it’s annoying to be displaced for 15 minutes.

But you know what? She’s the company president. It’s her call. It’s not the most polite call, but it’s just really not that big of a deal. She didn’t lock you out of a meeting or ask you to clean a toilet or insult your mom. She took your chair for 15 minutes.

Now, should she have gotten up? Sure. But it’s hardly the slap in the face that you’re making it out to be. And your reaction here is so out of sync with what’s warranted that it’s actually a far bigger problem than the relatively small offense that she committed.

I’ve had bosses borrow my chair, make me wait outside their office when they were late for meetings, keep me hanging on the phone while they ordered lunch, and signal that my time was less important than theirs in all sorts of ways. Because my time was less important than theirs. I didn’t take that personally. I did, at times, think to myself, “You really shouldn’t be paying me to wait here like this.” But it wasn’t personal, and I didn’t take it as a reflection on anything other than the prerogatives of their place in their hierarchy. If I’d taken it personally … well, I can’t even imagine the effect that would have had on my career.

“Refusing to tolerate things like this” isn’t going to earn you respect. It’s going to earn you disrespect, because people will interpret that kind of reaction as being wildly out of touch. You’ll lose credibility too, and it won’t be there during the times when you really do need to be able to say “no, this isn’t okay.”

Do good work, stand up for yourself when it matters, and let the little stuff go.

{ 461 comments… read them below }

  1. Emma

    How can I command respect from people like this? I’m not trying to be best of buds, but I would appreciate being acknowledged.

    …you could have “commanded respect” by politely asking for your seat back instead of displaying that passive-aggressive miming.

    “Hi [Big Kahuna], do you mind if I have my seat back? I’d like to get back to work on [Project].” The worst thing she could have said was “No, OP, I’m sorry but I’m not done talking to Supervisor.”

    1. Fucshia

      Yes. I was confused by that. If it was that big of a deal, why didn’t you ask for the chair back.

    2. FiveNine

      OP is two months on the job and behaved pretty outrageously. No wonder the president — having a conversation with OP’s supervisor, no less — kept looking back at the OP. Honestly, I’m not convinced OP hasn’t already done damage.

    3. stellanor

      Or even “Oh, hi [Big Kahuna], can I find you a chair?” if you’re feeling bold.

      Suddenly I’m feeling fortunate to work in an office with a lot of extra chairs around.

    4. myswtghst

      This was my first thought as well! I kept waiting for the LW to say “and so I politely asked the president if I could get to my desk…” and it never came.

  2. Colleen

    I knew from the justification at the beginning that there was going to be some sort of maturity issue at play:

    “I am also 23, I’ve been working since I was 14 and been in office roles since the age of 19 – meaning I’ve been working long enough to pick up on office politics, and to avoid dramas.”

    I’m not sure why but whenever someone says “NO DRAMA” in any form, it immediately makes me think “the lady doth protest too much” and they are more likely to be a source of drama than a victim. Truly laid back, agreeable people usually find other ways to describe themselves than “not dramatic” or “not into drama.”

    1. Mike C.

      When I hear “NO DRAMA”, I think about those cut/spliced interviews you see on reality shows. The phrase is usually followed by “I’M NOT HERE TO MAKE FRIENDS”.

            1. majigail

              There’s an arm wrestling show coming up on AMC, America’s Top Best Friends can’t be far behind!

          1. AVP

            Taking a second look at this…I completely forgot that Tila Tequila a) existed and b) had a dating reality show.

    2. Anon

      Tend to agree. I find the people who actually avoid drama tend to describe themselves (and in turn, be described by others) as “professional.”

    3. the_scientist

      I kind of just want to yell “CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF” in response to this letter…

      1. BGirl81

        I mean, one of my duties last week was to take a Tide Stick to my coworker’s tie (falling danish – it happens) before a big meeting. If you’re lucky enough to be working with people who are largely respectful, kind and supportive of your professional development, who the heck cares if they SIT IN YOUR CHAIR?! My last job was working for a group so dysfunctional and downright rude, I probably would have agreed to let my awesome current boss sit in my lap as a condition of being hired (kidding…sort of…no, I definitely am).

        1. Jen RO

          Very offtopic, but I googled Tide Stick and whoa. I hope those make it here soon! I am very good at spilling coffee on myself…

          1. Jamie

            Oh Jen, stop by my office I’ve got two in my desk (one open, one in reserve, one in my purse, one in my laptop bag, two in the console of my car (one open, one in reserve.)

            These things are amazing and keep spillers like me from haivng to share my shame with the world.

            ::Off to google how much it costs to send awesomeness to Romania:: :)

            Seriously send me your address through linkedin if you want a couple – happy to send you some.

          1. Purple Jello

            Okay, I’m changing my name. Don’t even need to go to court.

            (Poster formerly known – or unknown – as “MaryTerry”

    4. Katie the Fed

      This is very common in online dating too. “Not into drama” is code for “here there be dragons!”

      1. fposte

        I think there may be some basic wiring there–the people who don’t get stirred up by stuff neither notice nor create drama, while the people who get wound up by it are usually unknowingly feeding it.

        1. louise

          Uh oh! I notice drama!! But it’s usually an acknowledgement as I run in the other direction, so hopefully I’m ok?

          1. Sue Donem

            I notice drama, too. It’s my signal to get the heck out of dodge. (Also a handy tool for screening potential roommates!)

        2. LMW

          I kind of disagree. I frequently say that I’m not into drama and I don’t really have any to speak of in my life. If it pops up, much like Louise, I run in the other direction. Usually with “Sorry, not digging the drama! Call me when you are done!” tossed over my shoulder.

      2. the_scientist

        Yes, yes and yes. And “work hard, play hard” is code for “I’m a functioning alcoholic who works minimum 80 hours per week and I need someone who is willing to do my cooking/laundry/housework and always put my career before theirs”.

        Things I do not miss: online dating.

        1. KC

          This used to be my company’s favorite motto. It means exactly what you think it means. This comment made me need to stifle an at-desk guffaw.

      3. Aimles

        Katie-do you happen to work at the VA? I’m thinking of a conversation I had with a Katie-former-co-worker upon learning we both love this blog:)

    5. tcookson

      I knew from the justification at the beginning that there was going to be some sort of maturity issue at play:

      “I am also 23, I’ve been working since I was 14 and been in office roles since the age of 19 – meaning I’ve been working long enough to pick up on office politics, and to avoid dramas.”

      I’m not sure why, but this preface had me immediately prepped for a maturity issue, too. I guess it’s like what everyone’s saying about the “No Drama” declamation — if someone feels the need to declaim something, then behold the probable source of the problem.

    6. Kelly O

      I have to agree – if someone goes out of their way to tell me something, I automatically assume they’re going to be the number one instigator of whatever it is they’re against. Drama, cattiness, micromanaging, etc.

      And, I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but 19 to 23 is four years. Four very short years. No way can you be fully attuned to office issues in four years.

      Fuming because the president of your company sat in your chair? That’s not attuned to office environments. Sorry.

    7. Wren

      ahahaha! so true about source vs. victim. My boss’s wife (family business) said to me when I came on board that there was no drama in the office. Said that to my coworker when she was hired last year, too, and the co-op student we had for a bit as well. Yet she can’t keep the crazy under wraps for even a week. She has a grudge against an employee who left 4 years ago, and couldn’t stop herself from ranting about her to even the student!

  3. Ashley

    Oh my goodness, Alison’s advice is spot-on. LET. IT. GO. FWIW, I’ve had peers “steal” my chair for a few minutes to have a conversation with someone. Yes, they generally acknowledged that they took it and moved as soon as I returned to my desk, but a person grabbing your chair for a quick chat is just not a big deal, and quite normal in most offices. Part of the reason you feel like people don’t respect you probably has to do with the fact that you walk around with an attitude that DEMANDS respect beyond what you’ve proven you deserve. There’s common courtesy and professional demeanor that are warranted from day 1, but C-level executives don’t owe you “special” respect… like never sitting in your chair. You say you’ve been in an office environment over the last few years, but if you’re getting this upset over one minor inconvenience, I would seriously consider whether you still have some professional development to do. I’m still young as well, but I’ve realized that my attitude at 23 was not at all based in reality. I’m much wiser for taking some harsh criticism and recognizing that no, in fact, the world is not my oyster, and no, the C-suite execs are not, in fact, less competent than a fresh college graduate.

    1. TL

      People steal my chair all the time because I’m in a shared office and I’m in and out all day. Not a big deal; I just find other things to do.

      (I actually try to encourage it because I’m on a shared workspace, but that’s a different story.)

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      To be fair, everyone still has “some professional development left to do.”

      I mean, I’m 35. This kind of response has never been my particular problem, but I’m still struggling with the facets of my personality that aren’t optimized for professional excellence. Like, say, avoiding conflict.

      1. Judy

        I try to impress on my kids that everyone is better than you in something and you are better than them in something. Another way to say that is you have something to learn from everyone and everyone has something to learn from you. We all have our strengths and weaknesses.

          1. Judy

            My son (10) has some difficulties reading, he’s been tested and the school psychologist pointed to a number on the results sheet, “see if that 11 had been a 10, he would have a learning disability, he’s just got learning difficulties not rising to the level of a disability”.

            He can get really frustrated that he can’t read like the other kids can. He can call himself stupid when he’s trying to read an assignment. But he’s a math (and computer) whiz.

            Kidsl have to understand that everyone struggles in something.

            1. Jamie

              I have been that choir for decades.

              My kids get it, my son with severe learning disabilities gets frustrated sometimes, sure, but emotionally he finally internalized that some things coming easier to some people doesn’t make them better or smarter – it just means their skill set makes X easier – and that sucks but his skill set makes Y easier and that sucks for the people who aren’t great at Y.

              I can’t believe how many of my adult professional co-workers without learning disabilities need to be taught this. People who are seriously intimidated by “smart people.”

              No one knows everything. If I know something you need to know it doesn’t make me smarter than you, it means I know that thing. So once I teach it to you we’ll both know that thing.

              I’m not dismissing differing levels of aptitude and ability – that’s about finding your niche. I’m talking about adults who will say, in public and out loud, “I’m so stupid – I have no idea what the difference is between an average and a weighted average.” Like that’s some kind of done deal – like some of us were born with the weighted average secret and some will never peek behind the veil.

              When if you have 5 minutes stop by my office, I’ll explain the concept and show you the formula I use – I have a dry erase board and I’m afraid to use it!

              Then we’ll both know.

              I just don’t get being intimidated by people who know stuff you’re capable of learning. I’ll give everyone a pass on Stephen Hawking – at that level awe is appropriate because even the most intellectually curious of normal people are like dogs…or maybe chimps intellectually in comparison.

              But if you know something and I can learn it but just haven’t I will either welcome the opportunity to learn something new or, in the case of different kinds of tires, I will sigh loudly refuse to listen and play cartoon music in my head until my husband stops talking because that information is boring.

  4. Mike C.

    Before we have a flood of folks chastising the letter writer for going overboard – and yes, this is overboard – I’m willing to bet that this was either written in the heat of the moment, or there’s a lot more going on.

    OP is there something going on here that you haven’t discussed, or did you just write a letter that got out of hand?

      1. Bess

        That… actually was what got my wife’s boss fired. Not pooping — peeing. He peed in a cup in his office and then would dump the contents of the cup in the potted plants.

        The various “…..are you ACTUALLY SERIOUS” reactions from everyone involved in the firing were probably the funniest part of the whole thing.

          1. Bess

            I wish I were joking.

            It was known that he had incontinence problems, but he had refused to move to an office closer to the bathroom and refused to employ any personal measures to mitigate the problem (like adult diapers). There had been previous incidences of things like spilled pee in the hallway that he also denied were connected to him at all. The dumping of the pee into the office potted plants was the last straw.

    1. Cat

      This is my thought too. This sounds like the kind of thing that would not even register if it was someone you had a good relationship with (you’d probably join in the conversation) but would be absolutely infuriating if you had a history of feeling ignored and marginalized by someone.

      1. Kirsten

        Exactly what I was going to say. There have been times when I have felt similarly, but I recognize that it was because of a larger issue at hand.

        1. Chrissi

          God I love that bit. I’ve told that “bit” to two of my coworkers that were having that kind of problem, and it actually helped both of them realize what they were doing and get over it. Who knew?

        2. Mints

          Wait what’s “bitch eating crackers”? I’m sure im guilty, haha. Actually it’s “jackass drinking coffee all the time.”
          Although I do have a pretty bad manager in professional ways too. The way I check myself is “would this annoy me if Old Amazing Boss did it?” and the answer varies. AAM’s bad management round-ups are really good for this too.
          To the OP, if you have good managers you liked in the past, would you care if they took your seat? Probably not. But still, you might have a legitimately bad manager anyway. The hard part is learning to tell the difference between pettiness and legitimate complaints.

            1. Emma

              Exactly. Except here, it’s “look at this home girl sitting in my chair.” Where the tiny annoyances are magnified into irritating leviathans because of a history of poor treatment.

      2. Tris Prior

        I definitely get a “this is the last straw” vibe from the letter too. It’s not about the chair, I don’t think.

    2. Emma

      I’m getting a “look at that b-tch eating cookies” vibe from this situation. Where the chair-coopting is just a symptom or the last straw of a trend of real or perceived disrespect.

    3. fposte

      I wondered what OP meant by “different demographic” and whether that was playing into things. I know such differences have come up, for instance, when discussing blue-collar vs. white-collar approaches and the challenges of code-switching.

      1. ClaireS

        Interesting take. I read it as different generations – millenial vs the world. As a millenial myself (at least I think I’m a millenial) this sort of stuff irks me; it gives us that bad rap. Also, I sort of wonder if this is a troll.

      2. Mints

        Possibly I’m projecting, but I read it as the OP being a WOC. I thought it might be a reflection of all the managers being old white men, and the lower level staff being more ethnically diverse, and younger, and more female.

        Actually, rereading, since the president was a “homegirl” it might just be ethnic/racial and age

    4. Rain and Lemon Balm

      Yeah, I would bet this was written very shortly after the incident, in the heat of the moment. I’d be curious to hear how the LW feels about it with some time to cool off.

    5. Anonsie

      I get that feeling as well. This might have been the thing that set her off, but the sentiment makes me wonder if it’s sort of a constant flood of tiny little things where people push her in ways they don’t push her older coworkers that make up a general atmosphere of “Jane is not a colleague.”

      Maybe I’m particularly sensitive to it because I’ve been in it myself, but I also see where some of the less flattering bits come from. When you think “I’m being treated differently” the first question to ask is “are you doing something to cause that?” The impulse is to try to somehow prove to whoever you’re talking to that you’re not the problem, and there is no quicker way to make yourself sound delusional then to swear you’re doing fine and it’s everyone else who’s crazy.

    1. Anna

      If you already feel disrespected by said person, and said person is in a position of authority over you, then maybe kind of hard actually. Or at least it would be hard for me. I might not have as strong of a reaction but I can see where OP is coming from. I have never had someone sit in my office chair without asking (I think the only person who has ever done this has been the IT guy, when I called him over due to an issue with my computer, and even he asked before he could sit down.) I would be appalled if this happened, clearly it was keeping her from doing her work. Was this person unable to stand and talk to her supervisor, due to maybe a leg injury or something? At least she has a laptop, I have a CPU at work.

  5. KLH

    An inability to say “Excuse me, do you guys need my area much longer? I can set up camp in the conference room if you need” does not reflect your assertion, “I’ve been working long enough to pick up on office politics, and to avoid dramas.” To me it pretty much proves you ARE the drama.

    And what does “Even at my previous job as an admin assistant, my department supervisor was just the nastiest towards me, I was always overworked – I came in on weekends and very often stayed hours after work” have to do with anything? That just adds to the impression you have a big part in any “drama” or fuel conflicts.

    1. madge

      This, this, this x 100. I understand that it can feel like a battle to gain respect when you look or just are young. I’ve been there. But overreacting like this hurts you. It’s entirely possible that she was in an important conversation and didn’t “get” that she was interrupting your work. She may have even been annoyed with your refusal to pick up on her nonverbal cue to go elsewhere during her conversation.

      1. Smilingswan

        I wondered about that too. She said she thumped her water bottle on the table and fumed while using her phone, and that the person turned around and kept looking at her. To me, it sounds like she was teaching her a lesson. She’s the President of the company for crying out loud, every chair in the office is hers! Calling her “homegirl” is completely disrespectful of the woman (her boss’s boss!) and her position.
        Also, I hate to say it, but the part about “I just hate to see talent like me be disrespected because (a) we look/are young, and (b) we’re the newest or different a demographic. I refuse to tolerate things like this because that’s how patterns form” makes it sound like the President may be a different ethnicity or culture from the OP and that she’s (the OP) possibly seeing racism that isn’t there because she expects to see it.

    2. ChristineSW

      And what does “Even at my previous job as an admin assistant, my department supervisor was just the nastiest towards me, I was always overworked – I came in on weekends and very often stayed hours after work” have to do with anything? That just adds to the impression you have a big part in any “drama” or fuel conflicts.

      That kicked up my spidey senses too.

  6. Diet Coke Addict

    Discussing how catty, unfair, and disrespected you feel is the opposite of describing yourself as “avoiding drama.”

    Let it go and stop letting small things make you so angry you fester and fume for 15+ minutes. Creating this monster sh*tstorm of angry feelings is way, way, way worse than the actual incident.

  7. some1

    Holy Schnikes! I have been you. (Admin, youngest person in the dept by several years, and I am 34 and still get carded for cigarettes — when I was your age I got carded for Rated R movies.)

    This has nothing to do with your age. It has to do with your boss borrowing your chair which is annoying but not the transgression you think it is. The way you handled it was so passive-agressive.

    I know how obnoxious it is to be treated like a kid because you look young. My first week at an office job as a receptionist when I was 21, a man came in for an appt on the wrong day. While I was scrambling to figure out what to do, he asked, “Is there an adult I can talk to?”. That was a dick move. What happened to you was not.

    That being said, if you want people to treat you like a grown-up with six years of professional experience, you need to start acting like one.

    That means learning to pick your battles with all your coworkers, especially your boss.

    That means not pouting like a 2-yr-old when someone takes your chair.

    That means not referring to your boss as “home girl” even when she pisses you off.

    That means unloading the huge chip from your shoulder about your old boss.

    1. KitKat

      +100

      It was the “homegirl” comment that really got me. OP, you want respect? Start by giving respect to your bosses, and don’t blame everything on a perceived notion of ageism.

      1. Michele

        +100

        I agree KitKat. Calling anyone “homegirl” whatever their job title is just obnoxious!

        1. some1

          It could have racial implications, too, that many people are not aware of because the parlance of the expression has changed. It’s now used as a slightly derogatory term for anyone, but say “Homegirl took my chair” or “Homeboy in front of me at the movie was talking the whole time” to someone 50-years or older and guess what race they are picturing “Home girl” or “Home Boy”?

          1. Lee

            Not that I agree with the OP’s overall use of the word, but “home girl” is slang term of endearment that was being used sarcastically by the OP.
            It’s not a derogatory term.
            As for the racial implications, there’s nothing implicitly racist about the word except a particular demographic has used it historically.

      2. Anonymous

        Yep. Having had issues where someone assumes that everything I get was because I (independantly to the volunteer/club role) had a relationship with the Club boss….. I agree with this. In my case its less of a clear cut line but people are quick to find any niggle they can to ‘blame’ another for any lack of status they feel rather than take a sharp look at themselves!

    2. AdminAnon

      +1

      I’m a 25 year old admin with 2.5 years of office experience and I am the youngest person in my office by ten years. However, I am also treated like an adult…because I act like one. 99% of the time, age really is just a number and, as many people have already pointed out, respect has to be earned. You get what you give.

      1. tcookson

        I’m thinking of various admins and receptionists who have come through our office. Most (though not all) of them have been young and they’ve commanded various levels of respect.

        The ones who have commanded the most respect just acted like normal, professional coworkers with no chip on their shoulder and no expectation of “special respect”, to borrow the term from someone upthread.

        The ones who were looked at askance all kind of had a chip on their shoulder, to the point that it would require paying them “C-level” respect just to prove that they weren’t being disrespected. I think they ALL would have attributed this lack of “special respect” to ageism directed at them.

    3. ~anon...

      She didn’t actually CALL her boss ‘homegirl’… you guys need to read and respond to the LW, not just to what previous commenters have said!

      1. Emma

        I returned – placed it on my desk with a thud and home girl is still there!

        Reading is fundamental, mate. She didn’t call Boss Lady “home girl” to her face but she did reference her that way in the letter. And using that term instead of her title or some other non-pejorative phrasing *is* supposed to make us feel some type of way about the Boss.

  8. Judy

    I’ve had a bosses’ boss who has scheduled a mandatory face to face meeting from 1-4 pm on a Friday. With 4 other people from my location . At his location a 5 hour drive away.

    Don’t you have “guest chairs” scattered around the office?

  9. Random

    “Even at my previous job as an admin assistant, my department supervisor was just the nastiest towards me” ” It just seems like the C-levels are the ones not seeing that.” ” I refuse to tolerate things like this because that’s how patterns form.”

    It sounds like the issue might be you. You may want to explore that further.

    1. LisaLyn

      Yes, a huge life lesson is that when you find yourself repeatedly in similar situations, you start to wonder if you are not the common denominator.

  10. annie

    Instead of getting mad, this is the perfect opportunity for a joke – “Hey Boss, I can see you miss Chocolate Teapot Spreadsheets so much you’re trying to steal them from me the moment I walk away!” Everyone chuckles, Boss realizes she has been sitting in your chair for a while and gets up, we all get on with our days.

    1. athek

      Definitely a good idea.
      I had a boss once who took my pens. Not really a big deal, and totally just a thoughtless thing. He would come into my office, sign a paper, and walk off with the pen.
      I’m kind of particular about pens…. I have ones that I like to use and so I bought my own pens. I wasn’t really a fan of losing my pens. So I’d just ask for my pen back later. I was always cheerful about it. I became “goofy athek who has a thing about pens”. I got my pens back, and no harm done.
      The point is, thoughtless things happen, and they aren’t always about you and they aren’t always an attack. This is really going to escalate and become a problem if it’s handled inappropriately.

      1. Cath@VWXYNot?

        My former boss used to do that too. I ended up buying one of those bank pens with a chain and sticking it to my desk; any time he came by to sign something I’d say “that’s your pen”. It became a running joke in the office, especially when other people started to buy their own so he wouldn’t steal their pens either!

      2. Jamie

        Just an example of the collateral benefit of AAM. I’m not a pen person, I don’t really care what I write with as long as it’s not a gel pen…I’m good with the bics that come 12 to a box for $1.

        But I learned here that other people really care about their pens so while I never stole pens to begin with, I’m very conscious of not just picking up pens left in conference rooms, on my desk…whatever. If it’s not a vendor throwaway or one of the cheaps ones we buy by the 100’s I help it find it’s rightful owner…who is usually somewhere freaking out and looking for their lost pen.

  11. EmmBee

    I suggest yoga.

    No, seriously, I do. It sounds like you have a bit of an “overreacting in the heat of the moment” problem, and some yoga and meditation could really help you counter that.

    1. Random

      Not the OP but do you have any recommends for starting meditation? Any excellent books or links? :) Thanks!

      1. (not EmmBee)

        Yogaglo has meditations that are 5 min. I do them at work and so far I don’t think anyone has noticed. (of course everyone says that, and of course we do notice it all: the no-poo, the work uniform folks, and me the meditation chick!)

        1. Rachel

          Rather than YogaGlo, I’d go with Yoga International or My Yoga Online. YogaGlo is extremely corporate greedy. They issued a patent and a cease and desist to other online yoga places because they are trying to monopolize streaming yoga videos. Of course, when there was HUGE outcry, they denied this and kept on saying we (yoga teachers) misunderstood, that they only wanted to patent “their way” of filming classes (which is really one of the only ways to be able to film an online yoga class), but really it was a blatant attempt to “own” a facet of yoga.

          I promptly cancelled my subscription after that, as did many of my fellow teachers.

          1. Cube Ninja

            “YogaGlo” just makes me think of Insane Clown Posse leading a yoga class with all of their Yoggalos.

            1. College Career Counselor

              I had the same thought. (But I do not think that the meditation would be silent…)

            2. Kelly O

              And now I am mentally picturing yoga featuring the Insane Clown Posse. Thanks for the laugh.

      2. Eva

        I can warmly recommend “Meditation: Now or Never” by Steve Hagen. He’s a Zen Buddhist, but the book is not at all a Buddhist treatise; it’s a totally practicable, down-to-earth and very motivational introduction to meditation.

      3. Turanga Leela

        I love the Pranayama app. It’s just guided breathing for a set period of time. There’s a free trial, but it’s worth the $6 for the full version.

      4. Delurking

        I like the Buddhify app a lot. It’s not actually based on Buddhist meditation; it’s mostly mindfulness-based. The meditations are sorted by length, location (e.g., home, walking, gym), and frame of mind (e.g., clarity or connectedness). There’s a couple dozen combinations in total.

    2. bullyfree

      A CD that I have found helpful is Breathing: The Master Key to Self Healing (The Self Healing Series) by. Andrew Weil.

  12. CTO

    OP, it sounds like you had a tough time with your past supervisor, and you’re letting that poison your new workplace. It seems like you’re actively searching out any proof that you’re disrespected or undervalued. Don’t expect mistreatment and don’t go looking for it. Assume that you’re valued and welcome, focus on the good ways in which you’re treated, and let the bad little moments go. A different perspective can change a lot.

    Also, you didn’t really exhibit a professional response to the problem. Flopping on a couch (I’m going to guess there was some sighing and glaring involved) and TEXTING rather than finding a way to be productive? And then eventually silently (but angrily, I’m sure) grabbing your laptop and pretending to work? You wasted 20 minutes of time when you could’ve found a way to be productive. That wouldn’t impress anyone.

    Several posters here have already offered great phrasing to use in situations like this. I’d recommend using it next time, and you’ll earn that respect you so desperately want.

    1. BB

      This! I was thinking that she is carrying over the negativity and bad experiences of the past.

      As someone who left a toxic workplace, I know how hard it can be to let go of all of those things, and the way of responding to situations in that setting. It is easy to always be on the defensive. But you have to lose all of those old expectations and clear the slate. It takes a bit of work and mindfulness but you need to do it if you want to move forward.

    2. athek

      You make a really good point. Finding something productive to do is useful, conveys a good image, and it makes a good segue into bringing it up… “hey, since you’re in my chair, I’m going to go work on xyz… could you let me know when you’re finished so I can get back to working on abc?”

  13. AnotherAlison

    I thought for sure that the OP was going to say she had a fancy executive chair by some windfall & the boss took it away forever because her level was only allowed standard chairs. Because that would happen here & it would piss off people.

    1. Anonymous

      That’s what I thought too! And my boss did that! But in the end I got another chair, so whatevah.

    2. KLH

      Holy cats, I am pretty sure this happened at a previous workplace. Although I think the instance I recall had to do with who was allowed to have a guest chair or not, and those chairs disappearing in the middle of the night.

    3. Anonymous

      I thought she was going to say that the chair was confiscated, and she had to stand constantly at her computer.

      1. KLH

        Add in that it was due to an out-of-control employee wellness program. Actually, I’m surprised Alison hasn’t gotten that letter yet.

    4. JamieG

      Yeah that’s what I was thinking too – that she had gotten a more comfortable chair for some reason, then the company got a new president who decided she liked that chair better.

    5. Heather

      I was hoping it would be like the Friends episode where Chandler gets mad at Joey for stealing his seat and Joey walks off with the cushions. “That’s right! I’m taking the essence!”

      1. Izzy LeighGal

        Maybe the chair is just SUPER comfy.

        “The cushions are the essence of the chair!”

    6. ZSD

      I used to have two guest chairs, but HR came and confiscated one because we’re only allowed to have one guest chair each.
      Overall my office is pretty great, but seriously?

    7. Midge

      That reminds me: at OldJob, Coworker 1 got a special chair while she was pregnant. She left, and Coworker 2 moved the fancy chair into her office without saying anything. One day I came in and the other women on the hall were standing in front of Coworker 2’s office be super catty about why she took the chair, how dare she, and what did she think she was doing?! I never understood why Coworker 2’s manager didn’t just say, “That chair is only for pregnant ladies/people with special ergonomic needs/whoever, so you need to take your old one back.”

    8. tcookson

      That’s what I thought, that they OP was going to say that the boss took their fancy Aeron chair and replaced it with some cheap, suckish chair.

  14. fposte

    They’re pretty much all the company president’s chairs. She just lets you use this one to do your work during the day.

    I wouldn’t even ask for the chair to be vacated–you can sit someplace else for a minute, and the company president is discussing something that’s almost certainly a bigger priority than your chair right now. Say “Supervisor, can you ping me when you guys are finished meeting? I’ll be working over at Other Place.” And then go work at Other Place.

    1. A Bug!

      I wouldn’t even ask for the chair to be vacated–you can sit someplace else for a minute, and the company president is discussing something that’s almost certainly a bigger priority than your chair right now.

      Especially when the OP works using a laptop. Until I got to that point in the letter I had assumed that the ability to do the work was tied to the desk, so I was pretty surprised to see that there had been a very simple solution the entire time.

      It’s not “no-drama” to sit and stew over something that’s bothering you rather than solving it in a reasonable, assertive way.

      It is “no-drama” to take an approach that always assumes the most charitable available explanation for others’ behavior.

      1. Anonymous

        And has access to a nearby couch! If I worked there, me and my laptop would be stretched out on that couch everyday. The boss can have the chair!

        1. Amy

          This happened to me last week. I went to lunch and when I came back to see that my boss had borrowed my chair to discuss reports with a coworker. I noticied that there was a spare chair in the next office so I went and grabbed that to sit on. When my boss was done (5-10 minutes later), he said “oh sorry I’ve taken your chair”. I said “no problem” and put the chair I was using back in the other office. No drama!

      2. Anne

        Oh wow, I had missed the laptop bit before. Yeah, seriously, that makes it a lot worse. At that point there’s just no excuse to not grab your computer and say “Hey, give me a shout when you’re done, I’ll be over here.”

    2. Not So NewReader

      Great advice, fposte. And she’ll probably use it 10,000 times during her working career, because this is actually a fairly common occurance to find people borrowing a chair for a minute.

      If OP is upset over a chair that got borrowed for 15 minutes, I don’t see how the boss would be able to trust her with with new and more challenging responsibilities.

      I hate to think of the numbers of times that I sat in someone else’s chair for a short bit. If I saw someone fumming over that I would think that maybe some anger management classes were in order.

    3. AnotherAlison

      “They’re pretty much all the company president’s chairs. ”

      Lol. I use this line with my kid’s all the time. All the rooms & food are acutally mine.Bwahaha!

  15. Anonymous

    I would have simply found something productive to do that didn’t involve my space. Because, after all, it’s not “my” space, it’s the CEOs and she is just letting you use it. Take a break, visit the other employees, maybe give them some status updates on your projects, or run another errand, go to your car and meditate. Doesn’t matter, but next time do whatever you need to do to prevent yourself from getting upset.

    1. S.K.

      Or accidentally whack CEO in the head with the laptop while grabbing it, and then comment that things like that often seem to happen to PEOPLE SITTING IN MY CHAIR*/&$”/)($&

  16. Celeste

    Agree with the others who say you have a chip on your shoulder. It’s a blessing and a curse to have been working since you were 14. Maybe you got in with some people who taught you passive-aggressive moves, and maybe you missed out on some chances to grow up a little more before going into the work world.

    You have the chance here to improve and make yourself SO much more valuable, and to actually earn that respect that you want. I don’t know what your home life has been like that you needed to get to work at 14, but it might be a good idea to talk to a therapist for even a few sessions about anger management. There are always going to be situations in life that make you angry, and I feel like you could really use some tools to deal with it in ways that won’t derail you. If we’re lucky, we’re raised up with this stuff, but if not, it’s okay to ask for help.

    Best of luck to you!

    1. Not So NewReader

      I am concernd, too, because the scope of this story seems to cover half the Western Hemisphere. Why is everything all tied together like that? One situation or person runs into the next situation or person which runs into the next situation/person.

      OP, the common thread in all these stories is you. I understand you feel people are biased against you. But what about your own bias?
      Why do you find contempt in the simplest of situations?
      Not everyone is trying to tick you off.
      You want people to give you a chance, so why not give other people a chance, too?

      I am not sure who bullied you or abused you but you might want to spend time separating that from all people that you meet. Please don’t paint everyone with the same brush.

  17. Whippers

    Well, I’m a few years older than you and share an office with my boss. He has asked me to leave the office on several occasions so that he can talk with someone privately. These meetings have lasted up to and well over an hour. Sometimes I can find another desk, sometimes not.

    However, whilst this is inconvenient; it has never occurred to me to refuse or act like I’m being put upon. He’s the boss after all.

    1. Katie the Fed

      Even when it’s not your boss, you still figure it out. The lowest level mangers where I work don’t have offices, we just have cubicles. When I need to have a private conversation with an employee, I use an open office for someone who is away at at meeting or out for the day. It’s not a big deal – we work with it.

      1. fposte

        Yes, in a functional office it’s just about the chair, not the deep meaning of the chair. That’s why I like the query upthread about this maybe being a response to something else.

        1. Seattle Writer Girl

          I share a phone (as well as an office) with 3 other people. Often, one of my co-workers will receive a call or need to make an outgoing one. Because the phone lives on my desk and can’t be moved (1 outlet, short cord), I will sometimes come back to my desk to find someone sitting at it on the phone. This basically means I can’t do any work until they’re off the phone (I work in web design).

          Is this annoying? Yes. Am I upset by it to the point I need to write to columnists for advice? No (and believe me, I draft imaginary letters to AAM about stupid work stuff all the time).

          Why is this not a big deal? Because your co-worker and President were just trying to do their jobs.

          There are 2 reasons why your reaction is coming off as extreme:

          1. The offender is not only a boss, but also the President of your company. As Alison pointed out, bosses get a lot more leeway on their conduct because they bring in the big bucks (presumably).
          2. The conversation that was had was about work (or at least, we all assume it is). This was not 2 homegirls chatting it up about their dates last night. By interrupting them to get your chair back, you would actually be interfering with your co-worker’s ability to get her job done. That typically doesn’t garner a lot of respect from peers or higher-ups.

          Even if these 2 major things weren’t true, the advice would still be to ask for your chair back nicely.

          1. Judy

            Just as an FYI, they make couplers and longer cords for phones. They also have splitters for phone lines. Everyone could have a phone still sharing a line. Go to Radio Shack, really.

            1. Seattle Writer Girl

              @Judy,

              I appreciate the info, but this has already been shared with our IT person (who ironically shares my office and phone with me) on multiple prior occasions. When I suggested we just, I don’t know, BUY ANOTHER PHONE, I was told it was too expensive.

              I just shrug this stuff off now….

      2. Windchime

        Yes, this. In fact, a few weeks ago a co-worker and I needed a place to have a quick private chat, so we went into our boss’s office (he was off someplace else). We finished our official chat and then sat and visited for another minute or so, and our boss arrived–to his own office, mind you, which was occupied by Co Worker and I. He entered, then stopped and said, “Are you guys meeting? I can leave…..” This guy is a lot higher up the food chain, and was willing to vacate his own space for us. So it seems that OP could have quietly just slipped in, retrieved her laptop, and worked quietly on the sofa for a minute or two.

    2. AMG

      Me too. We are very short on offices here and I once had to leave for the day so that my boss could conduct performance reviews (I have the cube next to him). I kinda likes working at Starbucks, personally. It’s ok–it shows that you can be flexible and it was in no way personal.

  18. Anonymous

    Not to pile on but, OP you sound very immature to me. It doesn’t matter how long you have been working in offices you still have a lot of growing up to do. I don’t want to sound extra harsh but just the vibe I picked up from your letter is that you are immature, unsophisticated, uneducated, and ignorant. In order to get respect you need to fix these things.

    1. Whippers

      OK, I agreed with the first part but jeez “immature, unsophisticated, uneducated, and ignorant”. That is a tad harsh.

      1. Ethyl

        “Unsophisticated, uneducated, and ignorant” are also reading to me like some classist or even racist dogwhistles.

        1. LisaLyn

          I thought so, too, especially about the racism. Since it is just speculation, I won’t go into it, but … yeah …

        2. Zillah

          Ditto. That went through my head when I saw this comment as well, and I found it super off-putting.

      1. Anonymous

        I apologize if this seemed like a personal attack (although I think some of the other comments weren’t much better. Mine was maybe just a little more blunt). I felt like I was just telling it like I saw it. Senior leaders where I work like to say “Perception is Reality”. How people perceive you is how they think you are – even if that wasn’t your intent. From reading the OP’s original letter that is how I perceived her (and I know it usually isn’t a good idea to read too much into an email/letter). But after reading the OP’s comments below I can happily say that now my perception has changed. I’m very impressed with how she took the high road and responded to the feedback. I wish all the best for the OP. And we are all here to learn – I feel like I’ve learned so much from AAM over the past few years. I’m very grateful to this website.

    2. Katie the Fed

      Dude, she’s young. She has a lot to learn, yes, but let’s show her the best parts of AAM so she can stick around and learn.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        (Just realizing that MY comment was piling on, too! Piling on to the pile-oner, but stil..)

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

            Dammit, yes! I’m far from a grammar snob (in fact, I’m snobbish about grammar snobbery), but that’s one that I actually really like and want to get right. Thank you! :)

  19. J

    Once at an old job I came back from lunch to find my boss at my desk using my computer to look something up on the internet. He saw me come back and knew I couldn’t really do anything without my computer. After saying, “i’ll just be a second,” he ignored me for about fifteen minutes while he browsed around the web, and I sat and waited. Then later I moved on with my life and got back to work.

    It was kind of rude and I was mildly annoyed, but if he decides he wants to pay me to wait for him to read a wikipedia article, then that becomes my job for a while.

  20. Katie the Fed

    OP – you’ll do much better professionally when you learn to take a deep breath and ask yourself “does this really matter?”

    I suspect you wrote this letter to Alison in the heat of the moment when you were angry and frustrated, but if this is similar to how you react at work, then you’re almost certainly coming across as overly emotional at best, and unhinged at worst.

    You realize the common denominator between the last job and this one is you, right? If you’re having the same type of problem at several jobs, the problem is you, or how you’re perceiving things.

    There’s no reason you couldn’t have politely asked if you could have your chair back or if she’d like you to work somewhere else while she sat in it. There was no reason to huff around the office. As for browsing your phone – is that the image you want to project to the president of your company and your supervisor? It sounds like you threw a huffy fit and then sat there pouting.

    If you want to get respect (not “command” it) then realize it’s something you earn and are not entitled to. You earn it by handling awkward situations professionally, by using proper grammar (which you need to work on), and doing good work. You are young, you do have to work a little harder to establish your professionalism and credibility, but it’s doable. But not like this.

    1. AMG

      This is really good. When I find myself getting frustrated at things, I approach my job as my presence here is to be of service. If that means finding a different place to work for a few minutes, or going above and beyond on a Saturday at the expense of my personal time, so be it. We serve at the pleasure of our bosses. I also try to be humble and remember that it beats unemployment. Try–it will help YOU.

      1. Not So NewReader

        The attitude of service is the BEST. It will carry you farther than almost anything esle.

    2. Loose Seal

      I’m going to add to Katie’s excellent advice: it may not be too late to fix this. OP, you can go to the president and your supervisor and apologize for appearing out-of-sorts when you came back and found your chair appropriated. Then you can ask your supervisor what projects you should work on in the future if, for whatever reason, you can’t get to your computer. The trick to pulling this off is to treat it like any other growth opportunity. It won’t work if you are just apologizing because you feel you have to.

    3. Jamie

      OP – you’ll do much better professionally when you learn to take a deep breath and ask yourself “does this really matter?”

      This. My personal litmus test is asking myself if I’ll remember this tomorrow.

      99% of my annoyances are fleeting and I won’t remember then in 20 minutes much less 24 hours. The ones that matter are the ones that actually have an impact on something besides my mood…business issues which if not mine to solve will annoy me more each time because of lack of accountability.

      I don’t know if there is backstory to the OP and why she’s so angry, or it’s just territorial issues. I have worked with perfectly nice people who get very bent out of shape if you grab a paper clip from the holder on their desk without asking – and God help you if they come back and you’re at their desk.

      I have a thick skin – I’m IT – but there are people who are extremely territorial about their workspace. I’ve seen people angrier that I was at their desk without their previous consent than I would be if I walked into my office and found a co-worker rifling through my purse for a $20.

      Some people just have a very personal attachment to their workspace that I don’t understand. I like my office, it’s my office because this is where I work right now – but it belongs to my business – it’s not my home.

    4. Kelly O

      Love this.

      Basically if the same problem keeps popping up no matter where you go, you may not be properly diagnosing the real issue.

      And trust me, in my twenties, I would quit a job on a dime and look for my “passion” because I listened to a career advisor who told me to do what I loved and not settle for anything less than respect and joy every single day.

      That, my AAM friends, will get you classified an unhappy job hopper and lead to all sorts of problems down the road. I wish I’d learned to suck it up and not run away from problems fifteen years ago. It would be a LOT less expensive and time consuming.

  21. Emma the Strange

    OP, if there was a pattern of incidents that were clearly disrespectful, then your reaction would be more understandable. However, given what you’ve told us here, I have to agree with AAM.

    Also, I wonder if you’re unintentionally projecting your problems with your previous boss onto your current situation. That is, in your old job, maybe you got used to assuming the worst motivations behind everything your boss did, because it sounds like your boss really did have the worst motivations. At any rate, it’s not clear to me how your old unpleasant job is relevant to the chair situation, other than general frustration.

    In the case of the president, however, unless there’s a lot of other stuff you haven’t mentioned, I don’t think assuming the worst is warranted. Maybe she was just assuming that you would ask for the chair if you wanted it back? And that if you weren’t asking, then you must not want it? Maybe not a great assumption for her to make, but its understandable (and it couldn’t have have hurt to ask politely).

    1. some1

      Adding on to Emma’s second paragraph about the old boss. LW, it sounds like you can’t expect a very good reference from your last boss. Do you really want to create a situation where two consecutive managers dislike you for when you are job searching again?

  22. Poohbear McGriddles

    “Homegirl” probably turned around to look at you because she was mentally making notes of how you handled her being in your chair. Do you think she was pleased with what she saw (e.g., texting on the couch)?

      1. Hooptie

        I was thinking of how this letter would read if instead of ignoring the OP’s behavior the boss would have turned around and asked, “Is there a problem with me sitting here?” and how the OP would have responded.

        Homegirl, she’s the president of the company. That’s HER chair, not YOUR chair.

      2. Not So NewReader

        If it were me, I would not have had to turn around to see the daggers. I would have been able to feel the tension rolling off of OP.

    1. Gene

      ” I returned – placed it on my desk with a thud and home girl is still there! ”

      This probably really started the “let’s see how she handles this”, conciously or not. I’m not sure if this rises to the “Hey boss, I overreacted the other day to you being in my chair” discussion, but it’s time to look at how you react to minor inconveniences in work life.

      1. Hooptie

        I was thinking this too – it may be a good time for the OP to talk to their supervisor about a damage control plan starting with the potential of an apology, especially since the sup was the one talking to the big boss at the time.

    2. Mike C.

      Is this was some sort of secret morality test, then the OP’s reaction is the very least of my worries.

      1. Observer

        I doubt it started as any sort of test. But, it would not be shocking if this behavior created a “What on EARTH!?” reaction in the CEO’s mind, followed by “OK, let’s see if she’s totally unhinged or can keep some shred of her cool?”

        Smart? Not especially, in my opinion. But, IF that’s what happened, not shocking and quite understandable.

        1. tcookson

          I don’t think it started out as any sort of test, but I bet the CEO wasn’t about to reward the OPs huffy, petulant behavior by getting up in response to it. Either of my bosses might sit in my chair to converse with one another, and they would expect me to wait until at least break in the conversation before interrupting them to retrieve work.
          They certainly wouldn’t leap up to give me my way if I threw a huffy fit about it.

  23. fuyu

    My grandmother told me a similar story to the OP’s. She was mad that someone took her seat when left a few minutes to get something to drink at a holiday party, except she was 7.

  24. Ann O'Nemity

    OP, stop. Please stop. Your histrionics and sense of entitlement are just ammunition for the Millennial-bashers. You are 23 and working in a low- to mid-tier position. Your outrage and passive aggressiveness would be inappropriate in a high school, let alone a professional workplace. You’re not in a position to “command” respect, BUT it is possible to earn it. And that’s up to you and your behavior; it’s not something you can demand or expect.

    1. Anonymous

      I feel like people saying this is only about age miss the post from earlier today about someone 10-15 years older (we should assume then that they are at least 35 I think) than their jr staff who had a similar kind of question. (I’m kind of surprised AAM didn’t group these two together.)

          1. Anonymous

            Winter? Should I be watching the news, do you guys still have snow? Heading out to deadhead my daffodils…spring’s over here! Seriously, I don’t watch the news, have no idea. Sunny and about 70 here today.

            1. Katie the Fed

              We got another snowstorm here in DC on Sunday night. This winter has been ridiculous. 3-4 snowstorms. I don’t mind the snow days, but I’m sick of it in general. The fiance and I were getting a little sick of each other’s company too after all this time stuck in the house.

              My kingdom for a daffodil!

              1. Tris Prior

                I *wish* we’d only had 3-4 snowstorms this winter. That would’ve been heaven.

                (and, yeah, I know you guys are way less equipped to handle it than we are. This is just getting really, really tiresome for everyone, I think. Worst. Winter. Ever.)

              2. Pennalynn Lott

                We went from 85F on Saturday at 2:00pm to 25F (!) on Sunday at 2:00pm. All four seasons in 24 hours has left us with weather whiplash.

            2. Ethyl

              Ughhhh it’s been between 5-10F out in the mornings and about 20F during the day here for the past few weeks. It was seriously like 30F the other day and the line for the car wash was around the block.

              1. badger_doc

                We’re waiting for it to actually hit 30… Thursday hopefully!! It was in single digits when I woke up today. :-(

                1. J

                  It was in the single digits when I woke up today too, and I celebrated because yesterday it was in the negative double digits!

            3. Anonymous

              Well at least you all have rain. We are in big trouble here and it starts with D for drought.

          2. Josh S

            Everybody likes to complain about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it! Sheesh!

      1. danr

        Thanks… I was going to mention that post if no one else did.
        Both OPs want respect delivered to them, instead of getting it ‘the old fashioned way’, by earning it.

    2. MR

      I’m sure you were a fully mature adult who never did anything remotely close to this at the age of 23…

      1. Ann O'Nemity

        I’m only a few years older than that, actually. I’m a Millennial myself. My comment was intended as advice to a peer. (And despite your sarcasm, you’re right – I’ve never done anything remotely close to this behavior in a workplace. I’ve always been too grateful and way too dependent on my paychecks to pull a stunt like this.)

    3. JustMe

      Agreed.

      OP, if you are concerned that you aren’t being taken seriously and respected, but you are having visible major reactions to something that insignificant, your fear of being looked down on is going to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. People at the office won’t be inclined to take you seriously because to them, you seem unable to differentiate between what is and isn’t a big deal.

  25. Lily in NYC

    You know how people like to generalize about generations (like Gen X slackers and Gen Y entitlement)? Way to be a Millennial stereotype! I would love to see this person in a meeting with our division head – he would call her into his office and sit there writing emails while ignoring her for about 10 minutes. I think she’d blow a gasket at the “disrespect”. I cannot wrap my mind around this major overreaction. Our president just realized out that I’m not the same person as my coworker (he always calls us by the same name). I just laughed it off and didn’t read anything into it.

    1. Ash

      Yes. This.

      This is why millenials are seen as the “me, me, me” generation. I got the “Johnny stole my toy, wah wah” vibe from this email and it really speaks to the spoiled attitude that people THINK our/my generation has and that someone is always supposed to be there to rescue us.
      OP: What did you do about the situation? Instead of being proactive, you sat and pouted and were unproductive. Even saying something like “Hey, big boss, don’t mind you using my desk but can I grab a few things so I can be the productive person that one day might deserve your respect and a promotion?”

      It’s situations like this and the stereotypes which lead bosses to think its okay to reverse age discriminate, that people in my generation (I’m 29) aren’t “mature” enough for certain titles. It is really frustrating.

        1. Ash

          Yes, of course, but I think its being tied disproportionally with youth and especially the Millenial generation (take Time’s “Me Generation” cover, for instance).

      1. fposte

        I don’t think this is fair. One person wrote this letter. She is not the voice of her generation, and it’s not her job to make sure other millennials aren’t discriminated against. The fact that people disproportionately leap to its being a generational issue is the fault of the leapers, not the leapees.

        1. Ash

          You’re very right. My argument, however, is it is up to us as a generation to prove the stereotypes wrong. Confirmation bias on the part of the leapers means that one person proving the stereotype true negates all others who defy it.

          1. Hooptie

            Love this response, though I do agree that we shouldn’t generalize entire age groups. One bad apple and all that.

          2. Natalie

            While I would love if it that were possible, that isn’t actually how stereotyping works. Every example that confirms that stereotype reinforces is, and every example that violate the stereotype is forgotten or chalked up as an outlier. Ask anyone from any marginalized group about being labeled “one of the good X”.

            1. tcookson

              Ha! I had this from my husband’s family when we were first dating/married. They are from southern California and moved to Arkansas. They thought it was a compliment to tell me that I wasn’t a redneck like all the other Arkies in the state. I roll my eyes now in mild amusement at the memory, but a the time I thought they were rude and ignorant as hell.

          3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

            Ugh. I’m glad I don’t have the pressure of trying to disprove the negative stereotypes of my generation. That seems like a lot to ask Millenials to shoulder.

          4. Ann O'Nemity

            Or at the very least, individuals need to prove that they don’t conform to the negative stereotypes of their generation. In other words, I’m a millennial so you probably assume I’m entitled before you even know me. Now it’s up to me to prove you wrong. And every time I do display characteristics akin to those negative stereotypes, it may get magnified beyond a one-time thing and into some kind of generalization about my overall work ethic, or (at worst) could be used to support sweeping generalizations about my entire generation.

            And this isn’t unique to the generational thing. It can also be about gender, race, etc. It’s not fair, but it is the reality that we live in.

            1. Magda

              I think people need to be *aware* of the stereotypes working against them, sure. But proving a stereotype wrong is ultimately not in the stereotypee’s control. You do not control how someone else thinks, how resistant they are to change or how determined they are to hold onto irrational beliefs.

              One really disturbing thing I have noticed is that some people are actually more comfortable with people who confirm a stereotype than ones who disprove it, even if it means work/morale suffers. Because the stereotype is what they’re familiar with, and they feel more comfortable working with something familiar than with an “unknown quantity.”

              Do your best, sure, but I think it’s poisonous to frame those situations as “I failed to prove [stereotype] wrong.”

              1. Ann O'Nemity

                To clarify, I meant that individuals may need to prove that they themselves don’t conform to the stereotype. I didn’t mean that the individual needs to single-handedly prove the entire stereotype wrong. In other words, I would need to prove that *I’m* not entitled, despite being in the Millennial generation. I’m not suggesting that I need to disprove the entire entitlement stereotype.

                It’s not fair – see Delurking below, plus the issue of starting out in the negative instead of with a clean slate. Still, it may be necessary to disprove the assumptions on an individual level if you want to succeed and advance. I’ve found it’s not always possible to surround yourself with rational, unbiased co-workers and bosses!

          5. Delurking

            I disagree completely. No one should have to bear the weight of being an ambassador for their entire demographic. Are women supposed to behave perfectly at all times to dispel sexism? Are people of color supposed to outperform white people to disprove racist stereotypes?

        2. Just a Reader

          Well, the “it happens a lot to my friends” comment implies that she’s speaking for more people than just herself.

          The “talent like me” got me too. At the entry level, there’s a lot of “talent like you”–it doesn’t matter who “you” are.

          1. Diet Coke Addict

            Yep. It sucks to realize, but at the entry-level stage? Plenty of talent at your level, regardless of your years of experience, etc.

        3. Lily in NYC

          That’s why I wrote “way to be a stereotype” – I don’t think the generalizing is necessarily fair (especially because I’m a non-slacker member of Gen X) – OP was acting exactly like the stereotype. I didn’t say the stereotype was apt.

      2. Magda

        While I’m not on board with the reaction described in the letter at all, I also think it kind of sucks that people are counting the negative here (her disproportionate reaction) and totally ignoring the positive (her willingness to work weekends/stay late at her previous job) when it comes to Millenial attitudes toward work.

        Now who knows what OP’s attitude was like to start with; just because you work long hours doesn’t automatically mean you’re a good worker. But I think it’s just simplistic and biased to conclude “bratty Millenial” when someone comes out of a shitty work environment and fails to immediately display a kittens-and-sunshine attitude. The attitude OP currently has definitely needs to be worked on, but that’s frequently true of people of *all* ages who come out of bad workplaces.

        1. Sunflower

          I think if she hadn’t written the last couple sentences that Just a Reader above noted- ‘all of my friends’ and ‘talent like us’ are so disrespected, it wouldn’t have been so easy to jump on the entitled millennial train.

          Think the problem is OP doesn’t realize that this is a back issue of her negative work environment. She doesn’t realize that the issues are actually coming within herself as opposed to the outside world. And by taking that approach at the end, that’s where she really came off as sounding entitled as opposed to a product of a bad work environment.

          1. Magda

            I still think it’s an unfounded leap. Does anyone reading those words actually think “all of my friends” and “talent like us” encompasses single person born between 1982 and 2000?

            1. Sunflower

              Is the unfounded leap that she herself is a bratty millennial or that this act is feeding into the stereotype of millenials being bratty?

              1. Magda

                I think the unfounded leap is that her attitude stems *solely* from the fact that she is a Millenial.

                1. Sunflower

                  If someone is walking around the office saying ‘I’m 23, I’ve worked in an office before, I know how things work’ and ‘all my friends are so disrespected’ and ‘I was treated so badly at my last work place’ especially with all the other workers being older and in that office for some time…do you really think they aren’t going to make assumptions?

                  If was her coworker, I’d assume she didn’t come from a bad environment- just an environment bad in her own mind, because she feels entitled.

        2. Jax

          My office is full of girls under 30 who like to pride themselves on working long hours. It’s Butts In Chairs in reverse.

          They are angry. They are brisk. They clack up and down the hallways with their heels slamming into the tile and groan out loud after difficult phone calls. Sometimes we get crying in the bathroom. It all screams, “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT HOW HARD I’M WORKING!”

          OP reminds me of one of these girls. I don’t know if it’s youth? Immaturity? Or maybe they are the first generation of women in their family to graduate college and land a job in a professional world? Maybe they lack real-life examples of women working well.

          Either way, it’s sunk into our generation that to be successful means that we have to go hardcore. We either have lots of drama queens or we have too many millennials over-worked and over-stressed beyond the point of handling anything well.

          1. Anonsie

            I’ve been trying fruitlessly for a long time to come up with a name for the Look How Hard I’m Working people.

            I haven’t found them to be entirely concentrated to one age group, though. I have found it to be very closely connected to having a more working-class upbringing, along the lines of not having professional role models like you say. I find myself almost falling into it sometimes, and in my experience it’s really closely connected to 1) my schools valuing volume of work/time spent working over quality, and then moving from that into 2) jobs where your time is extremely micromanaged and, again, appearances are much more important than quality– same as my parents did, same as I’d always seen people in my whole life.

            I remember once, at a former job, we were moving fragile glass items from a shelving system and packing them carefully into boxes, which takes some planning to Tetris them all together. After we packed one, we would scan the shelves for a moment for something that would fit securely in the same box so nothing would break. I once counted how many seconds we could do this before our supervisor would come pepper the offender with questions about what we were doing and why we weren’t working. It was an average of about 3 seconds, never more than 5. She genuinely considered it an unacceptable delay time, and one we were probably fabricating because we were lazy.

            I’ve had similar experiences in most (all?) of my blue collar roles. It’s that type of thing that ends with people trying to put out this vibe of constant, arduous work, I think. You get nervous that all those idle 3-5 second intervals are being tallied by someone somewhere who’s going to be angry with you.

            1. Tax Nerd

              I have seen the same syndrome, Anonsie. There definitely needs to be a name for it, as “Look At How Hard I’m Working!” is a bit unwieldly.

              And I agree with your observation that it often comes from people from blue collar backgrounds, though I fell short on figuring out why. Your last paragraph may be it. (Note to self: Read Limbo by Lubrano.)

              1. College Career Counselor

                One of the more common terms on usenet boards (and once again, I realize I’m old) was “pain-sizing,” which referred to the practice of one-upping the last person to post how awful/terrible/difficult something was. It’s also prevalent on college campuses:

                Student 1: “Ugh, I was up until 4am writing that paper.”

                Student 2: “You’re lucky–I haven’t been to sleep yet.”

                Student 3: “That’s nothing–I pulled 3 all-nighters this week.”

                Student 4: “Pffft–I have so much work, I had to invent a TIME MACHINE to get it all done!”

                In this case, I propose “work-sizing” as the term of art!

              2. Ann O'Nemity

                The closest term I’ve seen is workplace martyr. There’s definitely some overlap, but I think we’re talking about something slightly different here.

                What we’re talking about here seems to be the employees that go above and beyond to LOOK busy and hardworking. I’ve known folks who humblebrag about their 60-hour weeks; meanwhile, their co-workers are somehow getting the same results in 40.

                I’ve often wondered if it’s a blue-collar/white-collar thing. In many of my blue-collar jobs, productivity and work ethic was determined by hours worked. In my white-collar jobs, the focus is on results.

            2. Smilingswan

              There’s definitely some truth to this, and to what Jax said. I am a first generation college grad and white collar worker. I have no idea how to be in a business environment. This, in addition to my introversion and clinical depression causes all sorts of workplace problems for me. I am socially awkward; always have been, probably always will be. I am working on it daily. Additionally, this dynamic (along with some bad advisors) is why I thought majoring in Art History was a good idea, and would definitely net me a great, well-paying job that I loved right out of college. No one I knew had ever been to college, so I had no one to tell me otherwise. Add this together, and you have a 37 year old struggling well below the level where she could be at.

          2. smallbutmighty

            Wow, I have both been and seen this type of person, and I never really recognized it as An Identifiable Thing until just now.

            My theory (invented just as I’m writing this): This is something people of a certain age/generation/upbringing do when they don’t have actual deliverables, or when their work product will have few if any eyes on it, and they’re in such a position for the first time in their lives.

            People my age (40) and younger grew up receiving a lot of praise and affirmation for both achievements and efforts, and we’ve become accustomed to receiving these things. I think we see it as the natural outcome of anything that takes work.

            When we find ourselves for the first time in a place where nothing we do gets noticed and/or praised, we loudly draw attention to our efforts so that SOMEONE, ANYONE, will say, “Hey, good job, you’re really killing it,” or something similar.

            It took me a very long time and a lot of experience to figure out that my “thank you” is a check every two weeks and an incremental increase in the size of that check every year, as well as the opportunity to do other kinds of work for bigger checks in the future, and that my reward is the satisfaction of setting out to accomplish specific things and then doing so, mostly quietly and invisibly.

          3. literateliz

            Enh, there is definitely something to be said for projecting calmness and professionalism and it doesn’t sound like the women you describe are really doing that, but this comment rubs me the wrong way. You don’t like the sound their heels make on the tile floors, and you think this somehow reflects upon their work ethic and propensity for drama? And we’ve had several discussions on this blog about why using “girls” to describe adult women is inappropriate. (I’m sure, with the way the thread about millennials is going, that someone will chime in to suggest that the behavior of these women means that they deserve to be called girls. I disagree.)

          4. Sunflower

            I think this stems from ‘bad advice from you parents’. They tell you ‘ be the first one in, last one out’ If that was the way things worked in my office, I’d be working 14 hour days and spending lots of my time doing nothing. My boss would probably start to worry I didn’t have time management skills, wonder why it was taking me so long to do my work and then maybe ponder if he made a bad choice hiring me.

        3. Observer

          I don’t think she’s a “bratty Millennial”, but her attitude certainly feeds into that stereotype, even though you are right that it shouldn’t.

  26. Magda

    Yikes. Honestly, I understand how sometimes “little” things are the ones that really get under your skin, because they seem so pointlessly mean. But LW, I was pretty jarred by how you leapt from “I know Current Company President would never have done this to anyone else” to Previous Supervisor’s terrible behavior. To me it sounds like you came out of an abusive workplace and you’re still reacting that way – which I say with absolute, 100% sympathy, because I’ve been there. But behaviors that are self-protective in a dysfunctional workplace can be self-destructive in a more functional one, and I think you’re in danger of that here.

    1. RJ

      “But behaviors that are self-protective in a dysfunctional workplace can be self-destructive in a more functional one[.]”

      If this sentence wasn’t so long, I’d get it tattooed on me some place. And maybe change “workplace” to “relationship”. :D

  27. GeeGee

    Wow. I have a hard time believing this is a real letter. It was entertaining to read though.

  28. Former Usher

    The good news here is that OP wrote her angry letter to Ask a Manager, and not to *her* manager.

  29. Sunflower

    I think this was written about 5 minutes after the situation happened and OP is worried and freaking out that this position is going to be as bad as the one she had before.

    I could say a lot of other things that will probably be said but that is my opinion on where this letter came from.

  30. Jubilance

    I’m with everyone else here – I bet this letter was written in the heat of the moment. Also it sounds like the OP is struggling with the level of disrespect she faced at her last job, and she’s so hyper-sensitive that she’s seeing everything as disrespectful behavior. It can be difficult to stop expecting or seeing the worst in everything when you were in a bad situation for a long time.

    Just a random question – OP are you in the Midwest, specifically MN? It struck me as a very passive aggressive situation on your part – you never asked if you could have your seat back, or how long the CEO was going to be. You rolled your eyes and sat on the couch & whatnot, but you never verbalized what you wanted. I live in MN and I see this type of thing all the time, and really the situation probably could have been handled better if you had just asked for your seat back or when the CEO would be done. Try to be direct but polite; people can’t read your mind and she may have been unaware that you were bothered that she was in your seat.

    1. Former Usher

      Funny comment about MN. If the lead paragraph had been a discussion of the weather, we’d know you’re right.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        Haha, totally true. I’ve literally cut myself off from starting every conversation with coworkers (who are in other parts of the country) with stories about the weather.

    2. some1

      The LW said it happened “yesterday afternoon”. Assuming she wrote this the next morning, that gave her the rest of the afternoon, the evening, and all night to stew on it.

    3. Sue Donem

      So true about MN, and also about WI, where I grew up. A lot o people I knew/encountered viewed being direct as being somewhat rude. It was a huge culture shock when I moved to NYC and found people expected you to state things directly. I got a *lot* of, “Well, why didn’t you just say so?” statements my first two to three years here. (I still sometimes slip back into old, being indirect behaviors, but I’m better at recognizing it now.)

  31. Tiff

    OP it sounds like you are carrying the bad things that happened at your last job into your new place. I’ve been there – I wouldn’t say my last job gave me ptsd, but it came damn close. I don’t think it’s a big deal if you call your boss homegirl behind her back, doesn’t matter if you find her totally rude. And really, I don’t think there’s anything wrong in looking to obtain a certain level of respect. Just realize that she most likely did not mean to offend you in that manner. And although you have experience, you’re still in a new place, it doesn’t sound like you’re especially high up on the ladder and you’re still going to have to prove yourself. Keep your cool, do impressive work and let your smarts build your reputation rather than your attitude.

  32. Anonymous

    I recently had a C level person have a conversation with me for about an hour about something completely unrelated to work. After a while he stopped and said, “I should really let you get back to work.” I nodded and said, “Your the boss if you want to pay me to talk about Dr. Who for the next 2 hours that’s your decision.”

    We spent the next hour talking about it. His decision, and strangely it resolved the work related problem I’d intended to talk to him about.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      Ack!

      I did this!

      The morning after I finished a season 7 marathon, I made a guy on my team stop what he was doing and talk Doctor Who with me for like 15 minutes. I believe my exact words were “if you can’t talk about Doctor Who right now, what good are you to me” (he gets my sense of humor :) )

      I can’t recall any time ever I have barged in on someone and made them drop what they were doing and discuss something non-work related but…. come on, Tom Baker, regeneration, return of the Bad Wolf, it had to be done!

      (I was embarrassed afterward but not sorry. :p )

      1. Pennalynn Lott

        I work from home and would give anything to be able to interrupt someone to discuss Dr. Who! :-)

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          Clearly you need to hire someone then. Once you do that you can make him or her discuss Doctor Who with you at will. Well worth a salary.

    2. Emma

      My boss and I would have weekly chats about Game of Thrones. Since I’d read the books (and watched the show) and she only watched the show, she’s rush in the day after to discuss the little details left out of the TV version.

      It’s team building!

    3. Kera

      I spent a quarter of my interview talking about Things My Cats Have Done. Fairly sure that’s what got me the job, because my boss and I spend a similar proportion of our catchups catching up on our cats.

  33. Jess

    I agree completely with Alison’s response and most of the previous commenters, but just wanted to add a point to those who have called the OP’s reaction “passive aggressive.” While it was technically passive aggressive, I don’t think this is a situation where OP should have been “directly aggressive” either. Often when we say someone’s being passive aggressive, we’re also saying they should have instead addressed the issue directly. But I don’t think this situation even rises to the level of an issue that should ever be addressed. It’s really just a non-issue; one that you maybe find yourself mildly annoyed by in the moment but should quickly get over.

    1. Fiona

      The opposite of “passive aggressive” isn’t “directly aggressive,” though. There have been a number of comments that offer ways to directly handle the situation that are still professional.

      1. KLH

        Exactly. The opposite of passive agressive is assertive. That’s when you use words to politely say what you want, instead of expecting people to read your mind.

        1. Sarahnova

          Yes, exactly. The object of identifying a behaviour as “passive-aggressive” is not to shift it to plain old “aggressive”, but to identify ways to express your feelings or need constructively, i.e. “assertive”. “Hi, boss, I need to get my laptop and could you let me know when you’re done?” would have done the job perfectly well.

  34. VictoriaHR

    She kept turning to look at you because she could tell that you were pissed and she couldn’t figure out why. You just shot yourself in the foot at that company. Good job…

    1. Mena

      Agreed. This will take time and work to reverse. I think I’d just pull the executive aside and say ‘sorry I over-reacted’ and hope that helps.

  35. Char

    Hi OP, I feel you! I don’t have similar situation as you but I did experience such “disrespect” from someone higher up – it’s like I’m a worthless piece of dung, invisible as well. It’s really makes me think if there’s anything wrong with me or is it just because I’m at the lowest end of the hierarchy. I think some bosses just do that to subordinates, especially those they don’t work directly with, because they want to draw a clear line and separate personal from work. But what I can say it, deal with it, beggers can’t be choosers. At least you have great coworkers!

  36. OP

    Thank you Alison and commenters. You guys have given me some insight – some more harsh than others but still, I’ve taken it all in. I do understand I’m still learning the ropes, I might have overacted and situations like this are likely to happen again in the future.

    This was a great wake up call guys. Thanks! I’ve let it go. I’m moving on.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      OP, I’m impressed — you’ve taken some criticism here and stayed positive, and that’s hugely in your favor. I hope you’ll keep using us as a sounding board!

      1. OP

        Yup, I’ve been a fan for over two years so I understand the nature. Lastly things written can always be read in tones not too favorable to the OP. So with that in mind reading some of these comments weren’t too bad.

        1. Camellia

          Good for you!

          Now on the practical side, I’ve found that leaving a sweater on the back of my chair all the time really discourages others from ‘borrowing’ my chair. That was never my intent, I just need insurance against freezing A/C units, but it was a happy side benefit.

    2. fposte

      It’s really hard to pull out of a spin–I admire you for doing so. That definitely bodes well for you going forward, and you’ll have all of our voices in your ear if somebody sits in your chair again :-).

    3. Katie the Fed

      Good for you. There are people who get under our skin so much sometimes. It’s hard to just shake it off. Just remember – it’s not worth getting your blood pressure up.

    4. R

      This is awesome. Good luck to you, OP!

      I think it’s pretty natural for people to get annoyed at something and then have that annoyance spiral into a big massive whirlpool of emotions. (No? Just me?) I used to indulge it by venting about these annoyances with colleagues and friends, but (excuse the mixed metaphors) it was really putting fuel on the fire unnecessarily.

      I’ve since learned to try to stop the spiral before it starts. So instead of going from “she’s sitting in my chair, I can’t do my work, she doesn’t respect me, no one has ever respected me…” I try to stop myself right after the first annoyance registers. “She’s sitting in my chair, and that’s annoying.” For some reason, putting my energy into stopping the spiral makes it easier to control myself and figure out how to address the one singular annoyance. I hope that’s helpful and not too rambling!

      1. Ruffingit

        Good for you because the hate spiral can really get out of control easily. It’s helpful to realize that each event in life is not connected to others as in “She’s sitting in my chair, she’s disrespecting me, everyone disrespects me, those bastards, I hate the world…”

        Rather, as you note, it’s better to just put a stop to it as soon as it starts and not connect it to everything else in life. I’d also say that (and I’m not talking to you specifically R, this is just a general statement), if you’re finding that life is just handing you example after example of disrespect, etc., then it’s probably not life, it’s you. Examining why you continually feel a certain way is more helpful than getting angry about any one example.

        1. R

          Yes, exactly! At a previous job, I was in a small office with a fairly toxic work environment– bad managers, long hours, terrible pay, and coworkers who loved to help each other spiral by encouraging vent sessions and so forth. I (thankfully!) switched jobs, and saw early on that my old habits weren’t worth bringing over! I can’t say that I never fall prey to it, but I’ve gotten much, much better.

    5. Anon Accountant

      Please don’t feel the need to answer this if this makes you uncomfortable but did you have bad experiences at your prior workplace?

      I ask because a very bad workplace can warp/change your perception of “normal” and this was a post on AAM maybe 2 weeks ago. The longer you are in a dysfunctional workplace the harder it is to realize that not every place is like that.

      1. Emma the Strange

        I wondered the same thing. The OP mentioned in their letter that they had an unpleasant previous supervisor, even though that anecdote seemed, in context, kind of superfluous to the chair story. That made me wonder if the chair incident had triggered some unpleasant memories about the old work situation, and if that was what made them so upset. If the OP’s last boss was in the habit of deliberately slighting them in petty ways, its not surprising that they would have (unconsciously) learned to assume the worst motives behind every inconvenient thing their bosses do. Or that similar-seeming behaviour from a new boss would trigger an emotional reaction. (OP feel free to add details/contradict me if you want).

    6. AnonEMoose

      I think a lot of the previous commenters had good points, OP. So I’ll just say that I can empathize with your frustration to an extent.

      Years ago, I was working as a long-term temp (as in, I’d been there for over a year). I was moved into a cubicle that had been previously empty for some time, and which people were used to ducking into to use the phone or similar. And it also took awhile for people to adjust to the fact that someone was actually using that space now.

      During that time, I had to deal with pens disappearing (I took to locking them all up at night), the chair being adjusted in minor ways, other stuff I no longer rember in detail, and worst of all, people trying to duck in to use the phone while I was sitting there working. Sometimes just barging in and grabbing the handset without so much as a “hello.”

      The most egregious was probably when I’d gone to the restroom, was just about to re-enter my cube, and was literally cut off by one of the supervisors, who proceeded to plunk herself into the chair and grab the phone to answer a page. (And yes, there were other phones she could have used close by.) She then proceeded to have a several minute conversation with whoever it was. She did have the grace to “sort of” apologize afterwards.

      I finally talked to my supervisor about it, and she started spreading the word, I think, because it did taper off. And finally stopped altogether when another person came barging in and grabbed the phone again while saying “do you mind?” Obviously assuming the answer would be “no.” I looked at him and said “Well, if you don’t mind getting my cold…” he put the phone down and left. And to his credit, thanked me for warning him.

      It was intensely frustrating and felt very disrespectful. But at the time, I wasn’t confident enough to address it and wasn’t sure how. But it was disruptive to my work, and that’s what I said to my supervisor when I brought it up.

      1. LV

        I was in a similar situation in a previous position as well. I started a new job and was assigned a cubicle that had previously been empty for a long time, so people thought of it as a sort of dumping ground. Cleaning out your office and found a bunch of old phone books you don’t need anymore? Got your chair replaced and have no idea what to do with the broken one? By all means, abandon them in my work space. The “highlight” was when I got to the office one morning only to find a guy making off with my file cabinet because he thought nobody was using it.

        1. AnonEMoose

          It improved after a month or so, but still happened from time to time. Then they reshuffled us again and I ended up in a different cube. I did warn the coworker who ended up in the cube I moved out of, so she could be prepared to deal with it.

          1. Jean

            “I did warn the coworker who ended up in the cube I moved out of, so she could be prepared to deal with it.”

            That was a seriously kind deed on your part!

    7. Ann Furthermore

      Good for you OP! Figuring out what is worth getting upset about and what should be let go is such an important lesson, and in my view one you keep learning over and over again.

      Some other people posted that you might still have some lingering issues from your last boss, and I was thinking the same thing. My last boss was a complete nightmare, and I was thankfully able to move into another department in a new role with a fantastic boss. But I brought some of that old bitterness and anger with me, and it affected my outlook in some ways. My boss, rightfully, pointed this out to me a couple times when she felt I overreacted to something, or could have handled something better. She basically told me that I had to just chill the hell out and leave the bad stuff in the past.

      It was such good advice, and I took it. It was really hard to do, but I did it and really, it feels great to just put things like that behind you and move on. Every so often, something will happen that kind of stirs all that old crap up again, but now it’s something I’m aware of and I’m able to give myself a mental hand-slap and move on before I get sucked into a vortex of negativity.

    8. MovingRightAlong

      Have you considered that you might be carrying some baggage over from your previous job? It sounds like it was an unpleasant experience at least, and you may have defenses built up that you’re not even aware of anymore. Just something to think about.

    9. Joey

      Good for you. Taking tough criticism is no easy feat. You’ve taken it with grace which is a great trait.

    10. Jessica

      Don’t be too hard on yourself, you’re 23 and still learning. I know one of the big shocks for me when I first started working was that adult people were sometimes rude for no reason (I was possibly a little sheltered).

      It still grates on me when people are rude but I find it’s better to let it go when it’s more likely general thoughtlessness than a pointed attack. Let Miss Manners judge them.

      1. Anonsie

        Hah! That’s what I always say was the biggest shock for me, too–that so many people were just jerks all the time.

        Not that I was any stranger to jerks, but I thought moving up in the world (older people, white collar job) would taper down the amount of jerks I had to deal with. Ha ha ha ha ha.

        1. LK

          Strongly feel the same way! The real world is just the way it is. Sometimes people are just inconsiderate for no reason. I guess this has nothing to with maturity. It has to do with individuals – their personality, their experience, how they are treated and how they want to treat other people.

    11. ITwannabe

      OP, I just saw this comment. I am very impressed with the grace you are showing to the comments and ideas on the boards. Learning the ropes is hard (not to mention an ongoing process), but being willing is a big part of success. Wishing you the best.

    12. A Bug!

      Hi OP, you rock.

      I’d just like to rehash something I said in a comment further up: it’s not “no drama” to forego an obvious solution to a problem because you’ve concluded that it’s someone else’s responsibility to solve it for you.

      And to expand on my other comment on charitable assumptions, consider how the president might have written in to AAM:

      “I have this employee who’s a good performer generally, but she seems to take minor inconveniences very personally. Rather than communicating her needs or dealing with them productively, she shuts down. Although she’s the youngest employee by several years, she’s worked in offices for long enough that I don’t think this is simple inexperience. How can I explain to her that she can’t expect others to anticipate her needs for her and that sulking is not an appropriate way of communicating?”

      Good luck, OP. You’ll deal!

      1. Smilingswan

        I like that you did this. It’s usually helpful, although difficult, to see things from the other side. :)

    13. Hooptie

      Really impressive, OP! You deserve kudos not only for taking the comments and criticism so well, but for asking in the first place.

      I can empathize somewhat. A couple of years ago I had a conference room booked for a team meeting (10 people). We walked into the room and the CFO was sitting there with one person. Because they had left the door open, it was obvious that it was a hallway conversation that had grown to a sit-down conversation so they ‘grabbed the room’ since it was close.

      My team stood awkwardly in the doorway for a couple of minutes, and I said, “CFO, we had this booked but can move if needed.” He just looked at me.

      I motioned for the team to leave, then we spent another 10 minutes looking for another conference room big enough to accommodate our group.

      His office was about 40-50 steps away. He could have easily taken his conversation there. But sometimes it is better just to defer to hierarchy. I honestly don’t think he realized that 10 people were having to move around to accommodate him at the last minute. My experience has led me to believe that many people at that level have somehow lost that kind of awareness.

      At the time, I was a mid-level manager with over 5 years in at the company. It doesn’t just happen to entry-level staff, but accommodating the higher ups no matter who is in the right is a good lesson to learn early in your career.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        Oh, dear. This is a weird pet peeve of mine. There’s a conference room booking system. Use it. Ugh.

        1. Esra

          It’s such a power thing. I worked at this little 20-person non-profit org, with only one board/meeting room. Two of the senior managers would constantly use it ‘just to chat’ regardless of whether meetings were booked or not and got very huffy when asked to vacate.

          They were 2 of three people in the office who had personal offices instead of desks in open space.

      2. Anon

        Ugh, this happened to me once very early in my current job. We didn’t have another space large enough to accommodate the group, though, and we were paying an outside presenter for the meeting and couldn’t reschedule. I ended up going to the big boss but it SUUUUUCKED. The person I displaced definitely still remembers 2.5 years later.

    14. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      Lookit, some people have a harder time with personal space and invasion.

      I cannot stand to have anybody touch my computer at home or at work. I have to grit my teeth and just count mindlessly when IT does it. I’m also a bit claustrophobic and it’s the same sort of feeling as when I am trapped in a room with other people blocking the exit .

      I know that my reactions are out of line/out of proportion so I’m careful not to show them. If IT or somebody has to be in my space, I busy myself far away so I don’t have to watch somebody touching my stuff.

      Perhaps something to keep in mind for the next time.

  37. Malissa

    OP–I have asked my previous boss to leave my chair countless times. “Hey, can I have my chair back now?” is a perfectly acceptable thing to say to anybody in your chair. Going to fume on the couch…not so acceptable.
    That said I did cop an attitude once with a manger about sitting in my chair. But I had bought the chair after three requests to get a new chair that wasn’t a safety hazard went unanswered. But we had a long and troubled relationship. Which I’m guessing might be the case with you as well.
    Just remember you may not be able to control how people in your life act, but you can control you reaction. So as others have said take a second and breath and consider your reaction before it comes tumbling out.

  38. Sally

    “In fact my position was terminated mainly because I didn’t reply to an email she sent me after hours until 10 a.m. the next morning.”

    Somehow I doubt that was the ‘main’ reason.
    It might be hard to hear, but try to take the advice you’ve been given. Having an open, positive attitude and not taking offense as easily will definitely help your professional reputation. And it will not make you a pushover but someone who is adaptable, flexible and a pleasure to work with. Then, when something serious happens, speak up calmly and professionally. Good luck.

  39. Emma

    It might just be me…but calling someone “home girl” sounds a bit racist. Because to me, the term is supposed to bring down her professional stature by implying she is or is perceived to be from a particular socioeconomic, social or racial group, and we’re supposed to transpose some negative behaviors or aura onto her.

    If I’m being oversensitive and it’s just a turn-of-phrase, please ignore me.

    1. some1

      Agree. I said something similar above. If someone in their 20’s or 30’s used the expression, I would think they could mean anyone. If my parents heard the term “homegirl”, I bet they would picture a black female.

      It’s like how “hooligan” used to mean “an Irishman acting like a jackass”, but when other people started using the term it’s like saying “You’re acting like an Irishman.”

    2. ~anon...

      She didn’t actually CALL her ‘homegirl’ outloud.. it was how she was speaking to her in her own mind.

  40. Colette

    I just hate to see talent like me be disrespected because (a) we look/are young, and (b) we’re the newest or different a demographic. I refuse to tolerate things like this because that’s how patterns form.

    As Alison (and others) have pointed out, this isn’t about disrespect – at least not disrespect towards the OP. But the next sentence, in my experience, tends to be associated with people who seek drama.

    Life is much more pleasant for everyone if everyone learns to tolerate things that aren’t important. Pretty much every day, someone around you will do something selfish or thoughtless. If you react to each one with outrage, all you accomplish is to become the person everyone avoids. Save the outrage for the big things, and let the little ones go.

  41. Purr purr purr

    Why not just politely ask for the seat back so you can work instead of being passive-aggressive dumping water bottles on the desk and grabbing the laptop while fuming away? Part of me thinks the president probably did it deliberately just to amuse themselves watching you handle (or mishandle) the situation. That used to happen at my old job where person A would deliberately irritate person B so that we could all watch person B huff and puff their way around the office instead of just talking to person A.

    Also, the phrases ‘I just hate to see talent like me be disrespected’ and ‘command respect’ kind of says it all for me about the attitude, especially when it’s then combined with the grammatically poor ‘would have went’ (instead of ‘would have gone’). There’s always two sides to every story and maybe OP thinks they’re the bomb and others disagree…

    1. Windchime

      I dunno, I think I would probably have just said something like, “Excuse me, let me just slip in and grab my laptop real quick….”, quietly get my laptop and papers and find a different place to work for a minute. It just seems like such a non-issue.

  42. A

    I wonder if maybe they were talking about how you tend to react to situations at work (co-worker giving the boss a heads up) and then you showed back up and gave them a first hand look. Also, maybe it’s just my office but sitting on your cell phone while your on the clock is not ok (especially considering OP did eventually grab her laptop) and that could be why the boss kept looking over…

  43. Interviewer

    OP – You have been in the workplace for a long time. Perhaps you had to start supporting yourself much earlier than others your age, or perhaps you just very ambitious. Sometimes being the youngest one means you have to defend everything you do or say, like no one takes you or your work seriously. It’s grating, and you begin to suspect the worst in people. But the story you told shows YOU with the chip on your shoulder – NOT your company’s president.

    Think about how you can better achieve your goals without thinking they’re all out to get you. It would absolutely stun you to learn how very little people think of others during the average day – really and truly, if I have learned one thing at work, it’s never about me, it’s all about them. Once you stop taking everything personally, the world is suddenly a much easier place to live in.

    Good luck to you, OP.

  44. Going Anon

    My workplace is undergoing some reflection on culture, particularly how our workplace culture interacts with race and racism. Tough and important conversations.

    This example makes me think of a situation that happened here that we’ve been talking about. I won’t repeat it as it’s not my story to tell, but the takeaway for me was how different people can walk away from the same interaction with very different understandings of what happened. In this case, the boss probably walked away without realizing that borrowing the chair was a problem for the employee (even if she was on the receiving end of the OP’s passive aggression; she might not have understood what that was about). The OP walked away feeling profoundly disrespected and angry. There’s something going on there.

  45. Artemesia

    If the boss turned and looked at you 3 times that suggests you were flumphing and flouncing and generally acting aggrieved and passive aggressive and have successfully communicated to her that you are immature and unprofessional and have an attitude about work and authority. That is a lot to have accomplished in 15 minutes and it may take awhile to change that impression.

    People whose first response to small issues like this is personal insult and who flounce instead of either sucking it up or asking in this case if you need to set up somewhere else to get your job done, create the kind of drama that quickly gets them a reputation. Sometimes bosses and co-workers are jerks and picking on you — but it is always wise to at first assume general good will.

    1. Just a Reader

      This is a good point. Being noticed that way is not a good thing.

      I think people are reacting strongly to this because we’ve all experienced this type of treatment in the workplace, and this type of reaction from a coworker. It’s really uncomfortable to have someone else flip out and feel entitled to things they haven’t earned.

  46. dahanaha

    OK this is definitely going to be one of those “duh obviously” moments… but what the heck does OP stand for???
    Please help lol!!!

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        I would love it if we used LW instead of OP. I often try to search comment threads to see if the LW has chimed in. The combination of letters “OP” comes up much more often than “LW,” so LW is a better search term. :)

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

            Oh, wow.

            I feel like an idiot, but that’s ok because now I can search for “OP ” successfully. :)

    1. Woodward

      It took me a few weeks of reading AAM before I figured that out so don’t feel bad for asking. :)

      1. IronMaiden

        Many abbreviations can be confusing. I still don’t know what TL;DR (or something like that) means.

  47. The IT Manager

    I know for a fact she wouldn’t do that to anyone else.

    I honestly wonder how you know this for a fact? Think about it. She probably has and will do it to others in the office. The fact that your very next sentence after the one above is talking about the disrespect you experienced at your previous job is a sign that you’re carrying baggage from that one to your new job.

    The only outrageous things in your letter was (1) your response to your boss’s actions and (2) your unprofessional and disrespectful tone. I know an AAM email isn’t a professional communication, but your unprofessional tone of communication certainly colors everyone’s reading of your situation and makes nearly everyone disbelieve your claim that you are professional, want to avoid drama, and know how to behave in an office.

    1. Zillah

      I don’t think that point number two is fair. The way you communicate with people outside your workspace is often quite different from how you interact with them at work. The overreaction is certainly a problem, but just the way the OP wrote the letter doesn’t seem like it, to me.

  48. mmmmmmm

    Fact. Exec use pwr over subordinates to get off. Sucks for underlings and we must grovel to maintain work But don’t add insult to injury by acting as if the dynamic isn’t real.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Sure, some do, just like there are sociopaths in every field. But it’s hardly the norm, and to present it as such without actual evidence that it’s happening in a particular situation doesn’t make sense.

      1. mmmmmmm

        Reverse it. Just take their chair for even 5 min. With no acknowledgement. You couldn’t. They’d make sure u didn,t.

        1. Lily in NYC

          I took my boss’ chair this morning! Right in front of his face. And I stood on it to do something to the light above my desk. I used his because it doesn’t have wheels and I didn’t want to break my head open. He just looked at me and laughed. Not every boss is power-mad.

          1. Windchime

            Exactly. I posted above how a co-worker and I commandeered our boss’s office while he was out. When he came back, he said, “Are you guys meeting? ” and kind of backed out of his own office to offer us privacy! Not all boss’s are power-hungry madmen.

  49. AnonHR

    I agree this is an overreaction (and not worth the OPs time and energy to be this upset about) and OP could have just led with “Oh, hey, if you guys are going to be a minute, please excuse me while I grab my laptop” like a lot of commenters have mentioned.

    But.

    It WAS really rude on the part of the boss to not acknowledge the OP returning or that she was clearly invading her regular space and impeding her work (not just kind of annoying, but actively rude). It’s totally her prerogative to intrude on the OPs work time or use the chair, but I cannot even imagine a scenario where this would take place in my office without some acknowledgement of the situation and a “we’re just wrapping up” or something like that. I can understand how that feeling of being completely put out gets magnified by being the youngest person or the lowest in the pecking order. I just wanted to throw that affirmation out there for the OP (especially seeing that she’s already responded so receptively here).

    1. Yup

      Eh. I get what you’re saying, but I can easily see a situation where the conversation was about the imminent loss of the company’s biggest client or some major development that the boss had to share with the president. I’ve bumped into plenty of work situations where otherwise courteous people behaved inconsiderately because they were totally distracted by something much greater at hand. Just last week I encountered two people who were deep in conversation blocking a narrow hallway so other people could barely squeeze by, and it turned out they were frantically try to update each other on a big-deal client issue before one had to talk to that client on a conference call about to start. It wasn’t a personal affront to the people trying to walk by, it was just a confluence of events that came out wrong.

        1. Yup

          I’m in the ‘Whaddya F’ing Looking At’ northeast, so that’s probably a fair assessment! :)

    2. Rain and Lemon Balm

      Yeah, that did strike me as a little odd. I could easily see one of my bosses or the CEO commandeering my chair, possibly for a long period of time, but when I showed up they’d say, “We’ll be a few minutes,” or my supervisor would say, “Why don’t you grab your laptop and go work in the conference room for a bit?” I wouldn’t get upset about it, and I could certainly figure out how to deal on my own, but I’d be a bit nonplussed if there was no acknowledgement at all.

    3. Anonsie

      Yeah, maybe I’ve just never been in an office where the layout would make this normal, but it would be so very very weird for someone to sit at someone else’s desk in any of the offices I’ve worked in. And then to not say anything when the person who’s supposed to sit there comes back, but just cast them glances as they kind of work around you– that is definitely weird to me.

    4. MissD

      Yeah. Boss was very rude to keep sitting there, and I admit that the reactions from both were very weird. However, what OP should have done is ask calmly, “If you’re going to be awhile would you mind if I take my laptop and go to the conference room (or another desk/cubicle) so I can continue working on x, y, or z.” Or some such thing instead of sitting there surfing her smartphone and “fuming.” Yikes!

      1. fposte

        Honestly, I can’t even agree that the president was rude not to get up. The president’s call about the use of the space is the one that matters here–she has more ownership claim to the space than the OP does. The employee has a laptop and can work in a different location for a moment, and that will cost the organization less than relocating the president’s conversation.

        I can understand feeling territorial about one’s own workspace, but it’s really an illusion–none of it is your actual territory.

        1. Not So NewReader

          A prez who did stand up to give me back my chair would earn bonus points in my book!

    5. Mike B. (@epenthesis)

      This kind of casual disrespect for a subordinate bugs me too. I still remember a moment from a couple of years back when a senior person in my organization asked during a meeting to borrow my pen…only to hold on to it for the entire meeting. Not as though I had anything important to write down myself, right?

      I made a mental note of what the guy seemed to think of me and/or my department, but as far as he was concerned, I let it go. People at a certain level have the privilege of being inconsiderate at times, and those below them are expected to deal with it (provided there isn’t a long-term pattern of disruptive behavior–and perhaps not even then).

    6. Sarah

      I don’t see it as rude- especially in an open plan office it’s a lot easier to just grab the nearest chair and sit in it. If someone is working on something urgent- they’ll let you know. If not, most people run and get tea or something. This was fairly common in my first office. If three of us needed to talk, you’d just commandeer someone else’s chair and kind of scoot together.

    7. Anna

      Exactly what I was thinking!! No apology or even acknowledgement of OP from the boss? That is rude and would make me feel disrespected as well. I’m surprised no one above mentioned this. I think the way I would have handled this would have been to quietly say “excuse me” and grab my laptop to go work somewhere else. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable asking for my desk back (even “politely.”) but I would have been surprised by the boss’s lack of acknowledgement about displacing me. And I’m from the East Coast, not the Midwest.

  50. LCL

    I used to be totally hotheaded at work. I would speak up about anything I thought was unfair. Some of the things I spoke up about were unfair and discriminatory. Some of the things were just people going about their job and not thinking about how their actions would affect me.

    This was one of the hardest things for me to learn, but my life got much better once I figured it out-People sometimes do things that inadvertently harm you, without doing the thing on purpose, without targeting you, without any malice or even conscious thought about you when they do the thing that hurts you.

  51. Gail L

    I don’t think I’d have asked for my chair back – I’d have found another one and listened in on the conversation! How often do you get to mingle or meet with the boss several levels above you? Opportunity knocking right there to be intelligent, inquisitive, memorable to the boss…

  52. ITwannabe

    I haven’t had the chance to read all the other comments, so if someone else has already thought to say this, please forgive the redundance.

    That being said, OP, you don’t “command” respect. You “earn” it.

  53. the gold digger

    I am going to defend the OP. It is maddening to have someone sit in your space. When I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile, the director of my agency would sit in my chair all the time. People put their purses on my desk.

    I would return to find Rosa in my chair and finally started telling her she needed to move. She said stuff about the West and hegemony and cultural imperialism and I told her if she liked my chair so much, we could trade – I would be happy to take her office and she could move to the office I shared with three other people.

    There were serious cultural differences about private space but even knowing that, it was frustrating to find her in my chair.

    The key is to recognize the feeling but then choose how you will react. I was in a position to tell Rosa to move her butt. (What was she going to do? Fire me? I wasn’t her employee.) You are not really in that position. :) It’s OK to feel upset about this, but probably better not to show it.

    1. MissD

      Agreed, but what was so hard about simply asking?
      The drama and “fuming’ really didn’t need to happen.

    2. Nessie

      Hegemony? Cultural Imperialism? I’m all about respect, but that’s way over the edge.

      1. the gold digger

        Yeah, I got that stuff from her all the time. Cracked me up. She was very happy to take money from the US (their grant came from the Inter-American Foundation, which is funded by US taxpayers), but liked to bad-mouth us. I just shook my head and went on increasing their profits with my culturally imperialist self.

  54. Ruffingit

    I hate to be that person who does the whole “when I was your age” thing, but I’ll go ahead and do it. I remember being 23 and also being out of touch with work norms and such. It did hurt me at work sometimes, though as time went on I corrected those things with the help of a wonderful mentor and the wisdom that comes with experience.

    Someone sitting in your chair for 15 minutes just isn’t a big deal. It’s really, really not. As Alison said, this out of proportion reaction is the bigger problem. I would encourage the OP to find a good mentor in her field who she can bounce these things off of so she can get clarity and assistance with these issues. Getting that clarity through screwing up your career over something stupid is very painful. Don’t go that route.

    1. Audiophile

      Preach it!

      But seriously, as a millennial, who’s been accused of being an entitled millennial, this makes me sad. Like I said in another post that asked about ‘commanding’ respect, you have to earn it. And if you show you don’t really deserve it, people aren’t going to give it to you.

  55. Sarah

    OP- I’m 24 and in my second admin type job. I have literally no idea what caused you to react to something with the way you did. I can understand venting your frustrations in a toxic work environment, it’s hard to always keep that in check. But the fact that you’re moving from work environment to work environment and still incredibly frustrated? Either you are not picking the right environments or the way you understand your job and position are entirely out of line with the reality of your workplace.

    I was really surprised when you said you had a laptop. Why didn’t you just say “excuse me” and grab the laptop to begin with? Sitting in front of the company president while texting and huffing looks utterly unprofessional.

  56. Mena

    Your original complaint morphed into a broad-brush criticism of C-levels, to which I take offense. But this may explain why your brain has blown up this incident.

    Is your chair being occupied a recurring issue? Are you displaced and unable to work productively on a regular basis? Or was this a one time situation where an important conversation needed to take place on the spot and in the moment? (were they discussing recipes or a business matter?)

    I think it is time to step back and think about this chip on your shoulder – this will hamper your ability to work well with others.

  57. The Other Dawn

    “I’ve been working long enough to pick up on office politics, and to avoid dramas.”

    No, I don’t think you have. You’re creating your own drama here and come off as naive and childish. So she sat at your desk. Annoying? Yes. End of the world? No. It’s not something to fume over to the point where you can’t even do your work. She’s the company president. It’s not like a coworker commandeered your desk. You could have said, after about 5 or 10 minutes, “Excuse me, but I have something I need to finish. Could I please have my desk?” Or just take the laptop, flip it around and drag another chair over. Work from the other side of your desk.

  58. Compassion

    This woman came to this forum for support – not to be raked over the coals. Personally, I think the boss sounds like a prick. Also – as others have said, there may other incidents where the boss acts with disregard.

    OP: Pick your battles – with 40 years of work ahead of you – there will be a few. You be the one to always act in the most professional of ways and you’ll have no regrets.

    1. Cupcake

      No, she came for ADVICE. And she got it. If she wanted support for her poor attitude and her ridiculous behaviour, she picked the wrong place.

      Luckily the OPs post above indicates she was able to understand that and be grateful for the reality check, even if you couldn’t.

  59. De Minimis

    Thought I should mention for those who haven’t read the whole way through this lengthy thread–the OP has commented and has responded really well to the criticism/advice given here. Just seems like a lot of piling on someone who has already agreed to let it go.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      Yeah. I LOVE the comment community here, but there definitely is an unpleasant “you should know better” attitude that shows up sometimes.

      I understand it – for those of us who read AAM regularly (or are managers ourselves, or are older and have seen more cycles of workplace problems and resolutions, or whatever) some of the questions can seem laughably simple or the problems in them impossibly ridiculous. But still, I hate the piling on that happens sometimes.

      1. Anonymous

        I know I’m guilty of reading the whole page (sometimes leaving it open behind my actual work for quite a while) and then commenting without refreshing the page first. Sometimes I find that my comment that I thought was so pertinent had already been said by a lot of others. I think that can look like piling on when it’s only my forgetfulness. Possibly the same happens to others?

        [I’ve seen other comment sections that tell you if there are new comments since you’ve been on the page. I know a lot of people hate Discus but I like how you can click on the New Comments box and it takes you directly to them. I wish there was something like that here.]

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yes — and also, some people comment without reading the other comments first. To those of all who read all/most of the comments, this feels like a dialogue, which develops and changes as different points are made. But some readers leave their comments as a sort of standalone — not necessarily seeing it as a piece of a larger discussion — and that can contribute to the feeling of a pile-on at times too.

  60. GertietheDino

    Get over yourself! You are young, that is obvious, so here’s a tip – You cannot expect respect nor command it. Do your job, do not sulk and act like an adult, it’s not like your chair was stolen while you were sitting in it, someone used your chair while they had a chat, it happens. Once again, get over this one time event. You were not disrespected – it’s a chair!

    1. Author of the third opposition comment below

      Managers who disrespect their employees because they “cannot expect respect” might *think* they are being respected, but trust me, they’re not. These are exactly the types of managers who get stabbed in the back at the first opportunity and make their companies ground zero for passive-aggressive behavior, not unlike what the OP posted.

  61. Chloe

    Was anyone else reminded of the Friends episode?

    “The cushions are the essence of the chair.”

    “That’s right. I’m takin’ the essence!”

    But in all seriousness … this kind of catty behavior will never reflect well, especially upon Millenials. Everyone already hates us – don’t give them more reason to. Please. Huffing and puffing and texting away will not help – I just hope you didn’t go and post this on any social media outlets.

      1. De Minimis

        I don’t really get into the whole Millennial bashing….I don’t see them as being any different than any other generation was when it first entered the working world. There was a lot of bashing of Generation X way back when, and it was pretty similar.

    1. Freedom

      Grow up and learn your place. Maybe the person your boss was talking to had just learned their child had cancer, or maybe they suspected someone of embezzlement. Regardless, they obviously had business that needed attention at that time. If you intend on working for long in a professional environment, better get your anger under control. It will be your downfall or stumbling block and realize that folks in her position usually have reasons for their decisions (IE, they have MORE information than you do), else they would not be in their position.

  62. Rich

    What I’m more baffled about is that if OP uses a laptop, why not just take it to the sofa with a simple, “Just let me grab this so I can work on [project] and give you two some privacy”?

  63. Gene

    A quote from this article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kari-kubiszyn-kampakis/10-common-mistakes-parents-today-make-me-included_b_4753451.html that seems apropos for this discussion,

    “[M]any parents will do anything to avoid having their kids experience even mild discomfort, anxiety, or disappointment — “anything less than pleasant,” as he puts it — with the result that when, as adults, they experience the normal frustrations of life, they think something must be terribly wrong.”

  64. majigail

    Both this one and the boss from short answers need to put on a tiny red coats and yell, “YOU WILL RESPECT MY AUTHORITY!”

    1. Tinker

      The OP did climb down from their tower of rage and all, but still I find this mental image amusing. Those two attitudes would make a perfect couple.

      (And, actually, it sounds like the OP’s frustration stems from prior interactions of that form.)

      Seems to me that as usual though the correct solution is the human-to-human solution — the person who finds someone else in their chair says “Oh, could I…?” and the person who is found in the chair either says “Oh, certainly” or “Sorry, we’ll just be a minute”, depending. End of problem.

  65. Steve G

    I disagee with others here, I agree with the OP, though I would have asked straight out when they were moving. If the manager doesn’t get it, that it is really annoying to be found in someone’s seat like this and not move or say anything to the seat’s owners, they are socially inept and lack attention to detail to say the least.

    1. Steve G

      and if you work in a high-volume, high-demand job, you don’t have time to let people make you wait for meetings, or steal your office/chair. If this boss wants this person to be productive, they need to give them resources, such as space!

      1. Editor

        I now work in an office where people are consistently polite and pleasant to each other. I had no idea how frustrated people at my former office had become.

        Steve — you sound frustrated. If the head of the company borrows the chair and you can sit on the couch with your laptop, there’s no need to be belligerent. I understand that your work world may be more stressed, but being abrupt with the boss is not the way to go.

        Also, the OP has posted in the threads above, and seems ok with the advice received.

  66. Persephone

    Blatantly disregarding common courtesy is bad management. Human beings are social creatures, failing to treat them with common respect is creating a poor work environment. Most people are doing more than they are paid to do- and respect and appreciation are about all the perks they get.

    A boss can do whatever they want, but I think it is naive to think that bossiness leads to productivity. Productivity is one of the keys to profits, this boss is eroding productivity.

    Courtesy is free, but priceless.

    1. anon all the way

      + 1 and while the reaction of the OP has since been clarified, I want to point out that it is rude for a supervisor to never acknowledge the person’s personal space. Regardless of title, everyone has to work together.

      I am in a hostile work environment right now and I’m without a desk for sometimes a few hours and just the other day I had to deal with a very aggressive and obnoxious worker who insisted it was his desk no matter what, because he had worked there for so long. I went to my manager and he basically did nothing. I wouldn’t have gone if the attitude towards me wasn’t rude or condescending.

      It’s really unfortunate in this day and age that as people go higher up in employment they forget what it took to get there in the first place and use it as a power trip over employees. I look at people the same way whether you have been an employee for a day or decades. It may sound idealistic but I really don’t get the idea that we have to command everyone at will. It’s a terrible mentality and everyone has to start somewhere. Providing basic essentials in an office such as a clean desk and a chair to sit on with some working equipment shouldn’t be too much to ask for. It should be a basic part of employment.

      When these basic items are taken away even temporarily it starts to foster an attitude within the employee, i.e. they feel less important and valued than another employee who has these things. It’s not about entitlement. While the OP’s initial reaction may have seemed poor, there obviously are underlying issues. When something like this happens on a daily basis (as it is in my case) it starts to really affect your mind and your attitude at work because you start to feel as if you don’t matter. That your contributions aren’t valued as an employee because you don’t even have the basic tools to succeed. When managers blow off and dismiss other employee’s concerns it breeds resentment and ultimately an employee will look for a better job (as I am right now) and won’t even care what happens thereafter.

  67. Allie26

    Wow. This is a huge overreaction for the chair only being occupied 15 minutes and with having a MOBILE computer to work on.

    She could have taken her laptop to the couch or maybe to another desk (or finding another chair?) instead of being passive-aggressive and fuming. No wonder the boss looked back back at her a few times. Very inappropriate behavior towards the President of the company. That’s adding drama to a situation, not avoiding it.

    I agree with Alison here.

  68. Not So NewReader

    Just one after thought here. I firmly believe that every generation has it’s own stereotype to overcome.

    I always heard us baby boomers were such an entitled group. And there were other remarks about our generation. Basically the remarks indicated the world would end because of us.

    Then the next generation came along and gave people something else to talk about.
    People like generalities. It helps them to make sense of the chaotic world. Skip the part about whether the generality is correct or not.

    Boomers should know better than to stereotype. They should be well acquinted with what that is and how it hurts.

    My other comment is about respect in the work place. Age really does not matter over the long haul because there will always be disrespectful people at work. Ask Alison. These disrepectful folks keep her busy every day because people suffer the brunt of that disrepect write in to talk about it.

    One thing that I thought was important on this blog is the ongoing discussion about a PTSD from previous jobs. I think that this needs to be dragged out into the open and discussed often. Bad bosses and bad companies will turn a worker into something less than their best. Unfortunately, it is up to the individual to realize the damage and find a plan to reknit and reweave. This is why we see questions about “How do I get over being afraid of my boss?” OR “How do I motivate myself to go to work and do a good job?”

    FWIW.

    1. Boo

      Yes! I’m going to be moving from an extremely toxic workplace to a new and hopefully healthier workplace in a few weeks, and I am really worried about how much baggage/bad habits I’ve picked up from simply having to survive through my current role. I still have a Thing about annual performance reviews thanks to my second boss (and I’m about to start my fifth job) who’d use it as a checklist of everything I’d done wrong throughout the year which she hadn’t previously made me aware of.

  69. Vicki

    I’m in agreement with everything in the initial answer… right up to the part where AAM says “Because my time was less important than theirs.”

    It’s not.
    It’s not more important either.

    It’s differently important.

    Thoughtless is still thoughtless at whatever level. Still, fuming doesn’t help and neither do passive aggressive behaviours. Next time, ask for your chair back.

    1. fposte

      I think by “important” she really meant “valuable,” and that’s inarguable–the time that costs more is more valuable. That’s how value is measured.

  70. Jessa

    Honestly, I was expecting this to be something different entirely. I thought OMG, here we go OP is disabled like me and has a special chair (either different to the office furniture, or one picked by trial and error from a zillion of them and set up specifically, and labelled as a reasonable accommodation,) and boss just went and swiped said chair.

    What this was…um no. And I agree with everyone who said the OP has already done damage. The boss obviously knows what the OP was thinking by the passive aggressive behaviour – going behind and unplugging the laptop, without saying anything like “Boss I needed to check something so I’m just going to get this out of your way,” or something besides being passive aggressive.

  71. J

    If it hasn’t been pointed out already, since I’m assuming all the chairs are provided, that it’s technically his chair? He owns the company, and he owns the chairs.

    Still was a bit rude on his part, but nothing to lose your cool about.

    1. Author of the third opposition comment below

      “He owns the company, and he owns the chairs” is not a good mindset to have. Stretch that kind of thinking too far, and you’re going to start managing a business nobody wants to work for.

      Will you still able to hire a lot of workers? Sure, the economy sucks. Will your employees produce high-quality work and remain loyal to you if you’re disrespectful? Heck no, and I don’t care how much the economy sucks.

      Managers, you can do whatever you want because you own things at your own peril. If you think like this, I’m sure you’re not satisfied with all your workers. Ever think about how much money you’d be saving if you treat your employees with respect? If you stand out from the crowd by not treating workers like animals, you won’t lose workers to those who do. Loyalty and work quality will both increase, I promise.

  72. The third opposition comment of 444

    I don’t agree with Alison at all here. This authoritarian workplace culture is not something we should be supporting. How would the president feel if *you* sat in his chair?

    If managers can’t even respect their own workers, then we shouldn’t working for them. Respect isn’t earned, it’s something that all people should show to others, regardless of where they are in the hierarchy. If you don’t respect me as a worker, I won’t respect you as a manager.

    And really, if management doesn’t feel obligated to respect their their workers, they deserve every bit poor work quality they get from their workers nowadays, and then some. Why would you produce high-quality work for a jerk?

    Did the OP handle the situation properly? Perhaps not. But if this manager is constantly sitting in other people’s chairs without explanation, I’m sure that would be the tip of the iceberg, and I would be looking for another place to work.

  73. mel

    “It’s all catty and unfair and it’s a shame because all of my past and current coworkers respect me enough and see that I am capable of delivering. It just seems like the C-levels are the ones not seeing that. It happens to a lot of my friends, and I just hate to see talent like me be disrespected because …”

    Wat.

    I wonder if she looked at you 3 times because she was trying to be receptive so when you indicated that your break was over she could get out of your way? Getting snacks, filling cups, sitting on couches and playing on the phone are break activities. Kinda sounds like a misunderstanding.

    I kinda feel bad for everyone here, to a point. It must be really difficult to wake up every day just waiting for that inevitable ageist disrespect. The more you look for it, you will find it in just about anything. I don’t doubt OP must read a lot of articles about social justice and economical hardship.

  74. LittleBit

    Is it possible that the president expected or was welcoming the OP to join their conversation rather than retreating? Perhaps that’s why president kept looking back at OP?

  75. Random Though

    Kinda random; but, most people in my experience that are still saying “Homegirl” “HomeBoy” “Homeslice” in 2014 are not People of color…

  76. Tool

    What you focus on expands….every time. Focus on your own development in this setting and set to the task of learning more about yourself in these situations. Millennials typically demand respect but are not quick to return it. If this is you, deal with this aspect of your generational persona and you will see your more experienced peers in a different light. If you don’t do this self reflection, you will always perceive yourself as the brightest candle in the room…and drama will follow but you will be the only one burdened by the drama.

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