I don’t want to say hello to my horrible coworker, we get comp time that we can’t take, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. We get comp time that we can’t really take

In my company, most employees are required to work much more than a standard 40-hour work week (for the sake of this example, we’re all exempt). We have many weekend and evening events, and employees work the traditional 9-5 in addition to that. Most employees voluntarily put in 2-3 extra hours of work a day on days without events, just because that’s what it takes to get the job done – no biggie.

For weekend events and engagements, we get half a day of comp time if we work a full weekend day, and one full day of comp time if we work two full weekend days in the same weekend (if we work a few hours on a weekend…if the event doesn’t last 8 hours…we don’t get any comp time). We are supposed to use the comp time the following week, or we lose it. Personally, I think this is a terrible practice, but that’s an argument for another thread. This has resulted in many employees working 14, 21, 28, even 30+ days straight, without using any comp time, since many of our weekend events happen back to back and there’s simply no way to take comp time and still get the job done (especially when it comes to events; they are happening on a certain day and time no matter what). The number of hours that this equates to is pretty crazy.

We are a nonprofit, so salaries are not very high at all (above the minimum threshold for exempt, but not by much for some people). We’ll never make a lot of money, but that’s not why we do what we do. However, I’m curious to know if we took our salaries, and converted them to hourly, if we wouldn’t even be making minimum wage. Are there any protections for exempt, salaried employees when it comes to an hourly wage? Or are exempt, salaried employees just expected to do whatever work is necessary to get the job done, no matter how many hours it takes?

Yeah, that’s a horrible practice, and you all should band together as a group and argue for it being changed, pointing out what you pointed out here.

If you’re truly exempt, the only salary test is that you must be paid at least $23,600 a year. Even if you’re working so many hours that your salary ends up paying you less than minimum wage per hour, that’s legal — if you’re truly exempt. (Exempt means “exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act,” which includes minimum wage.) I keep saying “if you’re truly exempt” because lots of people are incorrectly categorized that way, and if your company has everyone classified like that, there’s a good chance they got it wrong with at least some of you.

Regardless though, deal with this as a group and insist on the comp time policy being changed.

2. Do I really have to say hello and goodbye to my horrible coworker?

Where I work, there is one particular coworker who always seems to go off and scream/throw a tantrum at me if I don’t respond in the way she wants me to. I’ve never neglected to give her the information she needs to do her job and I do mine to the best of my ability. However, I’d just prefer to leave her alone due to her hot-headedness. To this end, I really don’t speak to her at all. I don’t snub her, I just really have nothing to say to her. She, though, sees it differently and is trying to say there is an issue with shift change (I always give her any information she needs via email or instant messaging) and has begun making sure she ALWAYS says goodbye to me.

Why is it so important that I acknowledge her? Is it wrong that I don’t respond? I feel like I’m dealing with a ticking time bomb; I don’t know if or when it will go off! A couple of my friends and my family keep saying it’s “unwritten policy” and you should always “be polite” and greet/acknowledge people — they say she will use it against me and get me terminated via a loophole of “not doing my job/creating a hostile work environment.” I feel she’s the one creating the uncomfortable workplace. Where do I draw the line or get help? Is it ok for me to ignore her, I guess is my bottom line?

No. You don’t need to have long conversations with her, but you do need to acknowledge her. Otherwise, you’ll be seen as the problem, when people notice that you’re refusing to say hello or goodbye to her. (Your friends are wrong that this is a hostile workplace issue; that requires discrimination based on something like race, religion, sex, etc., not just pure hostility. But they’re right that you’ll look bad if you’re freezing out a coworker.)

3. I’m getting interview questions that seem overly advanced

I have been on several interviews (phone and in-person) for entry-level email marketing roles. I understand that email marketing is a specialization, but given these are entry-level roles (0-2 years of relevant experience), the questions they’ve asked do not seem entry-level. I don’t want to lie and say I’ve worked on projects, but I’m getting stuck on the interviews.

For example: “Give me an example of an email campaign that you’ve worked on the past. What types of metrics did you look at? What would you have done differently? What are some of the biggest trends in the industry? If I gave you a campaign to run with the idea of ‘summer,’ what are some initial subject lines you would use? Give me 3 or 4 examples. Can you explain A/B testing? What’s an example of A/B testing that you could use at our company?”

For some background information, I’ve had approximately 2 years of nonprofit work experience in recruiting/internal communications with limited email marketing experience (intern-level projects). I’m looking to make a career transition to email marketing, but I’m getting frustrated by the level of detail these questions are targeting. Again, I don’t want to lie and say I’ve more experience than I actually do, but I’m getting stuck on the interviews. Please advise!

I think what you’re hearing in these questions is that they’re looking for someone who has at least some exposure to email marketing (so it’s not truly entry-level in the sense that it would be a first job) and some familiarity with basic email marketing concepts. But the questions you’re listing here actually aren’t outrageously advanced; they do assume that you’ve worked on email campaigns in some capacity — which you have, even if only as intern — but they’re just asking you to talk about the basics. Given the role, I don’t think it’s crazy that they’d want you to be able to demonstrate ideas for email campaigns or an A/B test and to talk with some familiarity about metrics like open rates and click-throughs. If you don’t feel prepared to do that yet, then I think the message is that you’ve got to read up on the field you’re trying to move into — and doing that should equip you to better answer these kinds of questions.

4. Applying for a job at a company where I used to intern

Several years ago, I interned for a summer at a company and had a good relationship with my manager at the time. I went back to school and reached out to her as a reference the following year, and she provided one and I thanked her and then… I haven’t reached out to her since. Until now, when I am going to apply for a job at the place where I interned and where she still works. I would feel weird applying without telling her, but I can’t figure out a way to email that sounds normal and not like I am trying to get extra points or go around the system, and it is particularly awkward because I was terrible at networking and didn’t contact her for years until now. So, do you have any advice for how to reach out to her?

This isn’t a big deal — don’t beat yourself up or feel weird about reaching out to her now just because you haven’t been in contact previously. This happens all the time. Apply (and mention right at the start in your cover letter that you used to intern there — you don’t want them to miss that), and then send your old manager an email being straightforward about it. As in: “Hi, Jane! I wanted to let you know that I’m applying for the __ position at XYZ. I have the experience in ___ that it sounds like they’re looking for, and I’d be so excited to have the chance to work there again, as I was so impressed with everyone when I interned. I’m sure the position will attract loads of great applicants, but I’d be thrilled to be considered if I might be what the ABC department is looking for. In any case, I hope you’re well, and I would love to catch up sometime!”

(Note this is written as if the job isn’t on her team; if it is, then adjust the wording accordingly.)

5. How should I fit two internships on my resume?

I am going through a yearly resume update and I need your help. I’ve worked for my current employer for 5 years. In that time, I’ve had 4 different jobs. Needless to say, this takes up a lot of real estate on my resume. I was lucky enough to be selected to do two management internships in my organization, one for a month and one for three months. I have no idea how to list them without taking up way too much space. Right now my basic format is:

Job Title–Employer–Dates
Short job description (1-2 sentences)

I’ve used this format for all of the individual jobs I’ve held with them. As you can see, it takes up a lot of space. How should I list my internships? As bullet accomplishments in my current job? Is it ok to list them in bullet points but mention accomplishments in a cover letter? I’m sure you’re thinking there isn’t much to accomplish in one or three months, but I feel there are things worth including if possible.

You don’t even need a separate area for the short job description before you get into accomplishments; you can do it all as bullet points in the same list. (And you might not need an overall description at all, aside from the accomplishments — hard to say for sure without seeing it, but that’s often the case.) But as for those internships, at one month and three months, I am indeed skeptical that you had enough accomplishments to warrant more than 1-2 lines for each position. If you disagree, let’s talk specifics in the comment section — write in with what you’d like to include and we can figure out what makes sense.

{ 131 comments… read them below }

  1. Feed Fido*

    #1 I’d look for a new job. One comp day for two days of work? Are you even making minimum? Is it worth it? Sounds like hell. How long can you go on like this really?

    #2 Say hello, like you do any other work function. Many thinks I find ridiculous, I do with the thought DOING THIS makes my life easier. Think about what ignoring her does to you? You get more grief.

    #3 They want higher level skills for entry-level pay- that’s what they are hoping to find. Heck, they get entry-level folks for free via internships.

    1. AMT*

      Yes, my first thought about this question was that entry-level jobs aren’t so entry-level anymore. This isn’t so much a problem with this particular job as it is with the job market in general, sadly. “Entry-level” used to mean: “New to the workforce, has a high school diploma or B.A.” Now it means: “Has had several internships, volunteer positions, and/or part-time jobs, definitely has a B.A., and possibly a graduate degree.”

  2. Red Stapler*

    #3: I think that you may be getting intimidated by the way they’re phrasing their questions, which is a completely normal reaction. I know interviews make me really nervous and more intimidated.

    Think of it this way: “What type of metrics do you look at?” is asking things like, “If I give you this job will you send emails to everyone you get an address for like a spammer or will you target people who will be receptive to our product/message?” & “How will you judge your sucess? By responses, increased sales, increased company name recognition?”

    I think a lot of entry level jobs use this phrasing both because it’s what they’re familiar with & because it’s what they want their applicant to become familiar with.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d say it’s probably even simpler than that — I think they’re asking about things like open rates, click-through rates, clicks-per-unique open, and conversion rates — the really basic metrics of an email campaign.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Ha! This is what I was going to type virtually word for word. I had the reply box open and fortunately thought to check for a response before I pushed submit.

        A more advanced answer to the question might include mumbo jumbo about “alignment with campaign goals”, and also time on site, page views. Because of the nature of my business, I measure the success of a campaign by # of click throughs + average time on site. I can’t use conversions as much of my business converts off line and over a period of time, so essentially, what I’m measuring is engagement.

        1. Kristinyc*

          #3 – I’ve been doing email for almost 7 years. Those are perfectly standard ( and fairly basic questions). The thing is, there aren’t really any true entry level email jobs. Most people learn it through another job or internship in marketing. I just hired an email coordinator, but she had been doing a part time internship with me for 6 months. (To get the internship, she had expressed a great interest in reporting, she was a whiz at excel, and was learning HTML.) Those are things you should be doing if you want to be an email marketer.

          There are a ton of resources online to learn email. Every major ESP has blogs, webinars and documentation to learn about email marketing. I’d start there.

          Shameless plug: I write a blog critiquing marketing emails called Email Reporting. My name links to it.

          Alison- you can give this person my email address if he/she has any questions about getting into email!

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

            I’ll be clicking your link!

            Yeah, you make a good point. (In a standalone post further down I hit some of the highlights of skill sets/abilities that I think someone wanting to do email marketing should consider.) I grow email marketers out of marketing assistants who get a well rounded background in both print and other online marketing before they move to email marketing, but it’s all in house. I can see perhaps a digital agency advertising for lower level folks to run email campaigns for smaller clients. You can set that up as plug and play. (not that I think that’s a great idea, just sayin’)

            1. Koko*

              Yes, I’m an email marketer on the nonprofit side. I’ve always been interested in tech, learned HTML/CSS as a kid on my own time, built websites for fun. I held a few data-driven office jobs working for social science research labs in school. After school, I started out doing entry-level support work for a year in a development department and just sort of paying attention to how everything around me worked. Then I ended up at a small shop where I was the tech-savviest (read: youngest) person there and everything technological was built in-house for budget reasons, so they were happy to let me take what I’d learned about fundraising in my previous job and what I knew about technology from my personal interests and see what I could do. I did that for a few years and ended up being a highly competitive candidate for a manager-level email marketing position that my employer was having great difficulty filling.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Ooooh, I like your blog. I don’t even do email marketing but it’s interesting anyway, which is the test of a truly great blog to me (i.e., I am not the intended audience but enjoy reading it anyway).

            1. Sara M*

              Alison, this is how I feel about your blog! (Most of the content here is not relevant in my line of work, but I like it here anyway.)

          3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

            Well I loved your blog right up until the second it reminded me that I have to blow up and completely redo my welcome emails and onboarding system because it sucks, sucks, sucks right now.

            Thanks for that. :p

            Off to email the link to my team, with no cover message, and hope they just jump in and make that all happen….

          4. JBC*

            I don’t work in marketing, and “I’ve been doing email for almost 7 years” cracks me up :).

            I second Alison’s comment that your blog is fascinating even to someone not in the field!

          5. A Teacher*

            This is awesome! I’m going to pass it to our marketing teacher at the high school I teach at too!

            1. Fee*


              I’m looking to change field into digital marketing and when studying for my diploma I found email marketing one of the more interesting modules. I hadn’t realised before that there was so much analytics involved. The blog sounds like a really good resource.

              FWIW for OP#3 -based on one lecture and the subsequent reading I’ve done, I would expect to be able to answer those sample interview questions (with the exception of discussing a campaign I’ve worked on).

          6. Vicki*

            Kristinyc – I’m really not trying to be rude, I’m honestly asking: What’s the difference between “Email Marketing” and Spam?

            I Looked at your blog (I Love the name!) and I see ads. Ads go into my junk folder. If I’ve ever purchased from the company, I may do them the service of clicking unsubscribe but they’re still junkmail to me.

              1. Kristinyc*

                Thanks everyone! I’m glad you like it!

                A few things:

                1. My iPad autocorrected “snarketing” to “reporting” in my earlier post. The blog’s called Email Snarketing.

                2. Are there other email nerds here?!? I thought I was the only one!

                3. Vicki – no offense taken! A lot of people ask me that. Email is regulated by the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Companies are only allowed to send marketing emails that people have signed up for at some point, and all emails have to have an “unsubscribe” button, privacy policy, and a few other things to be compliant. We can’t just send our emails to anyone whose address we can find. (But there are brands that go about it in sneaky ways.). Gmail, yahoo, aol, etc are looking at the code of the email to determine if it’s “spam” based on if it has elements of spam or if other people have reported spam from that same sender/IP address. So, brands have plenty of reason to send quality, relevant content. If they send spammy emails, it can hurt their ability to deliver any emails.. (But many still send bad emails, and that’s what inspired my blog!) A lot of brands send emails with discounts, announcements, articles, etc, and a lot of people actually really like getting them (at least based on my open and click rates, and the responses I see on twitter when I send an email). Email’s also the highest revenue generating form of marketing at most companies. I like that it’s really nerdy and uses different parts of my brain. I have to be able to proofread and think about if a subject line makes sense, but I also have to code and use SQL for reporting. I could go on forever. :)

                1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

                  2. Are there other email nerds here?!? I thought I was the only one!

                  Heh, I think you got the answer to that.

                2. Apollo Warbucks*

                  Re point 2 you’re not the only one, I’m a massive SQL nerd, and I code a few email notifications in html too, but only for internal use.

            1. kristinyc*


              The last three days have been the AAM equivalent of the Colbert Bump on my blog. Incredible. Guess I better get writing. :)

      2. Meredith*

        Exactly. The OP can discuss what good metrics were considered in her previous experience and examples of A/B tests she has done before. This can also lead into questions for the interviewers of what the KPIs look like at the company at which she is interviewing, what kind of rates someone who is successful in the position will be expected to maintain, and perhaps how hands-on the job is (will she be evaluating her own campaigns? Writing her own email copy or simply scheduling what her supervisor writes? Writing newsletters and supplemental marketing material? Working as part of a team? If so, how is the work divided?)

  3. CanadianWriter*

    #2 Greetings (pointless as they may seem) smooth your interactions with other humans. The other option is becoming a hermit and living in a cave.* “Good morning, how are you?” and “Have a good night, see you tomorrow” take about ten seconds and then you’re done!

    *my dream life

  4. Jennifer*

    #2, you already answered your own question:

    “Where I work, there is one particular coworker who always seems to go off and scream/throw a tantrum at me if I don’t respond in the way she wants me to.”

    You are only going to make her crazier if you ignore her. She’ll only escalate to get your attention. You are going to make it worse if you don’t give her what she wants.

    1. Lizabeth*

      Pure and simple – this coworker is a bully. My first thought was has she (the coworker, not the OP) been talked to about how inappropriate and unprofessional her behavior is? She’d be the first on the list to be replaced if she had been and still continues this crap. You owe her NOTHING but the very very basic common courtesy, the rest has to earned.

      That said, I’d be very tempted to ask her point blank, in almost a whisper, after her next blowup, what does she expect to accomplish by treating you in such a manner? I’d love to hear if she gives you an answer.

      1. Lizabeth*

        And only say hello and goodbye if doesn’t require you to go out of your way to do it – tracking her down to do it makes a bigger thing out of it than it should be.

        1. Elsajeni*

          On the other hand, since the OP mentions that it’s a shift change and there’s information that needs to be passed on, maybe it would make sense to do at least a quick drive-by before leaving — I know I would find it irritating for a coworker I’m relieving to ghost on out without telling me she’s leaving or confirming that I have what I need. OP, are you at least making sure that the two of you see each other at shift change, so the person who’s leaving knows that the person who’s taking over is physically present? I don’t know your job, maybe you don’t really think of that as necessary, but I’d consider that the bare minimum required shift-change interaction. And once you’re doing that, it’s no extra effort to throw an “Okay, goodnight!” over your shoulder as you’re leaving.

          Alternately, OP, if you really don’t need to see each other and the email or IM you send is all the contact that’s needed… would it help to add a “Have a good night!” at the end of that? An IMed pleasantry still might not be perfectly polite in her eyes, but it’s several steps above no pleasantries at all.

      2. Sophia*

        But it seems as though the OP is not using basic common courtesy – saying hello/goodbye or acknowledging it when the coworker says it

        1. Gilby*

          Sophia – I see that as well.

          The OP doesn’t say the co-worker is rude to me at lunch… during work….. ( whatever) so therefore I don’t want to acknowledge her.

          It seems the OP just doesn’t feel she needs to acknowledge the co-worker and the co-worker gets mad.

          1. stellanor*

            I sympathize with OP because I have a nasty coworker who I hate having to acknowledge — she’s a big bully, and it’s sort of painful to be polite to someone after they’ve insulted you to your face all afternoon.

            I still greet her politely, though. The place I always choke is when, if I do not greet her with SUFFICIENT ENTHUSIASM, she comes over and asks if I’m upset with her. As in, if she says good morning and I say “Hey, morning,” instead of “GOOD MORNING! :D :D :D” she feels the need to stage a mini intervention.

            And half the time the true answer to that is “Yes, I am upset with you because you just made four separate snide comments in a 30 minute meeting about my level of education in reaction to my politely disagreeing with you about something.” But if you try saying that to her she has a huge blow-up wherein she insults you a bunch more times, so I have to ignore it.

            1. Rayner*

              I have a relative who does that – you’re never allowed to respond with anything less than the maximum amount of peppy cheer found within cheerleaders and characters at Disney world.

              I usually say something like “No, nothing’s wrong. Please, excuse me. I think I see dip.” but I’m sure you could switch it with “I have photocopying to collect/I’m on way to a meeting/I’m going home.” There’s nothing they can pick on, and if they keep going, you just keep being as bland as possible. “No, Doreen, I’m fine. Please, excuse me.”

              Then again, I have that *ictchy resting face thing people go on about so being passive is easy for me. Not all that expressive so people find it hard to pick on me for saying “You look frustrated/tired” thing.

              1. stellanor*

                I’ve been like, “No, nothing’s wrong, going to a meeting now” and had her follow me to the meeting (my manager had to kick her out of it). Seriously if she thinks I might be any less than maximally thrilled with her, she follows me around the office. She’ll also follow someone all over the office to continue an argument they’re trying to walk away from (she cannot bear to be wrong ever).

                She’s this bizarre combination of a horrible bully and crushingly insecure, so she’s always saying nasty things to you and then insisting you reassure her.

                Her contract is up reasonably soon. I am counting the days.

                1. Anon*

                  “She’s this bizarre combination of a horrible bully and crushingly insecure, so she’s always saying nasty things to you and then insisting you reassure her.

                  Her contract is up reasonably soon. I am counting the days.”

                  I hope she’s out of there and working on whatever her issue is soon!

            2. MaggietheCat*

              :( My sympathy! This co-worker sounds awful. I was sooooo happy to get away from ex.-job’s work place bully.

          2. Ginger*

            I’m actually the writer of this email and it is not that I do not want to interact with this individual, BUT that when I do (and this is always done when it is just the two of us) try to relate information civilly to her she snaps very rudely at me. No one else in my dept to my knowledge has a problem with me. I seem to get along with everyone else or at least am able to work fine with everyone. I am just tired of being snapped at. I am not a rude person, but I am an extreme introvert (yes, I know customer service is not a great fit for me, but I need to pay the bills somehow so I suck it up and do the job and do it pretty well. ) and don’t get the need for acknowledgement. The good news is …. this individual has given her two weeks since this position seems to interfere with her primary one – so relief is felt and problem seems to be solved on its own.

            1. SMT*

              I’ve been in the same (or at least, very similar) situation for the last few months. Another supervisor has started taking issue with my “tone” on occasions. Usually after she has escalated whatever non-issue we’re discussing to the point where I get frustrated. (The last incident when she thought I had a ‘tone’ when explaining why we only needed one side of the serving line open included a mini-lecture from her in which I was told that I need to show her more respect because she’s older than me).
              I’ve discussed this with managers since these incidents have occurred in front of our team members, and I’ve basically been assured that they know she’s a problem. I’ve been told to just ‘make small talk and brush it off’.

              1. Fish Microwaver*

                Oh don’t get me started on the “tone” people. So passive-aggressive! You can’t prove that you didn’t use a tone, and they can’t prove that you did but it shifts the focus onto a totally futile “You did”, “No I didn’t” argument that never ends well.

            2. Isabelle*

              She sounds like a bully to me, and the fact that she only snaps at you when there are no witnesses around is very telling. Good to hear you won’t have to deal with her much longer.

              (For what it’s worth, I agree with Alison you should still greet her. You need to take the high road with people like that.)

    2. Ginger*

      I definitely have seen your point. Some people just need that love and attention they don’t get elsewhere from their co-workers I guess… Maybe it is better to not make her any more crazy.

    3. Anne*

      “You are going to make it worse if you don’t give her what she wants.”

      It might be my own personal experiences with coworkers who have behaved similarly colouring my response, but generally with this type of person you are never going to be able to give her what she wants. If OP greets her, the tone will be wrong or she won’t be standing there for whatever amount of small talk the coworker deems necessary or OP is “just trying to suck up because her work product isn’t up to scratch”…

      There is no way for OP to win (because there will always be something to justify the coworker’s snapping and put-downs in her own mind), so I don’t think it’s fair to put the onus on OP to pander to her coworker’s desire to bully her. OP would be teaching the OP that in order for coworker to “win” and have OP do as she wants, coworker needs to apply x amount of rudeness for y days.

      OP does, however, need to suck it up somewhat and make sure co-worker has all of the information that she needs to do her part of the job after shift change, because otherwise she has a legitimate complaint that you are not sharing information and making her life difficult – and then you, OP, will be the “bad guy” in the eyes of your supervisor and the rest of your team.

      1. Anne*

        Bah… “OP would be teaching the COWORKER that in order for coworker to ‘win'”, rather

  5. Seal*

    #2 – Make a point of saying “good morning” and “good night”, regardless of how you feel about your coworker. That way you aren’t stooping to her level, and she can’t complain that you are ignoring her entirely.

    1. Red Stapler*

      I agree. By ignoring her you’re setting yourself up for a meeting with her & your manager where you tell them how awful she is and she defends herself by saying how you’re hostile to her when she tries to reach out. A lot of managers if they’re bad or if they genuinely haven’t seen the coworker blow up (lots of people keep it together for the boss), will just dismiss your complaints as a case of two people who don’t get along. You don’t have to forgive her behavior, pretend to be friends, or care about her just when she says hi & bye say it back.

    2. A Dispatcher*

      Agree. Be the bigger person. “Hello” “goodbye” “have a good night” etc all said with a smile takes little to no effort (I’d argue less effort than ignoring the coworker’s direct solicitations for a response). Completely ignoring a coworker is just weird and will indeed impact how you are seen in the workplace. Remember all of the negative reactions to a recent letter writer’s “silent treatment” technique. Don’t let that be you OP.

      1. Celeste*

        This. Your active refusal will give her the upper hand. She will call you vindictive, and others think how they would feel to be unacknowledged, and they side with her. I understand completely why you want nothing to do with her, but we can’t get that on the job. Hiding behind email/text allows a technology fail to hang you over shift change info. When I’ve dealt with difficult people at work, I’ve developed a little pep talk for myself about how little time they take and how she is a zero presence in the rest of my life.

        The other part of this is, you mustn’t ruminate about how awful she is. Set the load down and walk away free; don’t keep carrying it in your mind.

      2. Celeste*

        Another thing–surely it’s obvious from her outbursts that she can be a problem child. By being somebody who can get along with anybody, you’re going to be an asset rather than a liability.

    1. Skippy Larou*

      If unpleasant coworkter truly has the info needed for the shift change, is it possible to walk by the while holding your cell phone to your ear, and give her a little finger wave with your free hand? A “can’t stop to chat, I’m on a call, but I acknowledge you, and hope you have a good rest of the day” gesture.

    2. BeenThere*

      This! It is one of the most useful techniques I learned in retail. How to be the nicest person at the world when someone is screaming in your face trying to return underwear.

      1. LBK*

        In my head, the store at which you worked doesn’t sell underwear in the first place, which makes it even better. I just imagine someone waving their tighty whiteys at a customer service rep at Best Buy. “WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN’T TAKE THESE BACK!?”

  6. JC*

    #3 – Like you, I adore email marketing but have limited experience in executing it. The questions they are asking (subject line ideas, A/B testing, and metrics) are fundamental concepts within the discipline.

    1. Hunny*

      I’ve been thinking about this letter all morning, because I got a few months of email experience at my first job and the questions all seemed very easy. I wonder if OP’s real concern might be that there is a better/more advanced answer he just dienst know yet? Kind of like, “I’ve used these metrics, but what if they’re looking for something I’ve never heard of?”

      I know that affected me a lot in my earlier interviews: the fear that what I knew wasn’t the right knowledge.

    2. Hunny*

      Oh, I was also wondering what experience OP has? He says “I don’t want to lie and say I’ve worked on projects” which makes it sound like he has never done any email campaigns at all. But then he mentions intern level email projects.

  7. Beti*

    “coworker who always seems to go off and scream/throw a tantrum at me if I don’t respond in the way she wants me to”

    I’m a little unclear on what this means. Respond to what? How does the coworker think the OP should be responding? Is the coworker saying hello and the OP not responding at all? Is the coworker saying “how’s it going?” (meaning “Hello. How are you? Tell me how your family is. etc) and the OP is answering “hi”?

    “Where do I draw the line or get help?”

    I’d say almost any time a coworker starts screaming is a good time to call for reinforcements. If this is an ongoing problem (instigated by the coworker or OP or both), someone else like a manager/supervisor type person needs to get involved to get this conflict resolved. But if it can be resolved by the OP simply saying “good morning” and “good night” then yes, of course, OP, do that. And be glad the problem can be solved so simply!

  8. Confused*

    #2 –
    You may want to consider that your career is more important than exchanging a few pleasantries with an unpleasant co-worker.

    The more you advance, the more people you’ll work with, the more personalities you will be exposed to, and you may even end up managing a few of these unpleasant personalities. You can’t always choose to ignore them.

    IMO, always emailing instead of just speaking with her is a bit passive aggressive. I understand your hesitation as I’ve had experiences with unpredictable co-workers, but I think you can do more to strike a balance and interact without fully engaging her (work bff-style).
    Good luck!

    1. College Career Counselor*

      Yes, but the email is a CYA in case things escalate to “but the OP never told me any of this at shift change.”

      1. KrisL*

        Yeah, you always want to have the CYA’s in place when you have to deal with a co-worker like this.

        And always try to be polite and professional so that management will have no problem figuring out that your co-worker is the problem. Once someone starts retaliating, it’s tougher to be sure who is the bad guy.

  9. Apollo Warbucks*

    #3 I went for a job six months a go that seemed very similar to what I do now, but the technical skills they wanted were a lot more involved and I completely bombed that section of the interview, the hiring manager was really nice about it and said nothing was meant to trick me or catch me out they just needed to see what sort of skills and background I had. In the end they came back and let me know they wanted someone with more technical skills, which was disappointing as the company seemed really good and there product was fantastic. The job wasn’t a good fit for me or the company, which is best to find out sooner rather than later.

    I’m not sure if there are any good resources, such as books or blogs about emailing marketing that might help or maybe local net working groups for the industry that will give you some broader knowledge of the industry, but it would be worth looking into. What you’re hearing from the interviewers is that they are looking for a certain level of experience, which at the moment you don’t have, which isn’t a bad thing just some valuable feedback for you to work on.

  10. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

    3. I’m getting interview questions that seem overly advanced

    These are basic questions. Email marketing is a science, it’s technical. The questions are like asking an entry level plumbing applicant his knowledge of I don’t know, drain pipes and wrenchy things, whatever it is plumbers have to know about to then go ahead and plumb.

    I’m not clear why you are sure you want to get into email marketing if you are thrown by an A/B question. I don’t mean you shouldn’t because it’s easy enough to read up on A/B and be able to answer that question, but I mean if your natural curiosity hasn’t lead you to already know the answer, I wonder if email marketing is a fit.

    Email marketing is metrics, metrics, metrics. Best candidates are left brain/right brain – creative + math, and the very best candidates are also visual + verbal, because you need both images and words to pull.

    It’s also a crapload of fun. Of all of the things under my umbrella, I think it is the most satisfying marketing element with pretty quick “thumbs up! thumbs down! meh!” measurable results.

    If this is what you want to do, go for it. Everything you need to know is in google and examples of good, great, bad and meh land in your email box hourly :p

    Oh and learn google analytics. Whatever you want to do online, learn how to use google analytics. I’m not a fan of the intern culture in the US right now, but an even unpaid internship that lets you use and learn analytics is actually worth it. Magic open key to online positions, especially in email marketing and such.

    1. Koko*

      Ohh, yes, the instant gratification of real-time feedback in email marketing is like the crack of marketing.

  11. FiveNine*

    OP 2, focus on the fact that you only have to acknowledge this coworker at shift change. Just once a day, that’s it. It sounds like the shift change requires a transfer/update of info from the person leaving to the person coming on board and just think of this as the final seal, and let it make you genuinely happy that this last little act means you’re done with her for the day.

    1. Ginger*

      You know, that’s a great point. I do focus on the fact I need out (btw, I’m actually working a split shift of 13 hours on the main day I have to see her so I am just doing a happy dance to go home and sleep! ) and only deal with the change. The problem is lately, there has been NOTHING to convey. I have confirmed my calls ( I do customer service), the emails we handle are cleared out, and I leave no voice mails for her to deal with. Other than a “goodbye” when I leave, no interaction really needs to take place or am I wrong?

      1. Sutemi*

        If there is nothing of substance to convey, you still need to tell her that. She needs to know she is starting with a clean slate for her shift. Not getting a message is not the same as knowing there is not going to be a message.

      2. FiveNine*

        I don’t know if you’re still checking responses at this point, and whether there needs to be more interaction is probably a subjective thing — there are lots of former coworkers I’ve had who wouldn’t need anything more when there’s nothing to convey. Most people in most types of jobs I’ve had would probably really only need a head’s up when there’s something to be aware of in particular that’s carrying over. This particular coworker already sounds needy (and potentially a thorn in the side), so I might add just a few words is all, really, like — “Everything’s cleared out, have a good night!” or something to that effect. (Think about it like this: If you were coming onto the shift with someone who you already had tensions with for whatever reason, wouldn’t you just even for professional reasons want a simple phrase like the above or, especially, if there’s something to attend to a very simple head’s up? That’s all you have to give this person, just a few words letting her know the workflow status.)

        And honestly, you’d be surprised how easily the mind can be tricked with just the tiniest shift in perception. Whereas you now currently dread even having to say goodnight to this person, if you see this interaction as the very last thing you have to do before getting off a 13-hour shift, you’ll find yourself actually looking forward to seeing this person and giving her a genuine smile when all that’s between you and getting out of Dodge is that one sentence.

      3. Hunny*

        Depending on how the shift change is structured, just “goodbye” might be fine. But that would only be if one of her first tasks is to be double check if anything needs to be done and all the undone tasks are clearly laid out. If she trusts you to communicate things that will affect her shift, then a quick goodbye could work fine. Thinking to my own job, I usually just want to know that a person is leaving so that 10 minutes layer I’m not surprised when I need something and they’re gone.

  12. ArtsNerd*

    Re: #5 – “(And you might not need an overall description at all, aside from the accomplishments — hard to say for sure without seeing it, but that’s often the case.)”

    I’m struggling with this, because so many job titles are so vague, and the scope of the work isn’t really indicated by them. Does that not matter, and any job duties worth mentioning should be highlighted in a specific accomplishment?

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      When I’m looking at resumes, I tend to like a really short description, just because I don’t know what every job title means. If it’s something in a field I’m familiar with, then great, but lots of people have jobs in random fields that I have no experience with, and it’s nice to be able to have a loose framework to be able to evaluate their accomplishments within.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It really depends on your specific resume so it’s hard to give a general rule. If what the reader needs to know about your job is truly not something they’ll be able to figure out from the title and the accomplishments you’ve listed, then a 1-2 line description is okay — but my point was that many people do that even when it’s totally obvious and unnecessary, and they should stop (because they’re using up valuable resume real estate with something unnecessary). For instance, if you’re a receptionist, I don’t need a description about how you greet visitors and answer phones.

      1. Felicienne*

        OP Question #5

        I have descriptions because our organization has terrible job titles for lower level staff. While someone is called a XYZ Assistant they don’t seem to have done high-level professional work when in fact they are solely responsible for those things. I think that in my situation, I can easily consolidate/eliminate some descriptions for my recent jobs. Thank you for your help. And to answer your question about my accomplishments in short stents, I feel like I have one accomplishment worth highlighting for both internships which can be written into the same bullet point. Thank you for your help. :)

        1. Hunny*

          Hi OP,
          You are completely right that job titles can misrepresent the job. I has a title of Associate but essentially ran an entire department. It worked out great though because my cover letter and accomplishments showed off my real work, and interviewers seemed impressed when they realized how much experience I had gained.

          1. Felicienne*

            Hunny I am sure that is true. I’m just afraid to create a separate listing, add 2-3 listings of accomplishments and have them say WTF she was there for 3 mos? I don’t know, I’m all tied up in knots about it.

  13. Employment Lawyer*

    #1: Nonprofits are prime offenders. They often seem to think that they’re above the employment laws…. they’re not. This post makes me angry.

    You should absolutely talk to a lawyer to understand your rights before you approach your boss. If every single person at the company is getting paid on salary is is exceedingly likely that they are violating the law. This problem is generically referred to as “misclassification.”

    From a federal perspective, a misclassified employee is eligible for retroactive hourly wages (including time-and-a-half overtime) with a two year lookback period. Generally, the hourly wage is calculated by converting the salaried wage to a 40 hour work week. State laws may be more strict, but the federal laws are a baseline.

    -Imagine that you get $30,000/year, which is the same as $600/week.
    -You work 60 hours/week. You’re functionally getting paid $10/hour.

    Now imagine that you were misclassified:

    Calculated at 40 hours/week, you have a base salary of $15/hour.
    Working 60 hours in a week means you get $600 (for the first 40 hours) PLUS $450 (for the additional 20 hours, at time and a half rates) = $1050.

    Over the course of a two year lookback, that difference is worth over $40,000. And on top of that there can be multiple damages and attorneys fees, and those can really add up. In my state of Massachusetts, triple damages and attorneys fees are mandatory, AND the lookback is three years, not two.

    That’s why you should talk to a lawyer. You may decide to let it go, but it should be an informed decision.

    Google “____ NELA employment” where “____” is your state, i.e. “massachusetts NELA employment.” That will help you find the state branch of NELA (National Employment Lawyer’s Association) which is a group of attorneys who focus on representing employees.

    1. Chinook*

      OP#1, besides the employer risking major fines and back pay, they are also risking burning out staff and mistakes being made. Working 30 days straight is risking the chance of someone forgetting something or not paying attention to details. There is a reason for labour laws about days worked. It might be worth approaching your boss from the perspective of heading off any potential issues and wanting to solve it as a team.

      1. Site Safety Manager - Heavy Industrial Construction*

        There are no federal laws in the US on (consecutive) number of days worked.

        1. Jake*

          Definitely true. I’ve worked 30+ 12 hour days in a row several times and know somebody that worked 59 12 hour days straight followed by 28 12 hour nights.

          Yeah, he got burned out and quit.

          1. OP #1*

            YIKES. I know working long, consecutive days is just par for the course in some jobs. I guess the benefit of doing that should be, hopefully, that these people are compensated handsomely for it (and how much of that is even really worth it in the end…). I often think to myself that I could be doing similar work in another industry, and still have to work long hours/consecutive days, but maybe I’d at least have a higher earning potential!

      2. KrisL*

        As Chinook said, people who have been worked too hard for too long tend to burn out and make mistakes. The company isn’t doing itself any favors by treating their employees this way. In the short run, they’re saving money. In the long run, they’re wasting money.

        1. Hunny*

          I get comp time, but was struggling to take it because all my projects seem so important to me. My boss is really committed to balanced work-life and not letting me burn myself out, so she has been working with me on recognizing which parts of my work simply aren’t time sensitive and which parts are so that I actually take my comp time.

          Side note, my boss is incredible.

    2. neverjaunty*

      I ran out of pluses for this comment

      Also, don’t be scared off by the idea that you can’t afford a lawyer. Most lawyers in the US handling cases like this work on contingency (meaning they get a share of any recovery, but you don’t pay them out of pocket).

      1. fposte*

        Which also means that you can get an idea of how viable your case looks just by trying to find a lawyer–if no lawyer wants it on contingency, it’s because they don’t think it’s likely to win, or win enough to pay a lawyer out of.

      2. Elysian*

        While contingency might be part of it, most cases like this will force the employer to pay your attorney’s fees if you win. You’d have to pick a lawyer and talk about fees, but it might be a lot less expensive than you think.

      3. Employment Lawyer*

        The federal statutes provide for MANDATORY attorneys fees. The states can be even better.

        I do a lot of wage and hour work and for a case like this (which would involve high individual damages as well as the potential for multiple plaintiffs) I can pretty much guarantee that you can talk to a lawyer about potentially taking your case without paying a dime

    3. OP #1*

      When you put it that way…even MORE frustrating! So basically if some of us are correctly categorized as exempt, we just have to suck it up and live with it or find another job. I love the mission of my organization, but there’s only so much “free time” (which half-to-one comp time is!) I can handle. I think the ultimate bummer for me is that the rest of our time is tracked so carefully. During the 9-5 hours we spend in the office we are expected to clock in and out (even exempt, non-hourly employees). When work is not physically at our desks, we don’t clock in and out (and often, work is not physically at our desks…especially on weekends and evenings). So, on paper, it would look like I am working a traditional 8-12hr day. On top of that we have to use sick/vacation time in half day chunks, so it’s easy to burn through. I can’t even imagine trying to start a family!
      I think the worst part about all of this is that I feel like a jerk even bringing it up. Because it’s a nonprofit I almost feel like we’re expected to be martyrs for our time, or that we’re easily replaceable. I just don’t see how this practice will ever attract and retain top talent (not a lot of earning potential and the expectation to work extra without reasonable comp time), which is a shame for such a worthwhile cause.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        No, you don’t necessarily need to suck it up and live with it or find another job. I’m going to direct you back to the advice in the original post, which is to address this as a group.

        1. Employment Lawyer*

          I don’t think that is actually a good idea. It’s usually a better idea to start by having a sense of what your negotiating power is–which, in this case, requires you to talk to a lawyer before you start.

          Also, since the OP is presumably NOT a lawyer, the OP may not want to be in charge of representing other people’s interests. Similarly the OP might not want other people speaking for the OP. That is true both because people have varying skills in that context, and also because all of those interests may not properly align.

          In the end, a bunch of fully informed people may well want to talk to the employers after consulting their respective attorneys. But I would not do it as a first step.

          -Erik Hammarlund

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yeah, to clarify — I meant that if they’re all exempt and therefore this is legal, talk as a group about why you’d like the policy changed. If they’re non-exempt and this is a legal issue, I wouldn’t approach it as a group (necessarily).

      2. Law Firm Office Administrator*

        I hope you kept good records of your time worked over the past 2-3 years. If not, grab some copies of your timesheets while you can, and stash them at home with copies of your paystubs and a draft of your job description, before you approach anyone about a change in policy. You may need it later to bolster your argument with the Dept of Labor over unpaid overtime, if you decide to file a claim later.

        Your non-profit employer doesn’t get to break the law, no matter how worthwhile the cause. The only employers that are allowed to offer true comp time are public employers. It sounds like yours may be trying to offer flex time by making you use it in the same workweek – but if you’re only earning half the comp time to the amount of hours worked, or none at all unless weekend hours hit a certain threshold, it’s still negating overtime payments that are due to non-exempt workers.

        Good luck.

  14. Steve G*

    #3 – I understand AAM’s response totally, but just wanted to say that I feel for you as well. My coworker wants to attract young/cheap, not sure what the big deal is to hire someone mid-level for $20K more when we are making money, but that’s another story.

    So every interview we have, the candidates are getting questions to advanced for them, then after the fact, it’s all shock about how they didn’t answer well and they might not be a good fit.

    Hello!!! That’s what happens when you interview 22yo for mid-level positions! What are you expecting? I wish one of the candidates would just say in the interview “I’m only 22 give me a break,” but they tend to painfully try to answer the questions……

    1. Hunny*

      When I left my last job, they began having really important conversations about what they wanted in that role (skill level, responsibilities, how many hours needed), who would be a good fit (entry level seeking experience vs parents seeking flexible schedules), and what would be appropriate compensation for that person (low or low with benefits). Didn’t change any of their practices, but they spent time talking about it.

      1. Hunny*

        Oh, and I suppose by patents they really meant more experienced professionals who wanted more flexibility and fewer hours.

  15. Anonymous*

    I had a coworker who refused to speak to me for four months unless forced. I told our boss and said it was OK because it made my life better, but that I expected the coworker to act professionally during times we had to communicate. Who do you think came off bad in this?

  16. Gilby*


    OP what exactly is she hot-headed about? Does she go off on you regarding work stuff ? Have you said ” hi” in the past and she goes off on you?

    What has she done to you that makes you not want to say ” hi” in the first place?

    Because it seems that the ” cause ” of her getting mad, is you, not acknowledging her. I mean a simple ” hi”. Not a discussion on the worlds problems.

    There is no indication on the post that the co-worker is/was rude now, has been rude to the OP in the past. I mean is there a history of problem between the 2 of them? OP?

    1. Ginger*

      Doesn’t matter anymore. She has quit and I will more or less be fired as soon as they get someone to take my place, so I’m starting with the same crap reputation somewhere else. My only other interaction would be to recommend a job where there is absolutely positively NO human interaction. My self-esteem is so low I can’t see up. I feel I can doing right. I’ve actually considered looking into voluntarily going into a facility to seek professional help and stay away from people. But… knowing my luck I’d be forced into group therapy!!!! LOL

      1. JuliB*

        Please get help. I think on your own that you would come around but it could take months.

        I had a bad situation ending with me being rolled of a project and I was toast for months. I ended up back at another project and while I was better, it took a long time to get back in the saddle.

  17. V*

    OP #1 – depending on your exact situation, you need to either get out and find a new job, or convince your management to staff appropriately. Your description of the work environment makes me think that finding a new job is probably the best approach, but if you’re stuck there, or while you’re job hunting, here are some suggestions:

    1) Don’t work the crazy hours. Set a schedule for yourself that includes reasonable work hours (8-10 hour days, 5 days a week), make a prioritized list of your tasks, and then stick to that. You can get some management buy-in by warning them you don’t have time to complete all your work, and asking them to approve the priorities and then point back to that when things don’t get done. If possible, develop scheduled commitments after normal work hours (I have to get home and walk the dog before he tears the house apart, I have a yoga class every day at 7pm, etc).

    2) Take your comp days. See #1 above, and repeat “Failure to staff appropriately is a problem for management, not my issue” to yourself a lot.

    3) Talk to your coworkers about the situation, how they handle the work-life balance, and see if you can get them to help you shift the company culture to a less toxic place.

    I say this as somebody who currently has a job where management would love it if I worked 80+ hour weeks, because we are horribly short on skilled staff due to foolish decisions they’ve made on staffing (not keeping experienced employees, not paying enough to hire good experienced employees, upsetting all the good sources for short term contracted help by not planning appropriately and randomly having the business side ask them to work at risk for weeks while funding is sorted out).

    However, I’m no longer willing to work 80 hour weeks unless *I* screwed up the planning, or it’s a real crisis. Take a close look at your job, and decide what does and doesn’t count as a real emergency (hint: real emergencies happen maybe once every 6 months, and should be resolved by management within 2 weeks). For example:

    Production line equipment breaks and the factory is coated in 2 inches of hot chocolate? Emergency; stay late to help clean up / work extra the next week to get things moving again.

    You’ve been asked by management to step in and help fix the teapot polishing machine for the third time that month, because they don’t have any other experts on the machine on staff? Do it, but tell them all your other deadlines will move out on a day-for-day slip.

    Management has known about the orders for 3000 teapots for 6 months, but let the customer spend 5 of them changing the designs to be painted on them, and you can only paint 1500 teapots in a normal month of 40 hour weeks? Don’t kill yourself with a month of 80 hour weeks unless there is a clear benefit for you (unless your company has a history of following through with major bonuses or raises, vague promises of remembering this in 6 months for your performance review do not count).

    Coworker is suddenly sick in the hospital a week before your big presentation at the annual conference? Put in extra hours to get it done, but make sure you rest the night before you’re speaking.

    1. Graciosa*

      Absolutely loved this comment!

      Great examples of how to set boundaries, plus a reminder that understaffing and poor planning are management problems rather than worker ones.

      Part of a manager’s job is to make sure that work is properly prioritized and that the workload is managed to the actual level of staffing. If you have five full time employees available each week, you need to find ways to ensure that the work required in a given week is not regularly going above 225-250 hours. Sometimes that means saying no, this task will not get done.

      On a long term basis, studies have shown that work output for any amount of time per week above 50-55 hours is about the same as work output for 50-55 hours as stress and exhaustion start to reduce efficiency. People can power through and increase output with hours for a little while, but it just isn’t sustainable.

      This is still an issue even if you completely disregard the human factor, which no one should. Each of those five workers will have basic human needs that cannot be met if they are spending almost all of their waking hours at work. Developing a good work force requires allowing people to take care of themselves.

      This manager is just not doing the job. Why are conferences scheduled so close together that no one can take comp time? A good manager would have insisted on spacing these out appropriately when they were first scheduled – or rotated assignments (half the team works on the odd number conferences with weeks before the even numbered conferences off and vice versa) – or insisted on adding some contractors – or outsourcing some aspects of the job …

      The manager’s job is to find a way to solve this problem. The fact that he or she isn’t doing it does not make it the OP’s problem.

      OP, please, please, PLEASE follow suggestion #2 above. If you can, encourage others to do so as well. Apparently management won’t step in to fix the problem until something breaks, so you may have to let it. I know this is hard to do, but keep telling yourself that you are not responsible for your manager’s choices.

      Good luck.

    2. Jenny S.*

      +100 on this. I have worked 15 years in non-profits. You have to set limits for yourself, take your comp time and don’t feel bad about it, and communicate with your bosses about what can reasonably be done in a 40 hour work week.

      I’m also wondering if you have any power to put a stop to some of the events you’re doing. I know from personal experience that there are people (usually upper-management or overly involved board members) who LOVE to do events and don’t seem to realize how much time and energy it costs the lower-level employees. Is there a way to make your events more efficient, so you don’t have to have so many of them? Or so less people have to work each one?

    3. OP #1*

      Wonderful, wonderful advice, thank you!!! You make some really fantastic points and I am going to take this advice to heart. Fingers crossed!! :)

  18. Not So NewReader*

    OP #2. The silent treatment is actually the “silent scream”.

    You are doing the same things she is doing but in a different manner. And the both of you have dug your heals in on your respective opinions.
    This looks like both of you are screaming and locked down, to me.

    She may be the world’s most horrible coworker ever. But people will just balance that out by saying “Well, she has to work with OP who randomly decides to stop speaking to people. So look at what she is up against.”

    Ignoring people does not play out well. It looks unprofessional. It also means that a part of us never develops because we never learn how to work with difficult people. And it could possibly hurt you in the long run, because the boss may decide that you can’t work with people. Lastly, it gets to be habit- just my theory. Lacking any other tools, some people make it a default solution when difficulties arise.

    Say good morning or good night- if for nothing else but it is in your own best interest.

    1. jesicka309*

      I’m with you, NotsoNewReader, I think the OP is reacting very poorly.
      I’ve worked with a coworker who decided one day she didn’t like me, and refused to talk to me for months. In team meetings, she would roll her eyes when I spoke. She would literally ignore me unless in the presence of a higher up. And I had to sit next to her all day in hostile silence.

      I don’t think it could have mattered if I had done anything to deserve this behaviour – it’s still nasty, bullying behaviour. The OP is being a bully in this situation. She can’t handle one person that she doesn’t get along with? How petty. I can’t take what the OP is saying about her coworker seriously because I’m too busy thinking “is this random outburst occuring because the OP is staring off into space pretending her coworker doesn’t exist?”
      One person’s poor behaviour doesn’t excuse more poor behaviour (and arguably worse. I’d rather a coworker that had random outbursts of anger and frustration as opposed to a cold, calculating bully who goes out of her way to make other people feel miserable).

  19. Riki*

    2 – Ditto what everyone else has said, but it really cannot be stressed enough. Take the high road. Always. Say hello and goodbye. It might feel good to ignore her, but, trust me, doing that has a way of coming back to bite in the rear. It’s basically about keeping up appearances, but that counts in the work place. If you dish out what she gives you, then people see two people acting up, not just one. Also, by stooping to her level, you are giving her power over you. Don’t do that to yourself.

  20. Jackie*

    #2 I don’t think a friendly “hello” in the morning and “goodbye” at the close of business is too much to ask. What’s the point of being uncivil ? Why not take the high road ?

  21. knitcrazybooknut*

    OP #2, I totally get where you’re coming from. I used to work in the same small office with someone who disagreed with me. About everything. Even when I agreed with her about what she just said, she would wait 15 seconds and give 400 reasons why my agreement with her was dead wrong. She was also convinced that I was out for her job and that we were going to lay her off. (Ten years later, I wonder if she still believes that! She’s still at the company, and I’ve left.)

    It was really uncomfortable. But here are some things that might help you in your situation.

    1. Always have an escape hatch ready in your mind. If she starts getting upset, remember that you need to run for an appointment or to pick up your child/dog/partner somewhere. Get an app installed on your phone where you can hit a button and have it start ringing for you.

    2. Be really really pleasant in your greetings and farewells. This gives you plausible deniability if something goes wrong. But that’s all they have to be — greetings and farewells. If she has a question, fine, answer. You just have to act for a brief period of time, you don’t have to invest yourself in it.

    3. When possible, have witnesses for the unprofessional behavior. If you suspect that something bad will happen, make sure someone you trust as an impartial observer is around.

    4. Start drawing boundaries. If she starts throwing a fit, you need to leave the room or area asap. “I’m sorry, but I don’t feel comfortable continuing this conversation.”

    5. Document, document, document. Unfortunately, by the time you realize you need to be documenting behaviors, some incidents have already occurred. Be specific about dates and times and what happened and what was said. Sometimes the act of documenting these occurrences helps you figure out what is wrong about the behavior in a way that you couldn’t see before. And if nothing else, it gives you something you can point to when and if you end up talking to a manager about the behavior.

    If I were in this situation, I would already be talking to a manager, but I would be very careful about what I said. “I seem to be having trouble communicating with x person. I’m wondering if you have any tips that could help me.” Something generic like that might net you some hints and tips that might work.

    I hope this helps.

    1. Anln*

      But we dont know what is really happening here.

      The OP doesn’t state that there are conversations that lead up to the co-worker being rude and that is why OP doesn’t want to talk to her.

      The only thing that is stated is the co-worker gets mad when the OP doesn’t acknowledge her. This seems to be the OP doing something to the co-worker …..ignoring her, more than what the co-worker doing something.

      What is there to document? Why do you need witnesess?

      If this can be solved by the OP simply saying “Hi” then what else is needed?

      1. neverjaunty*

        And if the OP simply saying “Hi” doesn’t solve the problem, what then? She will be better off having been careful.

        1. Anln*

          We don’t what will happen because the OP DOESN’T want to say hi in the first place.

          Per the post the Co-worker is responding to the lack of the OP’s acknowledging her. Not because the co-worker is starting the problem by being rude to the OP first.

          So if the OP says hi and the co-worker is rude then yes the OP can go on from there.

          Where does the post say….. The co-worker….did “this” to me and now I don’t want to say hi.

          1. Laura*

            “Where I work, there is one particular coworker who always seems to go off and scream/throw a tantrum at me if I don’t respond in the way she wants me to. I’ve never neglected to give her the information she needs to do her job and I do mine to the best of my ability. However, I’d just prefer to leave her alone due to her hot-headedness. To this end, I really don’t speak to her at all. I don’t snub her, I just really have nothing to say to her.”

            To this end…that is, in response to the co-worker screaming/throwing tantrums, the LW now wishes to leave her alone and not talk to her. The OP doesn’t go into detail of how long/often those negative interactions were before the silent treatment began – but it’s clearly implied that the silent treatment came about *in response to* that behavior.

            Still not professional, still needs to say hi and bye, but I think maybe in the horror at how unprofessional the silent treatment is, people are missing the fact that the coworker was stated to have been screaming and throwing tantrums, and the implication of phrasing is that this came first.

        2. Ginger*

          No, it won’t … it doesn’t matter if I say anything she goes off… I guess I should never have written in for advice and should have gone straight to my HR person. I was actually, believe it or not, trying to help my situation. I think I know my next step and if you read my further posts it will be evident.

  22. bullyfree*

    2. OP, is she just saying goodbye ? Or, does she use this goodbye to launch a tirade ? Or, is it that you never know what is going to happen when she shows up to say goodbye ? When you say goodbye or hello, did she launch into a critique or complain or mock your word choices ? Just curious,but I do understand and am sorry you are having to deal with this in the workplace. I worked with someone who had big mood swings, interrupted my work frequently, etc. I started out saying good morning and goodbye to her but she was so unpredictable with her moods that I didn’t go out of the way to do it after she
    snapped at me acouple times. After that, if she left before me, she’d stop by to say goodbye then end up talking for 30 to 60 minutes especially when I had looming deadlines. Or, she would come over to talk to me for the last 30 minutes of her shift and want to talk about personal stuff. I had a very large work load with (proposal) deadlines and I tried to set boundaries being as nice and professional as possible but she’d still keep yapping. I noticed if I could get her laughing about something, I could get the conversations to end quicker and I could get back to work.(and she’d leave) So I would use that tactic until she started leaving laughing then cross the hall to her office get her coat on and leave by slamming office door LOUD then stomping out of the office not saying a word to anyone. Every one who heard it would question “What was that about ?” One time after she did that, at a time when I kept repeating my deadline ended within the hour, being as pleasant as I could be but stressed that I needed to get this propsal revised and submitted and couldn’t talk right now, she slammed things around in her office then her door REAL loud and stomped out. It got a lot of peoples attention. Then she called me from her cellphone a couple minutes later to ask me to go to her mailbox and then unlock her office and put the envelope that was in her mailbox in her office. She launched into why she wanted me to do this. I kept telling her ” sure, I’ll take care of it. ” It took forever to get her off the phone but I eventually did. I got my revised proposal in with seven minutes to spare. Anyway, there is much more to this story but, it didn’t matter what I did or how- her mood would swing all over the place and it was crazy making trying to get my job done while trying to cater to whatever her latest “need” was. I ended up pulling away and having little to do with her because there was no way I could please her or meet her inappropriate neediness in a work setting. So, there are people with personality disorders that make work life incredibly challenging and no matter what you do or say, they will be unhappy.

    1. Anln*

      Your first couple of questions are mine as well. Is the co-worker instigating fights and arguments? Just to do so.
      Then yes I can see why the OP wants the least amount of contact with her.

      1. Ginger*

        You are exactly right… I say NOTHING at all to her and she picks at me and talks crap behind my back. I’m over it, myself and the whole place ….. According to most of the comments I’ve read, I’m a horrid, horrid person who is instigating the situation and need to get over myself. I am looking actually for a job I can do from the sanctity of my own home (if I ever get one) and have no interaction with anyone. This way, I don’t mess up anyone else’s life like I evidently have with this person.

        1. bullyfree*

          Hi Ginger, I am so sorry for what you are having to deal with. In my opinion, you have not messed up coworkers life. It actually sounds a lot like you’ve been bullied by that person for awhile and it has been very stressful. You are not a horrid person who needs to get over themself – just the opposite. You obviously care about your work, getting it done in a timely manner and want transactions with your co-worker to be civil and smooth. I feel and hear your increased frustration in your additional posts (4/29) and it worries me a bit. Please know, all of what you feel is valid and many posters here do have empathy for you in this situation. Please take care of yourself and take some time off if need be. Your health is more important than any job. I attended a support group for people who have been bullied in the workplace and wanting to work alone or away from people, is a very common desire of those who have been targeted. Horrible coworkers suck the joy out of your job and sometimes your life. I am glad that person is leaving your workplace and I hope things change for the better, for you.

  23. Betty Jane*

    I had an employee who felt completely disrespected if I didn’t say hello or goodbye. She wasn’t in my sight coming or going and it wasn’t intentional, but she took it as a severe slight, so much that she tattled to the head of the department. This person and probably the one mentioned on here have extreme narcissism, histrionic narcissism to be exact. They are extremely important to themselves and everyone should acknowledge them.

    1. bullyfree*

      The bully I mentioned above had serious traits of all the Cluster B disorders. It is so difficult to work with people like that because they use the structure of the workplace to inflict themselves on others. Most everyone else is trying to be polite, professional and get their work done but end up having to deal with drama and toxicity that the bully creates. It sure seemed to me that the bullies number one reason for being in the work place was to get her social amd emotional needs met. Her number goal was to have complete control of the office dynamics. Actual work seemed to be secondary to every interaction bully was involved in.

  24. Anne*

    OP #3, I think perhaps your problems may be stemming more from the fact that you don’t have concrete past examples of the questions they’re asking in interviews, rather than that you don’t understand the terms? If you’re aiming for positions that are specifically email marketing, then I imagine you probably have some education in or related exposure to the concepts they’re asking about.

    If so, then I think it’s fine to talk in the hypothetical (what metrics you *would* look at, how you *would* handle x problem) to show them that you understand the questions – and, if possible, tie in related experiences you have had in previous jobs (like how you would deal with x problem by doing y, z and 7A; in fact in your last position, you had a problem with c and were able to resolve it by fixing an issue with 7B – so the interviewer can see that you know how to troubleshoot, take on responsibility for an error, or whatever it is they want to see from the questions they’re asking).

    You just need to be careful that it’s clear that you are speaking hypothetically, and not claiming past experiences that you don’t have.

  25. A Jane*

    #2 – I know I need to make a better effort to say hello to people in the morning, even if it’s just a quiet-I-still-need-my-coffee “Hello”. I definitely feel less inclined to say morning to the jerks in the office, but I learned that the days I do mutter out a hello, the morning interactions aren’t as bad.

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