did I violate work-friends protocol, where’s my promotion, and more

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

1. Did I violate work-friends protocol?

I’m fairly new at a job in a smallish company, less than 9 months. The city is also new to me. I’m trying to meet more people and make more friends. I have no problem inviting people to chat and get together if I think they are cool. I realize how lucky I am to like my direct coworkers, I haven’t always had that before. But of course liking coworkers doesn’t mean you want to hang out with them outside of work, necessarily. Basically there are work-friends and then there are friend-friends. I’ve had a few friends make this transition in other jobs, so I feel like I know the basics. Not being overly “loud” about your friendship, blabbing about a crazy party or whatever at the office. Anywho- I really like one of my coworkers and made several overtures to get together. We did, outside of work, and I thought it went well. But then I felt lame when I realized I was the one who initiated all of them, and then I felt bad when I realized perhaps the weirdness of being coworkers meant she felt overly obligated to be nice… I feel like this could be really paranoid thinking, but maybe not?

Re-reading this now I realize I should state – this is not romantic. I’m not trying to date my coworker. Friends only. Oh and I should also state that my “hang out” requests were normal. I didn’t ask her to help me move (Keith Hernandez) or ask her to a sleepover. I didn’t ask her to be my bridesmaid or to hang out over Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday.

Is she warm and friendly to you? If so, I wouldn’t worry about it terribly. It sounds like you suggested hanging out in normal ways rather than suggesting she move in with you. And you invited her to hang out a few times and she accepted a few times, which means that she had multiple opportunities to decline or come up with an excuse and she didn’t. Some people aren’t plans-initiators but are happy to do things other people suggest. I wouldn’t worry about it unless you notice she starts walking the other way or pretending to be on fake calls when you approach.

Read an update to this letter here.

2. Where’s the promotion I was promised seven months ago?

When I was hired, my new boss-to-be and I discussed promoting me in one year (HR didn’t want the position to be at the level that both my boss and I wanted initially). In December, shortly after my year anniversary came around, I set up a meeting to discuss the promotion and we started rewriting my job description, etc. My boss’s boss okayed the promotion, and she got verbal approval from HR.

Fast forward seven months and nothing has happened. I got an exemplary performance review in the spring, but my boss still hasn’t submitted the revised description to HR. I sent her an email in May asking for an update and if there’s anything that she needs from me. Nope, it’s “at the top of” her list. I just sent her another email reminder (two months later) and got the same response. Is there anything else I can do? Normally, I’d start looking for another job, but I’m pregnant and I need the maternity leave. (I don’t have any reason to believe that my pregnancy is impacting the promotion.)

Stop emailing about it and talk face-to-face. (This is nearly always step one when you’re getting the run-around on something.) Say something like this: “It’s been seven months since you approved my promotion. What needs to happen for it to be official?” Say this in a serious, concerned tone. If your boss again tells you that it’s at the top of her list, say, “I appreciate that, but it’s been seven months, and I hope you understand why I’m getting concerned. Can you let me know when you think it will move forward, realistically?”

3. Will reference-checkers get my current salary when they call my manager?

I am currently job hunting. Thankfully, I am currently employed so I am taking time to carefully re-craft my resume and write detailed cover letters. My supervisor, with whom I am very close, knows about my search and has agreed to serve as a reference. Like you, I believe that what I currently earn is my business, and if I am asked in any upcoming interviews about my salary I have no intention of giving an exact number. Can the person who calls for references just ask my supervisor for this information? Is she obligated to release this to them? The two of us have spoken about this and she agrees that what I make now has no bearing on what another employer would offer for a position in their company. Would it be odd if she refused to answer?

No. Plenty of employers refuse to provide that info without a signed release from the employee. Plenty of others don’t, but it’s would be entirely reasonable for your manager to say, “I’m sorry, but that’s not information we release.”

4. My manager thinks I leave early when I don’t

I am a salaried employee and have been with my employer for several years. I switched my hours to 7:30am-4:30pm in order to better accommodate a medical need several years ago. The medical reason has since changed somewhat, but I kept the 7:30-4:30 schedule. I don’t watch the clock and it’s not uncommon for me to walk out the door a few minutes late at the end of the day or to work through lunch if I need to do so. Several coworkers have modified hours to better suit their needs and my employer’s policy is that we can work any 8-hour period that works for us as long as the scheduling does not interfere with complete our work.

I recently started grad school in the evenings. I asked to leave early on the first day of classes thinking I would need to extra time to commute to school. I used PTO to leave early, but realized that I would not need to continue doing so in the future as long as I was able to leave right on time (at 4:30pm).

A new coworker recently joined us and I overheard my manager advise that I leave early twice a week for classes after work. I am concerned that my manager thinks I am leaving early when I am actually leaving on time. I have received great reviews in years past and I have never been coached or approached in any way regarding tardiness or leaving early by my manager or anyone in HR. Should I assume my boss is aware that I am not actually leaving early? Is this an issue that needs to be addressed in any way?

First, “leaves early for classes” in this context doesn’t mean “takes off before she’s supposed to.” It means “she works a schedule where she leaves earlier than other people for classes, with permission.” But since it’s no longer accurate, just remind your manager of that. For instance: “Jane, I wanted to make sure you know that it turned out I don’t need to leave early to get to class after all, so I’m working my normal schedule.” That said, I wouldn’t worry about it too much — it sounds like flexible schedules are fine in your workplace and your manager doesn’t care either way.

5. How can I tell recruiters “no thanks” while maintaining good relationships?

I have started to get a growing number of recruiters reach out to me via linkedin about possible job opportunities. I am currently not looking for a new position, as my company is giving me some amazing experience and I feel like I still have a lot to learn from them. Of course, the reason that I am getting such great experience is because we are in a declining market and they have experienced a lot of turnover (people leaving by choice, without being replaced, and layoffs – though the layoffs have not been in my department – yet) company-wide in the few years that I have been here. I certainly do not expect this company to be a long term place for me, but I feel as if I have a good solid year left, at least.

How can I respond to recruiters in a way that doesn’t waste either of our time, but still doesn’t burn bridges? I was thinking something like, “Thank you so much for reaching out to me. I am not currently looking for a new position but Company X sounds like it would be a great fit, and I would love to talk to you in the future about available positions?” I know that I am walking a fine line, and that it might be start to just start interviewing at new places, but I am so happy and work with such a great team at the moment.

Be more straightforward. In your proposed wording, it’s not clear what “in the future” means. It sounds like it could mean anything from “in a few months” to “a year or more” to “right now, if you’re persuasive enough.” Just let them know that you’re happy where you are right now but might be interested in talking in a year. If you really want to maintain the relationship, you could tell them you’d be happy to be a source of candidate referrals for their open positions.

{ 133 comments… read them below }

  1. Ruffingit*

    I think #4 is supposed to read No. Plenty of employers refuse to provide that info WITHOUT a signed release from the employee.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Fixed, thanks.

      By the way, after today, I’m going to start deleting notices of my typos once I’ve fixed them — not because I mind them (I appreciate them) but in order to keep comment threads streamlined. It’s not a cover-up!

      1. Chinook*

        In the spirit of that, you may want to chaneg your repsonse in #5 to “In your proposed wording,” (unless you are suggest she be workign on it).

  2. KarenT*

    # 1
    I agree with Alison. Some people are plan makers, and some aren’t. If my friends waited for me to initiate plans, I’d never see them again!

      1. OP #1*

        I am definitely a plan maker. I need more plan making friends! But I guess I will just get over it. Do y’all (KarenT and The Other Dawn) NEVER initiate plans? That boggles my mind, but I realize some people are just wired differently.

        1. BRR*

          I am a plan maker and my fiance is not. I would love for him to take over plan making at times but it just isn’t going to happen. I’ve succumb to the fact that often times if I want something I need to do it myself. But it’s important to remember to not force them. Instead of I want to do this, would you want to do this.

          1. KarenT*

            I wouldn’t say I never make plans, but I’m a home body, so after work on the weekends, I’ll confess my default is watching netflix with my cat. But I do like my friends, so whenever someone suggests something I’m usually down! And I do make plans when I realize I haven’t seen a good friend in a while.

        2. LizNYC*

          I’m not a plan-maker either, but not so that I never make the plans. It’s just that it’s usually an 80/20 split — 80% of the time, someone asks me to do something, and the other 20% of the time, I suggest something. Your coworker might be the same. (And who knows, your coworker might be mortified that they haven’t suggested an activity yet or are afraid you’d say no if they did!)

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            For the longest time at my current office, I would only accept others’ invitations (versus initiating anything) because I felt like I’d entered a zone in which everyone’s office friendships were so well-established that I was just glad to be included when they invited me.

            It took me kind of a long time to realize that I was “one of them”, but once I did, I started initiating plans more. It just sometimes takes me overly long to realize that, yes, this person genuinely likes me and wants to spend time with me (versus this person is just extending a polite invitation to a new . . . new-ish . . . not-so-new-anymore coworker but would turn down an invitation in return).

            I think that generally, people like me for a long time before I realize that they like me. I can be a little slow on the uptake that way.

        3. Geegee*

          Sadly, I’ve lost a lot of “friends” that way. If I’m always the one initiating and I feel like the friend never does, I will probably stop calling to make plans. Making plans isn’t something I enjoy doing but I will do it if I like someone enough and want to hang out with them. In reality though, some people just aren’t plan makers (some people really don’t have to be because they have enough people around who are constantly initiating things. So sometimes I think we should just accept that some people are that way and that you will need to do most of the “work” if you want to be friends with someone who happens to be that way.

          1. Kay*

            I’m with you Geegee. I’m happy to make plans, but part of friendship is reciprocation and if friends aren’t initiating ANY plans, I’m going to read into it that they don’t really want to hang out/be friends. Making plans is work, and I don’t mind doing it as long as it’s not 100% of the time. I’m even okay if I’m the one that suggests things most of the time but a friend says “oh yeah, that movie sounds great, why don’t we go to dinner afterwards” and adds on to the plan or contributes in some way so it doesn’t feel completely one-sided.

            1. plain jane*

              Yes. I have come away from a couple of meals lately where I’ve been the one to initiate the last several contacts, and they said “we really need to do this again”. It’s hard to keep being the one pushing to keep the relationship alive. How do I know that they really want to stay connected and aren’t just being passively nice and with I’d just stop already?

              1. Kay*

                Sometimes you have to (politely) let them know the ball is in their court. I usually use something like, “Yes, we really should. Call/text me and let me know when/where and I’d love to be there!”

        4. Felicia*

          For me, I rarely initiate plans earlier in the friendship because I lack self confidence and worry that people will decide they don’t like me. Once I know them better I do initiate plans more, but not nearly as much as other people tend to. I also don’t see the need to see friends as often as other people seem to, but I know my friends like more socializing than me so I try to make an effort. I’d say for me , like Liz NYC below, it’s 80% them initiating , 20% me initiating. One thing I hate is people who never keep plans…like they say we can hang out and then they cancel at the last minute over and over and over. So then it’s like you were a place holder until something better came along. Sometimes stuff happens and you have to cancel, but there’s a certain point when people cancel so frequently that you wonder if they actually like you. I had a bunch of really flakey friends from age like 18-21, who would constantly cancel plans and sometimes not even offer excuses, so that experience has made me even more cautious around new people and even more nervous about making plans.

          1. Kay*

            Ugh, that sucks Felicia. Flaky people drive me crazy. As a kid, I was always taught to honor my commitments and follow through and not cancel on people unless you absolutely had to… like “I’m so sick I can’t get out of bed, and I really wish I could be there, how can I make it up to you”. However, my mother also taught me that not everyone in your life will live up to being that level of priority. Her advice to me rings crystal clear any time I am having issues with flaky friends:

            “Don’t make someone a priority if they’re only going to make you an option.”

            It is a tough pill to swallow when you start to believe that you are not a priority to your friends, but it really changed my perspective on who is a priority in my life (family, best friends, etc) and who is optional (acquaintances, flaky friends that never made it to best friend, etc).

            1. C Average*

              I used to be the flaky friend.

              I’d make plans with people with the very best of intentions, and then as the get-together got closer, I’d find myself dreading it and I’d find an excuse, any excuse, to get out of it. And I liked these people and usually did have fun when I forced myself to follow through!

              As I’ve gotten older and more self-aware, I’ve realized that I just plain need a lot of alone time to be happy and to continue to get along well with others.

              I’ve tried to routinize as much of my social life as possible. Run club on this day, after-work drinks on this day, writing group on this day, etc. I try not to make advance plans if I can avoid it. It just makes me anxious and likely to flake out.

              I’ve come to the conclusion I’m a very good employee, spouse, and stepmother, but I’m a much better acquaintance than friend. I’m actually OK with that.

            2. Felicia*

              I came to a sort of epiphany at 21 that I really don’t need people like that in my life, and in the 3 years since have made a couple of really great friend, but that experience and how long I let it go on for has made me super cautious around new people , even if I want to be their friends. I also seem to attract flaky friends for some reason, possibly because I want to see the best in people. I’d much prefer someone say no to plans than cancel last minute all the time. I have a very good friend who says no to the plans I suggest about half the time (she’s very busy, has a lot of friends, and visits her parents out of town fairy frequently), but then the other half of the time when she says yes she always sticks to what she committed to and great to hang out with, so I don’t mind making plans with her. But with new people you don’t know if they’ll be the flaky friend, or you’ll plan something they don’t like, so i don’t make plans with new friends I barely know, because I’ve had bad experiences.

              1. Vancouver Reader*

                Another frustrating one are people who’re constantly running late and don’t let you know. In this day and age of everyone having cell phones stuck to their bodies, it really wouldn’t be that difficult to text or call and say you’re running late, would it?

        5. H. Rawr*

          I virtually never make the plans, but if my friends lower their level of plan-initiation, I do it more often. I’m just content with a lower frequency of plans (as an introvert who values the little alone time I get and kind of hates the phone). It’s not that I am opposed to it, other people just usually just beat me to it.

        6. fiat_lux*

          I’m not a planner. I usually make a vague suggestion (“let’s have dinner sometime this week”) and let my planner-friends take over!

          1. Jamie*

            That’s what I do. Never with friends – but with family. I just say, “hey we get together for lunch sometime” and let my planning sister decide when and where and then I show up.

            Now that I’m several hundred years old I don’t like to go out much so the family stuff is usually enough for me but when a friend suggests something I usually go and have a nice time – it just never occurs to me first.

        7. The Other Dawn*

          I make plans once in awhile, but it tends to be only with family and VERY close friends. Otherwise, it’s up to the other person to do it. But I’m not an overly social person either, so that might have a lot to do with it.

          When it comes to new friends, I usually rely on the other person to make plans. Mainly because I’m nervous about the new friendship. Will it work? Do I like her, really? Etc. And I guess I feel like I’m presuming the person likes me, like I’m presuming too much. Yeah, I have a problem making new friends. I can mingle with strangers, but I clam up when it comes to making friends.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I’m that way too with friends, but then they all have families and I don’t, so it’s easier for them to plan around their many obligations rather than my few. I’m friends with a couple (the husband and I were coworkers), whom I see occasionally and always at their house. But they have four young children and it’s way easier for me to come to them than for them to wrangle all the little guys over to my place.

        8. OhNo*

          I’m not a plan maker either, like a lot of people here, but I do have a suggestion! If this person is also not a plan maker, you might be able to get them to “help” plan things, rather than expecting them to initiate the plans. For example: plan part of an evening, like drinks or a movie or something, then ask if they want to do anything after (dinner, music, club, etc.). If they say yes, you can ask them for suggestions or have them plan that part of it.

          This has worked really well for me in the past because, as others have said, I get anxious about whether or not the person I’m hanging with will like my idea. But if each of us plans part of the evening, then I feel less weird if they didn’t like “my” part of the night.

          You are in a really great position to do this, actually, since you are new to this particular city. Ask this person for recommendations! Find out their favorite restaurant/bar/theatre and go there. If there are certain festivals or events that happen every year, ask if they want to go with you and show you around. Basically, the message should be “If there is something you want/like to do, I am happy to go with you.”

          1. OP #1*

            Thanks for this suggestion, about the half and half plans. I like it. This other person is also fairly new to the city, but I will still ask them for recommendations. Thanks for the ideas!

        9. NoPantsFridays*

          I’m one of those people who forgets my friends even exist until they email or call me and get my attention. Once they remind me, something might work out. I’m reluctant to spend my limited free time with people who are clingy or always concerned that I don’t like them (insecure friends) — it’s exhausting and draining, even though they are nice people. I’m also cheap/frugal, and my friends are…less so.

          If I want to go somewhere, I go. I don’t think to call my friends and ask if they want to go too. We temd to have few interests in common, anyway. So in that sense, I initiate and act on plans for just me.

          Usually, it’s NOT that I don’t like you, it’s that I don’t think of you at all. I think that might be worse, but it’s true.

    1. AnonymousOne*

      See, that to me is very strange. You would let a friendship fall apart because you can’t pick up the phone and initiate a plan? I’m with OP #1 on this – I need plan-MAKING friends for things to really work out. When people don’t reach out, I feel like they’re not putting equal effort into the friendship and that they don’t really value the friendship very much at all. That may not be the case, but actions speak louder than words! :/ Shame that you might have lost some great friends over this!

      1. Kai*

        For me, I also don’t initiate plans very often, but with social media it’s just not as isolating. We can have a Twitter or Facebook conversation and I don’t feel like I’ve really lost touch with anyone. That said, when a good friend wants to plan something, I’m always happy to get together, and I’m trying to get better about initiating plans myself because I realize no one wants to be the person to do that every time.

      2. Mpls*

        Well I guess it takes all types. Different people have different definitions about what it means to be friends and how they show they value it. Some people show they value a friendship by consistently saying “yes” to invitations.

        And really, if you have 5 good friends in your circle and 3-4 of them are plan-makers, then no one person is doing all the planning and 1-2 people aren’t doing any of it. So, I can totally envision a scenario where you have a person that doesn’t make any plan invites, but isn’t putting the onus one other person to do all the planning.

      3. NoPantsFridays*

        Yes, sometimes it’s true that I don’t value the friendship much at all. Most of the friendships I’ve had have been severely lopsided, where the friend likes me much more than I like them. I’ve had people tell me “I’m glad we are so close” and even call me their best friend, when I see them as an acquaintence or distant friend. It’s happened enough that it’s not them, it’s me. I’m the common factor. So it would understandably follow from this that I’d put much less effort into maintaining the friendship. If it fell apart, I wouldn’t miss it.

        The only friendships I’ve had that were decidedly NOT lopsided were with my roommates in college — I’m guessing because we were around each other virtually all the time! We could “hang out” in our apartment or spontaneously make plans without having to arrange timing, meeting up, rides, etc.

      4. Vicki*

        There are two styles of interaction: initiators and responders. It sounds like you would let a friendship fall apart because the other person doesn’t “pick up the phone and make a plan.”

        “Equal effort” cannot be defined by one person and “friendship” isn’t a quantitative thing. (“I asked him to coffee 4 times and he only asked me to coffee twice. I guess we’re not friends!”)

    2. Felicia*

      I’m not a plan-maker, particularly when a friendship is new, because I lack confidence and worry about the person saying no or not liking what I planned, and also because i hardly ever think of it. But then I made friends with another non plan maker (though she almost always says yes), so i’ve gradually started initiating a little more.

      Maybe the coworker thinks the OP is really awesome and wants to be friends, but is nervous that the OP will think her plans are stupid or not want to hang out with her if she initiates. Some people are like that!

      The only thing I hate is people who are both not plan makers, and not conversation initiators. If I’m always the one who starts conversations with you, then I worry you don’t really like me all that much.

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        OMG I am so like this. I love the idea of planning, but I am afraid of rejection and judgement more.

        1. Mints*

          Haha I feel like this too. I keep thinking I want to hang out with a couple different friends who don’t know each other. But then I realize this would basically be a party, and I’m scared to host a party in case they all have a terrible time. So I keep hoping they’ll all show up at my apartment simultaneously and I won’t have to do anything
          Le sigh
          I’m a terrible friend

          1. OP #1*

            Mints, this made me LOL. Why not plan something low-key, like getting together for a bike ride, or joining some pre-existing event? “Want to watch the parade next weekend?” Or watching a movie together outdoors? Movies can be less stress than lunch or dinner, because there is actually not a ton of time to chat.

      2. OP #1*

        To anyone reading who has this mindset: “Maybe the coworker thinks the OP is really awesome and wants to be friends, but is nervous that the OP will think her plans are stupid or not want to hang out with her if she initiates” – just get out there and try! If you are getting a good vibe from someone and you had fun with them (in whatever previous context) just try it. The worst that happens (probably) is it is awkward, but at least you tried.

        And Felicia, ditto on the non-conversation-initiators. I remember in school once, one of those “everyone meeting new people” situations, I was trying to chat with a classmate. They were terrible at keeping the conversation going. I thought they just didn’t like me (which is OK, of course not everyone will get along or be friends) but then watching them with others I realized it was how they dealt with everyone.

      3. NoPantsFridays*

        Maybe she says yes because she feels she cannot say no to you. I had a friend in college who was extremely anxious and insecure, as in he was always concerned that I didn’t like him and I’d reject him. He was a really nice guy, and I felt he was a genuinely good person, so I felt terrible to let him down by saying no. So instead I stopped responding. Which is also terrible, but I would have felt worse to say no.

        haha, I guess you hate me, I’m not a plan-maker (at least not when the plan involves other people) and I tend not to start conversations except in a professional/work/networking context. But then, I also don’t expect people to reach out to me.

    3. Penny*

      I don’t mind making the plans, and would not begrudge a friend for not being a plan-maker. As long as we get together, I don’t care who initiated the idea. I have more of an issue with friends who say, “we should get together!” but then are always busy when I suggest something. In that case, I eventually have to leave the ball in their court and stop suggesting plans.

    4. C Average*

      I’m not a plan-maker AT ALL. I find that my level of introversion is really variable, and often the times I make plans turn out to be exactly the times I wind up having a hectic day and just want nothing more than some alone time. I’ve learned that spur-of-the-moment is my best socialization strategy. I belong to a lot of loosely-organized groups (a group of runners that runs together every Saturday morning, a group of colleagues that goes out for drinks every Friday night, a writing group that meets once a month) where it’s perfectly OK to show up or not show up.

      I know some planners who are really nice people, but I’m probably not a good friend candidate for them, because realistically I’m never going to reciprocate and I know they’re likely to resent that.

      1. Windchime*

        This is how I am, too. I’m sure I look flakey to many people because I will make plans and then have a horrible day (or just a day filled with way too much social interaction) and I just don’t want to be around people any longer. So I bail.

        I got invited to go out on a coworker’s sailboat this weekend. It’s just a small group of 6 people and I know them all, but still. It’s a boat and I don’t know how/when I could get off. Plus I have had about a million meetings this week and I just need some space. So I’m declining the boat. I think one of the people is annoyed that I’m not going, but when I am depleted, more socializing doesn’t feel good to me.

  3. Ruffingit*

    #2 – It’s really screwed up that your boss hasn’t moved forward on this. I agree that you need to have a face to face talk wherein you push a little harder and Alison’s script is perfect for this. If your boss again promises that it will happen “soon” or some other vague nonsense, I think I’d just give up and use some of the maternity leave time to start job hunting because this is really crappy treatment in my view. It shows that your boss is willing to let something important in terms of your career development and your finances go for months without pushing it forward. I almost wonder if the higher-ups have put the kibosh on the promotion and your boss just isn’t telling you. Whatever the case though, it’s just bad treatment. Start looking if you don’t get a real timeline out of the face to face conversation.

    1. Anon Accountant*

      When I read the OP2 post this is what my mind jumped to immediately also. The promotion isn’t going to happen, the boss knows it but doesn’t want to tell the OP2 that directly.

    2. GrumpyBoss*

      Agree that it is totally unprofessional, however, my gut is telling me that it is not actually “approved” and the manager is too passive to explain to the OP the reasons why.

      I could be totally off base, but I think we all have worked with that avoid-bad-news-by-making-stalling person before.

      1. OP #1*

        Thanks all. I love how in that episode Keith Hernandez jumps like 3 levels in the friend tier. Who DOES that? Good show for sure.

  4. Ali*

    I am almost always the planner in my friendships, so I feel #1 on the awkwardness of it all. It makes me wonder sometimes if my friends don’t care for me or if they’re being nice to me just to be nice. But then I think of things like…well clearly they wouldn’t spend money on a Christmas gift for me if they didn’t like me that much. :) And it helps me feel better. (Not that I measure my friendships in gifts…that may not have been the best example, but you know what I mean.)

    But at work, though, everything I’ve been invited to has been planned by my coworkers or a supervisor. Not really me. And that’s cool too. Gives me a break from asking, getting RSVPs and so forth.

  5. Adam*

    #1: If I didn’t want to hang out with a co-worker outside of our work setting I never would have said yes to a hangout to begin with, much less several. I wouldn’t worry about it. You’re in a new place and having to build a new social circle. You’re probably much more concerned about this now than you would be if you were in a position where you had more established roots. Most friendships do take time to really grow after all. Good luck!

  6. Ben*

    #5 IMO There’s really not a need to respond to every recruiter spam you receive on linkedin. I’m lucky enough to get several a day due to my chosen field being in super high demand right now.
    Sometimes i do repsond, saying something similar to the above, though, but not every time.
    But its not really burning anything to ignore them. They expect it. You’re the one in demand, when you are looking, they will be excited to hear from you.

    1. De Minimis*

      I ignore the ones I get….have yet to get one that is directly relevant to me. If I ever did get one that was more directly related to what I do or my chosen career path, I’d probably respond.

    2. Ed*

      I send a brief response of “Thanks for the interest but I’m satisfied in my current position at ACME right now.” only if it’s a recruiter at a reputable, well-known company. I’ll also typically accept connection requests from them. The rest get ignored.

      1. Ed*

        I wanted to add that there are also a few local recruiters that call me maybe twice a year. I always take their call unless I’m busy at the time. I’ve been out of work for several months before so I know firsthand that it is nice to have some ongoing relationships.

      2. NoPantsFridays*

        I do this too and for the same reason. I also offer to forward their contact information to people I know who might be looking. I figure it is good to have the connection if and when the time comes that I am looking.

  7. Josh S*

    Alison, if OP #2 gets told by her manager that the promotion is pending her return from maternity leave (ie, the promotion is being delayed because of her pregnancy), would that be a violation of whatever-the-rule is?

    I certainly might be reading into things, but it might be that the Boss doesn’t want to promote her just to have her go on leave. Is this, Um, legal?

    1. Josh S*

      And if it is NOT legal, what are her best options for how to proceed (since presumably she likes this job and doesn’t want to antagonize things by filing a lawsuit)?

    2. BRR*

      I think it is illegal. EvilHRLady just did an entire post on the legality of pregnancy issues in the workplace.

      1. fposte*

        I don’t think this is a clear-cut area, though, because it would depend on what they’ve done for people taking similar duration of leave for non-pregnancy reasons. It’s not leave that’s protected from discrimination but pregnancy, so as long as treatment was the same across the board I suspect it’s not pregnancy discrimination.

        (If the only longer leave anybody ever takes is maternity leave, I don’t know if that would be enough to close the loophole or if they could say that’s their policy, it just hasn’t been applicable to others yet.)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Exactly. It’s not that pregnancy gets special protections in that regard; it’s that it can’t be treated differently from how they’ve handled other types of leave.

    3. OP 2*

      To be fair, I really don’t think the pregnancy/maternity leave is having an impact here, though obviously it’d be foolish to rule it out completely. My boss is a notorious bottleneck (which she’d be the first to admit), and I think this just keeps getting pushed aside in favor of more pressing matters.

      I agree with Alison that I need to have a face-to-face conversation, but I hate confrontation. Sending the emails was hard enough! But I know that I’m my own best advocate, etc. etc.

      1. Annie*

        I’m bad about confrontation as well, so in my last full time position I had a 2 friends who were on the same level on the org chart that I would run things past, even if it was just rehearsing what I would say to my manager or whomever else I needed to “confront” sometimes it helped me to write it out and know what I was going to say, and they would also ask me questions that they came up with, which helped me prepare for big conversations.

        1. Windchime*

          Exactly. “Confrontation” seems like such an adversarial word. I like “conversation” better. Just a conversation for clarity’s sake.

  8. Anoncat*

    Leaving early: I’m in a similar boat in that I leave at 4:30, which is earlier than most co-workers, and sometimes I worry that it counts against me. But I get in early, I usually put in *more* than 8 hours each day and I log 40 hours of work each week. My team also seems to like me and they really like the work I do, and that’s what ultimately counts, so I don’t worry about it too much.

    Recruiters: There’s nothing wrong with saying you’re not interested, it’s not going to burn any bridges. I usually follow it up with “I’ll let you know if that changes,” so they know there might be a possibility in the future, but it keeps the ball in my court.

  9. FX-ensis*

    #1 – Friends in the workplace makes little sense IMO. It’s way too competitive for true friendship to emerge. Be civil of course, but to me no co-worker, colleague or manager is a true friend.

    #2 – If this is how your boss treats you, then perhaps you need to reconsider your place/value/time at the organisation. It could be in good faith that s/he doesn’t know, or your organisation has an inefficient HR department, or the VP concerned or even CEO has not got round to approving it yet.

    1. AB Normal*

      #2 – It’s still bad management to me, though, not to be clear about what’s preventing the promotion promise to be fulfilled. “Top of my list” is ridiculously vague and give the impression the boss is saying s/he is too busy to get the process started, which is a bad sign if you can’t prioritize your subordinate’s earned promotion for SEVEN MONTHS.

    2. Colette*

      It’s way too competitive for true friendship to emerge. Be civil of course, but to me no co-worker, colleague or manager is a true friend.

      I think this depends on both the workplace and the personalities involved. I’ve never worked anywhere with that sort of hyper-competitive environment.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I work with two of my best friends, and I have for close to twenty years now. At this point, even if something went wrong that ended the friendships, I’d still have longer friendships with them than with most people, so couldn’t really consider it a mistake.

      2. FX-ensis*

        I haven’t either in honesty….just that having friends on the job can mean favouritism, envy in promotions/rewards, etc…it’s too risky/troublesome. and to me work is for work, and friends are for friends outside work. I am civil/kind to all those in my department/workplace, but wouldn’t consider being their friends for the reasons I mentioned.

      3. GrumpyBoss*

        I’ve worked in both, and I have to be honest – the greatest work friendships I formed were in hyper-competitive environments. I’ve been good friends with managers and coworkers in this sort of environment. Just because it is competitive doesn’t mean everyone views each other as a threat.

        To me, its impossible to tell from the outside if it is an environment for me to make friends in. Like the OP, if I think they are cool, I’ll make an effort. But even in the least competitive workplace I’ve ever been in, when 5:00 rolls around, I’m thinking, “Damn, these people suck. 8 hours was enough with them for me today”.

      4. Vicki*

        I’ve never worked in a competitive workplace, let alone too competitive to have friends.

        25 years and counting…

    3. Cindi*

      Wow. I’m glad I’ve never worked in a place so competitive that you couldn’t make friends. Some of my best friends are those I used to work with – and yes, we were good friends while we were working together, not just afterwards. Note — we worked TOGETHER, as a team. Someone else doing well didn’t downgrade my position in the dept, or vice versa.

      1. Tina*

        I worked in the same office for 11 years until recently and have a couple really good friends from it. They even came to my wedding last year. I also still have a really good friend that I met at my job before the 11-year one. We saw each other outside of work regularly.

        1. OP #1*

          Whew. Glad not everyone is agreeing with FX-ensis here. Although I understand that viewpoint, I have a friend who is like that and wants nothing to do with co-workers off the clock. Thanks all for chiming in!

          1. FX-ensis*

            It’s just my view…being open/civil is important, but then I don’t think it makes sense to have close friends on the job. Casual friends, maybe, but not people who hang out continuously, or go on holidays, do activities with on evenings/weekends with, etc.

      2. De Minimis*

        I’ve been in a hyper-competitive workplace and it was even more important that people make friends there, because your network was usually where you got project time, which gave you a chance to build a track record that would give you your case for continued employment.

        It seems to be in the public sector where people are more free to kind of be loners if they want to be, but I think people do tend to make friends there too, since a lot of people are there for the long haul so if you’re going to be working with the same people for years you tend to want to at least be friendly on a casual basis.

        1. FX-ensis*

          We’ll all have to agree to disagree. Just that friends in work can complicate things. It’s not so much about being unfriendly, but then if a person has friends outside they may not need friends at work. Allies, acquaintances, etc. but close friends in the strict/classic sense, no (IMHO….not saying my view is the best or absolute standpoint…lol.)

          1. Cat*

            Friends can complicate things period; work doesn’t have a monopoly on competitiveness or jealousy.

        2. ChiTown Lurker*

          Totally agree. More demanding workplaces almost require stronger relationships. In the best offices, we bear each other’s burdens, so to speak, to get the job done. Working with someone, especially in a tense environment, can reveal things about an individual’s character that could take years to discover otherwise. Almost all of my friends, including my best friend, are former coworkers. Some of the friendships are over 30 years old.

          As for the competitiveness, I have had friends promoted over me, who survived layoffs I didn’t survive, who were fired and we are still friends. Of course, when you work for different employers, the amount of contact might be reduced. It’s so much easier to maintain relationships when you see a person every weekday but with a little effort it’s possible.

          I can’t imagine working somewhere for longer than a year without developing meaningful relationships and I am seriously introverted. I don’t go to work seeking friendships, they just happen. I try to “be a friend” and this seems to have paid dividends.

    4. Chinook*

      “#1 – Friends in the workplace makes little sense IMO. It’s way too competitive for true friendship to emerge. Be civil of course, but to me no co-worker, colleague or manager is a true friend. ”

      I have to disagree but only because I have moved so many times that the only way I ever seem to meet people is through work. But, and this is important, I don’t intend to make friends where I work, it just happens that way. It is more of a case of I meet someone who I click with and we become great friends (and usually discover this over coffee break or at a social event).

      Unfortunately, when you don’t have children, it can be very difficult to meet new people in a new place. I have even joined social groups with this intention (including a meet-up group specifically for this) and I was never that successful at making friends, rather than acquaintances, because no one ever quite clicked in those groups (though I have one or two that are currently moving in tht direction after I have known them for a few years).

      1. FX-ensis*

        The reason I mentioned competitiveness is that it can undermine impartiality for one. If I had a close friend at work and had to discipline him or her over a newer employee I didn’t know as well, then it won’t lead to a fair outcome. Of course all scenarios are different, but then…I don’t know. I guess there is just too much potential for drama which I won’t consider taking onboard. Obviously all cases are unique, so it’s not a black and white case.

        1. Colette*

          It’s different if there’s an imbalance of power, but if you’re all at the same level, I don’t see it as a problem. It’s not required to be friends with your coworkers, but there’s no reason to avoid it.

          1. NoPantsFridays*

            There is for me personally. Politics, comparative religion, philosophy, law, and health/medical are among my favorite topics for discussion with friends — and those are exactly the same topics I go out of my way to avoid broaching in the workplace! I really disagree with the “competitive” comment though.

    5. Windchime*

      Wow. Work is where I have met all of my friends since I moved here 3 years ago. We have sometimes been on the same teams, but there has never been any competition between us as far as I know. I don’t think I’d like that kind of environment.

  10. JayDee*

    #4 – I would read it as your manager informing a new employee who may seek you out to ask questions or get information from you that at least twice a week they won’t find you after 4:30 (and probably shouldn’t ask you a question right at 4:30 because you will be hustling to get out the door to class on time). Unless it becomes an issue on your performance review I’d leave it alone.

  11. Janis*

    #1 – This reminds me of a charming coworker I had several years ago. We really hit it off and boy she made me laugh. But we never saw each outside of work, which I never thought about at the time until years afterwards someone asked me about her. I said I didn’t know and the person was surprised because she thought we were such good friends. But, really, we were just friendly work acquaintances. She was an idealist, very active in social issues, in her church, gave speeches on subjects that she was interested in, etc. Just a few months ago I read this passage in a book that made me think of her: “She gave the impression of friendship and intimacy without actually feeling it.” (As you can see, I wrote it down because it resonated with me.) Maybe this person is like that? Just something to think over.

    #3 — If a company asks about someone’s quoted salary, we can say, “Yes, it was in that range,” or “No, it wasn’t in that range.” If they don’t have a quoted number, we give no info.

  12. AnonymousOne*

    #1 – I agree with Alison that some people aren’t plan-initiators, but I can also definitely see why you would get the impression that the friendship wasn’t “wanted” (even though that doesn’t appear to be the case since she probably wouldn’t have agreed to hang out with you several times).

    I personally don’t like it when I feel like I’m the only one putting effort into the friendship. It makes you feel like the other person is only doing their “duty” or that they’re under some sort of “obligation” to hang out with you, as strange as that sounds. Sometimes if I feel like I’ve initiated the plans the last 5 times, I’ll wait for THEM to initiate it next time – the ball’s in the their court, so to speak. That method might not be for everyone, but I like to feel like I’m not the only one holding the friendship together lol

    1. Vanilla*

      Totally agree with you. I’m a planner by nature (as are most of my close friends), so I can completely understand how the OP feels.

      It’s also worth mentioning that maybe the OP’s coworker is a little leery about becoming close friends with a coworker, and maybe they might want to take things slow. I’ve had some terrible “coworkers who become hang out friends” experiences, so I’m admittedly pretty gun shy when it comes to forming friendships.

      Early on in my career, I became friends with a group of young women at my company. We were all around the same age/stage of life. Very long story short, I started dating a guy (John) around this time and my coworker Sally started dating John’s friend. Basically, Sally turned out to be all kinds of drama, and John’s friend ended up dumping her. For revenge, Sally made a pass at John when I was out of town one weekend. I was livid when I found out, but didn’t say anything to Sally about the incident. It was very difficult to come to work every day and be polite to Sally when I wanted nothing to do with her.

      After that, she would invite me to hang out and I’d constantly make excuses. She started harrassing other friends about me. It got weird. Eventually, Sally was fired (for unrelated reasons), so it made it a lot easier to avoid her after that.

      I literally LOLed when I read the part about pretending to be on fake calls because that’s why I used to do to avoid my ex-coworker/friend. :)

      1. newbie in Canada*

        After befriending one needy coworker who used to just show up at my house and another who asked me to babysit her kids (having never met her kids but she had no one else to ask (!) ), and I’m cautious about hanging out with people I work with. That being said, two of my closest friends are two women I used to work with.

      2. OP #1*

        The duty/obligation that Anonymous One mentions is totally my mindset, although I’m trying to change that. It really is strange to me that some people are so blase about this and others are not.

        Yes, I can see people being leery. Taking things slow is good advice. Also, Sally sounds like way too much drama.

        Fake calls! I will definitely watch out for that. No signs of that yet.

        1. OP #1*

          And ohmigosh on the babysitting story by newbie in Canada. That’s so ridiculous! Just wow. Truth is stranger than fiction.

        2. Vanilla*

          Sally WAS a whole boatload of drama. Although to be fair, I’m sure I was too way back in the day. ;)

          Watch out for other “clues” too. For example, Sally would stop by my office to chat. I would politely chat for a few minutes and then stand up like I was getting ready to leave my office. This curtailed the chats at first. THEN, Sally got to the point where she would continue to sit/hang out even if I stood up to leave. I finally had to start leaving my office and walking around the building for a few minutes JUST TO GET HER TO LEAVE. It was that bad.

          All that being said, OP, you sound like you are pretty self-aware and have a good head on your shoulders, and wouldn’t turn into a “Sally.” :)

          1. OP #1*

            Oh no! The chatter hanger oners! I know some of them. I hope not to be them.

            And thanks for the non-Sally comment. :)

  13. newbie in Canada*

    #4 – personally I’d leave it be because your manager isn’t acting like it’s negative. It’s not a bad idea for your coworkers to know you have classes directly after work some days so they respect that you have to leave. Maybe I just have a lot of time goblins in my office that like to start up conversations 10 minutes before I’m supposed to go home.

  14. JMegan*

    Speaking as a non-plan-initiator, I want to tell the people who are plan-initiators that it’s not personal! I do want to hang out with you, it’s just that I get so caught up in the cycle of working-commuting-parenting-job searching-laundry-dishes-repeat. Most of the time, I forget that there even is anything outside that cycle, and all of a sudden six months have gone by and I haven’t seen any of my friends.

    It’s not about who is carrying more weight in the friendship. I hope there’s more to most of my friendships than keeping track of who picks up the phone more often! It’s just that the circumstances of my life right now (busy), plus my introverted personality (need time alone to recharge from the busy-ness), mean that I’m not usually the one to initiate contact.

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      +1. Some of us our more creatures than habit than others. If we were really close friends and I knew your cycle, I’d feel really comfortable making plans. But when you are in the early stages of a friendship, I err on the shy side. I don’t want to suggest something you may not like, or disrupt you from your laundry night or tee ball practice with the kids. I don’t want to suggest going to brunch at my favorite place because I don’t know if you have a place, and what if you don’t like mine, will you think less of me, etc. etc. etc. Lots of self doubt can come when trying to make plans with someone you only know casually, so some of us just try to avoid it.

      As far as the “tracking” goes, it exists, and I see it often. My mother did it, so I was trained at an early age to see the signs. Even as a young child, it irked me. “No, you cannot call Jenny to come over. She was over here last week. It is her turn to call you and invite you over to her house.” Needless to say, I didn’t have a lot of friends at that age. As a result, I am hyper sensitive about this as an adult. If I get a hint that someone is keeping track of who is carrying the weight, it is not a friendship I pursue any further.

      1. Felicia*

        GrumpyBoss, you explained it perfectly! Better than I could. And I’m the exact same way as you, for similar reasons.

      2. Colette*

        I agree you shouldn’t track effort & expect it to be entirely reciprocal, but on the other hand, if your friend is never initiating contact or expects you to do things they won’t do for you (e.g. when they’re having a bad day, you have to drop everything, but when you are having a bad day, they’re too busy), it’s entirely reasonable to re-evaluate whether the friendship is worthwhile.

      3. Waiting Patiently*

        interrupting my laundry night!

        This just happen to me. I have a former co-worker, younger than me, who did this to me a few weeks ago. We have gone out before, a couple of times–it usually start with “hey we should do this” and it happens. I’m always up for an invite, especially now, my kids are older but I still have Saturday morning laundry that has to be done.

        She texts 8am on a Sunday and says, “hey let’s go to Nowhere Beach.” I text her back “sure, is 9:00 good? I’m doing laundry right now. Oh and by the way are we just walking the strip because I don’t really care for the water at Nowhere Beach” She replies, “No, I’m getting in”…to make a long story short Nowhere Beach, which is less than 15 minutes from my house, shares a name with Nowhere Shore which is almost 3 hours away not including traffic.

        As I sadly finished my laundry, I shook my head thinking about how fun it was in those days…lol (end scene)

      4. So Very Anonymous*

        My mother did and still does this kind of tracking. She is introverted and not inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt — I grew up with a lot of “oh, that person doesn’t really *like* you, they’re just being nice” stuff as well as “you can’t play with Susie today because you played with Susie the other day already and you don’t want to wear out your welcome,” etc. I’m both extroverted and shy, so this has been a really hard thing to overcome. I also now work in a field packed with introverts, and I’ve moved around so I always feel like I’m starting over. I get really sensitive and worried that I’m annoying people if I ask to make plans or even just call or email to keep in touch (with long-distance friends), so I know that self-doubt. For me, it’s more that I feel like I “should” drop people who aren’t reciprocating, and if you’re around a lot of introverts regularly, that can feel like a LOT of dropping/disconnecting — especially if you’re in a new city.

  15. saro*

    As someone who moves around very often – check out meetup dot com
    I had good luck making friends through it. :)

    1. Felicia*

      I’ve had good luck with meetup too! For me, the very specific meetups are best – I made my most recent friend at a meet up for writers of young adult fiction participating in NaNoWriMo, and I made another friend at a meet up for Doctor Who fans, and I’ve been friends with him for just over a year. Personally things very specific to my interests work better for me than generic “people in their 20s” meet ups. Easy to find if you’re in a big city!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yes, meetups are great if it’s specific to interests. We too have a Doctor Who group and it’s a lot of fun.

        Before that, I was in a group that was too large, too general, and just wasn’t geared toward anything I really cared about (for example, every time we met, it was always in various bars where it was too loud to even talk properly). The group changed after the original organizer left, and it went even further afield of my interests, though the new people were nice. I just quietly removed myself from it after a while.

      2. Mints*

        Yeah, I’ve really liked the book club meet up I’ve been going to. I feel like it removes some of the awkwardness because I have specific things to talk about, instead of just forced socializing. Now the socializing happens naturally

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I’ll have to check that out, also. I’m moving to a new town (same state) this weekend. I generally have a tough time making friends because I lack self confidence AND I’m not really a plan maker or a conversation starter. I’m turning 40 and realize I need to make more friends. Although I’m fine with texting each other and maybe meeting up once a month or so, so not sure how that will work out. LOL

      1. OP #1*

        Moving to a new place is a great way to “re-invent” yourself. It’s normal to not have many friends in that city, because you just moved there! So no one has to know you have a tough time making friends.

        Related- I read something recently about how having more social connections (real world, not FB) means better health, living longer, etc.

  16. Episkey*

    #1 – A similar situation happened to me at a previous job. In my case, I was the one who had been working at the company for a little while and my manager & department made a new hire.

    The new employee & I seemed to have lots of things in common – we were just about the same age, we were both runners, we had similar educational backgrounds, and it turned out we lived about a mile from each other in the same subdivision.

    I thought our changes of being more than work friends might be likely, so I initiated a few things — I invited her & her husband over to dinner once, I asked if she wanted to go running together, etc.

    She never reciprocated once, and for me, I start feeling very awkward when I’m the ONLY one ever initiating anything. It feels like a one-sided friendship and I start feeling very uncomfortable. I stopped initiating things and we ended up as just work friends. I was a little disappointed (because I didn’t have very many friends that lived close by), but in my case I need to have some sort of reciprocity from real friends.

    1. OP #1*

      Awww, boo. Yes, this is kind of how I am starting to feel. But maybe she is just one of these people who don’t initiate. If there is anything these comments show, it’s that there are definitely those people out there. Or at least lots of 20/80 people.

      Good luck!

  17. Elizabeth West*

    Some people aren’t planners, and some just don’t like mixing friendship with work. I’ve only had two work friends whom I still see after we both left the job. (Oddly, it was the same place–maybe we’re actually a survivor’s group, ha ha.)

    In addition to that, working with friends can be problematic if power dynamics change. A longtime friend I worked with became my boss and I ended up getting fired from that job, and it damaged our relationship. We’re still friends, but more facebook friends now even though we live in the same city.

    1. OP #1*

      I’m stealing the “survivor’s group” comment. !

      Very true on the power dynamics. In another job, I was work-friends with someone, and then they became my boss. I was SO glad I had not become FB friends with them, although we had FB friends in common. I got weirded out once when she was my boss and made a comment about something funny I had posted on FB. I immediately changed the settings so that only friends could see them. After some time as my boss, we weren’t really work-friends anymore. I left for other reasons, but we don’t stay in touch.

  18. Waiting Patiently*

    For some people planning takes a lot of effort and coordination especially if kids and significant others are involved. For a few years when I first started this job, it was work, school, and kids’ activities for me. I really had no time to initiate or be apart of anything outside of that. I would try to accept a few invites here and there. But I don’t recall ever initiating much. My kids are older, I’m done with school and I have a little more free time.

    Oddly though my co-workers and some former ones and I hang quite a bit. A few of us live in the same small town city we work in, so there is a lot of overlap in our lives.

  19. Sally Forth*

    #4 I also start early on a flexible schedule and have bristled a couple of times when a co-worker has said “Must be nice to be finished at 4.” Leaving at 4 is visible. It’s not so obvious that I’m always the first in the office.

    I find it helpful to start my day by answering a few emails. That way it’s time-stamped that I was working at 7:30 when the people who leave at 5:30 were still sleeping. It’s more subtle than always pointing it out.

    1. TiaJuana*

      I also do the same thing when I arrive in the mornings, in part because I work with a lot of people in other time zones that have been awaiting my response all day. The time stamp is an added bonus that helps others know I’ve been there since much earlier in the morning.

Comments are closed.